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Window Cleaning Issues - Canvassing, pole systems, pricing, problems, etc.

Licensed v's Un-licensed window cleaners.

Posted by Tam1967 (Tam1967), 2 April 2004
How would the members of this forum deal with unlicensed window cleaners. At this moment in time i am having to try and deal with 4 different unlicensed window cleaning outfits trying (with some success) to poach work from me through under pricing.
I know they are unlicensed because i have checked with the local council, who have told me that if i can find out there addresses they will issue them with a window cleaner license application form.
They also told me that if it is affecting my business to inform the police, who should move them on. However, I don't want the reputation of being a grass.
I have no objections to other people trying to start up their own window cleaning rounds as long as they play by the rules and here in Scotland the rules are you must be LICENSED and INSURED.
I live and work on the Scottish/English border and would like the views from group members on both sides of the border as what to do.

Many thanks
Posted by Neil (wylie), 2 April 2004
Do you think a letter to the local paper telling them what is happening might help?
They are always on the lookout for a story and if its in the publics interest to warn them of non professionals then maybe they will run it.
It might not do much but if it makes a few people aware of what is happening then it may help a bit.
Is the customer liable if they employ an unlicensed cleaner?

Posted by Tam1967 (Tam1967), 2 April 2004
I might just give that a go, if you fart (can I Say Fart on This Site? Grin) in the street in this county it seems to make the newspaper.
The Window Cleaner
Posted by tom_currie (tom_currie), 2 April 2004
take photos send to tax office and benefits office if you dont you will be left eating grass
this is business and business only. .
use the law which ever way you can
Posted by Londoner (Vince Green), 3 April 2004
We don't have licences here but apart from that the same problem exists everywhere. You can call them cowboys , fly by nights or whatever.
We used to have a crew working round West London who came from South Wales!
They would come up for about three days at a time, sleep in their van and blitz the work.
These days its the assylum seekers who are at it. They are living rent free, claiming benefits and working at anything that gives them cash in hand.
Posted by shinebright (shinebright), 3 April 2004
Give em a clout.
Posted by Ian_Giles (Ian_Giles), 4 April 2004
Glad I don't live in Scotland and need to go through the hassle of getting a licence to earn a living!
But as has already been said, cowboys are everywhere, why not use your computer to print off a few leaflets and go around your customers handing them out?

You could then explain the are unlicensed cowboys who lack insurance and ask them not to be taken in by cut price work.

I don't know what it is like in your area, but everywhere I go there is usually a window cleaner shortage.

You lose one account, there is always another around the corner.

At least it is one way of protecting your round without appearing to be a grass.

Posted by tam (tam), 4 April 2004
The problem in Scotland is that there is no body to "police" the people that have not got w/c/licences. The police are not really interested as they have enough on there plates chasing all the crap on the earth drugs, thieves, muggers etc. I have had a licence for 20 years [since they were first introduced] and have only been asked for my licence once in that time. I Scotland your part of the "black ecomomy" if you dont have a licence and most of these guys are probally on the dole. When I start work on a Friday I have to earn the money to keep my house, pay my shopping, run my car and pay insurance for my business all the things that un/linicenced w/cleaner do not have to do as the dole pays there rent c/tax and a few quid in there pocket so when they start on a Friday its just about all profit. I will probally feel the backlash of this post because I have nothing to hide and maybe some of the people that I am reffering to might be reading this. As for you English based w/cleaners [no offence] I would like you to define a "cowboy" becauce as I see it not many of you are in the W/C Federation, you have no union, no governing body, it is all just hot air in my opinion. If the Federation had more members we would have a bigger voice. but until that happens we will be talking until doomsday about cowboys. licences for ever.  
Posted by matt (matt), 4 April 2004
tam ~~ good post

BUT what difference of being a fed member or not ?? ??

