View Full Version : Change of Job

17-09-2002, 08:47 PM
Having moved down to Dorset (UK) before Easter the demand for my services around here have been zero; maybe it's something I said - I'm not sure.

About five of the local A/C-Fridge firms couldn't even be bothered to reply to my letters - good old British attitude for you:(

Anyway, it has been time for a change so I am now a fully trained PCV (bus) driver. It makes a pleasant change from sorting out some problems and meeting a whole range of different people.

So if anyone wants a technical discussion between bus stops please let me know :D

18-09-2002, 02:38 AM
Hi Brian
Sorry to hear about the lack of A/C work in the UK. I was thinking of returning to the UK from the USA and make a killing in the A/C arena.(Is this a mistake?) Perhaps you should think about refrigeration? Top money earner here. Anyway, good luck with the bus driving.


18-09-2002, 07:52 AM
How much is top money Nobby?

I dont think refrig. technicians get paid enough here especially in comparison to other tradesmen. Electricians etc.
I worked with an Australian guy once and he told me not to take it personally as the wages for a frig mechanic in Australia were lousy too. Is it global or does Uncle Sam reward us better??

I dont blame you for jumping ship Brian. Ive often wondered myself if its worth the hassle for such little reward.

22-09-2002, 10:35 PM
Don't mention reward Reggie, that just doesn't happen down here. It was something I knew about but a 50% pay cut does need some adjusting too ;)

Nobby, I do fridge as well but as I said the firms on this side of the county seem to be thin on the ground.

It has to be said as well that driving a double decker along the coast roads does have its benefits. Mind you (one for the Brits here) I got overtaken by a Reliant Robin on Thursday :o

01-12-2002, 02:55 PM
Iím curious about the rates of pay in the UK for A/C or Refrigeration guys and gals. Here in the USA, straight from school (Thatís aprox 350 hours in class) you can expect between $8 and $10 per hour working for a A/C contractor, raising to perhaps $12 or $13 after a couple of years depending if your capable on your own to repair or install A/C systems. Most companies wont employ you unless you have proof of schooling and some certs to prove it. Obviously you need an EPA ticket which is simple enough. After 5 years working for someone else, in theory you can become a contractor (Self Employed) and earn some good money. If you can afford the schooling. Its expensive and very intense, and the schooling is on going and never ends. In refrigeration however the rewards are much better. I presume because the tolerences are so very small and therefore requires more accuracy and more patience than run of the mill A/C work. Perhaps its because a walk in cooler full of food need attention faster than a house wife? Even a tech repairing those flavored ice dispenser earns more than an A/C guy. I was offered $12 to start in Tampa doing those raising to $15 after a year. Seems good money to me.
A/C work here in the US is possibly the only industry where you canít get by on Bull, (An American pass time, allegedly! ) you need to work at it, and work hard.

So, You UK Guys and Gals, spill the beans, what pay is there in the UK?


01-12-2002, 05:33 PM
Hi Nobby

Don't know about you mate but I'd rather give the house wife the attention than the fridge full of produce!! :D


02-12-2002, 01:23 AM
Hi Frank
Thanks for the insight! Not sure the Missus would appreciate that, I don't know why, women are like that Eh?


03-12-2002, 06:05 AM
I reckon the money in the uk is more. Ranging from £8.00 to £12.00 per hour depending on who you are. Remember to adjust for the cost of living compared to USA.
However what makes my blood boil is the fact that guys who work in the office and not in the field are rewarded far greater than myself, work less hours and havent got a clue what they are talking about.
Engineer in laymans terms is the lowest of the low at any firm.

03-12-2002, 01:17 PM
I know what you mean about office staff in the UK, their not all bad though. I have found a few who are knowlegable. Over here "Desk Pilots" normaly are people who are to old to climb under over and round machines and feel they have no reason to keep up with modern A/C systems. As you know, every day is a learning day, especially as we know have a lot of A/C systems with R410a and those high presures scare the old school guys.

Talking of R410a, any sign of that in the UK?


