Ongoing Vigilance. In particular we look out for three things:
1.Overcharging and Misrepresentation.
2.Working Cash in Hand.
Any of the above does result in a detailed review to discover the facts and to understand and eradicate any weaknesses in our systems.
Numbers 2 and 3 if proven usually result in dismissal with the potential to report the incident(s) to the police, in particular with Number 3.
Number 1, usually comes to light very early on. The customer or someone on their behalf will phone or write in and quite rightfully demand the attentions of a manager. This triggers a detailed ‘fact finder’ and determines our actions and responses.
We take the issue of overcharging or/and giving misleading information very seriously, usually resulting in the customer receiving a partial or full refund and the employee being subject to disciplinary process with the potential for dismissal.
BBC Watchdog / Rogue Traders
There was almost an inevitability that at some point we would feature on the programme. Not because we are systematic or opportunistic rogues (we’re not), but because of the large volumes of work we complete in a trade where the majority of installers are self-employed and complete 250 – 500 visits a year. We typically visit 3,000 – 5,500 addresses each month.
The programme focused on four items, two of which were set-ups, where an ‘expert’ had set a fault. In addition one was where a customer had complained that they had been overcharged and one was from a disgruntled ex-employee.
The timeline that these four issues took place was over a period of 13 months, in the same period we had completed more than 40,000 visits.
The disgruntled ex-employee was ultimately dismissed, with care and dignity, for his continuing inability to contribute any profit whatever to the business. In effect we were paying for the privilege of employing him.
The ‘overcharged’ customer had their complaint settled swiftly and (we thought) amicably; this related to work carried out over a year before the programme was aired. They subsequently complained to Watchdog because they considered they had been patronised by our Service Manager.
One of the set-ups was incontestable. Our operative had acted in bad faith to the ‘customer’ and had also flouted our written health and safety procedures. He was suspended from his duties 7 weeks before the programme aired and resigned shortly afterwards.
The other set-up was borderline. The operative failed to correctly diagnose the problem and recommended and installed a new aerial and then identified and rectified the fault.
In mitigation, the old aerial and fittings were in a poor condition and were ready for replacing in any event. This operative remains employed by ourselves, he has since undergone additional training in fault finding and diagnosing reception problems.
Can we be trusted?
We operate openly, when we get things wrong or a customer feels they have been taken advantage of, we will do our utmost to put things right. This way of doing business is not as a result of the BBC Watchdog programme or Matt Allwright denouncing us as Rogue Traders. It is how we have operated for the last 30 years.
Will Action Aerials feature on the programme again?
For the reasons already explained quite possibly. And if we do we will extend to Matt Allwright the same courtesy, respect and dignity as we did before.
Despite my total co-operation with the producer of the programme and Matt turning up unannounced at my office with a ‘crew’ of 7 and expecting some sort of reaction (fireworks, menace and blasphemy perhaps!), I remained polite and referred him to the exchanges of correspondence, in which their questions had all been answered truthfully and in full.