PAT Testing AtoZ – Q is for Quality or Quantity

Which would you prefer – quality or quantity?

Imagine for a moment that you have two options – today you can eat four meals from a fast food chain or one meal prepared by the Queen’s personal chef. Which is going to give you the better aftertaste?

Quality or Quantity

There’s a long running debate in PAT testing about targets. We all need to earn enough to pay the bills, and there are a few different options when you look at how much your PAT testing will cost you. Understanding the differences and a quick spot of maths now can save you a fortune in the long run.

Quality or Quantity – tests vs items

Quality or quantity - this cheap rogue PAT tester charged the customer for testing these leads, which are still coiled.
These spare leads had been “passed” by the previous firm although they had clearly never been uncoiled and checked. The customer had been charged for these items. When we checked, we found four counterfeit leads in bags. Still think quality vs quantity doesn’t matter?

First you have the cheap companies. They may charge as little as 12p per test – but watch out. Each item you submit to their ministrations will require a visual inspection, an earth test, a resistance test, and possibly a polarity test. Suddenly you’re looking at three or four tests per item. They inflate the quantity of tests to extract more of your hard-earned pennies.

Even if they’re charging 50p per item, there’s a good chance they aren’t testing properly. In order to make more money, they test more quickly – by skipping stages of testing, or by not actually testing at all. They get through more labels in the same space of time, by artificially speeding up their test rates. In these cases you’re paying 50p for somebody just to come in and stick a label on your equipment. Would you work like that?

Quality or Quantity – price per hour

Some companies charge based on the number of hours they expect a job to take. This sounds great – but what if they get a bonus for finishing the job early? Or pay a penalty for a job overrunning? This gives rise to an incentive to cut corners, to test faster.

Not all hourly-rate PAT firms do this, I hasten to add. A good firm will allow themselves enough time to test properly, and charge a reasonable rate for doing so. (In ideal testing conditions we aim for 150 – 200 tests per engineer per day. Some firms are a little quicker, some a little slower. But anyone significantly quicker may be cutting corners.)

Quality or Quantity – price per item

So you’ve ruled out the ridiculously cheap testers, and the firm who say they can send two engineers to test 2000 items in 5 hours. In an ideal world you would be left with the cream of the crop.

Unfortunately life is never that simple. However, by knowing what to expect from a reputable PAT testing firm you can check you’re getting quality, not quantity. Sometimes all it takes is a little common sense to realise that you’re not getting the service you’re paying for, but sometimes it helps to be armed with the knowledge of what should be done.

Why does the quality of my PAT testing matter?

Some people think PAT testing is just money for old rope. If you choose a rogue tester, then yes it is. If your insurer feels that your electrical maintenance is not up to scratch, they may decide not to pay out in the event of an electrical fire like this. (I’m not making any judgement on this incident, but merely illustrating that electrical faults can cause fires.)

However, a good PAT tester will not only ensure all your equipment is in safe working order, but will also give you peace of mind. Test engineers who test properly day in day out can spot counterfeits like these simply by the weight, while rogues may not even turn the plug over to check it.

You may even get additional benefits, such as:

  • Electrical asset register – if there is a fire or break in, how useful could it be to show your insurer an itemised list of every electrical appliance on your premises?
  • Maintenance record – often combined with the asset register, a fully detailed PAT report gives you early warnings of equipment which needs attention. A simple pass/fail report doesn’t give you as much detail.
  • Product recall advice – a reputable firm will update the engineers on unsafe electrical items which have been recalled. Better to know your failed dishwasher qualifies for a free repair than have to buy a new one!
  • Cable management advice – a good company will check every lead for damage, and give you advice on how to prevent damaged leads. This in turn helps protect your premises, your staff, and your customers.
  • Free minor repairs – some “cheaper” firms charge for replacement plugs and fuses, or for rewiring plugs. Suddenly 90% of your appliances “need” a new fuse at 50p a fuse – which soon hikes the cost of your testing.
  • Product recall updates and safety advice – you may be offered product recall updates throughout the year, so that you can rest assured you’ll hear of any recalls which could affect you.
  • A neater job – a good tester will label neatly and discreetly, and take rubbish and waste away.

We offer our customers all of these benefits. Why not get booked in today?


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