03-12-2002, 09:31 PM
Hi Nobby

Haven't been anywhere near any housewives myself lately - hey but we can all dream :D

Just got back today from a 2 day product training course where we actually got our hands on some of the new R410a kit in the workshop. As you say it really scares the s**t out of us old hands. Recommended test pressure for leak and strength test is 41.5 bar!! - around 600 psi.

The figures show that it is really energy efficient though when used with an inverter driven compressor (as was the kit we took apart).

The standing pressure was around 200psig! :eek: - really scary.

The tech said "anyony used to R12 pressures aka 30psig will s**t themselves!"

Need I say more!


05-12-2002, 09:29 PM
I live in the uk working for barnsley council i am a qualified electrition on 8 pounds a hour . I am now at collage to learn fridge to inprove my earnings. why do other trades think we earn a fortune the jib rate in the uk is less than 7 pound a hour.

05-12-2002, 09:47 PM
Hi Phil
With all those qualifications you had to study for seems downright criminal for 8 Quid and hour! I am nowhere near as qualified as you and I could potentially rake in 15 dollars an hour with just a couple of years on the job.

I started a job as an electricians mate a year an a half back and my start hourly pay was 10 dollars an hour rising to a minimum of 20 dollars in 4 years, all the schooling was going to be paid for by the company, but I was not keen on working 12 hour days.

Therefore its probably not worth my while coming back to England to work.

Perhaps you might consider moving south, I'm pretty sure yoiu will get a better rate of pay, plus I presume refrigeration rather than A/C is better pay, It is here.

Best Regards Nobby

05-12-2002, 11:17 PM
$1.00 (US) = 1.58 pound (BP) :)

Your pay rate may be $20.00US/hr, but (nominal) 15% is withheld/paid in income tax, and another 7.5% is withheld for social Security and Medicare taxes. on top of that, the employer is matching your 7.5% for Social Security and Medicare (which would otherwise be available to be paid to you).

So the American bragging that he is making $20.00/hr is only netting about $15.00 per hour, even though his (true) wage basis is really about $21.50/hr.

The majority on this side of the pond can't figure it out, nor actually know what they are being paid.

Just for the sake of comparison, the average salestax for a purchase is probably around 8%. so if you spent all the disposable income you made less non-taxable items, you may be netting about $14.80 per hour (9 pounds?)in trade for your labor. Florida has no income tax (in addition to the federal income tax), some states do for which the federales allow a slight allowance for such "stuff".

I am not well traveled as to be privvy to the burdens of the workforce in other areas of the world....


05-12-2002, 11:57 PM

8 Quid an hour is about the going rate. Im not going to say its the right or wrong level, its what the employer is prepared to pay given market conditions, supply and demand and all that stuff

Yes, you could go to London or south, but then your rent doubles, your travel costs double, house prices treble!!

So you earn more but pay more

If I was in the States, especially in Florida.............I would stay there!!!

pss: I said " I would"" Im not implying everyone should, each to his own !!


06-12-2002, 02:33 AM
Well herefishy
Your quite right about the tax Etc. off your pay cheque. Things may have changed in the UK since I left. I remember sales tax added on and then Value Added Tax being 17.5 % on top of that. and income tax on a single person 33.33%.
Then you have a roof tax (recently introduced and re-named after several riots) Tax on liquior 50% Tax on petrol bringing it up to $5 a gallon. Petrol (Gas) here in the US is $1.40 a gallon. Goodness knows what the price of R410a is in the UK. I seem to remember a window shaker being for the rich only (600 pounds sterling maybe?).

Anyway. Good luck to all those who need it!


06-12-2002, 10:15 AM
In response to all your speculations look at this way.
A friend of mine went to Australia to work as a project manager.
Initially he was being paid £22k a year in Yorkshire before moving South to earn £30k a year in London. But as you said take into account the local economics of London and you find your probably taking a pay cut. He then moved to Sydney where he earns $80k Aus. £30000 sterling. Not much difference really from London and Sydney is there? They both have over inflated property markets and high rents and he was earning a similar salary. So how do you juxtapose salaries from a different city or country?
The answer is this, all things are relevant in any economy so if your not earning $100k a year and someone else is then they are probably living in an inflated environment. Overall any tradesmen will be getting paid just enough to pay his bills, buy a few beers and pay the mortgage but no more.

