'At Cost Energy - is it any good?' blog discussion

edited 28 July 2010 at 5:05PM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
28 replies 3.9K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
Read Martin's At Cost Energy - is it any good? Blog.

Also see the At Cost Energy interview for an update
Please click reply to discuss below.
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Replies

  • As you rightly say most companies promise the earth at the beginning and fail to deliver, especially companies promising what everyone wants at cost, while failing to state what cost is. I guess wait and see!!
  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    There is one other thing people could do now. Notice that gas usage levels are different in summer and winter. So consider whether switching to a different supplier that may be cheaper for summer electricity usage might be a good idea. If you know your usage for the six summerish months, double that to get an annual summer usage figure and consider the best supplier for that mixture of gas and electricity use. Same for the six winter months.
  • jamesd wrote: »
    There is one other thing people could do now. Notice that gas usage levels are different in summer and winter.

    Really? Thanks, Vroomfondel.
    jamesd wrote: »
    So consider whether switching to a different supplier that may be cheaper for summer electricity usage might be a good idea. If you know your usage for the six summerish months, double that to get an annual summer usage figure and consider the best supplier for that mixture of gas and electricity use. Same for the six winter months.

    This is exactly why such companies are doomed to ultimate failure (or, at best, perpetual overcharging of the mugs who believe and stay with them) - remorseless exploitation from callous moneysavers.
  • edited 13 July 2010 at 10:16AM
    Premier_2Premier_2 Forumite
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    edited 13 July 2010 at 10:16AM
    I'm glad to see you echo the thoughts of many of the regular posters who often help out on the Gas & Electric board.

    i.e. that you can't actually tell whether the company is offering a good deal until it actually offers a deal!


    However, I feel you may be falling into the trap that many other people do when they hear all the spin that as you rightly say, comes from a company that is or was once represented by Max Clifford.

    Remember, their promises (if they ever do come to a reality - remember Ben Scammell & his earlier Pipeline dream?) are for 'at cost' energy, not 'at wholesale cost' energy, something that is quite different.

    At cost simply means they won't make a profit (after they've paid the cost of purchase, the cost of overheads, the cost of staff, the cost of... well you get the idea.

    If anyone wants to know what a energy company may look like that doesn't make a profit, i.e. an established one with 10 years trading under their belt that charges 'at cost', they need look no further than Ebico ... but as you'll see if you use a comparison site, they are rarely the cheapest, although their simple, no nonsense approach to pricing is one that obviously attracts some 50,000+ customers after 10 years.

    Naturally, the bigger the customer base, the lower the prices that can be offered (since the fixed overheads are spread over a wider area), but I think this new company has probably vastly over-estimated how many customers they may actually attract. Registering an interest, because they won't publish their prices, is something very different to having signed up customers once they are aware of the actual price. As I said, it's taken Ebico 10 years to get to the level of customers they now have ... and I am led to believe at cost energy were hoping for perhaps 5-10 times that amount at start up in order to offer competitive prices ... we'll just have to wait and see.
    I somehow doubt they'll be topping the comparison sites anytime soon though ...

    As for the nonsense they spout about not being on a comparison site - that is indeed a nonsense.
    If/when the company actually start offering gas and/or electricity to the general public, they will be on the comparison sites. Ebico have already had that battle (Ebico never pay commission to anyone) and the rules are now that comparison sites must list all suppliers & their tariffs that are generally available ...

    Meanwhile, it looks like the company are going to be making money from the database of those who registered by enticing them to switch companies ...and no doubt the company trousering the typical £100+ commission often payable to those who simply do it themselves using a cashback site.
    Hmmm, again reminds me of a certain Scammell character and similarities to how his pipeline deam ended up ... but as I understood it Scammell was a "distributor" (salesperson in any other language, paid by commission) for one specific company only ;)
    "Now to trolling as a concept. .... Personally, I've always found it a little sad that people choose to spend such a large proportion of their lives in this way but they do, and we have to deal with it." - MSE Forum Manager 6th July 2010
  • Ken68Ken68 Forumite
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    I have registered with them and heard nothing, and a disposable e mail address solves any spam problems.
    And the industry does need new entrants and new simpler billing ways. Good luck to him.
  • PlushchrisPlushchris Forumite
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    Agree with Premier on the rubbish being spouted about not being on comparison sites, to me that just shows a lack of understanding of how they work.

    Whenever I hear a company say "you wont find us on comparison sites" my first thought is "why? what have you got to hide?"

    All companies must supply their data to comparison sites and all comparison sites must show all that data, regardless of whether they can switch you to that company or not.

    Look on any of the comparison sites and you will see Ebico, Utility warehouse, Utilita and possibly others that you cannot switch to, the comparison sites still have to list them though!

    Personally, although any newcomers to the market are welcome as Ken says, I think this is all just a pipe(line) dream until I see some hard facts.

    To me atcostenergy is nothing more than a data harvesting site at the moment, sure sign up if you have a disposable email account but dont hold your breath for cheap gas and electricity...
    Missing Tesco R&R since Feb '07 :A & now a "Tesco veteran" apparently! ;)
  • edited 13 July 2010 at 8:12PM
    CardewCardew Forumite
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    edited 13 July 2010 at 8:12PM
    Nice blog Martin, you showed restraint not to use the word 'bargepole'!!! but the meaning was clear!

    Plushchris and Premier have voiced my reservations!

    Being even more cynical, I wonder if people on the list will get an invite to join the company that can only be mentioned on their own thread - the one with 30,000 commision earning salesmen!!!!
  • Doc_NDoc_N Forumite
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    I started off, some considerable time ago, as a supporter of what looked like a good concept. Since then, they've been in touch from time to time, basically with teasers, each time wanting a little more information.

    For example:

    [FONT=&quot]So much so, we’re almost ready to commence with a trial. In order to do this we need more information about your current supply. Assuming of course you are still interested, please click on the link below which will take you to our members' login area. You will be asked to create a username and password, before entering our secure members' area. Once there the system will bring up the information you have already provided, saving you time. The extra information required can be found on a recent energy bill; ideally if you dig out your energy bills over the last 12 months this will enable you to be more accurate about your energy usage.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]And:[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]We will contact you if you have been successfully selected for our initial trial to receive energy at cost of purchase and supply.

    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Now, I've reached the conclusion that it could just be a data-harvesting exercise after all - particularly in view of the latest announcement about the comparison site!

    Ever seen one of those mock auctions at a street market? Petticoat Lane used to specialise in them, but they're everywhere. Lots of noise and giveaway goods to lure in the crowd, and then the real hard sell, when cautions been overtaken by greed. I'm not suggesting this is Atcost's game, of course, but their tactics are starting to look a little less than transparent.
    [/FONT]
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    Ah, the Pipeline Card. So fitting that the guy running it was called Paul Scammell.
  • Premier_2Premier_2 Forumite
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    Ah, the Pipeline Card. So fitting that the guy running it was called Paul Scammell.
    Ben ;)
    "Now to trolling as a concept. .... Personally, I've always found it a little sad that people choose to spend such a large proportion of their lives in this way but they do, and we have to deal with it." - MSE Forum Manager 6th July 2010
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