Practising What We Preach!
Blog post by Keelin Kelly
Working for the Consumer Council I was aware that the electricity market was opening to competition in 2010, so I immediately switched my supplier to get the cheaper tariff. I switched again when a third supplier entered the market offering an even better deal. But three babies (and three more suppliers joining the market) later, it was definitely time to review things.
In 2015 the Consumer Council began to develop an energy price comparison tool. It’s an independent, interactive online calculator which allows you to enter your current supplier and tariff, and find out if you could save money by switching. At the Consumer Council we always encourage shopping around, comparing services and making sure you’re getting the best possible deal. We’re all consumers after all so it was time to follow my own advice!
When our energy price comparison tool went live I entered my details – current supplier, type of bill, type of payment, and usual monthly charge and then my preferences for future bill/payment type.
The list of other suppliers and tariffs came up to show how much I could save. I was surprised to see I could save a minimum of £100 by switching to any of the other 5 electricity suppliers in Northern Ireland. But I was even more surprised to see that the maximum that I could save was £199.66 and that was by staying with the same supplier but switching to one of its cheaper tariffs! That’s what you call a no brainer! At the Consumer Council we often hear from consumers that they imagine it’s a bit of hassle to switch, or that there’s probably very little difference between the companies. Well I’m living proof that not only should you shop around and compare different suppliers, but equally, don’t be complacent about the tariff you’re on. Don’t assume that the best deals are kept for new customers. It’s always worth asking your current supplier what they can do to give you a better deal.
In my case I used the electricity supplier’s website to contact them. I informed them that I appeared to be on their most expensive tariff and that I would like them to switch me to their cheapest tariff. A customer service advisor came back to ask for my address so that they could ensure they had the right account and then I heard nothing more. I was getting ready to chase them for an update when I received our latest statement which confirms the account has been changed from their dearest tariff to their cheapest. Result!
In an ideal world suppliers would put all their customers on their cheapest tariff but the reality is that consumers can and should take control – don’t pay more than you have to, and try to make time in your busy schedule to ping an email to them, or make a call. You’ll always be able to think of something you’d rather spend the money on! In my case nappies and swimming lessons don’t come cheap so I already know where our £200 saving will be going!
The Consumer Council’s independent, online energy price comparison tool is available at www.consumercouncil.org.uk. Step by step guides to switching electricity and gas supplier, as well as other useful guides and resources are available to download, or copies can be requested by contacting the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or via facebook or twitter.
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