I dont know any A/C REF engineer who earns big money unless thay can get overtime. Even then theyll never be rich.

If i could have my time again i would be an electrician. Not because they earn more per hour than me but because most of them ive met can guarantee more hours than i can.

06-12-2002, 11:11 PM

Did you read the papers about the shortage of plumbers in the UK?? Apparently we are short of 29000 of them bleeders!!

And they reckon the "good" plumbers plying their trade are earning around £70 k a year

So, if I was you I would become a Plumber!!

Did you know that plumbing is taught to inmates in prison?? Hence, the House of Horror stories about householders being ripped off by plumbers, in one case, a plumber charged £700.00 for changing a short length of pipe!!

Now, who has more skills, a plumber or a fridge man? I think a fridge man, I reckon a fridge man can do plumbing any day, but a plumber can never do fridge work.

Remember when they targeted plumbers to put in air conditioners?? It didnt work and those that tried installing them left a really dangle of crisscrossing pipes and systems that leaked out all their ozone damaging stuff within days, possibly hours!!

Lets not be complacent you fridge guys. yes........our pay sucks, lets get smarter, they, ( the wholesalers) let them plumbing guys intrude onto our territory, lets invade theirs!! Let us start complimenting our skills by learning more about plumbing and start installing bathrooms, bidets.........

We can do it.

Do you know Dolphin Bathrooms pay subcontract plumbers over a grand a week to install a bathroom. They give you the work, all you do is execute.

But I suppose we fridge guys reckon it is below us to work with boilers and soil drains.

My last say, Hey, Im not taking a dig at anyone, Im just being light hearted and humurous, so dont take it too seriously or start saying Ive lost it

Cheerios............Adious Amigos

Have a lekker weekend!!

07-12-2002, 12:41 PM
Hi, Aiyub:)
thats what trade bodies like the IOR should be used for to promote refrigeration and to stop this under-cutting that we have all suffered from.
I do a lot of Cold Store work, those guys have a federation (we call it the mafia) where rates and charges are fixed within bands for certain types of work. Why can't we be like that?
Much better to win work by merit than by cutting the tripe out of your competitor and you own profit margin.
Regards. Andy.

07-12-2002, 08:43 PM
Aiyub nice post ive read that in the local papers myself. Apparently theres a real shortage in London due to tradesmen not being able to afford the inflated standard of living. I couldnt agree with you more about the skill factor a fridge technician has to reach. From installling pipework, running drains, running electrical cables and fault finding. You could say we are plumbers, electricians, fridge and control engineers into one. But then you could say we are 'Jack of all trades and master of none!'.
I agree with Andy we should have some sort of JIB or governing body.

08-12-2002, 01:46 AM

Youre absolutely right that we need to set up a body and soon that represents fridge techs. The plumbers have Corgi, and you can say you are registered Corgi, and therefore within the law because gas in the wrong hands is dangerous stuff. But by being Corgi you can charge Corgi rates and which the customer understands and is prepared to pay for it. He gets issued a certificate as well.

Now we fridge blokes, we dont have to be registered to anything, which is also a good thing, because being an independent type, I cant stand for compulsion, anyway, but it also means that it is a free for all for anyone who wants to do fridge work, and charge how much or how little he chooses.

So we get the undercutting, poor standards, everyone loses out. Their is no structured system to speak of, lets be honest, we do need some rules or regulations.

We have got legislation banning the release of gasses into atmosphere, we have got PED directives, and most probably compulsory registration for safe gas handling in the future. So we have a case that we guys hold some responsibilty for the work that we do, and therefore we become entitled to structure our charging regime.

We should be able to issue a certificate that says an installation is gas tight, and electrically sound. As Reggie states, we are plumbers, electricians and fridge blokes rolled into one.

One thing for sure, If we are to attract new members into our industry, lets set out a framework which makes it attractive and worthy. It is pretty loose at present and does not auger well for gaining new quality recruits into our industry.