Im not, as personally ive seen what goes on (i worked as a carpenter for a local council, and did a stint as a GmB fed rep, i say a stint, as it was a waste of time, i would go into a "managment meeting", put over my side, then be offered a little less, i would turn it down, only then to be offered a day off a week for a few months to do a "safety course" or something equally lame, this is how it went, the other reps would take the easy day off, it made me sick Sad)

so im insured, i pay my tax and NI Smiley

am i a cowboy because im not in the FED ?? ??

Back on topic Smiley

Tam1967 you have a living to make, do whatever you need to do Smiley

Posted by tam (tam), 4 April 2004
Matt, why are you not in the "Fed" or anybody else that is reading this post. You get god value for money at about 1.00 per week. It wont break the bank.
Posted by matt (matt), 4 April 2004
its not the money

what do / will they do for me

and im not trying to be arguementative (spelling) but i dont know what they will do for me ?? ?? ??
Posted by tam (tam), 4 April 2004
Matt, and all you non members of the "Fed" out there if you phone Beryl on 0161 432 8754 and ask for an info pack it will be sent to you within the week or E/mail or have a look at our web site on hope to hear from you after you "join" cheers. Tam
Posted by samm (samm), 6 April 2004
if u joined the fed today for 50 or what ever it is would the membership run out in june and would you then have to pay another 50 to renew mwmbership?
Posted by tam (tam), 6 April 2004
It works pro rata. No organisation would do that as it would put people off joining.
Posted by simonb (simonb), 7 April 2004
Do a leaflet
"Why you shouldn't use an unlicensed Window Cleaner"

List all the problems

NO INSURANCE this means if they have an accident YOU (the householder) PAY

etc etc
Posted by Tam1967 (Tam1967), 7 April 2004
Cheers Simon,

That is exactly what i am doing at this moment,(Newsletter/Terms of Trading sorta leaflet, HELP ME OUT JUSTIN RUGGLES Grin).

After a long telephone discussion, the Council here is now VERY aware of situation regarding numbers of un-licensed window cleaners. They requested that i write to them and supply as much details (which I have) of the un-licensed window cleaners working in my areas as possible, they will pass this info onto police, who will visit each individual and warn them about trading as an unlicensed window cleaner (seems the taxi trade had this hassle a few years back), council will also send license applications to all named individuals who will have no option but to apply for a license, if they wish to continue trading.

I don't aim to put these unlicensed window cleaners out of business i just want them working on an equal and legal basis like myself, ie licensed, insured, registered with Tax, NI and not claiming dole.

To let you now what I am up against some of these "cowboys" are happy to go around charging 2.00 for houses that are worth at least 6.00 (12 windows).

I am not worried about losing customers, but I am worried about the situation my ex-customers may find themselves in should any one of these cowboys have an accident and are not covered by insurance.

Chances are that this may make the local press and will make householders aware of the legal requirements of the window cleaning industry here in Scotland, maybe then they might stop using "cowboy" outfits and let the legal outfits get on with supplying our trade at the prices we need to make a living.

Thanks to all who replied and yeah i would love to give 'em a clout, but then i would probably lose my license.


Posted by replacement (Justin R), 7 April 2004
I cant really help you. I mean the news letter you need to do yourself as i dont no what stuff you do ie gutters patios etc etc But i will say use some pictures like before and after they are worth there weight in gold and tell a thousand words.

As terms i dont belive it that way, so you need to think what terms you want. Think long and hard as this could turn out very nasty if things go wrong.  Also will customes sign and stick to your terms? What happens if an 7 house thinks sod it i dont want you anymore, are you going to take them to court for this? as if you did then i dont see much hope for you getting new customers.

I really would not do them terms very bad idea. News letter great there love it cos its an personel touch.

Posted by riz (riz), 7 April 2004
I take offence to being labled a "English non fed member cowboy"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Angry Angry
I pay tax and insurance, wear a uniform and have a new sign written van. Why would i want to give 50 per year to a sticker companyHuh

Ionic's is more of a "federation" offering training insurance and marketing etc.


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