Complaints about Scheme Members

Complaints about Scheme Members

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NAPIT carry out assessments of Scheme Members with the purpose of ensuring that they are competent to deliver safe and compliant work.

We do however recognise that sometimes things go wrong. If that happens it is important that you first raise the issue with the installer and make sure they have had an opportunity to resolve your issue or complaint before raising it with NAPIT or other parties.

If the problem remains unresolved you can make a complaint to NAPIT, the following sections provide guidance about the extent to which NAPIT can assist in a complaint, and advice on what other protections and actions could apply when things go wrong. If you have a potential complaint you are strongly advised to read all of these sections prior to making a complaint, to help prepare and inform yourself as to the best course of action to take.

NAPIT's Role and Responsibilities in Cases of Complaint

NAPIT's role is to certificate, and to consider the ongoing status of certification of Scheme Members. Since compliant work is a cornerstone of scheme requirements, the way in which a Scheme Member acts to resolve complaints about their compliance is fundamental to their continued certification.

NAPIT set scheme rules that require Scheme Members to operate an effective complaints process, and to assure compliance by warranting that they will return and rectify non-compliant work for a period of six years from the completion of work.

NAPIT's responsibility in handling consumer complaints is to impartially judge the appropriateness of any complaint resolution offered by the installer to the consumer, and to take action against the installer if the resolution does not resolve the complaint in a manner that achieves compliance in a timely manner. NAPIT is also responsible for considering the impact of the evidence from complaints on the ongoing surveillance and certification of installers.

The process does not involve NAPIT paying compensation, or funding other installers to carry out rectification work, although if these things are offered by the installer themselves they can act as suitable resolution options.

Before a complaint is escalated to NAPIT, the installer must have been given the opportunity to resolve the complaint themselves.

Scheme Member Warranties, Insurance and Guarantees

Scheme Members are required by the NAPIT Scheme Rules and many scheme standards to take responsibility for correcting any non-compliant work for which they are responsible for up to six years from the date the work was completed. They should provide such an undertaking in writing and providing that they are trading, this undertaking will fall on them as a requirement whether or not they remain certificated by NAPIT.

For renewable energy related work, including that under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), installers are required to provide an Insurance Backed Warranty which must be included in the Handover Pack that is provided to you. This warranty, details of which should also be included on the MCS Certificate where applicable, provides protection in the event that the installer is no longer trading and as a result unable to honour their commitment to you. The requirement for this is set by approved Consumer Codes and failure to provide such a warranty should be taken up directly with the Code operator to which an installer belongs.

For work within the Competent Person Schemes, installers must register any notifiable work they carry out by alerting NAPIT of its completion and compliance with the Building Regulations. Once in receipt of this notification, NAPIT issue a Building Regulation Compliance Certificate (BRCC). For work covered by a BRCC, the NAPIT Work Quality Guarantee applies, as described below.

The NAPIT Work Quality Guarantee

The NAPIT Work Quality Guarantee applies to work for which a legitimate Building Regulation Compliance Certificate has been issued. The Guarantee applies for a period of six years and is an assurance of compliance with the Building Regulations. Provided the installer named on the certificate is still trading they must comply with this Guarantee. In the event that the installer is no longer trading, and subject to the Terms and Conditions, NAPIT will take responsibility for bringing the work into compliance with the Building Regulations.

When and How can NAPIT help?

If you have concerns about the compliance of your installation you must register this with the installer who carried out the work and give them the opportunity to resolve the issue. If you approach NAPIT without having gone through this stage we will note that a complaint is to be raised, notify the installer that we are aware of the complaint and ask you to contact the installer directly.

If the installer does not resolve your complaint you can escalate it to NAPIT. See “Making a Complaint”. We will review the information provided and approach the installer in order to determine the best approach:

  • If it looks possible to reach a mutually acceptable agreement about a resolution that will satisfy you, we will document our understanding of the resolution and hold the investigation open until both parties tell us the complaint is resolved.
  • If it is not easy to agree a resolution we will investigate by taking evidence from the NAPIT member and, if we deem it necessary, we may organise a site inspection to gather evidence for ourselves. Following the investigation we will document our findings and if an issue with the installation is found, we will put them to the NAPIT member for them to propose how to address it. If we consider their proposed resolution to be satisfactory, we would ask the Complainant to agree to it. Following agreement, we would ask for evidence of completion and the Complainant's satisfaction (or if appropriate attend site again to verify satisfactory completion) before closing the complaint.

