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Gas Safe engineers battle ignorance but chief disputes claims

Gas Safe engineers say they use the Corgi name and branding to safeguard business because gas consumers still do not know workers must register on the Gas Safe scheme.
Gas Safe engineers battle ignorance but chief disputes claims
Registering with Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out gas work in Great Britain and the Isle of Man. Handed the gas registration baton on April Fool's day, (April 1, 2009) Capita's Gas Safe scheme replaced Corgi's. Irate installers say they get treated like fools by consumers who refuse them business because they are not Corgi-registered.

Engineers say in the fight to prevent rogue traders from profiting from gas consumers' ignorance they have had to highlight the Corgi name or face losing business.

One engineer said: “The only reason I have taken out Corgi membership is to be able to keep the Corgi logo. I therefore don't need to spend 10 minutes explaining what Gas Safe Register is. I remember meeting the Gas Safe Register people and being told about this great advertising campaign that was going to take place. Who are they kidding? I have been forced to pay out more money to have both logos.'

Gas installers, angry at what they say is Capita's failure to raise public awareness, have been voicing their views in numerous, often unprintable, comments on www.heatingandventilating.net.

One engineer asked: “Why do the public still have absolutely no idea about the gas safe register. It's a bit of a joke”. Another added: “Man rang and said ‘Are you Corgi registered’. We said ‘No’ and he hung up!'

Another engineer said “People, especially the elderly, cannot comprehend the changeover, if you're not Corgi registered they consider you not qualified even if you belong to a gas safe register'.

Disputing engineers’ claims of poor public awareness, Peter Eldridge the chief executive of Gas Safe said:

“We are already seeing significant awareness that the public are aware that the gas registration scheme has switched from Corgi to Gas Safe. We have a KPI target, with a deadline of October 2009, to achieve 40% consumer awareness of the Gas Safe brand. Everyone involved in this has acknowledged that this is a challenging target, but are very focused on working towards that goal'.

He added: “Engineers are well aware of the work we are doing. As well as ID cards we have given them promotional leaflets explaining the switch to show consumers and businesses can come to us at any time for more.'

With millions spent on building the Corgi brand in the last 18 years, installers criticised Capita's decision to keep the new Gas Safe name a secret from the public until April 1.

One engineer asked: “Why was Capita allowed to launch the 'Gas safe register' brand on April 1st with no prior notice to the public? Nobody I know outside of the trade has ever heard of the new scheme, so why have the promotional work starting at the end of April? Surely, if we are supposed to show ID cards to customers, they should know what they're looking at before we arrive on their doorstep?'

The chief executive said: “The Gas Safe scheme was unveiled to the trade press in January. We took the view that up to April 1, 2009, there was potential for confusion among the public if we publicised the Gas Safe Scheme before the CORGI registration scheme came to an end. We chose to keep that distinction clear and publicise the new scheme from April 1 2009. And with hindsight we believe the right decision was made”.

Eldridge added: “Investing in building up a brand takes time and money. I would challenge any assumption that this is not happening. We have publicised the new scheme using tv advertising, radio, terrestrial channels, electronic trackside advertising at sporting events such as football internationals. We've also advertised at major transport hubs including train stations. There have been several consumer roadshows at shopping malls which have also reached thousands of consumers. We have also seen advertising and editorial in over 1,000 consumer and trade newspapers and magazines in the past few months”.

He added: “We would like to have tv advertising running during breaks of Coronation Street and all other peak time top shows every night but how much does this cost? It all costs a lot of money which our registered engineers will ultimately have to pay for through their registration fees. It is very important for us that registered businesses get value for money from their registration and a balance has to be struck.'

The extra cost to businesses and not Capita of reprinting company stationary to feature Gas Safe branding at a time of recession also drew criticism from engineers. One engineer said: 'There's going to be no extra cost to installers (joke!) Vans have to have logos removed and replaced, letterheads, business cards all other paperwork are to be dumped and replaced all free? Replaced free by Capita? No!'

In response Gas Safe said engineers need only absorb a one-off cost.

The cost of business registration to Gas Safe Register including a single engineer is £175.00 +VAT. For additional engineers it is £52.00 +VAT per engineer. The administration fee for new registrations is £190.00 +VAT.

In total, 56,500 firms and 121,000 engineers have been registered on the Gas Safe Register. Eldridge said: “The overwhelming majority of Corgi installers were transferred to the Gas Safe Register scheme. We also believe we have reached many businesses who had not previously been registered or had left the industry for a period”.

Gas Safe estimates there are around 20,000 unregistered engineers/firms operating in Great Britain. Eldridge said: 'We are determined to bring this down. If engineers want to operate legally they must register onto Gas Safe”.

All gas engineers have to show evidence of competence and qualifications to a registered training body before they can become registered. Gas Safe Register engineers or businesses registered for the first time are on probation for the first three months. All their work is reported and they do not come out of probation until they have been inspected.

He added: “To help reduce the amount of unsafe gas work we're undertaking more prosecutions. We have a national investigations team. Anyone who suspects an individual has carried out unsafe gas work can contact our Gas Safe register team via our website https://engineers.gassaferegister.co.uk/or can phone 0800 408 5500”.
8 July 2009

Comments

By Steph Zorn
08 July 2009 01:04:00
Years and years it took to make the public aware of CORGI, now they've ruined all that awareness with the stupidest name ever!

Money, money, money. The whole thing is a waste of time anyway, that is, until the day they decide to stop selling gas fittings, boilers and fires to the public in places like B&Q.

Plus, it's forcing more and more tradesmen out of the game, for the stupid, endless qualifications they need to be able to work with the same protocols they have been employing themselves for decades.

Waste of time, waste of money. "Gas Safe Register?" Pathetic! We hate it! The person who thought of changing over from CORGI should be shot!
By Chris Peters
08 July 2009 01:03:00

It's a joke when you think how important it is to have a qualified engineer do the job right. Life is important isn't it?

The public should know now.
By Mike Walton
08 July 2009 01:02:00

The main reason that the public are confused is because CORGI are still pushing their brand in the market place.

I see countless vans including those of British Gas displaying the CORGI logo.

I have seen numerous adverts at sports grounds and railway stations advertising the change over. Anyone who does not know what is going on must have their head frimly buried in the sand.
By RMA Ptnshp
08 July 2009 01:01:00

Another level of interference from government from a well tried and tested Corgi programme. Why can't we have a two tier registration for domestic or industrial at a reduced training cost?
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