Trade Associations - What They Do & How They Help You?

The chances are you have heard of trade associations before, but just how much do you know about their work and just how much how they can help you when you are looking for a trusted tradesman?

There will be times when you need to call on the expertise of a highly rated tradesman to help out with various tasks around the home. If your plumbing sprung a leak over the weekend or your electrical wiring needs updating for example, then you may not be able to fix it on your own. Most plumbing and electrical work requires competent people with certification such as Gas Safe registration or Part P! Even the smallest water leak can cause horrendous damage if repairs are not done properly. So where do you start? Right here on the internet, as you have done. Simply picking a contractor out of the phone book is no longer the consumer's first choice. So what is the best way to proceed? Calling on a member of a reliable trade association is the best way to find someone who has been financially vetted, whose work is monitored over a period of time and is able to offer you insurance backed guarantees on their work.

It is important to do your homework when dealing with a trade association though. A recent consumer report published by DGCOS suggests that some lead generating web sites are trade bodies; this is not the case - they sell leads generated from the public, do not have the infrastructure setup to be a true trade body, do not directly deal with the public or provide the support and experience required by a trade association to really stand by and assist both tradesmen and the consumer from exploitation. All trade associations you rely on to help find a reliable plumber; gas engineer or electrician should publicise and ensure that their association members adhere to a strict code of conduct. Here is an example >> This is the code of conduct for FairTrades Association members .

A good trade association will conduct strict legal and financial vetting on their members, have a *landline contact number for both their members and the public to phone them, be able to verify membership to their organisation for their members, represent themselves and their members at trade shows, where it is possible they should be TrustMark Scheme Operators and provide members with letters of introduction which confirm their status as reliable tradesmen belonging to a trades body. All reliable trade associations will seek to provide industry news and training for their members, publicise their members qualifications and be happy to take and answer any questions or concerns you may have about finding the right tradespeople, so look for a contact phone number and email if you are on a trade association's website.

Trade Associations should insist that their members offer a written warranty to cover workmanship and materials. If their members fall within the roofing, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sectors an insurance backed guarantee should at least be offered by the installers and with double glazing we highly recommend that their members provide proof of either FENSA or CERTASS registration where they do not submit their own registrations.

Insurance Backed Guarantees (IBG's) provide a safeguard for consumers in the event that their contractor goes out of business before the expiry of the guarantee provided on completion of the work. Should the builder / home improvement company experience financial difficulties before the warranty period has expired and be forced to cease trading the consumers' installation and workmanship guarantee is rendered worthless. The IBG then takes over and the remainder of the warranty is covered by the insurance company. In short, a trade association does a lot more work behind the scenes for both its members and the public than one would realise.

Trade associations make it easier for the consumer to identify reliable tradespeople. They also make it easier for the public to lodge a complaint about a tradespeople, who is one of their members, should you find the need to do so. Since many staff working at a trade association have years of experience in the industry they are able to sympathise with the consumer and, as they want to protect their reputation in the industry and that of their members, the trade association will endeavour to mediate a dispute so that everyone is happy without undue costs being needed. The odds of needing to complain though are greatly reduced simply by choosing to work with a trade association's members, as they vet their members before allowing them to join. All worthy associations will have some kind of complaints procedure you can follow. Before you select your chosen trader, be sure you find out what you can do via the association you choose should you have cause to complain in the future.

What is the standard complaints process used by a trade association? Most associations will advise that you speak with the trader first. If you are unsuccessfully able to resolve an issue the next stage would be to put your grievance in writing and to state that you will seek resolution through the trade association. Should the trade associations mediation prove unsuccessful, and the consumer is still unable to come to an agreement with the company who has done the work the final step, if required; would be to proceed with a formal complaint through an independent channel. The logical method here would be to use trading standards. Insurance related claims have their own set of complaint procedures and these will be found on your insurance documentation.

As you can see, trade associations have positive outcomes for both members and those who seek a reliable trader through them.

Due to the nature of business which is constantly evolving it has become necessary to mention that many companies are now working from mobile phones more than at any time in the past and with limited staff and smaller firms where owners are themselves onsite. These firms no longer have landline numbers and may well only be contactable via a Skype or mobile number. As a consumer it is up to you to be diligent, but also weigh up for yourself if you feel you can trust your tradesman as a landline may very well soon be a thing of the past for smaller companies.

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Fair Trades is the trading name of Fair Trades Ltd. Fair Trades Ltd is registered in England
Company Number 1813671. Registered Office is Suite 40B, Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 1BY
General Enquiries: (+44) 0800 131 0123 - Membership Enquiries: 0800 131 0500 - Fax: (+44) 0800 131 0900