If at any time NAPIT do not consider the offered resolution to be satisfactory the installer would be referred to the NAPIT Compliance Panel to consider sanctions such as suspension of their certification, or additional monitoring of their activities until a suitable resolution was offered.

There are circumstances where an agreement cannot be reached, or is not being adequately delivered, typically for one of the following reasons:

  • The installer disputes the details of the complaint and the evidence from both parties is inconclusive regarding fault
  • The complaint is not being handled in a timely manner
  • The offered resolution is considered appropriate by NAPIT but is not accepted by the complainant
  • The offered resolution involves the installer returning to carry out rectification work but the complainant does not wish them to return

In these circumstances NAPIT is not sufficiently independent to judge between the parties and either legal action, or Alternative Dispute Resolution options will be recommended.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a quicker and cheaper alternative to court, where consumers and traders can resolve their disputes. It is a voluntary process and parties can still choose to take further court action if they do not reach a mutually acceptable solution. There are various types of ADR processes and depending on the size, complexity and value of the claim; parties can decide to use whichever process that would most effectively resolve the dispute.

Organisations are approved to handle cases using mechanisms such as Arbitration or Ombudsman services. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is the UK Competent Authority for ADR bodies in the UK, who are publicly listed. If the complaint handling process is not resolving the complaint it will be recommended that both parties enter into an arrangement with one of these organisations. NAPIT will provide a summary of our position on the case to both parties and this can be used within the ADR process by either party.

If your work was carried out under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, it would also have been covered by a Consumer Code Scheme. Both the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) and the Home Insulation & Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES) have links to ADR organisations.

Advice for when NAPIT can't help

There are situations where NAPIT is unable to help, and the following table aims to provide advice you could consider in these circumstances. NAPIT’s advice is general and should not be viewed as an alternative to contacting an advisory agency such as Citizens Advice, Trading Standards or taking legal advice:

Situation Advice

The work was carried out over six years ago

The work is outside the period that either the installer or NAPIT are obliged to provide warranty of the work. It is advised that you check the original contract to verify whether there was any extended warranty cover included.

The installer was not certificated by NAPIT when the work was carried out for the scope of work involved

If the installer’s documentation falsely implied at the time that they were certificated by NAPIT for the scope of work they carried out for you, then both you and NAPIT could take action about false representation.

If the installer was certificated by another body for the same scheme, then the certification body responsible at the time should investigate your complaint, and NAPIT would monitor the manner in which the installer resolved your complaint once their findings were available.

If the installer was simply not certificated at the time of the work, nor claimed to be, the matter is directly between you and the installer and you should take legal advice.

There is no contract (or equivalent documented evidence) that demonstrates that the work was carried out by the installer complained about

In the absence of a contract, evidence could be certification issued by the installer, or registration of the job for things like Building Control or the MCS Installation Database (both of which register the installer name). A quotation is not evidence that work was done unless it is annotated or referred to in correspondence that shows that accepting it formed a contract.

If it is not possible to establish beyond doubt that the installer complained about was responsible for the work, NAPIT are unlikely to be able to help. You could consider Court action where officials can consider arguments for responsibility.

The complaint is about the pricing of a job.

NAPIT recommends that you get alternative quotations, ideally from three certificated installers. If you think that your installer is pricing unfairly you should raise the issue directly with them. If you are not satisfied we would suggest taking advice from your local Trading Standards contact.

The complainant will not allow the installer to attend site

We understand that there is sometimes a loss of trust towards an installer in a complaint situation. NAPIT’s powers are limited to demanding that an installer completes work in a compliant manner, or rectifies non-compliant work. We cannot require an installer to provide compensation, or to pay for an alternative installer to carry out work, but these can be suitable complaint resolutions steps if proposed by the installer themselves.

The work was carried out under MCS but the issues are not technical

MCS is primarily concerned with the technical aspects of complaints, while requiring that installers belong to a Consumer Code Scheme for many non-technical aspects. See the leaflet “Consumer Advice: which MCS complaints should be addressed to Consumer Codes”

Situations that can hinder complaint handling

There are situations which can limit the complaint process. The extent to which we can help in these circumstances can vary from case to case and we will advise you accordingly if these circumstances arise. The following tables provide some general advice on typical situations that can arise:

Situation Advice

Another contractor has carried out work to rectify the problems

NAPIT can take feedback from you that could be used to review the certification of the installer, but as the original work is no longer available to review we can have no other involvement.

