Ethical Pricing & Sales Practices

The sale of products, services, and solutions is a vital function for every business, considering that we are all in business to make a profit. However, many home improvement solutions are often mis sold through incorrect provision of products or solutions that aren’t right for the property or aggressive sales practices where products are grossly over-valued. In almost any industry, products can be sold unethical, and the spray foam industry is no different. The PCA and RPSA Joint Position Statement, alluded to questionable sales practices which have also been voiced in the mainstream media over the past few years.

For the spray foam industry to build trust with mortgage lenders, building surveyors/valuers, homeowners and other stakeholders, sales practices must follow a legal, acceptable, and ethical route. In addition, we now require that spray foam surveyors, sales companies and installers be affiliated with a Consumer Deposit Protection Scheme, of which there are several we can recommend. We’ve compiled a list of requirements that must always be followed, and we reserve the right to contact any customer for whom we’ve issued a 25 Year Product Warranty to monitor the sales and installation practices.

Lead Generation

  • Whilst cold calling and door canvassing is not an illegal practice, it can be perceived negatively. Any cold calling and door canvassing processes must not deliberately target an age group or demographic – particularly the elderly and vulnerable.
  • If conducting cold calling and door canvassing, the representative must provide clear guidance about the product they are offering, and they must respect GDPR regulations and the customers right not to be directly contacted.
  • When door canvassing, the representative should carry identification and they should leave the premises upon the customer’s request without attempting to force entry to the property.
  • Where possible, leads should be generated through inbound marketing where the customer makes the initial approach.
  • When generating leads, the specific product should always be advertised concisely so that the prospective customer can make clear and informed decisions.

Sales Practices

  • When selling to elderly or vulnerable people, you should recommend that a family member or friend be present during the survey.
  • Where it is evident that an elderly or vulnerable person is confused or unable to make a clear, informed decision, you should not attempt to close a deal or take a deposit without a family member or friend being present.
  • You must offer the customer a cooling-off period of at least 14 days. Cooling-off periods are mandatory unless an urgent installation is required due to property damage or a safety concern. Check Citizens Advice for more information on consumer rights.
  • Where the customer exercises the right to waive the cooling-off period and have the installation carried out sooner, you must request that they sign a waiver form to acknowledge that they understand the changes to their consumer rights.
  • Under no circumstances should any sales representative harass, bully or force customers to sign sales contracts. Whilst you are entitled to ask the customer if they would like to proceed with the quote, they should always be allowed adequate time to consider or compare it.
  • The sales representative should never criticise or make false representations about comparable products or installers.
  • The sales representative should never make any false representations about the product being sold.

Ethical Pricing

  • The customer quote must clearly show the number of square metres of roof space insulated and the unit rate charged per metre. Any discounts off the headline price must be clearly shown on the quote.
  • The scope of works should be clearly written on the quote along with the product details, a copy of a hygrothermal assessment and product certification and/or technical datasheets.
  • In residential settings, the rate of VAT for home insulation is currently zero-rated, meaning that no VAT can be added to the quote. If your business is VAT registered, you must show the zero rate on the customer quote and any associated invoices.
  • The recommended price bracket for 100mm or more of open cell insulation is £25-£60 per square metre. We do not expect to see any customers charged a higher rate than £60 per metre unless it can be demonstrated that the scope of work requires additional charges.
  • If discounts are used as an incentive to close a deal, they should be restricted to a fair amount not exceeding 30% of the original quoted price. Significant discounts devalue the original proposition and demonstrate that the customer was being unfairly charged in the first place.
  • Upon agreeing a quote with the customer, you are entitled to take a refundable deposit not exceeding 30% of the contract value. Deposits should be protected through a Deposit Protection Scheme.
  • You should provide the customer with written terms and conditions of sale so that they can understand their consumer rights.

