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  • FIRST POST
    Former MSE Lee
    Are there too many gas & electricity choices?
    • #1
    • 26th Sep 11, 10:22 AM
    Are there too many gas & electricity choices? 26th Sep 11 at 10:22 AM
    Are there too many gas & electricity choices?
    Poll started 26 Sept 2011, click here to vote

    Politicians have finally stumbled upon the public anger about energy bills and are looking at remedies.

    One of the main criticisms is that some people, those who switch and understand the system get much lower bills than those who don't. So here's a simple (perhaps oversimple) choice …

    Which of these would you like to see?

    A. Lots of choice – cheap deals for the active, even if it means the rest pay more
    B. A few simple tariffs – even if the cheapest deals rise in price, but the most expensive fall
    C. One flat rate per company– A simple averaged charge



    Click reply to discuss
Page 1
  • Lowlands
    • #2
    • 26th Sep 11, 3:13 PM
    • #2
    • 26th Sep 11, 3:13 PM
    I voted 'One flat rate per company'.

    I imagine it would save large amounts on administrating the different tariffs, not to mention make customers as a whole better off as it would be much easier to truly see who was the best value. Sure the people who change supplier quite often might end up paying more, but on average the cost should be at most the same.

    As an aside I would be interested to see people's opinions on the ownership of utilities in general. I don't subscribe to the theory that 'choice' and the market are the best ways to manage a natural monopoly although I'm sure others will disagree, I think that would make an interesting subject of a future poll.
  • Scarlet Fever
    • #3
    • 26th Sep 11, 4:12 PM
    • #3
    • 26th Sep 11, 4:12 PM
    I voted 'One flat rate per company'.

    I imagine it would save large amounts on administrating the different tariffs, not to mention make customers as a whole better off as it would be much easier to truly see who was the best value. Sure the people who change supplier quite often might end up paying more, but on average the cost should be at most the same.

    As an aside I would be interested to see people's opinions on the ownership of utilities in general. I don't subscribe to the theory that 'choice' and the market are the best ways to manage a natural monopoly although I'm sure others will disagree, I think that would make an interesting subject of a future poll.
    Originally posted by Lowlands
    i was just thinking the same (i voted for a few simple without thinking it through)



    why do we need many choices? surely we all want the same, the cheapest possible... the only difference in quality is that of the customer service..... (or am i wrong?)
    Willow: I knew it, I knew it, well not in the sense of having the slightest idea, but I knew there was something I didn't know!
  • etruscanshades
    • #4
    • 26th Sep 11, 4:26 PM
    No choice is a good choice
    • #4
    • 26th Sep 11, 4:26 PM
    There shouldn't be any choice at all. All utilities should be nationalised - like they once were. And cheap - like they once were. With decent service - like they once were. With no fat cats paying themselves huge amounts of our money.
  • Lowlands
    • #5
    • 26th Sep 11, 7:18 PM
    • #5
    • 26th Sep 11, 7:18 PM
    The problem with competition in a natural monopoly is that it's imaginary. You can have as many different energy tariffs as you like and come up with as many deals as you can think of but still you're essentially only fighting over percentages not prices as prices are determined largely by OPEC.

    I know nationalised utilities have the potential to be inefficient as that's what businesses under no pressure tend towards, but if transparent enough surely they'd be more efficient than a system that repeats itself six times, with six marketing departments, six board of directors, six headquarters etc.
  • CBenton
    • #6
    • 26th Sep 11, 7:48 PM
    A little flexibility is not altogether bad ...
    • #6
    • 26th Sep 11, 7:48 PM
    There obviously, currently, are too many tariffs to trip the unwary consumer, but there ought to be some flexibility within the industry - especially with those who have solar panels or wind turbines that put back into the system.
    What we all need to campaign against are pre-payment meters. The only reason why someone would suddenly, dramatically, increase their energy usage is likely to be because of illness or other family tragedy - not just profligacy. Penalising those who are suffering is morally wrong. All it means is that benefit payments intended to help crisis-hit people are redirected to become shareholder dividends.
    EOn are currently in the process terminating our good deal - and are trying to sign us to another (more suitable?) charging system. We also have a penalty period for leaving both tariffs, apparently. This is the firm that recently embezzled over £1000 when they found that they had transposed meter readings for day usage and evening. We are NOT amused!
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 26th Sep 11, 9:41 PM
    • 2,628 Posts
    • 5,177 Thanks
    VoucherMan
    • #7
    • 26th Sep 11, 9:41 PM
    • #7
    • 26th Sep 11, 9:41 PM
    Leave it like it is.

