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UTILITIES WHY SO COMPLICATED

thespiceman
thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
edited December 2017 in Coffee lounge
Hello everybody I thought just a line or two about gas and electric bills this time of year.  Please can I ask any body why is it so complicated.  Had a lad on the doorstep turn up.  Quoting these smart meters and what they are and what they can do.  I wont say the company a brand new way to pay and deal with your gas and electric he quipped.  So I invited him in and sat down.  I have to hand gas and electric bill.  I know I am an intelligent gentleman and ran business and done all sorts of things.  Yet I can not understand my bill every time.  I look at it and ask what exactly paying for.  Bank statement says one thing utility company say another on the bill.  So I have agreed to switch again and have a smart meter installed.  Getting cold now and I am reassured easy to understand.  Lets hope so.  Last night no appetite ruined by my worry of the cost I spent just trying to keep warm.  It is a price to pay all I want is to know how much and what it will be each month.  Only thing pay for  something you do not know the cost for yet and pay an estimate.  Given them up todate readings on line.  Sorry if this a rant just an ordinary guy trying to live a life.
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Comments

  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    I  am totally with you on this.  Part of the problem is that it can be very difficult to determine how much you spend. We have a card meter for the gas and I top this up to £40 every month. So far this month I have had to top it up with another £50 to ensure that we don't have to worry about turning the heating on when it gets too cold. 

    I know that it would be cheaper to go onto monthly billing but the last time we did this we ended up with a £300 quarterly bill which we were not expecting, and prefer to pay the extra so that we can manage it better.

    We did get a nice gadget at one point which told us how much we were spending on electricity, threw it away after a few days as it was making me paranoid about how much we were spending. One useful thing that came out of it though was we now only put in as much water in the kettle that we need, those things are electricity junkies, along with the iron.

    I do remember one year we applied for help with the electricity and was sent a letter which allowed us to get some free electricity, but the problem was it arrived in February/early March after the worse of the cold weather that year, so no real help when it was actually needed.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Geoark Thank you it is not just me then.  I am so sick of these companies.  The way they do business.  I am very money savvy as you would be if you have not much to live on for a long time.  Plus having a business in the past am always money mad.  Thinking of costs.  I agree with a lot of what you say and I understand every bodys situation.  I get anxious about all things money.  As all our community do.  I will admit applied for warm front grant but the bleep bleep I wont swear on the web the company concerned only take it off after spring or summer.  Which is a con.  I complain and harp on but it they just laugh in so many words in your face.  I said once to a advisor why don't you have a scheme for all those on benefits and low incomes base costs on what they can afford.  Have a cap.  Say if they go to that limit you are made aware of that.  I was stunned by their reply.  Suddenly realised that they are not interested.  All companies like these all by profits and share holders.  Then I suggested like they do in some European countries.  Areas form co operatives buy gas and electric from companies and regulate there own price net works and any excess given back to the company.  Also I do feel that the future of many people is to probably go the smart meter.  Until the government looks at this issue again.  The whole energy companies market is never going to change.  I see looking at the governments plan for energy seems the same as all their policies no benefit to any one.
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  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @thespiceman no, it is not just you. 

    I remember a few years back there was a similar scheme to your co-op idea, but cannot remember if it was just Southwark or a London wide scheme. Residents would commit to the schem and the council/s would buy the fuel in bulk and resell to those residents at reduced prices to the main suppliers. I have not heard much about it since though.

