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'Note to Energy Minister: it's not just laziness stops switching' blog discussion

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'Note to Energy Minister: it's not just laziness stops switching' blog discussion

17 replies 3.6K views
Former_MSE_LeeFormer_MSE_Lee Former Editorial Assistant
343 posts
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.




Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.
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Replies

  • edited 23 September 2011 at 12:50PM
    tagq2tagq2
    382 posts
    Forumite
    edited 23 September 2011 at 12:50PM
    If my boss asked me to look at some problem and I told him that the problem was that he was lazy, well, we all know what would happen.

    Who does Huhne thinks he answers to? The need to do the energy switching dance is the result of government laziness: "We'll let the market sort this one out. Surely there's no natural monopoly in energy provision which makes regulation necessary!"

    No switch I've requested has gone completely smoothly. One was rejected because we had some old meter on a weird tariff - the new firm offered to disable it for a charge. But it turned out the old firm would do it for free, so I requested the deactivation and moved to the new firm straight after. (It almost makes you feel guilty - it's hard to remember that loyalty doesn't really have a place in the relationship between big business and consumers.) The initial reading was guesstimated well out even though I provided one and even though a simple automated sanity check would suggest it to be wrong. At a more recent switch, I enjoyed what the MSE forums suggest are completely standard problems for EDF: confusing information on the online account; staggered start dates for each fuel; very long customer service queues unless you call at just the right time; and making the mistake of offering a reading after an initial month's usage (as I used to do monthly with eon) which caused them for no good reason to almost double the gas DD amount.

    I guess I'm still lazy. If I weren't lazy I'd make the effort to raise a bill every time some organisation wastes my time, starting from the minute they start wasting my time. The sad thing in EDF's case is that the telephone staff are keen to help once you actually get through to them - I imagine they're as frustrated with their system as we are.
  • As an extension to the 'Burnt by switching at wrong time in the past' point, it's ridiculous that it takes 6 weeks to switch supplier. In that time the entire tariff playing field might have changed. It is (it seems to me) impossible to know you have the best deal since it might be different in 6 weeks time anyway.

    Why does a minor administrative change take 6 weeks?
  • I change suppliers every year to get the best deal. The comparison sites show that I will save about £80 each year compared to the current tariff. So far I have been with e-on then NPower, then e-on, then NPower before changing to be with e-on yet again. I am due to switch to NPower yet again this month as they are currently the cheapest. That is until the put their prices up yet again and e-on becomes the cheapest again.

    Why can't it be a case that all companies have their prices set in the same way that water prices are set by OFWAT. That way there would be no need to switch. Water companies seem to make a good profit from this arrangement. They have to justify why they need to increase prices before OFWAT agree to it. At the moment the customer is a cash cow as far as the energy companies are concerned and for the sake of £1.54 per week (£80 per year) in savings I can understand why people do not change that often.
  • Also, people who rent are often not allowed to switch their energy supplier and / or tariff.
    :A If saving money is wrong, I don't want to be right. William Shatner

    CC1 [STRIKE] £9400 [/STRIKE] £9300
    CC2 [STRIKE] £800 [/STRIKE] £750
    OD [STRIKE] £1350 [/STRIKE] £1150
  • I'm well educated and switch my car insurance/home insurance every year and my mortgage every two, to get the best value for money.

    However I absolutely cannot understand electricity and gas tariffs. It's appalling how complicated they are. I've tried more than once to switch and I just get so fuddled.

    At the minute we're in a 2 year contract with BG but I'm going to set aside a week next year if I must to sort it all out and stop them getting the better of me.

    It's nothing to do with being too lazy.

    Edit: I did try a comparison site a couple of years ago, with one or two bills to help me work it all out. It was hopeless. I really hope it'll be simpler next time!
  • davidgmmafandavidgmmafan
    1.5K posts
    Forumite ✭✭✭
    I'm well educated and switch my car insurance/home insurance every year and my mortgage every two, to get the best value for money.

    However I absolutely cannot understand electricity and gas tariffs. It's appalling how complicated they are. I've tried more than once to switch and I just get so fuddled.

    At the minute we're in a 2 year contract with BG but I'm going to set aside a week next year if I must to sort it all out and stop them getting the better of me.

    It's nothing to do with being too lazy.

    Edit: I did try a comparison site a couple of years ago, with one or two bills to help me work it all out. It was hopeless. I really hope it'll be simpler next time!

