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ARGI chair blasts Corgi plans

The chairman of the Association of Registered Gas Installers, Tony Brunton, has launched a stinging attack on Corgi’s plans to re-engineer itself as it prepares to pass the gas registration register over to Capita in April.

Corgi has re-invented itself as a “quality based membership scheme” according to a spokesman. The new Corgi scheme is open to Gas Safe registered installers and is operated on a paid-for basis. It offers a number of member benefits including a technical helpline and marketing support.

The spokesman described the new Corgi as an evolution of its Customer First initiative which was launched in 2008 as an add-on to the gas registration scheme. Customer First charged installers £50 to sign up to a charter in which they promised to abide by a code of practice.

Mr Brunton described the stance taken by Corgi as “appalling” and supported the objections to it already raised by organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors..

“For many years the sole traders and small businesses had no say in how the industry was run and it fell to a few installers who were disenchanted with the way Corgi was acting to set up a mechanism for them to voice their dissent.

“In our opinion Corgi has misused registrant fees and concentrated more on the creation of income streams than carrying out the activities it was originally set up for.”

Mr Brunton is sceptical of Corgi’s motives.

“One of Corgi’s lines has been ‘did you think we would leave your behind?’ Of course it won’t – gas installers have been worth £14 million a year to Corgi,” he said.

“The idea that installers could lose business if they don’t stay with Corgi is nonsense. What do installers get? It is not a badge of competence, or needed to work legally, it just boils down to use of the brand. It is not worth £110 per year on top of registration to Gas Safe.”

Blane Judd, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering added: “If installers continue to carry the Corgi logo, which has hardly changed, then how are customers going to come to recognise GasSafe?

“It’s not in the best interests of the sector. We are very disappointed with Corgi’s behaviour. We would argue that Corgi has a moral obligation, whichever route it chooses to take, to try to not confuse customers.”

In response a Corgi spokesman said: “It is sad that the CIPHE has chosen to release such a disingenuous and self-serving statement, framing as principled and high-minded concern what will be seen by many as an advert for their own organisation.

“It is worth making clear that the majority of criticism has come from other organisations that operate in the same commercial areas as Corgi and not from the many thousands of installers who have expressed such interest in continuing their relationship with us.”