QA Scheme Support Services (QASSS) have revealed their latest dispute resolution statistics, giving additional insight into the different types of complaints that their home improvement consumer protection schemes DGCOS, HIES and HICS received over the last year. Their Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service resolves complaints between customers and tradespeople, preventing the need to go to court if a dispute does arise.
Complaints can be very stressful for both traders and customers alike, whereas having an independent, professional third party to mediate the matter, can really help defuse the situation and ensure a resolution can be reached that satisfies both parties.
Within the last year, the Citizens Advice Bureau consumer advice trends report revealed that the home maintenance and improvements sector received 46,579(1) complaints. This is the second highest sector to receive complaints behind used vehicles.
In 2019 to date, QASSS’s Alternative Dispute Resolution department received over 1,000 home improvement consumer complaints. The top 5 categories of complaint across all consumer protection schemes during this year were as follows:
- Products (24%)
- Customer Service (23%)
- Workmanship (23%)
- Mis-selling (7%)
- Performance/Estimates (5%)
The key takeaway from the data is that Customer Service, Mis-selling and Performance/Estimates together total 35% of all complaints. These types of complaints are where an independent mediator can really support the resolution. Often these types of complaints can evoke high emotion, and by having an independent ‘third party’ to look at the facts, without emotion, this can really enhance moving the complaint to an appropriate resolution for all parties.
Delving deeper into the highest complaints’ category, ‘Products’, the top 5 most complained about are:
- Solar Products (30%)
- Windows (14%)
- Doors (14%)
- Air Source Heat Pumps (12%)
- Batteries (4%)
Charlotte Pilkington, Dispute Resolution Manager at QASSS, commented “The most common solar product problems are with inverters. The team at QASSS not only work with resolving these common complaints, but also provide support and one-to-one advice to companies to enable better overall customer satisfaction.”
This is backed up by research from Solar Guide which reports on the most common solar panel problems:
- Solar inverter will need replacing
- Low efficiency rating
- Birds nesting under solar panels
- Damage to the roof
- Initial costs
However, whilst solar products complaints make up the highest volume, it is important to note this doesn’t reflect the installations to complaint ratio for these products. So, whilst solar products have the highest volume of complaints per installation, Air Source Heat Pumps have the highest complaint ratio per installation.
- Air Source Heat Pumps (5%)
- Solar Products (2%)
- Windows (1%)
- Doors (1%)
- Batteries (1%)
QASSS is leading the home improvement industry with average dispute resolution times of just 3.59(2) days and with 98.4%(2) of complaints being resolved without the need for referral to the Ombudsman. The key benefits of using fast and efficient ADR services for both consumers and scheme members include significant savings in terms of both time and cost.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) also drives better and fairer outcomes. For companies, in particular, using ADR demonstrates a clear commitment to high-quality consumer protection and helps improve reputation and customer loyalty.
According to the third annual Consumer Action Monitor, only 1 in 10 customers are willing to ‘forgive and forget’ when it comes to a badly handled complaint as opposed to 75% who would make a repeat purchase after a well-handled complaint.(3)
Customer service doesn’t just improve customer retention and lifetime value; having an effective ADR service can significantly improve a brand’s reputation.
(1) Based on data from November 2018 to October 2019 from the Citizens Advice Bureau Consumer Trends report.
(2) Based on data from July 2019 – September 2019 for the DGCOS, HIES, and HICS consumer protection schemes.