    Well the annual forecast should help with this, you just need to enter the toal Kwh you use in a year. In case someone doesn't have this or the figures are wrong here's a handy hint. for electricity 1 unit on the meter is 1 Kwh. For gas on a metric meter one unit is roughly 11 Kwh, for imperial its roughly 32. There is a longer calculation to get the exact figure but if you want a ballpark figure this will do.

    I was struck though just how long it took me to read through Martin's barriers to switching. That's just the barriers, no discussion of how to get around them. That shows the scale of the challenge facing the government (should they choose to tackle it). There again all parties were against bank charges. The PM promised a referral to the competition commission and well nothings happened so far.
    Mixed Martial Arts is the greatest sport known to mankind and anyone who says it is 'a bar room brawl' has never trained in it and has no idea what they are talking about.
  • edited 24 September 2011 at 7:35AM
    oldvicaroldvicar
    1.1K posts
    Forumite
    edited 24 September 2011 at 7:35AM
    Just to complicate things further, all the comparison site can do for you is compare tariffs assuming you don't change your usage habits. But usage is not inelastic. For instance:

    Electric v Gas: A few years ago the tariff I had was, compared to the competition, the cheapest for economy 7 electricity but relatively expensive for daytime electric and for gas. With only an inefficient gas boiler, it worked out the same or cheaper for me to use off-peak electric for heating ... so I changed my patterns of usage - electric heaters in the early morning (whilst off-peak) instead of having the central heating come on. Relative Gas/Electric prices have changed over time and despite recent increases then on the whole I believe Gas is now probably cheapest on all tariffs for heating overall KWh for useful KWh

    Other fuels: The comparison sites don't help you at all to compare fuels other than electric/gas. With gas prices high, but wood available to me at a reasonable price just now (I'm having my own tree chopped down:rotfl:) this winter I might be sparing with the gas CH, and keep the woodburner running as a primary source of heat and not just for the look of the thing.

    I pay my bills by direct debit, not because I want to but only because its cheapest. I adapt my usage patterns quicker than my supplier can change the amount of DD to keep up!
  • edited 24 September 2011 at 5:36PM
    jalexajalexa
    3.4K posts
    Forumite
    edited 24 September 2011 at 5:36PM
    MSE: "The knee-jerk reaction after a big energy company puts its prices up is to try and find a cheaper supplier – yet often that’s wrong."


    How often? When is it "not wrong? It's an open forum, so hey I'm going to (selectively) disagree.

    The quantum shift in consumer attitude should be towards "fixed rate" (of at least 12 months), or whatever period the customer is confident with.

    Then the advice is easy (assuming the customer is not already on a fixed-rate:)), as soon as the first Big 6 hike is announced, look for a fixed-price. Because the remaining fixed-prices in the marketplace are all based on "pre-increase" pricing.

    I would also recommend selecting a fixed-term to mature just after a winter heating season, or rather not during.

    So I profoundly disagree with MSE, and believe (on this occasion) the advice has cost customers dear:(.
  • You missed a reason:
    Because their supplier won't let other suppliers offer the same thing.

    I have Total Heating With Total Control. I'm told it's similar to Econ 10, but I'm not entirely sure (I do know it is NOT econ 7). Anyway, I'm stuck with Scottish Hydro because they are the only ones to offer it and won't let another company take over the meters.

    It's only a game

    ~*~*~ We're only here to dream
    ~*~*~
  • I'm well educated and switch my car insurance/home insurance every year and my mortgage every two, to get the best value for money.

    However I absolutely cannot understand electricity and gas tariffs. It's appalling how complicated they are. I've tried more than once to switch and I just get so fuddled.

    At the minute we're in a 2 year contract with BG but I'm going to set aside a week next year if I must to sort it all out and stop them getting the better of me.

    It's nothing to do with being too lazy.

    Edit: I did try a comparison site a couple of years ago, with one or two bills to help me work it all out. It was hopeless. I really hope it'll be simpler next time!

    Rather than relying on the last one or two bills see if you can find 2 bills approximately a year apart - the closer the better. You don't need the ones in between. Just take the higher number(s) away from the lower number(s) and you have your usage in units per year. This annual usage can be used to inform you of the total costs per year (just multiply by the suppliers quoted cost per unit).

    It's only a game

    ~*~*~ We're only here to dream
    ~*~*~
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