I just want to make sure you are aware of what you may not get from a ‘50p per item supplier’.
As director for a national association trying to raise awareness of the ethics of these companies, I want to make sure you’re aware of the risks.
This is based on a real live example – we have worked with this client a few years now, a school in Newcastle upon Tyne. They’d had a bad experience with their previous supplier and so we got the job.
The previous supplier’s engineer managed to test over 600 items in less than a day on site; he missed loads of appliances that were damaged – found throughout the following term by teachers and children at school.
That scares me, that someone cares so little about children in school he’d knowingly cut corners putting them at risk.
These companies charging 50p or about that, to PAT test, are cowboys, and the people that work for them are cowboys too. They could get a much better job working for an ethical company. They get paid about 20p per item, so do the maths – they have to test 500 items a day to make £100.00. Then quite often they don’t get paid travel time or fuel either so that comes off what they earn. I have heard of guys ‘testing’ 1000 items in a day!
What do they actually do – the slap their stickers on and do little else. Quite often they write down the appliance in a book and later on make up the test results whilst watching the TV sat on their sofa at home.
When we did the inspection last year at this school, we had 3 of our best guys on the job all day.
I have seen too many issues arise from companies that cut corners and it scares me the most when it’s children that could suffer.
If the PAT tester misses dangerous things that puts school children (or other users in other workplaces) at risk of electric shock, or the appliance at risk of overheating and catching fire, risking other items, the building, the business, etc.
They also have high charges for repairs, when they do them – quite often the engineer will skip them completely, simply fail the item and move on or pretend he didn’t see it, because he doesn’t get paid for a fail or to repair. But when they do charge, they’ll charge astronomical rates like £10 to change a plug. They also do ‘socket tests’ for an added fee – you don’t need to get sockets tested, they’re done by the electrician as part of your EICR.
We don’t pay our engineers per item rates like most, we pay proper wages and encourage them to take time to ensure every appliance is carefully checked and any repairs needed are done.
We pay them travel time and fuel allowance and don’t have targets, except to do a great job and to be sure they have left every workplace safer than how they found it.
We provide you with certificates that itemise every item tested, and their electrical readings – if something happens that requires you to give evidence in court you’ll need that information as evidence you have taken all possible action to ensure you have maintained safe equipment. 50p companies don’t tend to provide this information – I’ve seen paperwork so bad it was in illegible handwriting, I’ve seen other reports where the data provided differed from page to page, others where just a tick confirms something had been checked.
I have watched PAT testers wave their phone at an appliance to claim it was tested, and not get a tester or screwdriver out of their tool bag, ever.
Check out this video from the PAT Testing Network that shows you What is Not PAT Testing.