'Ofgem the regulator is listening; good stuff' blog discussion

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  • BelnahuaBelnahua Forumite
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    What about coal?

    Some of us use coal? And last year it was £10 a bag, which lasted 2 evenings.

    So it works out about £150 a month for heating over winter last year - £900! Well over my entire annual Electricity bill!
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  • magyarmagyar Forumite
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    Good point. I'd like to take this further.
    I think we should go back to having a standing fee and a single price per unit.

    Agree, provided that the standing fee was set by Ofgem and not by the companies, else it's just as confusing. The standing fee should simply cover the costs of providing billing, metering, etc. which is mostly outsourced anyway and so should be the same for all suppliers anyway.
    Says James, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world
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  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    Belnahua wrote: »
    What about coal?

    Some of us use coal? And last year it was £10 a bag, which lasted 2 evenings.

    So it works out about £150 a month for heating over winter last year - £900! Well over my entire annual Electricity bill!
    Surely an electric heater would be cheaper?
  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    magyar wrote: »
    Agree, provided that the standing fee was set by Ofgem and not by the companies, else it's just as confusing. The standing fee should simply cover the costs of providing billing, metering, etc. which is mostly outsourced anyway and so should be the same for all suppliers anyway.
    I disagree, I'm afraid. The same company, even, could have two different standing charges for two different deals, e.g.
    Deal A: £10 a month plus 9p per unit
    Deal B: £5 a month plus 10p per unit

    Some people would be better off on deal A, others on deal B.

    But that's still simpler (and, effectively, equivalent to) to the current system of two different prices per unit for each deal.
  • magyarmagyar Forumite
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    I disagree, I'm afraid. The same company, even, could have two different standing charges for two different deals, e.g.
    Deal A: £10 a month plus 9p per unit
    Deal B: £5 a month plus 10p per unit

    Some people would be better off on deal A, others on deal B.

    But that's still simpler (and, effectively, equivalent to) to the current system of two different prices per unit for each deal.

    True, but that's what I had in mind when I suggested Ofgem would suggest three different tariffs: Low, Medium and High use.

    E.g. Low usage you'd have say £5 standing fee, Medium usage £10 standing fee and High usage £15 standing fee. People would have a reasonable feel for whether they were low, medium or high users. Suppliers then simply say what their 'unit price' is.

    I'm not wedded to this idea, yours would work too.
    Says James, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world
    Beats a '52 Vincent and a red headed girl
  • ChrysalisChrysalis Forumite
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    good to know Martin has noticed that the switching sites are inconsistent.

    Regarding the complexity I think what makes it complex is they simply quote figures like you will save £100 a year instead of unit prices.

    If you look at things like phones, people are quoted pence per minute costs and do understand it so I dont see why switch and compare sites cannot simply post unit prices on the comparison page instead of estimated total cost.

    For simplicity the following should occur.

    1 - ask for current provider and tariff if known.
    2 - display all tariffs from all providers in your area with your current provider at the top, if you didnt know the current tariff you on then show all tariffs from your current provider.

    Thats it far less complex, no need to type in how much you use and how much your last bill was etc.

    Optionally it can ask if you want direct debit etc. so it can filter out tariffs you wont be interested in.

    There should also be a big disclaimer saying 'prices displayed may not be accurate' and to check your current bill to make sure the site has up to date tariff info for your current provider.
  • ChrysalisChrysalis Forumite
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    Belnahua wrote: »
    I'm not sure I 100% agree with Martin's statement on prepayment meters being unfair.

    Yes, to those that struggle to pay their bills, should pay the same as those of us on ordinary meters.

    However there are a quite a few people out there who can pay, but refuse to pay their bills.

    One of my relatives comes to mind. He doesn't have trouble paying his bills, but never pays until he's been cut off, or about to be. He regularly has people at his door demanding payment, utility services, down to the local businesses seeking payment!

    So he's been forced on to a pre pay meter; As far as I'm concerned people like that should pay through the nose for their services.

    These people cost the rest of us money by having to employ debt collectors, disconnection agents, extra letters and communications; why should we pay our bills on time, and subsidise the selfish?

    Again, please note, I am not slating those who have trouble paying, just those who are deliberately late in paying their bills.

    In that case you using a 10metre net to catch a fly, punishing the innocent for the few careless. Atlantic give discounts for prompt payments.
  • ChrysalisChrysalis Forumite
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    My point is that everyone is, in effect, paying a standing charge. They just looked good by "scrapping" it.

    By going back to a standing charge (and one price per unit) it would be much simpler to switch.

    In general I agree but I know at least 1 provider has a single rate and doesnt bill a standing charge (the one im on), I think there is 2 or 3 more as well.
  • I agree with the direct debit regulation.
    This morning British Gas put our monthly direct debit up by 70%.
    We are never in debt with BG and have consistent meter readings.
    They justify this by saying the prices have increased, therefore so must our monthly payments. But really, this is unreasonable, certainly disproportionate to likely charge.
    We are already paying more than we need to, now we are paying 70% more on top of that.
    They would not budge, and suggested we switch to cash/cheque payment.(thus depriving us of our 10% DD discount)
    I have complained, I am hoping that the reason Ofgem doesnt hear about these complaints is because they are settled before the 8 weeks we give the company to resolve the complaint.
    Though I wont hold my breath.
  • Belnahua wrote: »
    I'm not sure I 100% agree with Martin's statement on prepayment meters being unfair.

    Yes, to those that struggle to pay their bills, should pay the same as those of us on ordinary meters.

    However there are a quite a few people out there who can pay, but refuse to pay their bills.

    One of my relatives comes to mind. He doesn't have trouble paying his bills, but never pays until he's been cut off, or about to be. He regularly has people at his door demanding payment, utility services, down to the local businesses seeking payment!

    So he's been forced on to a pre pay meter; As far as I'm concerned people like that should pay through the nose for their services.

    These people cost the rest of us money by having to employ debt collectors, disconnection agents, extra letters and communications; why should we pay our bills on time, and subsidise the selfish?

    Again, please note, I am not slating those who have trouble paying, just those who are deliberately late in paying their bills.

    granted, your relative and many like them cost us money due to unpaid bills, but you will find the costs of disconnection, debt collectors etc etc are passed direct to that customer - reconnection charges, court costs, the debt collectors add their fees to the total collected.
    So it IS unfair for the energy supplier to then impose an extra levy on all their future fuel consumption.
    We bought a flat with a key meter already in place, the previous owners installed it for their own reasons.
    WE had to either pay British Gas an extortionate deposit, or wait 12months to have the thing changed to a credit meter, despite the fact that we had good credit rating, and had had a credit meter with another provider for the past 9 years.
    So we were penalised unfairly.
    Those who chose to budget differently to the majority (my Nan loved her 50p meter as she felt in control) are penalised unfairly.
    Its a very sweeping statement to say that everyone on a prepayment meter are so because they do not pay their bills.
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