Consumer watchdogs

Perth, 18th January 2010

Many countries have so called consumer watchdog organizations, looking after consumer rights. After our glare investigation (see yesterday’s blog), another issue hit the news today… faulty solar panels! It appears that faulty connections are causing tripping of the installation with fire as a result. Several cases have been reported recently in Western Australia. It is not clear yet whether it is the manufacturer or the installation contractors issue but it is certainly the talk of the town on talk-back radio today.

My point for today is customer protection. What kind of legal rights do our customers have when it comes to lighting? It obviously varies from country to country. But it also varies from application to application.

If we look at public city lighting for instance complaints about lighting will be mainly in regards to either faulty lights (maintenance issues), glare (installation design issues) or insufficient lighting for public safety (lighting standards compliance issues).  The only recourse to the public generally is to lodge a complaint or notice to the city council. The onus is than on the council to rectify or provide a satisfactory response to the public.

When it comes to private (residential or commercial) installations the situation is a bit different. Most of the time it revolves around failing or non performing lighting systems. Some situations maybe covered by warranty, some may require complaints and rectifications by the vendor or manufacturer. Rarely however does it go all the way up to the lighting designer. Where disputes arise, small claims tribunals or even law courts may come into play.

We have been called in as expert witness in the past when lighting was deemed to be one of the possible reasons for a fatality. Cases involve road accidents or work place mishaps. Legal recourse in lighting is still in its infancy but it may be something that needs to be addressed as part of our discipline in the future.

18. February 2010 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: lighting design practice | Leave a comment

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