Power companies are taking the piss

Scottish Power annoyed me the other day: they sent me a letter labelled THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR – OPEN IMMEDIATELY. Cheeky bastards, I thought – especially when I opened it (several hours later, heh) to discover that it wasn’t urgent. It was my annual statement, telling me how badly I’ve been shafted over the last 12 months and how severe they expect the shafting to be over the next 12 months.

So I decided to switch suppliers. Bloody hell, if you thought insurers screwed anybody who doesn’t switch each year, the power companies make the insurance industry look like heroes. According to Scottish Power, last year it cost me just over £1,200 for gas and electricity. Next year, it’s going to be nearly £1,600. Switching brings that down to around £950.

That’s an incredible amount of money. It’s partly because the new provider offers an online discount for paperless billing, but it’s mainly because – I suspect – the power companies know they can get away with it, because comparing tariffs is a complete and utter pain in the arse. Sites such as USwitch do their best, but you still need to look at very confusing PDFs to work out what the hell each provider charges. You need to narrow it down by supply area, look at the different consumption rates (typically there’s one rate for the first X kilowatt hours then another rate for the rest) for gas and electricity, work out what the discounts are for dual fuel, direct debit, paperless billing and so on, and try to stay (a) awake and (b) vaguely interested throughout the whole tedious process. But by god, it’s worth it.

Put it this way: if I’d stuck with Scottish Power, my monthly direct debit would be £141. Switching has brought it down to £80. If you haven’t done it yourself (or done it this year), it’s worth the tedium.