We are pleased to share with you today’s guest post from 24/7 Home Rescue.
Illegal gas fitters do not just pose a risk to their customers – they also cause problems for reputable, trustworthy tradesmen. With one in three people admitting that they would select someone to perform gas work based solely on the recommendation of an acquaintance and would not check the trader’s qualifications and registration details, the issue could be far greater than many qualified traders in the sector realise.
Unqualified gas fitters cause reputational damage to proper engineers. The shoddy service they frequently deliver can make dissatisfied customers think all gas engineers are cowboys, and that they will never receive a satisfactory standard of service from an engineer and will always have to call the engineer out again and again to deal with new problems. Gas Safe-registered engineers are not the stereotypical ‘white van man’ that asks for cash-in-hand, ramps up the price of a job once they have arrived on the property, and takes several days to complete a simple job, but illegal gas fitters have convinced countless people across the UK that this is the case.
Young people who want to become engineers could also be dissuaded from acquiring the qualifications they need and taking a proper role in the sector due to the prevalence of illegal gas fitters and the apparent popularity of their services. A student may read about yet another prosecution involving illegal gas work and wonder if it is worth attaining the skills they need to work on gas appliances when unskilled traders seem to be in such high demand. Of course, these people are shooting themselves in the foot – they will struggle to learn the skills needed to work on even the oldest and most basic boiler, and will miss out on updates about technical standards and other support from the Gas Safe Register when they begin illegally working – but the damage has already been done by this point.
Proper gas fitters need to spend time and money becoming qualified; illegal gas fitters bypass this, which may enable them to offer customers cheaper work (although the customer may have to spend a small fortune dealing with the consequences of this work). This illegal competition is unfair to registered engineers and can significantly affect their market rates and their bottom line. And when illegal gas work is performed badly, customers may find it impossible to seek redress, especially if they do not have valid information about the name and address of the fitter, with this again giving criminals an unfair advantage over legitimate traders.
Fortunately for consumers and the sector, unregistered gas fitters are committing a criminal offense, and this offending will hopefully catch up with them at some point. Gas fitters and the general public must have zero tolerance for illegal gas fitters, regardless of their relationship with the offender.
Kevin Burke writes about gas safety issues on behalf of boiler servicing experts and boiler breakdown cover providers 247 Home Rescue. He lives in Manchester with his girlfriend, one cat and two fish. Connect with 247 Home Rescue on Facebook and Twitter!
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