Monday, February 17, 2014

Cheaper Electricical

I have been meaning to do this for ages and was finally motivated to do so by a piece in one of our daily newspapers.

When I was but a lad, electricity was made, and reliably and efficiently distributed by our government owned electricity company, the SEC, State Electricity Commission (of Victoria). The Evil Kennett State Government sold off the electricity assets owned by the people of Victoria in the 1990s and then it all went so wrong. We are now at the mercy of privately owned overseas companies.

I am not going into the details of what the modern issues about privately owned electricity companies are. I will leave that to smarter people than myself. But we are urged to shop around for the best and cheapest electricity provider, which is of course nonsense. The power all comes from the same place and through the same wires. But many companies have taken over the, shall I call it 'billing'.

Changing electricity companies is fraught with danger, with my mother being exhibit A. She thought she was signing a two year contract with her usual provider, but no, it had the same name but was based in a different state. She found out and cancelled within the two week cooling off period, and then did not receive a bill for almost a year.

I did not want to change companies but I checked at a couple of online power bill comparison sites. I've done it before and I think back then we could have saved $150 per year. Given how it could easily go so wrong, I thought it was not worth the bother. This time when I checked, $450 a year could be saved. That is at least a good bargaining tool with our company. I did actually do some proper research, looking at service charges, prices per kilowatt hours and where there was a jump in tarrif once you reach a certain point in consumption.

What put me off the cheapest was that you sign a three year contract but the cheap price is only guaranteed for the first year.

I called our present company. She asked who the company was that offered such a good deal but I forgotten the name of it. She immediately offered an 11% discount on our usage if agreed to a one year contract. Better than nothing. She was having computer problems, don't we all, and put me on hold for a few minutes. I used the time to check who did offer that significant saving of $450. When she returned, I told her who the company was and how it was calculated. She then offered 21%, 22% if I allowed direct deduction of the electric bill from my account. For the 21%, it was just paying the bill by the due date. I don't like to allow other people to take my from my bank account with my say so. It probably comes from a time not that long ago when I may not have had enough money in my account to cover automatic payments.

I thought the woman I dealt with over the phone was lovely, until the next day when the documentation arrived as four pdf files. Not everyone would, but I diligently checked them and to my dismay they were for only an 11% deduction.

Back to the hated telephone options buttons and an equally lovely woman sorted it out and the following day the correct documentation arrived.

So, it is a one year contract with our existing electric supplier and a 21% deduction from power usage. I checked, and before the expiration of the contract we will be notified via mail that it is about to expire.

I suppose, including research, I spent about two hours on the matter, spread over a few days. I am not about to promote the company by naming them, but fill in the gap if it may be of use to you, Charles Darwin's ****** of Species. Piss on them though. We have been customers of theirs for a couple of decades and they have never called us to discuss our electricity usage.

Tip, if you are thinking of going down this road, do your research online and make notes that you can refer to when you call your supplier to tell them that they are ripping your off. Don't go with the phrase 'I heard somewhere...'.

If you are in Victoria, this is the comparison site I used.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tip. We are with the same company. We had a similar thing happen with house insurance.We checked other companies and then rang ours. They ended up reducing our premium by $1200 but we have but pay a bigger excess.

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    1. Diane, I did try it with car insurance, but to no avail. Your insurance seems very high if it can be reduced by $1200.

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  2. I think these utility companies rely on customers like me. Inertia. Inconvenience. I stick with what's working now - regardless of the cost - to avoid the horror expereinces of people who changed companies and found themselves locked into something that eventually proved to be worse.

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    1. Victor, there may well be more to the tale in the future. I have no confidence in it going right, especially after a bad start. I appreciate your point, believe me.

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  3. I must be doing something right for a change I get two credit bills a year usually Oh I have solar.
    Oh don't get me started on insurance I paid faithfully for the whole time we had a owed money to the bank to the bank insurance then when I made a claim because we had water leak into the kitchen they said our roof didn't have enough slope on it and refused the claim so now I have a bank account with the money I pay in what I would pay to the insurance co and thats my repair money it available when needed without all the problems.
    Merle..........

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    1. Ah, solar. Very wise Merle. Self insurance as you describe works well as long as you are disciplined about it.

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  4. Wow. Congratulations. I need (obviously) to get off my behind and renegotiate ours. I have done so in the past, but the discounted period is now over.

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    1. EC, I have heard complaints that the companies don't notify you when your cheaper electric plan is to expire. You were not?

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    2. The notification came when the discount wasn't applied to the bill. So... I can't say I wasn't notified - after the event.

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    3. EC, well that is clearly wrong. I have heard of people never receiving a notification.

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  5. I'm not bothering with changing. I get a discount rate for low income and a seniors concession and that's good enough for me.

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    1. River, those discounts are significant from what I have seen. I would not bother either.

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  6. Hmmm, I compared and I can get way cheaper. If only I could be bothered dealing with it all!

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    1. Fen, change and put the money away for a stay in London.

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  7. I have long go come to the conclusion that most companies and businesses are trying to con consumers at every corner. By only offering you 11% reduction on print, after having promised 21% verbally proves my point. They hoped you wouldn't check it. Good on you for doing so.

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    1. Bill, I nearly wasn't going to bother, but I am glad I did check. Genuine mistake or deliberate? I'll never know. She was so nice on the phone.

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  8. I just couldn't do it Andrew.. I remember a while back changing from Telstra to Optus it nearly drove me insane, not that there's a long way to go for that:) Anyway I'm not sure if we have as many options as you, we're Synergy and have been for however many name changes they've had!

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    1. Grace, we have so many companies to buy from, but then there are distributors too. It's a nightmare.

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