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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Who Should Pay For Scratched Glass?

OK People lets get real here.  If we clean windows we have scratched glass!  I have.  And it scares me every time I take on a job with brand new glass.  Because I know like you know that glass surfaces today are very scratch sensitive.  So;... the quality of the razor and the precision of the technique used are NOT the only reasons why glass scratches.  You can use the same exact razor and technique on two different windows and only scratch one.  The largest determining reason for scratches is actually scratch sensitivity.  Which is very difficult to quantify.  And the window cleaner is NOT responsible for scratch sensitive glass surfaces.  The manufacturer is.  But it is way too easy to put all the blame on the window cleaner.  Since before the windows were cleaned the windows were not scratched.  The window cleaner then has to defend himself.  Which is exceptionally difficult to do since very few people understand exactly what causes glass surfaces to be scratch sensitive.  All glass surfaces are believed to be the same and therefore the tools that are used to clean them are believed to be the means by which the windows are scratched.  I even had a customer tell me she believed the squeegee rubber scratched her windows!  I could not convince her otherwise.

This discussion is not however a discussion of how windows are scratched or why they are scratched, but rather who should pay for the damage.  I have written what I have here for the purpose of demonstrating how complicated by ignorance this issue is.  The problem in answering this question is we are looking for a singular scapegoat.  We are looking for a singular responsible entity.  When the reality is it is a "shared responsibility".  I mean why don't even the razor manufacturers do something to educate the window cleaner that there are windows out there that should not be touched by a razor blade?  Why don't the glass manufacturers put out some of the millions they make for the scientific research to determine exactly why some surfaces are scratch sensitive?  Why don't glass and window sales companies do more to inspect the surfaces of the products they sell?  Why don't general contractors perform inspections of the surfaces of the products they install?  And yes why don't we as window cleaners do more to first educate our customers about scratch sensitive glass?  Also why don't we as window cleaners make it much more of a practice to inspect the surfaces we clean before we use a razor or anything else to remove paint, etc?  Why don't we explore different products and techniques to remove debris from scratch sensitive glass surfaces?  Lastly why don't we as window cleaners have an all inclusive waiver signed by the owner and or general contractor we are working for?

When an insurance agency is approached by their client/window cleaning contractor over a specific building that had their windows scratched they have some detective work to do.  Simply because the insurance company that they use will likely deny the claim.  Leaving everyone without an answer.  Questions like are the windows scratch sensitive?  Did the window cleaner know about this ahead of time?  Does the window cleaner even know what scratch sensitivity is.  Was there a waiver put in place before the job began?  Was the insurance company asked about whether they would pay for a scratched glass lawsuit when the policy was purchased?  These are the questions that need to be answered to determine what percentage of the shared responsibility the window cleaner has.  But again I need to emphasize that this is a shared responsibility.

It is also necessary to learn whether the scratches were present before the cleaning.  Because they could have been created when the glass was moved, when the windows were put into storage, or when they were installed.  They might have been created by someone else such as a painter.  Then covered over by dirt.  And revealed when the windows were cleaned.  Since the window cleaner is the last contractor to work on the windows they will always be blamed for the scratches.  I have experienced this myself and believe that many thousands of window cleaners have also.

The bottom line here is that legal man must be called in to determine what the shared liability is with the help of the expert witness/glass consultant.  

Written by Henry Grover Jr.

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