Why Electricians Are So Unreliable: And What You Can Do About It

The apartment above mine is having a lot of building work done at the moment. What started off as a pretty straightforward loft conversion has turned into an epic battle with unscrupulous tradesmen and poor workmanship. When I bumped into the owner in the hallway, I enquired how it was all moving along and she answered, arghhh!, “Why are electricians so unreliable?”

I’ll quickly point out that I cant do the work for her as I am employed and therefore don’t have my own insurance and governing body affiliation to sign work off outside of my employment. Anyway, I digress.

The point of this post is not to defend unreliable electricians, but to explain common reasons why even good electricians can be unreliable and provide homeowners with some tips on how to avoid these frustrating situations!

Man frustrated and being let down by unreliable electrician
Man frustrated and being let down by unreliable electrician

Why Are Electricians So Unreliable?

Electricians can be unreliable for a number of reasons, some of which are in their control and some which are not. Examples include:

  • Materials not arriving at the wholesalers as promised
  • Other work over running due to unforsceen problems
  • A call from a regular customer asking for urgent help
  • Let down by a colleague
  • Traffic chaos
  • Dog eating homework
  • Taking on more work than they can handle

I know that to many readers that will sound like a list of excuses from an electrician defending his fellow workmen, and that may be true. But aside from that, some of those reasons should provide comfort in that they are genuinely outside of the electrician’s circle of control.

Being let down by the wholesalers is a common, hugely frustrating occurrence for an electrician. I have lost count of the amount of time that I have been promised a part will be in on Monday, I, in turn, promise the customer and book the visit for Monday, only to discover that when the wholesaler said Monday, they were just estimating and the part is in fact turning up on Friday. Argh!

One solution to this, if the electrician is up for working this way, is ordering and collecting materials on their behalf as this can save a ton of heartache. It also allows you as the customer to see for yourself if the materials really haven’t ‘come in’ or if the electrician is in fact just unreliable.

Why Are Electricians Late?

Electricians turning up late is perhaps one of the biggest bugbears among the wider public and I completely see their point. If someone with a standard office job were to turn up two hours late they wouldn’t last very long.

Whilst there’s no denying it’s annoying, if we can, we need to remember that being a tradesman is different to an office job for one very big reason, we do not have one place to attend each day but several.

There are many reasons attending multiple sites can cause delays. As well as the obvious traffic problems, the job before could overrun or be more difficult than anticipated knocking all the other appointments in the day backwards.

In any industry which relies on appointments, (I’m thinking doctors and dentists) they are notorious for running later and later the longer the day goes on. Delays and problems have a habit of compounding throughout the working day.

My advice for overcoming this late showing is to try and get the earliest appointment in the day. Electricians (and most tradesmen) are known for enjoying early starts to the day. If we book an appointment for 8 am the chances are the tradesmen will show up on time. If they are late for the first appointment then there really is no hope for them or their poor customers

Why Do Electricians Not Finish a Job On Time?

Electricians may not finish a job on time for two reasons.

  • Number 1: They were far too optimistic with their timescales and predicted a finish time so early that it would have required a herculean effort from everyone in the chain to make it happen.
  • Number 2: They have encountered problems that they could not have foreseen.

Whenever we price a job we have to undertake a certain amount of guesswork about what we are going to find. During the initial visit to quote for a job, it wouldn’t go down very well if we started ripping up floorboards before even winning the work!

There are certain electrical jobs where finishing on time is really important and no matter how many problems arise we are there until the bitter end. Replacing a fuse board is a good example. We cannot leave the property until the power is back on and all tested and working safely.

Other longer jobs are more likely to overrun and not finish on time. If the electrician has quoted 2 weeks to do a job then overrunning to 2 weeks and 1 day seems less of an issue even if it’s annoying for the customer.

How Do I Make an Electrician More Reliable?

In order to make an electrician more reliable, it is important to build up a good working relationship. Of course, we need to pick a good electrician in the first place, but after that initial selection, being a good customer goes a long way.

Electricians have regular customers just like every other business. Much like every other business they will tend to the needs and wants of their regular customers before the needs and wants of their new ones. Being let down by an electrician or other tradesmen is far more likely if they haven’t done any previous work for you and don’t feel a sense of loyalty.

Also See: Is My Old Fuse Box Illegal?

Final Thoughts

I can understand why the upstairs landlady was asking, ‘Why are electricians so unreliable?’ after the experience she had endured over the last 12 months of building work. However, I feel it’s my job to defend electricians as a whole and say that a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil it for the whole industry.

I like to think that the vast majority of electricians are hard-working, due diligent and go above and beyond to make sure that the customer is happy and their needs have been met. Unreliable electricians are as disliked by other tradesmen as they are by the customers they have let down.

This post is in no way trying to defend the undefendable tradesmen who let people down regularly, but it is intended as a guide so customers can take a step back, pause and think whether the situation is out of the electrician’s circle of control or not.’

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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