The most recent Open Channel by Gas Safe Register was a facilitated discussion about complaints and concerns – both those made by consumers and those from registered businesses about work they’ve found. Here we look at how the Register deals with concerns and at some recurring themes.
As a gas safety registration scheme, you might imagine that many of the complaints that the Register receives are about gas safety. But that’s not always the case. In fact, many are not about gas safety at all: they might be contractual disputes or sometimes they’re about related plumbing issues rather than gas work itself. And that’s just one of the reasons why the Register now refers to concerns rather than complaints.
Whatever the concerns, the Register has a formal process for dealing with them. Because they’ve usually been reported online, the first step is to doublecheck the information that has already been provided – is there enough to start investigating?
Customer First Lead Alistair Pearson says: “We may need to contact the consumer to get a bit more information: we might need more precise detail about the appliance or perhaps the registered business that they’ve referred to.”
This is the information gathering stage, where the concern is assessed, and validated that it is about gas safety – not about a ancillary issue such as a problem with a radiator that was installed as part of a heating system.
If an inspection is needed, this will be organised by the scheduling team, who arrange with the consumer for an inspector to visit. The gas engineer will also be invited to the inspection, if their customer agrees.
Following the visit, Gas Safe Register completes a report detailing any defects that need to be corrected, along with a date by which the work should be completed. The report is sent to the customer, the registered business and, if appropriate, to the landlord.
When the defects have been remedied, the registered business must fill in the defects completion form confirming this and return it to Gas Safe Register. If the inspector wants to follow up any individual matters with the registered business, they will arrange this separately.
What are the most common concerns?
Many concerns are about different aspects of boiler installation, says Alistair, including missing paperwork, non-completion of the Benchmark checklist, fault codes and noise. But the most common concern is from people who haven’t received their Building Regulations certificate because it’s been sent to the registered business and not to them directly. Some concerns can be avoided when there’s clear communication between the gas engineer and their customer, says Alistair. For example, when there’s a delay on a job or it’s not going as smoothly as expected, explaining what that means for your customer, and the anticipated timeframe, can help to avoid misunderstandings and concerns being raised.
Gas Safe Register’s Technical Team also receive calls from consumers. It’s often about simple things such as queries over the installation of the condensing pipe or powerflushing, says Technical Support Manager Carl Bannister. But it can also be because they want to double-check what their gas engineer has told them – for example, if a gas hob can’t be fitted where they want it to be.
Gas engineers know the reasons why they’re working in the way that they do – making sure that their work complies with the manufacturers’ instructions and regulations – and spending some time talking these factors through with your customer is a great way to help them have confidence in your expertise, says Carl.
3 ways to help minimise complaints
- Make sure you show your Gas Safe ID card to highlight your professionalism
- Explain the work you’re going to carry out at the first opportunity, and keep your customer informed of progress
- Make use of the industry documents and standards available to support your engineering judgement.
Raising a concern about competence
Under recent changes to RIDDOR, gas engineers can raise a concern to Gas Safe Register over gas work they think is unsafe and has been carried out by another registered business but that doesn’t meet the criteria to report under RIDDOR.
Just log into your online account, choose Raise a Competence Concern and fill in the form. The Technical Team will contact the business concerned, and arrange for an inspection of the work when required. It’s important to note that you will be asked for your own contact details and those of your customer when you raise a concern for competence about another business so that the system is not open to abuse.
The Gas Safe Register Open Channel panel were:
- Scott Darroch, Head of Communications
- Alistair Pearson, Customer First Lead
- Carl Bannister, Technical Support Manager