NICE TO BE WANTED

Update on utility provider: https://menhir1.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/what-price-loyalty/#comment-16574 for anyone who has not following this, the link will tell all.

Today I have been contacted three times by the electricity supplier I am leaving. I was offered a super exclusive deal for a one year fix….but, it wasn’t. It was close, but not better and there were strings. I had to agree to consider having a smart meter.  Yes, they had a two year fixed deal, it was way off the scale!!  No competition there then. The last caller from the company said they’d love to have me back anytime, even tomorrow!

My angst with the smart meters is that they have not been universal, other than in their requirement to try to control how we use fuel.  We have been encouraged, nay, exhorted by government to shop around for ‘best deals’ and the companies have been prevailed upon to get everyone on smart meters.  Each supplier used their own preferred technology. So, how could you move seamlessly between suppliers. They would not necessarily accept the smart meter you had. This was a nonsensical situation. I could talk about the distraction from fuel poverty, structural failures in the supply chain, their causes and other costly politics, but I won’t.

Series two smart meters are meant to ease the way to seeking and obtaining the best deals by being a universal for suppliers and customers. I intend to wait for the evidence. It will be sometime coming because the advertised universal meters are only just now being rolled out, and then only because the majority of customers refused to install version one.

The two year fix I am taking is with a company called Green Network Energy (GNE).  The website was intuitive and I requested a quote, but only after I had looked at the comparison websites. The difference between my supplier and GNE for a two year fix was off the scale!!!  I can only say at this early point in the change process, that communication with GNE has been straightforward by phone and online. The account will be online. I started the switch through the Moneysavingexpert site.

 

 

You may make additional savings on your prices with suppliers if you have dual fuel supplies and you don’t live where I do. We have higher prices to contend with.

So, guys, there you have it.  I’ll let you know how it all flows at some future date.  Just a note here; I did go through an awful lot of reviews for GNE on Trust Pilot. On the whole,they were pretty good, just the odd one of dissatisfaction. Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at Trust Pilot. As I said, it is too soon for me to make a judgement of my own. My every digit is crossed though.  🙂

Advertisements

WHAT PRICE LOYALTY?

 

The yearly hunt for new utility suppliers and insurers has been in full swing. Loyalty is costly, there is no value to the customer, you and me,  in being loyal to any utility and insurance company.  I noticed one company was lauding its plans for offering loyalty to its customers. Attractive though it sounded, on further investigation, the primary up front costs were not competitive in order to give it a try.  With terms and conditions always changing – the requirements of the underwriters, or because of taxes, are the stock reasons to date – there’s no confidence, nor is there any evidence on which to base this offering.  The annual research of the market is wearisome, but made totally necessary, if you want to keep budgets within personal means. Service companies, (including banks) rely on inertia. Many signals have indicated for some time that people are being priced out of the insurance market. There is already significant fuel and food poverty here in the U.K.

My suppliers’ fuel quote for a 1 year fixed price tariff has changed in four days and not to my advantage. A quick review of a number of companies I had considered demonstrated that the increase was across the board. What was not general, were the amounts by which prices had increased. My energy supplier wanted about £108 per annum more than their original quotation.

In general, increases with the other companies of interest ranged from about £13 – £24 per annum for a one year fixed price tariff.  Then, I tripped across an attractive two years fixed price deal at a very similar increase to one of the other competing providers.  It was described today as the cheapest two year fix on the market. Considering the volatility of the times we are living in on so many fronts, including international fuel supplies, it goes without saying, after hair-raising experiences with a previous supplier that I checked a lot of reviews on this company.

 

 

Two years peace of mind and one less concern next year is very tempting…….

 

JUST ANOTHER WAIT

We are sorry, we are ever so busy with a high volume of calls. Your wait could be up to twenty-five minutes“.  Sub text: it is a late evening call- they do say they are contactable up till 10pm -and what the recorded message probably means, is, that there is a skeleton staff working. I half wish this was entirely true, but, I have to admit, I have waited on occasion equally as long and much longer during usual daytime business hours, whichever department I tapped through the menus to contact.

The digital  auto message voice is quite nice; the heavy metal noise has been replaced by something with two or three repetitive music phrases that it is possible to switch your ears off from while you think about things. Tonight, I promised myself I will not wait twenty-five minutes. I bet though, if I phone tomorrow morning, there will be a repeat performance. (Sigh).

Just For Me

Nearly fifteen minutes in, I have disconnected the phone. Just as well I am able to call with a freephone (toll free) number.