WE need to develop a charging structure which can be adhered to , this will mean more money in our pockets, more availability of training skills, more specialism and focus within specific skill areas.

I also gripe on about the CFC debacle where I still maintain that government and scientests decided our fates on the use of new refrigerants. We fridge blokes never had a say, we were "led" and we complied.

Someone made a killing and are making a killing, guess who??

Time has come when we begin to stop being the sheep any longer

08-12-2002, 02:15 PM
The UK Skillcard is gradually being introduced at present and from January 2003 (I believe) most building sites won't let you on unless you can show your card.

Is anyone besides our firm going through the registration process at the moment?

Obviously, this card does not have to be obtained by law at present and doesn't need to be shown if you only do service work etc but it is required for new construction building sites.



08-12-2002, 07:36 PM
Hi, Are you saying that in the UK anyone! Can repair "walk in coolers" or "freezers" or A/C come to that with no training or certification? All you need is an EPA certification and off you go and repair? If that is true, it seems rather irresponsible to me on behalf of the UK govenment.

Nobby :confused: :( :( :(

08-12-2002, 09:06 PM
Thats right Nobby - at present there is no requirement to be registered with any governing body whatsoever!!

If you can find some unsuspecting client to employ you then you can work on their equipment no matter what your training, qualification or experience. Not a good situation is it.


13-12-2002, 09:25 PM
Do any of you do jobs on the side like us electricians? IE domestic fridge is there any money in it ? Also do any of you have any other money earners IE reparing domestic appliances ie washers. I hire out childrens bouncy castles in summer its a good side line but i neet some thing for the winter.

15-12-2002, 09:51 PM
Phil, yes you can always do domestic fridges on the side but be prepared to either loose money or friends.

If a domestic goes down it is cheaper to buy a new one than to get it repaired in my experience.

OK, change out the compressor (£100), now spend more time finding the blockage or whatever, that killed the original compressor.

Admit defeat now, but I expect some flak over this :D

16-12-2002, 03:54 AM
Yes Brian, If, it is the compressor, But I find with domestic its 75% electrical, Like a stat or a loose wire. And those are simple enough. But, You take the rough with the smooth,
Its mainly smooth though,

Plus the other big drawback is getting paid. Not many people are willing to part with 50 bucks to watch you re-join a couple of wires! Which is true for most service work.

I always tell a disgruntled customer this: Your not paying 50 quid for the 3 minute job I just did, Your paying for the 3 years schooling, the 10 year aprentiship, and the 20 years on the road training. So its 50 quid for 33 years of training leading up to this precise moment when I can fix your machine in 3 minutes. Thats cheap in my book. :)

16-12-2002, 09:19 PM
I've got to agree with Brian - fixing domestics is really a no-no unless it's just a stat.

Even then they do not like to pay because the repair was so simple! - you just can't win - especially as they seem to haunt you for weeks after in the local pub.


17-12-2002, 03:00 AM
Your right Frank, a waste of time and money. Unless your a crook or/and a cowboy:mad:

A few times I have halved the price as the customer was a little old lady on a pension, husband just died, Etc. Etc. Perhasp I'm an easy mark, but hey, I feel good after, albeit a little poorer.

I've had a couple of single Mums who offered something other than cash or cheque in payment, and it can be hard (no pun intended) to completely ignore a pretty short skirted woman offering her most valuable asset.:D

Yup, Stick to the big corps, and you can't go far wrong, you may wait to gey paid, but you do get paid.


10-01-2003, 02:14 PM
Even worse than working on a home fridge is the dreaded window AC unit! I have people wanting me to work on them all the time.... I tell them straight up... the parts can cost them nearly as much or more than a new window unit sometimes... ie. fan motor etc. But they bring it anyway... go figure. I charge $20.00 just to have a look at it with NO system evasive activity... if I have to access the system I start adding on. I generally will give the unit about 20 minutes or so of my time to repair it or make a recommendation whether to go any further.

One nice thing is they bring it to me so I don't have to charge them travel and labor for removing it from the window etc. and it isn't usually a priority repair.