    The one thing that truly bugs me is the rip off rates for those on meters. As I said it is an option I choose as it gives me more control on what is spent, but for many in poverty it is not an option. So in the end they are paying a premium price for their fuel.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Geoark Thank you for replying and comments.  One point you raised about card meters.  It is ideal for some not all.  Especially like the time I moved in to a property with one of these sort of meters.  I found out that the previous tenant had used a bypass system on the machine.  Any way found myself paying his debt when I put money in.  First week spent over£100.  Ended up no electric and gas.  Everytime for about a month trying to sort this out.  Concerned I rang and spoke to the housing association who had installed that monster in.  I had callers who were debt agencies for they were looking for this previous tenant.  Plus got his mail.  Found out ran a enormous bill.  Guess what I went mad and being ill this made me worse.  Come every day I had a life or death battle getting heat.  Remember this being December.  In the end sorted it out but never got the money back.  Had it taken out for a fee.  Also met this bloke the previous tenant one time in Tesco.  Had a friend with me and he pointed this lad out as he knew him.  I went nuts at this previous tenant spat a load of venom and fury.  Just lost it.  The other thing was to say to housing association had a go at them as well because some one goofed and should have checked the machine.  Soon after that more people were having issues and in the end I caused a stink.  I found out that it has been ongoing for a long time.  
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  • Catherine1C
    Catherine1C Member Posts: 1 Listener
    And when utility companies offer a winter payment they make it so hard to receive it by not letting customers know about availability. I contacted my utility company last month to apply for the winter payment only to be told the closing date was September !! Shouldn't it be given automatically to carers on benefits who are living off below the minumum wage???? I gave up my job 2 years ago to care for my 25 year old son. And to qualify for the paltry carers allowance I have to be available for at least 35 hours a week!! We spend much of our time at home therefore having big winter fuel bills.
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Catherine1C Thank you for commenting about this.  I agree with you unfortunately companies are not like that.  I found over the years you have ask for every thing.  I always stress to people ask about the warm front grant only to be told some companies do offer it and some do not.  So what ever company you sign up for you must try to ask for what help is available for vulnerable customers.  I am sorry about that you are in a situation where it is hard and difficult to maintain a household.  Especially if you are on a low income.  I am at present in my property even though it is cold I have no choice but to turn heating off.  I am now wrapped up and will put it back on about 3pm.  I have to do this because I am in a similar situation as many of our community are.  I understand that.  This is the problem.  I hope you and you son be safe and best wishes.
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  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Catherine1C and welcome to the community.

    Yes it would be nice if it was automatically given to those who need it. 

    There are 43 registered suppliers for electricity, while this amount may not be available to you locally for schemes like this to be automatically available the government would have to share personal data of individuals to all these companies, providing they all provide some concessionary payment. This information would then have to be sifted through by these companies to see if you are a customer - whilst also giving them a potential list of new customers. This would also mean giving private companies personal information which can easily identify you including name, address and what relevent benefits you are on.

    That is for one concessionary payment, and would have to be issued annually.

    Want to consider others? Water, travel, phone companies and various other businesses and organisations that provide concessions which 'should' be automatic?

    Personally I would rather not have this information going here there and eventually everywhere.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • wilko
    wilko Member Posts: 2,415 Disability Gamechanger
    The electric scheme is called the warm front scheme offered by most electricity companies but not all. To get the £140 payment you have to be claiming and getting certain benefits. Ring your supplier who will send a form out easy to fill in they check,with DWP and if all checks out the payment is put as a credit on your winter bill. As for smart meters it puts people out of work no meter readers needed. Key meters pay a lot more than those paying by direct debit. Water meters can save you money if you not using hose pipe just two people in a flat.
  • CockneyRebel
    CockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,217 Disability Gamechanger
    The warm home discount scheme is paid automatically to people in receipt of pension credit.
    You can apply to your supplier if you are on a low income. Most suppliers open their scheme for applicants in the autumn and the places are limited and filled on a first come first served basis. many of these are closed within weeks, well before the cold weather arrives

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • Neil2017
    Neil2017 Member Posts: 155 Courageous
    Hello @thespiceman
    Going back to your original question about why is Utility bills so complicated I compare it to toothpaste! Yep toothpaste. Just look at the numbers of products and brand names in that. Do we really need them all? Whitening, minty gel, sensitive teeth, total protection, gum protection and breath freshening...and so on. It is all a smoke and mirrors act to get you to pay more in my opinion.
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Neil2017 How are you?  Yes you are right never thought of that.  My favourite story got wind of a utility company new one on the market.  Signed off joined this new company.  Guess what subsidy of the previous company I had just left.  Could not win.  I have heard 43 companies have in this country supply us all.  Then of course the Chinese want to get into our markets.  That is the next big thing.  Trying to get a market share.  I have changed over to five times to utilities companies because of promises and the price hikes.  I think I have said this before.  All utilities based on usage plus level of income as well.  That will never work because it all about shareholders and profits.  Hope to speak to soon.  Take care
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  • feir
    feir Member Posts: 395 Pioneering
    i only have electricity here, but my company said my bills would be cheaper if i signed up to one of their deals. so i went with the cheapest option, my bills went up by £100+ quarterly.

