Deciding upon which energy supplier to switch to, to get the best deal is not really a very easy task, and a cynic would suggest that it is the power companies themselves who make it that way by sending out bills that are so complex that few people can really calculate which is the best deal and which isn't. We have all heard about the well-publicised sales drives which have netted masses of new customers on the back of, apparently, much lower prices only for these prices to go up substantially a short while later once all the contracts have been signed; and it doesn't help when many people who are thinking about switching are advised to do so by salespeople who are paid on a commission. Hardly surprisingly, it has been estimated that round about one third of households that switch suppliers after a sales person's visit end up paying more for their power, not less! These factors have caused a lot of dissatisfaction amongst gas and electricity consumers, but at least the majority of them are spared from the scandalous, some would say rip-off, rates that are paid by the poorest members of society who have to use prepayment meters and who are charged very heavily for doing so! Power companies claim that it is more expensive for them to provide their services to such clients but it is a fair comment to make that most businesses have to accept the rough with the smooth so it is hard to see why power companies should be exempt from this situation. It is nothing less than disgraceful that the poorest and most vulnerable members of a democratic society should have to pay the most for services which are pretty much essential for a civilised life.
Proposals are in place to ensure that any extra charges that prepayment clients have to pay in future are limited to the true cost of providing the service, and it will be interesting to see how this works out after the accountants have been let loose on it. In the meanwhile much more transparent charging systems are proposed for the majority of consumers, and it should, provided that the proposals actually work, make it far easier for people to comare tarrifs in future and decide whether or not they are getting the best deal for their own circumstances.
It may be a very good piece of advice to people who are thinking of switching providers to do a thorough investigation on the Internet before allowing any sales staff to cross their threshold. Whilst no doubt the vast majority of sales personnel are completely honest and trustworthy, payments by commission can be a great incentive for the less scrupulous ones to give advice which is not necessarily in the best interests of the client, particularly when that client has not got all the facts to hand. This is what the Internet is for; finding out information not only from those who have their own interest to protect but also from those who have no axe to grind, or who have cautionary tales to tell.