Don’t all laugh at once, but I’m with Scottish Power, the energy company that’s just announced price rises of 19% (gas) and 10% (electricity). And if you think that’s bad, just wait until your provider follows in their footsteps.
I’ve got a confession to make. I’m a serial energy switcher. Ever since I had control over my own bills I’ve hopped from company to company without so much as a smidgeon of loyalty.
When it comes to other products and services I’ll happily pay a bit more for a brand I love, or a service that I think is decent (take a bow, Virgin Media), but with energy companies there’s nothing to make me stay when the price goes skywards.
With energy companies I have never noticed any difference in service – only in price. Poor customer service, confusing bills and a bewildering array of tariffs – should I go for the ‘Fixed Eco Net Doubleplusgood’ tariff, or the ‘Mega-Discount 14 Saver’ tariff?
That’s why the second I saw the announcement that Scottish Power had hiked prices again, I headed straight to Which? Switch. Loyalty doesn’t help me save cash, and when it comes to energy I’m all about the money.
Paying the price of staying put
I know the old argument – switching takes ages. It’s time-consuming, it’s a hassle, and you can’t even guarantee that your new price will be a bargain beyond the first couple of months.
Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I’ve never found it that difficult to switch. Yes, I’ve had problems, the most notable being when npower and Scottish Power found it impossible to talk to each other, and insisted on both charging me for the same batch of electricity. But they got it sorted out after a couple of emails, and it was worth it to get onto a cheaper deal.
And it will be worth it again if I can switch to a cheaper deal. With price increases of almost 20%, the average household’s energy bills could rise by £175 per year. I think that’s worth a few phone calls and a bit of hassle.
Will you be swayed to switch?
I understand people who don’t want to worry about the hassle, but I think we often assume that switching is like a perilous mountain that will take eons to scale.
First you find a cheaper deal, then you put in all your details, then you switch. After that you wait months and months for your energy company to sort things out, while you take an almost infinite number of meter readings and phone them every five minutes to make sure they haven’t accidentally cut you off or hurled your details into a fiery pit.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s annoying, but not that annoying, and it’s definitely worth it to save nearly £200 and feel smug when you read headlines like: ‘£220 shock on your bill’ or: ‘Families stunned as power bills soar to £1,391’.
So what about you? Energy bills are one of the big financial concerns for UK consumers. Is there anything that could make you stay with your energy company, besides the price? And are these latest hikes going to sway you into switching?