I still do commercial refrigeration but I am getting really tired of the whine when you give them the bill... homeowners generally pay better and are more grateful for your service. Another thing is that commercial equipment gets abused terribly, usually has had half a dozen contractors working on it (as the owner shops for rates) meaning a variety of components have been changed unnecessarily in trying to solve what may have originally been a simple problem... as a result the system doesn't perform as it once did... and the owner doesn't want to bring it to original specs.... "just make it work." Then to top it off... the commercial end-user wants you there NOW, after they have just told you it stopped working 3 days ago. I am seriously considering NOT doing commercial this year... except a select few customers and maybe new installs elsewhere.

11-01-2003, 04:34 AM
Unbelivable, right subzero*? The best is that most of commercial customers sales are in cash. How much of that is claimed? 60% maybe? They are bringing it hand over fist and putting it right into their pocket, but we are the crooks! Of course, it's always the unit "you just worked on". Funny how customers will turn four months into yesterday! You give your all and then some and get complaints. How is a person supposed to stay motivated to continue working in that situation? I could not agree more with you about being fed up with commercial customers. I don't know if the "piercing valve bandit" is loose in your area, because he sure is running free by me! Last month I found one on the liquid line of an ice machine!:eek:

12-01-2003, 11:50 AM
I've seen a photo of a line tap valve and gauges fixed to a small Absorbtion fridge!!! - might be the same "piercing valve bandit"!


Karl Hofmann
12-01-2003, 07:57 PM
Is there a prize for how many you find on one machine? If so then I found two on the same lenght of pipe on an ex-rental DeLonghi portable air cooler:D

26-08-2003, 07:20 PM
Howdy all, i'm new here, done alot of reading through the site, love it!...i was actually thinking(well still thinking) of starting in this field, got my interview at my nearest college to do ac/ref c+g nvq level 2 tomorrow! was put in this direction by a friend of the family who runs his own company servicing gas/electrical equip for catering places. advised by him this is the future new-up-and-coming trade, was originally going to do a sparky course and start in that field. after alot of research decided this maybe better as i thought(maybe wrongly?) that i could earn more money in this field and have more possibilities of going abroad like to the states...BUT after reading this thread i'm thinking ... Am i making a big mistake ? seems like for all the hard work you guys do, the rewards are pretty lousy, and many of you do what you do for the love of it ? now i notice that this thread was started half a year ago or so, have things changed ? this post is kinda off putting for someone like me who wants to start in the trade...How can you convince me ?

26-08-2003, 08:11 PM
convince you ...?? you must be taking the wizz..

we're still trying to convince ourselves!!

basically this trade is like everyother trade..you earn enough..just..

nobody wants to see you because it means-

a they have a fridge /a.c problem
b it's going to cost them money

basically all they are interested in is the two 'F's

fix it and **** off....

it's a very lonely trade and has a high divorce rate..go figure

it's a job...don't expect it to be an exclusive club full of eccentric millionaires working for kicks



26-08-2003, 11:24 PM
haha kinda figured something like that.... i knw a gassey who said if he could go back in time he'd wana become a frigey! n here we got ppl saying more or less the opposite, n somewhere else i'l bet theres a sparky wishing he became a plumby...but hey im a lone wolf with a high divorce rate....so sounds good to me...il be going to my interview at college with the latter highlighted on my cv.

27-08-2003, 07:25 PM
Hey Krups

Is that Basford Hall College??


27-08-2003, 08:15 PM
yep why ? i went today...met 2 of the lectures....seem like really cool blokes(no pun intended)....gotta go next week for enrolment...my only problem is i live in leicester and as im nt on the road yet, its a mission geting there and back, but seems worth it...

27-08-2003, 09:30 PM
Must be Mel and Paul then

27-08-2003, 11:21 PM
you wasnt there was ya ? or do you already go there ?

31-08-2003, 02:56 PM
I used to teach craft practice there

31-08-2003, 10:43 PM

Where Keith Knutton??
Would you know?

01-09-2003, 06:49 PM

Do you mean John Knutton? the guy who liked to kick arse?

He lost his wife about 5 /6 years ago and decided to retire from Basford hall. He's set up his own little company now doing training and assessments for Safe Handling. I bumped into him a while back at one of the EMRA meetings.

