Why paying for PAT testing per item can be bad for you

PAT testing per item can encourage quantity over quality

In workplaces in the UK electrical fires account for around 33% of all accidental fires – that is a huge amount, especially when you consider most if not all could be prevented by some basic prevention measures. These fires are often due to electrical faults or misuse of electrical equipment.

By law, employers should make sure equipment is installed, maintained and used correctly, whether it is owned or leased by the business.

Most business owners though don’t take electrical safety seriously; inspecting and testing electrical equipment is essential for ensuring equipment is maintained and being used correctly but many brush over this by getting in the cheapest contractors or not bothering at all. 

pat testing per item labels on plugs

Let me try to explain why I think focusing on the cheapest price is bad for business; yours and mine…

Let’s say for example you want to get 500 items PAT tested, and you have been told by your bosses (or budget) to get the best price. You contact 3 companies for a quote and get 3 prices back. 

Company 1 is a small business based a 30-minute drive away, and quotes £45.00 initial then £1.00 per item with no additional charges and free repairs so that is £545.00

Company 2 is a small business, based in your town. They quote £25.00 initial then 75p per item, with no additional charges and free repairs which is £400.00

Company 3 is a national firm, they quote 65p per item and include small print that you ignore which is at least £441.49 (see below)

Company 3’s small print includes that they will charge you an large initial fee (e.g. £99.00 for the first 50 items), plus they will ‘test’ all your sockets, that you don’t need doing, and charge an extra £39.99 for that. They’ll also test all your microwave ovens for emissions leakage (which you don’t need doing) for £10.00 each. 

Small print is important – read it. 

However, it isn’t what this post is about. 

That company 3, which you will likely choose because it is the cheapest per item, is going to send an engineer 2 hours to you, who will not be paid travel time , and he will be expected to complete those 500 items in one day, to get his £125.00 wage (minus tax etc), so he will rush the job as fast as he can, cutting as many corners as possible to get the job done. He’ll be working 12 hours including travel, at around £10.00 an hour, or 25p per item. He may be doing it at the end of the week, when he has already worked 48 hours. 

I have no issues with the engineer, he’s working very hard to put food on the table, but he’s going to miss things and make mistakes, because 500 items can’t be done in the time allowed, and when it is your safety and the safety of your staff at risk, why take the risk? 

Especially when you consider from the 65p you pay he doesn’t see 40p of it. Plus, he didn’t do the microwave test you were charged for, and he only tested a few of your sockets, with just a plug in socket tester. 

Company 1 is too expensive in comparison, but company 2, a local company would be my choice. 

You are required by law in the UK to maintain safe electrical equipment; to be sure it is safe it needs periodic inspections and testing; not all equipment needs testing at the same frequency as other equipment; some can be done less often and others more, but if you insist on paying a contractor a low per item rate they’re going to want you to test everything every year so they can make as much money from the job as possible.

We have operated for many years on a per item rate, but we have not compromised on quality over quantity because we have always charged sensible prices based on our preferred hourly rate. Many small businesses do the same. Not everyone does. 

Don’t take a chance with your own safety

By |2020-01-06T15:59:21+00:00December 18th, 2019|PAT|Comments Off on Why paying for PAT testing per item can be bad for you

About the Author:

I am Richard Ayre; editor for this site, owner of the site and the business, and a PAT testing engineer with over 10 years experience. I consider myself an expert in testing IT equipment in office environments; I have worked in many different industries for hundreds of different clients testing all kinds of electrical equipment. I am also Operations Director for the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association As well as being the business owner I am also an employer; based in Wallsend near Newcastle upon Tyne. I am also involved in the running of the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association as Operations Director and joint founder. "PATTA" attends important meetings and provides representation for the smaller businesses that do PAT testing in the UK, when decisions are being made that affect them.