Additional Considerations

  • How do you know the occupant owns the home and can proceed with the installation? It costs around £6 to check with the Land Registry to compare the title deeds against the customer’s name. Whilst rare, we’ve heard of circumstances where tenants have agreed and paid for installations without the property owner’s express permission.
  • Grade 1 Listed Buildings are not deemed as suitable for spray foam insulation. Grade 2 listed buildings may require approval before an installation can commence (check listed building consent).
  • Multi-occupancy dwellings such as flats or apartments may require approval from the freehold owner before an installation can commence.
  • We recommend that you consider voluntary disclosure of potential mortgage problems to enable your customers to conduct their research thoroughly.
  • If the customer is planning to move home soon, it is imperative to disclose that not all mortgage lenders support the use of spray foam insulation, particularly equity release lenders.
  • It is the responsibility of the sales company to issue the customer with a handover pack following completion of the installation.
  • Upon completion of a pre-install survey, you should communicate any required customer enabling actions and any ongoing responsibilities.

Working With Sub-Contractor Installers

  • The sub-contractor must be approved by ThermoFoam to use its products.
  • The sub-contractor must hold valid public, products, and employers’ liability insurance.
  • If the sales organisation appoints sub-contractors to carry installations, the sub-contractor must be paid a minimum of 35% of the customer contract value for the supply and installation of spray foam materials. For example, if the customer pays £50 per square metre for 70 square metres at a total price of £3,500, the installer must be paid the equivalent of £20 per square metre upon satisfactory completion and commissioning of the installation.
  • Where a third-party sales company fails to pay a sub-contractor for no good reason following bona fide completed installations, we reserve the right to suspend the sales company until the matter is resolved.
  • The sub-contractor must supply the sales company or customer with a Workmanship Warranty of at least 10 Years.

Dispute Resolution

  • If the customer raises a complaint about the sales process and/or installation, ThermoFoam agree to act as a mediator in resolving the dispute.
  • If the customer raises a valid complaint about the sales practices experienced, we reserve the right to suspend the sales company until any investigation is complete.
  • Where an installation is faulty and requires remedial works, we endeavour to support the sales company and customer until remedial works are completed.
  • Any remedial works should be completed by the installer within 28 days of being notified.
  • We reserve the right to suspend an installation company from our network should they refuse to complete remedial works or repair any damage.

ThermoFoam Approach

  • We monitor complaints from customers closely. Customers often contact us directly to discuss their experience when dealing with approved surveyors, sales companies, and installers. If a customer raises a complaint to us, we will notify and commence investigation within five working days.
  • We will investigate the sales and installation process if a customer has been mis sold spray foam insulation. We may request sales documentation from you, which must be made available upon request.
  • Where material breaches of our Approved Surveyors Agreement occur, we reserve the right to suspend your company from our network pending further investigation.
  • If we believe a customer has been mis sold and their consumer rights have been deliberately ignored, we reserve the right to suspend your company from “Approved” status permanently.
  • If permanently suspended from “ThermoFoam Approved” status, we reserve the right to share the details with other spray foam manufacturers/distributors.
  • We reserve the right to recommend that the customer contacts Trading Standards where material breaches of our rules and regulations occur in addition to a breach of consumer rights.
  • We reserve the right to enforce that sales companies and installers refund the customer the difference in instances where the maximum permitted sales rate breaches £60 per square metre (unless additional works are identified that support a higher charge rate).
  • Where criminality or breaches of consumer rights are identified, we reserve the right to report the sales company or installer to regulatory bodies.
  • Where sales companies advertise and quote the customer for ThermoFoam products but install a different brand or type of product, ThermoFoam reserves the right to terminate any agreement unless notified in writing prior to the installation.
  • We accept no liability for the losses suffered by sales companies or installers where we suspend their rights to sell ThermoFoam products.
  • Entirely at ThermoFoam’s discretion are approved sales or installer status issued and we reserve the right to suspend or permanently remove the right to sell our products without notice or reason.

Although sales companies often receive a negative reception from consumers, industry bodies and authorities, when products and services are sold ethically, correctly, honestly, and diligently, sales organisations can be effective at linking customers with solutions that may be beneficial for them. Whilst some media outlets have reported on the negativity surrounding spray foam sales organisations, direct sales is not an illegal method of generating business, therefore, we take a proactive approach to monitoring the sales activity of those who sell ThermoFoam products. Although we accept no responsibility for the way sales are conducted, our rules, regulations and guidance are designed to protect the consumer/customer wherever possible. We take a zero-tolerance approach to any sales activities that breach our own guidelines or consumer rights, and we guarantee to take the appropriate action against any sales organisation who misrepresent or mis-sell ThermoFoam products.

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