01-09-2003, 10:22 PM

Sorry, John Knutton. Good bloke, Very very good bloke, Ill tell you another one of my little stories, you know John is from Derbyshire, and the local greeting there is, " Ayob" for Hello there,

Anyway, one day I ring Basford Hall and ask reception for John , he answers the telephone and says into the mouthpiece, " Ayob !! "

I reply..............John, how did u know it was meee!!! ?????

I havent seen John for I dont know how many years now, sorry to hear about his wife though

02-09-2003, 09:14 PM
Hello Brian,
I have gone the way, I used to be a coach driver working for Stagecoach but decided to become a refrigeration engineer instead. I don't know what it's like down there but up this way wages for driver were c***. So now i drive all over the place without the inconvience of people wanting me to stop & get on & off.

04-09-2003, 09:06 PM
Oh yes, don't worry the wages down here are c*** too !!

One of the things here is that all the a/c firms seem to be located miles away from me so trying to get a 'local' job wasn't going to happen. Mind you having seen some of the stuff hanging off the walls around here I'm not sure that I would want to get back into it.

I had a good laugh a few weeks back, according to a report in the local paper a firm had it's refrigeration condensing unit vandalised. There was a picture of the shop owner kneeling down by a very sad old Prestcold unit with assorted bent pipes running down the wall. Visually I couldn't see anything wrong apart from possibly a damaged condenser coil - fair enough, some damage.

The man's estimate for repairs was quoted as 10,000 GBP; well I nearly dropped the paper laughing; this guy must have been chuckling all the way to his insurance company.

05-09-2003, 08:14 AM
Geez! I'll take a week off & do the job for that! What's the guy's address? :-D
Mind you, I reckon the paper has sexed up the story.
A couple of years ago, I was on a night cruise with some freinds, when the boat ahead of us caught fire. Everyone got off okay, with some burns, but nothing life threatening, thankfully. It was very interesting to see the stories in the papers over the next week. Their boat (a relatively common inland cruiser) became this huge gin palace worth about £60000! Well, for one thing, their boat was 27" LOA, which is not large for the Thames. For another, a huge gin palace would be worth a darn site more than 60K! lol!
My Freinds' sad adventure does show one thing, though. The boat had only just passed a boat safety scheme examination with flying colours, and had been serviced only a fortnight before. Added to which, the owner is known to be a good engineer who takes great care of his boats. So no matter what you do to maintain equipment, the ungrateful lump will still cause you grief!

So where is this ramble going, you ask?
Does anyone else have problems with 'callbacks' that are totally unrelated to the work they carried out? We must have been asked 5 or 10 times this fortnight to re-attend sites, often where we haven't been in almost a year, because the system isn't right, and 'it must be something to do with what you did'. AAARRRGGGHH!!!!!!
This industry would be so much easier without the human element!

07-09-2003, 09:42 PM
We had a good little story in our local paper last week, nothing to do with fridge but all the same it made me laugh.

A woman and her car were in collision with an army tank. The woman was slightly injured and taken to hospital for a check over. The paper then also reported that the tank driver and his instructor were unhurt.. well go figure:D

13-09-2003, 01:18 AM
i fixed a small cold water dispenser chiller a while back,i came back today with a note bitching that it still had the same fault and they need it asap,i open it all up and found when the dude on site fitted it he broke the thermostat probe off ,thus no compressor .

or when another dude fitted a unit back and twisted and broke the pipes for the evaporator,and bitched that we had made the pipes longer ,thus it was our fault .funny people they would make good fiction novalists

19-09-2003, 10:30 PM
:D Ah well, here we go again....

Junked the bus driving job for a mini-bus driving job, better hours, more money.

One week into the new job and I get an interview for a service/maintenance job; today I get the job offer and hey-ho we're back at it again :cool:

Jeez, I'm going to have to dig out the gauges from the back of the garage now, if I can get in there ;)

20-09-2003, 03:26 AM
Funny how life takes us through our travelling as compared to how we think we will travel through life.

Nice to listen to your story.:)