AN UNLOVED NECESSITY

Keeping ahead of the game.  I wrote about it here .  Fuel suppliers are an unloved necessity.  I thought I had eventually got my totally frustrating fuel provider trained and I was swithering about whether to stay with them at the end of the contract.

I re-contracted and billing horrors renewed apace.  The fuel provider went into seige mode.  Online notice boards and review sites were buzzing with irate and unhappy customers. A few got to speak to an unhelpful operator after an hour or more. I waited fifty-nine minutes and forty-five minutes respectively, during one day.  The company also switched off its auto-acknowledgment of emails.  Thus, there was no way of communicating.  This firm was in lock-down.

The Ombudsman Service (Energy) assured me the fuel provider was still trading, though one weary advisor said they were getting daily calls.  That prompted me to put in a formal complaint. (The Ombudsman Service,  provides a negotiation and remediation service).  I have now had two complaints against this company found in my favour within a year.

 

Where am I now?  The company have been able to complete two of the agreed remedies, the remainder, which would allow me to smoothly switch supplier without a contract exit penalty and within a specific period of time, are being frustrated.  Why?  

I started the switch process; it stopped because my gas meter was linked up to a different address on the industry’s main database for the gas supply !!!  My current supplier is obliged to ‘update’ the industry database.

I’ve emailed the company.  Their auto acknowledgment feature is switched on again.  It tells you there is a ten day response time.  Previously, it was five days.  The Ombudsman Investigator has now got the case back.

 

FLUFF BALLS AND JUMPERS

It’s the time of year for a bit of exploring and it’s a great excuse to put oneself in the direction of pleasant temperatures and every likelihood of a breeze. Scotland has been benefitting from having a summer, so far, this year. So, what better than to  waft away from the sticky towns and cities and head to the countryside.

At a local agricultural show, I got chatting to Irene from Canberra, who like me, was admiring this super youngster.  “E’s not fully growed…it take ’em aboot five year to be growed”, we were told, by an equally admiring farmer.

A Prize Youngster

A brazen surprise was in store in the sheep pens.

Oops, we’ve got the same jumpers on!

These two Suffolk sheep got first prizes.

….and what about this one

A big fluff ball

Certainly not your usual style of sheep. She got a  second prize. I wonder which local hairdresser she went to, the back-combing is a little passée.  Fluff Ball has potential for a first prize, if her hairdresser develops her styling technique.

 

 

£££’s – KEEPING AHEAD OF THE GAME.

The domestic fuel provider hunt is on here in M’s household. I hate it!  There is no reward for loyalty. You have try to keep ahead of the game.  In commerce loyalty is seen as valuable commercial inertia.

A drain

The research into domestic fuel suppliers does demand focus.  The offers in the competitive market place require analysing, understanding and then an applied arithmetical brain work out.

number cruncher

The various and numerous  consumer comparison sites quite often do not agree with each other as to what’s truly best for you or me.  They too, are running a business.  One consumer web site is very transparent about its commissions from recommendations.  They also ensure their site shows other market provider options, from which they do not gain pecuniary advantage .

The best offers with all the suppliers are usually  available on the web. There are domestic fuel supplier names I have never heard of,  young businesses that are building up their customer base, trying to grow quickly with very competitive offers but without appropriate customer infrastructure in place. Caveat emptor.

My experience last year with a new kid on the block that metamorphosed into a total unknown during the transfer process, got to tear your hair out proportions:  My current contract with them is ending,  just as I have got them trained.

DEAR ME…

Dear  all…

Dear everyone…

Dear…

Emails have always seemed to me to be a very informal method of sending mail.  The minuscule ‘Hi’ and the nondescript ‘Hello’ definitely do not suit all situations.  Very occasionally, ‘Good morning/Good afternoon….Mr/Mrs’  turns up; it’s easy enough to similarly respond, if I know of the writer, though not if it is mail from the business.  Business emails are business communications like any that are delivered by postal mail services. They just do not look like it, or, maybe, it’s just they do not look like the business mail I have been used to.

If it’s a formal communication conventions state I should respectfully open with, ‘Dear Sir’, or, ‘Dear Madam’  or, a combined version of both;  I have never considered any particular business entity  dear to me, nor  anyone in it with whom I may have developed a working business relationship.  (Oh dear).  Looking at terms of endearment, I am no further forward in creating alternative salutations for the purpose.

 

Pavement Poetry

I might feel less inhibited if I felt free to open with something nicely terse at times. Huffing and puffing, I might just consider dropping terms of endearment and  begin, “Sir”, or, “Madam”.   It’s the worst I can allow myself to do.   Undoubtedly, this is exactly the reason for beginning a written correspondence in a traditionally, accepted, mannerly, style,  at all times.  The moment your thoughts turn to ‘dear….’ the system structure draws you into its conventional framework.  And dropping ‘dear’ to a curt ‘Sir or Madam’ only frames a much more formal, but  still a conventionally acceptable mailing.   So be it.