    So long as there are mugs out there happy to pay over the odds the rest of us may be able to get a better deal
    • stevemcol
    • By stevemcol 27th Sep 11, 1:36 PM
    • 1,650 Posts
    • 781 Thanks
    stevemcol
    • #8
    • 27th Sep 11, 1:36 PM
    • #8
    • 27th Sep 11, 1:36 PM
    I'm generally into fairness but I'm convinced that having lots of choice should enhance competition and hence generally lower prices. All consumables and products will have overpriced alternatives (LIDL v Waitrose etc) for those that aren't interested in value for money. No reason for utilities to be any different.

    However, perhaps energy companies should be forced to provide understandable comparison data with other tariffs.
    Apparently I'm 10 years old on MSE. Happy birthday to me...etc
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 27th Sep 11, 11:18 PM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    • #9
    • 27th Sep 11, 11:18 PM
    • #9
    • 27th Sep 11, 11:18 PM
    There should be cheaper deals for those that don't mind switching, just as their are cheaper groceries for those willing to shop around. Also regional variations should stay. If you live near a power plant, energy costs less to get to you, and so you should get a discount - in the same way that there are regional variations in petrol prices, grocery prices, etc.
    • miriamm
    • By miriamm 28th Sep 11, 9:59 AM
    • 11 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    miriamm
    I don't have a problem with utility companies being able to offer a choice of 2 or 3 different tariffs to suit different needs. What I do have a problem with is dozens of different tariffs per company, with no clear explanation of the difference between them and no easy way of comparing like with like. Choice is no choice if you can't get the information you need to exercise it meaningfully.

    I actually switched company because the one I was with had too many tariffs and I got so sick of trying to work out which one was likely to be cheaper. (That and the fact they tried to treble my direct debit for no reason). My current company has just 2 tariffs and that's plenty enough for me.

    I also have a massive problem with companies being allowed to charge extortionate rates on pre-pay meters - surely the lowest risk to them, since the consumer has to hand over their money before they get any power.

    And finally I have a problem with the price fixing and general lack of regulation of this private sector monopoly. Renationalise now!
    • stevemcol
    • By stevemcol 28th Sep 11, 10:39 AM
    • 1,650 Posts
    • 781 Thanks
    stevemcol
    Miriamm
    I just put my details in to two or three comparison sites and take the best. Is it naive to think that will get me the best deal?
    Last edited by stevemcol; 28-09-2011 at 1:28 PM.
    Apparently I'm 10 years old on MSE. Happy birthday to me...etc
  • Kyser_Soze
    I think the companies rely on the wide array of tariffs to deliberately confuse the issue. Privatisation was sold to the consumer as a market utopia where choice would force down prices and improve service. What we have ended up with is higher prices, no matter how much you search for the cheapest deal prices have proportionately increased and poor customer service regularly reported in the national media.

    Not that I'm bitter but, i dived in with everyone else and bought £100 of electric shares to join the Conservatives' grand public ownership scheme. These were then forcibly bought from me when SEEBoard was taken over by another company.

    It does seem a bit risky that our national infrastructure is owned by offshore companies. Especially given the state of the global economy. Remember, all those profits are your money leaving the country, they could be being ploughed back into the industry, used by the Government to pay the national debt or even used to make prices cheaper. These companies are not in it for altruistic motives and they are already carving up the NHS to their own advantage.

    I wonder if the Europhiles realise that if we upset the European mainland too much, the lights can go out and the trains can stop running?

    Time for a lie down I think.
    Last edited by Kyser_Soze; 28-09-2011 at 5:31 PM. Reason: I can not spell!
  • tagq2
    Wait, I get to choose who supplies my mains gas and electricity now? I wondered what they were doing digging up the road...

    Oh, it's just another bit of regulation on who runs the software to generate a PDF of my bill and how much they get to charge for the privilege. Tomorrow's been today for a while, and it belongs to unproductive middlemen.
    • paranoidpete
    • By paranoidpete 2nd Oct 11, 7:01 AM
    • 9 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    paranoidpete
    Leave it like it is.

    So long as there are mugs out there happy to pay over the odds the rest of us may be able to get a better deal
    Originally posted by VoucherMan

    i agree if people are to lazy to do a bit of work to find the best deal they deserve to have to pay more,
    it is just like looking for the bargains while you are shopping.
    • stevemcol
    • By stevemcol 3rd Oct 11, 12:12 PM
    • 1,650 Posts
    • 781 Thanks
    stevemcol
    i agree if people are to lazy to do a bit of work to find the best deal they deserve to have to pay more,
    it is just like looking for the bargains while you are shopping.
    Originally posted by paranoidpete
    Providing help is given to less internet savvy consumers, pensioners etc who often have the greatest need of cheaper energy.
    Apparently I'm 10 years old on MSE. Happy birthday to me...etc
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