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The PIRB’s auditor’s casebook 2: The PIRB and complaints

The PIRB’s Complaints and Escalations department recently discussed the nature of complaints within the PIRB and how they go on to handle these complaints.

“The complaints that we can assist with are complaints where the plumber is registered with us and where they issued the homeowner with a Certificate of Compliance (COC),” explains Justiene Botha, the Complaints Administrator at the PIRB.

She says that the PIRB focuses on technical compliance issues – and can help homeowners if they notice that the registered plumber did not do their job according to the national standards.

“Unfortunately, we cannot assist with commercial or monetary complaints like refunds. Or if a homeowner does not like a specific plumber, we have to refer the complainants to the consumer council.”

It sometimes happens that a dispute arises between a homeowner and a plumber about payments and completion of work. This type of disagreements requires the intervention of an ombudsman and the PIRB can unfortunately not assist with such cases.

“We can assist where there are technical problems with an installation, and we try to solve complaints as quickly as possible. So as soon as we receive a PIRB complaints form, it takes about three to five working days for the complaint to be validated. Once it is validated, then we will allocate an audit if needed.”

Some complaints obviously do not get solved as quickly as others as some situations are more severe than others.

“Sometimes homeowners are a bit impatient – but we explain to them why things might be a little bit delayed. After a while they always realize it is a win-win situation as the installation will most likely be rectified.”

Justiene particularly references an incident that happened during the national lockdown in South Africa.

It turns out a homeowner called Serena* from Fourways had various complaints about plumbing non-compliances and geysers that were not installed correctly (which incidentally could lead to fatalities). According to the complaints form, one geyser almost “fell through the roof”.

“All in all, the incident posed as more of a challenge as it was during the hard-national lockdown. The homeowner, Serena also had her elderly parents stay with her, but she understood for us to get the plumber to go back and do the refixes – she needs to be patient.”

As the situation was rather urgent – the PIRB arranged for the plumber to go back and do the necessary refixes as quickly as possible.

And in the end the homeowner was incredibly happy with the way in which the situation was dealt with.

“I am truly glad we as consumers have the PIRB to assist with non-compliance issues,” the homeowner, Serena later wrote in an email to Justiene. “I would like to thank you for all your support and assistance. I wish we had more people like you assisting consumers during these difficult times.”

Justiene believes that homeowners have burned their fingers in the past by using non-registered plumbers.

“The public is definitely more welcoming to the PIRB as they realize we are there to assist them as well.”

To find out more about the PIRB’s audit department, please visit our website at pirb.co.za.

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The PIRB’s auditor’s casebook is a new, featured section of our news department. The auditor’s casebook follows real stories from plumbers, auditors and homeowners to show plumbers what is happening within the industry and to provide them with some exciting reading material.

Please note that names, addresses and other personal details are (and will be) changed in most cases in these articles and stories.

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