Would you buy a car without asking to see proof of ownership or an MOT certificate? Presumably not, unless you’re particularly naïve or endearingly trusting. I think there are very few of us who would actually hand over thousands of pounds to a persuasive salesman without asking him to prove his claims, yet I see that happening all the time in the fenestration market as buyers take their suppliers’ word for it on all kinds of certification and accreditation.
It’s possible we’ve got used to thinking we don’t need to scrutinise the small print too much anymore – after all, we’re very quick to click ‘agree’ to terms and conditions on all sorts of online agreements without reading every page because we think it’s just a formality. That might just about be OK when you’re setting up a social media account, but it’s definitely not OK when you’re managing your business.
If you don’t scrutinise the small print from every one of your suppliers when it comes to certification and accreditation, then I think you’re putting not only your legal responsibilities but also your moral obligation to your customers and your hard earned business reputation into the hands of others.
This extends beyond just the requirement to satisfy the Building Regs of course and into the realms of safety and security; and the fact is that if you are claiming that your products meet any particular standard or test, then you need to be 100% certain that those claims are accurate.
I’ve watched the recent debate being played out in the media between some of the leading PVC-U systems suppliers and one particular steel producer with real interest. I have no desire to get involved, but what has struck me is how the issue of testing and accreditation is at the very heart of that debate.
What the systems companies are quite rightly pointing out is that fabricators are free to use any components they choose in their windows. But, if they do use anything which differs in even the tiniest detail from a specification which has previously been tested and accredited to a British Standard, then they immediately invalidate their right to claim that their window complies.
Fabricators can make their own choice of course, but only once they have scrutinised the small print of any accreditations which any of their suppliers are claiming and have understood the implications of diverging from that in terms of guarantees and warranties.
It’s not enough just to rely on verbal assurances from those suppliers either – the onus is always on the fabricator or installer to check everything for themselves in writing. No business can claim approval to any standard, even if they are authorised to rely on cascaded data, unless they have checked that data for themselves. That means asking for a copy of the certificate, checking the date of any test and asking when that test was last audited.
At Mila, we have our BSI Kitemark audited every year, along with our TS007 tests and our CE marking and those certificates, along with every other security and performance test certificate for our products, are all available to every customer on request.
In fact, we’ve made the process of checking even easier for our customers with a new conformance page which has recently added to our website. Our test certificates are now displayed on our website.
We’re proud of our ongoing commitment to and investment in testing and we know we can stand the closest scrutiny. I would urge other suppliers – not just in hardware – to do likewise.