Energy suppliers - do they understand simplicity?
Got a letter from our energy supplier, dated 6/12/2013.
"We're changing your energy discounts and rewards".
"As part of an industry wide programme to create a simpler and clearer, fairer and more competitive energy market, blah,blah,blah..............
We want to assure you though, that you will not pay any more on this tariff because of these changes.
What these changes mean for you - Discount for how you pay.
You currently receive a 6% discount for paying a fixed amount each month by Direct Debit. If you continue to pay this way you'll still get the equivalent of a 6% discount but this will reflect as a reduction in both your rates and standing charges."
This is where it gets interesting. The paragraph continues, "If we cannot collect your Direct debit on two occasions we will cancel your Direct Debit instruction and send you a bill each quarter, which you will need to pay within 14 days. We will write and let you know that we are doing this. Your unit rates and standing charge will increase by 3.2%.
If you do not pay on time we may move you to our standard tariff" (????). "This is a variable tariff and its prices may be higher than your current tariff.
Your new unit rates and standing charges are shown in the table on this letter."
Well now. The reassurance of being fairer and clearer has smoothly diverged into one of dire threats if D/Ds cannot be collected.
Also, if any accounting errors occur (we do know that this can, and does, happen), some customers will find it more confusing and difficult to trace a discounting error - saves their admin problems if errors go undiscovered, of course.
What about 'rounding up'? Whereas rounding up one final figure for the discount, they will now 'round up' four separate figures - electricity: standing charge, first unit rate and remainder unit rate. - Gas: standing charge, first unit rate and remainder unit rate. Might be very insignificant individually, but very lucrative across millions of customers.
Worryingly for some of our more vulnerable older folk, the double-edged sword of this letter could raise considerable fear that in some way they may have done something to cause the contents of this letter. The supplier will obviously brush it aside as a "standard letter", but it is a badly phrased and thoughtless standard letter.
The industry has already earned bad press, and it and parliament have started to draw up battle lines for confrontation in the near future. What backroom steps by the industry's accountants, to counter government interference, are already being devised, and how financially disastrous to the energy users might that be(for it is the users who will pay for non-viable impositions resulting from government fudging?
Aye! we got a letter from our gas/electric supplier saying that they could no longer give us the discount we had, as we are both disabled, as the government had told them to stop doing that, saying that it was an "unfair policy?"
They said that we would still qualify for the government cold weather payment, and we do get a discount for "paperless billing" and for having both services with them, so its not all bad news.
I didn't get a letter telling me about the Govt subsidy for some of us being dropped. I found out when I phoned my supplier to query an ambiguous pricing change. I was not happy to discover that Standing Charges were reintroduced in March this year, yet because I did not get a bill in July, I was not aware of that change. However, I will not be paying any Standing Charges, and because the unit rates have gone don on both my gas and electric, taking into account my dual fuel discount and payments for cold weather and the winter heating subsidy, it looks like our combined bills for next year could be as much as £200 less than this year. Still too damned much though.
I only have an electricity supply. It annoys me that some people can get dual fuel discount which is impossible for me to get.
I should get a massive Single fuel discount, because I have NO choice in the matter.
That is a difficult one to answer, Dennis. In theory, if you are all electric and have no choice say, to geological conditions or lack of a nearby main gas supply due to economic reasons not of your own making, then it ought to be possible for an energy supplier to give consumers such as yourself a concessionary discount based on kilowatts of electricity used in comparison to an estimated cost if you did have dual fuel. That would be possible because gas consumption is now measured in kilowatt hours. But that principle would need to be driven at a high level (e.g., Energy Watch and government), because the energy companies would view it as giving away electricity. In my opinion, it would be no different them giving a financial concession for having dual fuel.
Originally Posted by Dennis W
Many years ago I had central heating installed with an oil-fired boiler. I had a tank behind the garage, with a supply pipe to the house, and the oil was delivered by tanker 600 gallons at a time. I paid 6p per gallon for it, and 2p of that was a charge towards supporting the coal industry. Our winters were exceptionally cosy then.
Then we moved home, to a larger house that had gas-fired central heating. Our first quarterly bill sent me weak at the knees. I immediately enquired about converting to oil; but was put off by a sudden surge in oil prices, and it was a wise decision.
At the moment, future energy costs are being touted as likely to rise steeply in the quest to move to renewable resources. Coal-fired power stations would cut costs considerably, but the EU has quashed any hope of that. The UK government are not going to rock any boats in Joe Publics' favour - the purse-holders are themselves nice and cosy, AND in line for an 11% salary increase - which they will reluctantly accept after a mockery of objecting on moral grounds.
I don't anticipate any way out of the UKs crippling energy costs going away. The energy bosses and the shareholders are not going to see their incomes reduced on our behalf, and the political parties will be too engrossed in using the problem as a ballot box tool to worry about the eventual outcome - and we all know that will be the usual pain in our pockets.
We had an all electric system when we lived up North, but then again the prices were no where near what they are now.
Then we moved to a house that had a gas AGA, and that cost a fortune to run with gas, as its on 24/7, nice warm kitchen though,
Like most of us on here, I can remember when gas/electric bills were minimal compared to today's prices, even phone bills were cheap in those days.
I had a letter from SSE a couple of weeks back (think they thought they had to be nice because people on the TCHC tariff (a bit like Economy 7 or 10) had been told they couldn't swap! Can't make it out! And like Dennis, we're all electric (barring Calor Gas hob) and there's no mains gas so why shouldn't we get some compensation for something outside of our control?
Smudger, one of our houses (with no central heating) had a coal-fired AGA that was on over the winter but the kitchen was big enough to have an electric cooker for summer, too. I desperately want to re-do my kitchen and am looking at modern options of both AGAs and Rayburns.
Aye! I really miss the AGA we had, back in my childhood days we had a solid fuel one, along with a solid fuel boiler, and the kitchen was always warm.
But I don't think there are any cheap options to run an AGA these days, my Dad did try an oil one, in the house he had up in Golspie, but that became really expensive, when the price of oil shot way up!
Sadly, I agree with you, Smudger, looking at the consumption. However a Rayburn being multi-fuel might be a better option. Unfortunately, with Mum's issues, I am having to use a lot more lecky and it's really scary how high these bills are and getting higher.