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What are you Being Charged For?

Whether we are shopping around for ourselves or for work, prices usually help most of us in making our final decision before purchasing. I mean, let’s face it: why buy a loaf of bread for £1.50 in one shop, when it’s just £1 next door. This is especially relevant now that the internet can make saving money on shopping so much easier.

I’ve been looking at all the different enticing prices for PAT testing on the internet and, like some of our new customers, I’ve realised that the prices advertised on web pages don’t always do what they say on the tin!

Having a quick look online demonstrates my point. Some PAT testing businesses are quoting as little as 60p per item, but my advice is to consider what you are actually getting for your money. More importantly, do you really end up paying 60p per item?

As most of our new business comes from either recommendations or the internet, we asked some of these customers what their experiences were while getting quotes, before coming to the decision of using PAT Test Solutions. Using their experiences, we thought we would try and help you save even more time and money…

For instance, if an advert is saying ‘from 60p per item’, you may often only be eligible for this offer if you have over a certain amount of items, usually in the hundreds or, in some cases, even the thousands. So, ask the question: ‘how many items needs to be tested to get this offer?’

When asking for a quote, remember: services will vary. Ask the questions that are most important to you. For instance:

  • Is there a callout fee?
  • Does this quote include all my paperwork, asset list (register of all items tested) and certificate?
  • When do we receive all the paperwork?
  • Does this quote include VAT?
  • When can the PAT testing be carried out?
  • Is there a minimum fee? If so, what does this include?
  • What would the price be if there are more items that need to be tested on the day?

I said that price helps most of us make a decision but, if companies are providing a service to ensure your safety, then this is clearly another key factor when making your decision.

Some inexperienced PAT testers may:

  • Duplicate results
  • Not check fuses
  • Not know the procedure for any failed items
  • Overlook dangerous faults on visual inspections
  • Issue labels for equipment not tested
  • Not use the right equipment for the job

We’re proud of the fact that we don’t do any of the above, but these things can happen, and knowledge is power. With that in mind, we recommend you ask the following questions, or check your last testing to see if:

Any results were duplicated: For example, when an extension lead has a sticker on both the plug and the block end of the lead, you may have been charged twice – especially if you are being charged per sticker!

Your fuses were checked: There isn’t always a way you can check this, but a tell-tale sign is when the instruction cardboard is still on a plug. If you are checking a fuse, why would you then put the card back on? It’s actually a fire risk. If there was a spark or it got damp, it could cause an electrical fault and lead to a fire. A tester should always remove this card for the risk alone.

You don’t know the procedure for any failed items: All failed items should have a red sticker and be highlighted on the asset list. If a minor repair cannot be carried out to rectify the problem, the items should be taken to the person in charge of the company’s procedures who can then inform the PAT tester of the action to be taken in order to meet with their policies. As a PAT tester, we would never destroy an appliance without instruction.

Any dangerous faults have been overlooked on visual inspection: Correct training and experience are really the only ways that an engineer will not overlook dangerous faults. However, a PAT tester legally doesn’t have to be qualified to be a PAT testing engineer – they only need to be capable of changing a plug. Think of it this way: when you put your car into the garage for an MOT, do you expect a mechanic to deal with your car, or someone who just knows how to change a tyre? At the end of the day, this is your safety we’re talking about. If this is a concern of yours, then make sure to ask the question: ‘are all of your engineers qualified, and do they work to the Institution of Electrical Engineer’s code of practice?’

Labels were issued for untested equipment: We have been on jobs where we’ve picked up from what we call ‘sticker jockeys’ – this is where lots of items that have had stickers applied, but haven’t been tested! If it’s a fixed wire, a PAT tester has no reason to look at it as it’s not a portable appliance. This can often be a result of their inexperience, or simply because they’re getting paid per sticker used! Some genuine mistakes can happen, but your asset list can often show if this is happening to you a lot.

The right equipment is being used: Again, this is down to experience, training and qualifications. When booking your PAT testing, make sure you know if the engineers are qualified, and if their equipment is calibrated.

There is no specific set of rules when it comes to prices, and all companies will have their own reasons for their charges. When you book your PAT testing, make sure you are getting a fair and competitive charge as well as the correct testing of appliances. But remember, testing is more than just price – it plays a key role in the electrical safety of your workplace and protects you from the dangers of electricity.

So, when requesting a quote, ask them about the service that they provide, and perhaps cost shouldn’t be the only factor when you make your choice!

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