The installer has refused to cooperate and certification has been suspended or withdrawn

NAPIT can suspend and ultimately withdraw certification if an installer is not fulfilling their obligations for resolving complaints. If this has happened then suspension can be lifted if a resolution is found, but withdrawal of certification leaves NAPIT with no further sanctions to impose.

At that stage it is still possible, although unlikely, that the parties could enter a low cost Alternative Dispute Resolution process. Failing that, if the installer is still trading, they are likely to be in breach of contract and you would be advised to consider legal action. NAPIT can provide a report on the case that can be used in such action, and can act as an Expert Witness if required.

The installer is now certificated by a different Certification Body

NAPIT can investigate your complaint but have no authority over the installer. We would expect to investigate and report our findings to you, the installer and the new Certification Body. The installer is still subject to the contract you entered into and the new Certification Body should monitor how the installer resolves your complaint.

The installer is not certificated any more but is still trading

The installer is still subject to the contract you entered into which should have committed them to assuring compliance for a period of six years. You should still complain to them and remind them of their obligation, they should resolve the complaint.

If, despite this, there is an unresolved non-compliance you could take action against them for breach of contract.

The installer is no longer trading

See the leaflet: “Consumer Advice: Actions to take if your tradesperson is no longer trading

Another contractor has carried out work that has impacted on the original work

NAPIT would need to judge whether we can correctly determine if an installation could have been compliant at the time of installation, or may have been made non-compliant by the work of another party. If we are unable to reach a definitive conclusion we would report such findings to you and you would be advised to take legal advice.

The work is incomplete and/or the installer has not been paid

If work is incomplete it is often difficult to judge whether compliance would be achieved if the installer continued to completion. If work has halted due to non-payment it is not possible for NAPIT to monitor the progress towards compliance. If you cannot resolve a payment dispute we would suggest seeking an Alternative Dispute Resolution approach.

The complainant takes legal action against the installer during a complaint investigation

NAPIT will suspend any complaint investigation until legal proceedings are concluded and then review whether or not to recommence dependant on the outcome. Even if the case is not directly related to the installation work, NAPIT would not be able to require the installer to cooperate with the process while under court proceedings.

The installer takes legal action against the complainant during a complaint investigation

NAPIT will review the case and if it is considered likely to impede the complaint investigation, NAPIT reserves the right to suspend action pending the outcome, or to change the extent of the investigation to recognise that the consumer cannot be required to grant access to their property while under court proceedings.

There is evidence of interference with equipment or the installation

NAPIT reserves the right to withdraw from a complaint investigation if there is evidence that there is interference with equipment or the installation that prevents us reaching conclusive findings. If this is the case we would put this in writing.

The work is ancillary to that for which the NAPIT member is certificated

If you have asked the installer to carry out the work which is not included in their scope of certification but indirectly relates to work that is included, we would expect them to rectify any faults for the entire installation contract. However, we are unable to take action against them for any problems associated with the indirectly related aspect to the work.

If the installer’s documentation falsely implied that they were certificated for the work involved, then both you and NAPIT could take action about false representation.

Some Consumer Codes involved in the microgeneration sector do cover some ancillary products such as voltage optimisers, battery storage etc and you may be able to seek redress through them.

The work is covered by a warranty (or similar) where compliance is identified as the responsibility of another party

An installation covered by new building warranties might fall into this scenario, or cases where the NAPIT member was subcontracted by another party.

Making a Complaint about a Scheme Member

If you have considered all the information provided above, can demonstrate that the installer has had a suitable opportunity to handle your complaint, and are not satisfied with the outcome to date then please complete all of the information on the NAPIT Complaints Form and return it to us.

We seek to acknowledge all complaints within 5 working days so if you haven’t heard anything within that timescale please get in touch to check we have received it.

Complaints will be handled in accordance with the NAPIT Complaints Policy. This includes a section on what we expect of you in order to best assist in processing your case.

If, during the complaint process, you disagree with the position taken by NAPIT you can ask for a Complaint Review which allows for an internal, but independent, review of the case to double check our position and conclusions.

If you think we have failed to handle your complaint in line with our Complaints Policy please let us know and give us an opportunity to address your concerns. In our response we will provide you with the contact details for any appropriate external body to whom you could make a complaint against NAPIT (which could vary depending on the area of work, scheme or geographic location involved).