The written word speaks volumes.

FOREIGN LEGION – CONSIGNMENTS & LEFT LUGGAGE

BEING SMARTER WITH WORDS

© M- Open Gardens

Have I ever come across such incompetence before…..No:  Have I ever seen such a complicated cock-up before…..Almost, but this one pips others to the post.

After five months of chivvying a utility company along and a having a variety of unexpected experiences, with no sign of an agreeable resolution, I have got to end of my tether.

From Monday of last week I had my nose to grindstone. I gathered together five months’ worth of information to make a formal complaint to the Office Of The Ombudsman (Energy).  Once that was more-or-less sorted, the information had to be put into a non-emotive and concise presentation; ‘emotions not allowed‘ the instruction guidance suggests.  If you’ve done anything like this, you will know it can take days to do.  Sifting through the collection of potential attachments, (evidence) is a must.  Also, attachments, “Must be appropriate to the complaint“.

Midweek, I gave myself permission to have time off.  I had few hours’ break, to go out and see what the rest of my world was doing. It was the only way I was going to bring myself back, bleary eyed, to face the next step…….editing.

Editing is a euphemism for making  savings, word [efficiency] savings; being smarter with words, making cuts.  I won’t bore you with the rest of it.   By lunchtime on Friday I had finished work on the presentation of my complaint and had written a succinct-ish email to attach everything to.

It felt so very good to click on the ‘send’ button.  Now we wait.

© M

 

 

PILLAGE!

It defied any logic I could think of.  An email informed me that my monthly fuel bill was increasing by nearly 101%  in a few days’ time.  Ouch! The day before I had an email apologizing for not advising me in advance that an increased debit had been taken from my bank account to pay for it.   I phoned the company. What superhuman patience and effort was required to wait to speak to someone, someone, who was not very helpful.  She was probably fed-up taking the flak from an army of very irate customers  who, likely, had the same experience.

The huge deduction was being taken ….wait for it………………..in preparation for when my current billing arrangements expired in three months’ time and I would automatically be transferred to a [bog] standard higher variable tariff.  Wha-a-a-t!!

In business, not good business practice, I have heard of “Do it then apologize after”.  This was a blatant example of it, an absolute abuse of trust.

Whatever happened to the regulation that requires advance notice, (about fifteen days I believe) of end of contract and best renewal offers.

Today’s letter, the one I should have got sometime before my account was pillaged,  described in general outline how the increased deductions had been calculated for everyone.  So, back on the phone today trying every trick in the book to get an answer to one of my calls.  It was too late to stop my bank account losing an extra large debit, but I have stopped the following two from happening. In the interim, I will formally request a refund of the engorged credit I have on my fuel account.

I have emailed my concerns and made a formal complaint about these spurious and dubious management business practices.

BETTING ON BARGAIN SHOPPING.

Black Friday has at least taken the media focus off some of the dafter stuff going on in our little island. Apparently, zillions of us will have ‘bet’ on buying online bargains within a twenty-four hours period. The knock-on short -term employment generated by this activity must have its good and down side. The existing delivery services cannot cope with the demand, so are increased and complemented by all sorts of distribution methods. The zero hours contractors,  come to mind as do  as do self-employed drivers  many of whom, work to tight margins.

2Many retailers in the U.K, both online and in the high streets, like Black Friday, (an American Import) as it generates the consumer to shop. It is said that the U.K is big with online shopping, more so that many other countries worldwide. Logistically, retailers large and small have to be creative.  One way to be creative has been to extend bargain hunting with special offers for a about a week before Black Friday and a week after.

 

1

Yours truly has ordered a book, not especially because of Black Friday, but, it’s just that I remembered about it; so while the grey cells were working, I decided to go for it. The book will be delivered by Royal Mail, (what’s left of it).  I think I do quite well, as a rule, shopping in sales at other times.  Most of the inspiration for gifts I buy is found that way.  This year though, inspiration has been in short supply, a bell-weather, I think, of a tougher  retailing  market.

1

The mass purchasing activity of online shoppers in a small window of time will give an equally huge short-term boost to turnover and sales.  However, when this feverish activity is over and the  annual accounts are calculated as a whole, economists say,  it does not necessarily enhance the balance sheet; the annual accounts, they advise, will even out.  On the other hand, if that is the case, without any shopping boost, the annual business balance sheets may look a lot less viable.

3