    got to say when the deal ran out i did not sign up for another and my bills are a lot cheaper again. weird.
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    edited February 2018
    Hello @feir Welcome lovely to meet you.  Yes this is the big issue.  The reading between lines of all what these companies have to offer.  I am afraid the big problem is changing from one company to another.  With new company now but old company using delaying tactics.  Have to grit teeth need to sort this out.  Got one Email from new company given them Meter Reading all on line by way.  Need to see when gas one is to be sent.  Got letter from old company lots of information but not clear and come on let me go.  Telling me have pay excess I just want to leave.  Stop this now I cry but no one in that industry will listen.  Another £60 down the river.  Just to leave gosh.  Having a rant sorry just met.  I am like this hate what is happening to every one in similar state.  Hope you understand.  Something not right is it in this country.  I hope and pray for change.  Take care and hope to speak to you soon.
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  • feir
    feir Member Posts: 395 Pioneering
    there will be change if we pressure them to. i think my best course of action for now is if someone says something will be cheaper then presume they are lying. virginmedia do it too, first thing they say is they have a cheaper deal for me than the one i have now, so i listen to it and it's always more expensive. and don't even mention the people who come to your door and say i'm not selling anything then proceed to talk about what they want to sell you.

    lies are the new truth. :neutral:

    don't worry about ranting, you actually came across as calm and i really don't mind people complaining because they make mass profits and don't really need to do half the stuff they do on top of that to make more money.
    thanks :) for the welcome also.
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @feir Thank you for reply.  Yes I agree we all need to do something.  I am one of these guys who hate to see every body be treated by a industry who are out of control.  Had the guy from the new company in over Christmas and then I thought hang on.  He is making sense some thing was any way.  Showed him my bill and even he could not understand it.  I like to do my readings on line and a promise of a smart meter.  Will hope and wait and see.  Nice to talk to you speak to again.
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  • Neil2017
    Neil2017 Member Posts: 155 Courageous
    @thespiceman

    The last I heard was that SSE and Eon would like to merge. If this goes ahead will it be less choice and less completion in the energy market?

    And What is the competitiveness anyway? A new cheap deal comes along by a specific company. Maybe you join it with a lot of others. The deal is withdrawn as there is to many on it or it ended at a specific date. The next minute either the main variable tariffs are going up or new higher rate than before fixed deals come out or they start laying off staff saying wholesale distribution prices have increased! So that’s completion for you.


  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Neil2017 How are you?  Thank you for replying.  Yes I have heard about that merger,  Thank you for reminding me.  I just heard also all utilities considering putting prices up .  According to business pages.  I do not believe it as Victor would say.  Not surprised one bit.  What I would like to see.  I think I will happen is that neighbourhoods get form co operatives buy own gas and electric.  Regulate own prices and servicing contracts.  Any left profits share among co-operatives concerned.  I know this is done in some European countries that are a lot greener with energy than we are.  Big debate on that one.  Great to talk to you speak to you soon
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  • feir
    feir Member Posts: 395 Pioneering
    oh dear, if even the people working for the company don't understand their own bills there's no hope. that did make me giggle though. :D
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @feir I glad I made you laugh but it is true, try or cry.  I had a young woman on the phone trying to persuade me to stay with this other company.  You could tell reading from a computer screen and had no idea of what is going on.  This is the problem.  Nice to talk to you 
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  • feir
    feir Member Posts: 395 Pioneering
    got to laugh at how ridiculous some things are. :)
    well i'm off to think about better things than bills for now.
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,390 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello Every body hope your all OK.  I thought I would say about what is happening regarding my gripe over my bill.  For gas and electric.

    So I have to change companies.  Getting a smart meter fitted with the new company.

    Knew this was coming the final bill from the old company.  Just a warning to all out there who are thinking of changing.  Because I have the bill in front of me.  Amount  £180.76 in debt.  I went wow how did that happen.

    According to my bank statement I pay £31 a month for both fuels.  Hang on I am going through this do not understand any of it all of it.

    I realise have to pay £30 per fuel even so there are charges for everything and numbers I simply do not understand or how and why it is that.

    Prices for unit price and standing charge what is that.  I can not believe any of this.  Warning then what is the point of having a bill if you are saying I pay this monthly but in reality paying this.

    Rip off some one must do some thing.  I am telling you all now what the hell is going on.  I am sorry if I sound angry.  I am not debt not because of me because of them.  I will never ever understand any of this.

    I will contact my MP no point contacting previous company.  Last time the woman I spoke to could not tell me anything.  Did not understand the bill and what I was talking about.  There must be laws to make bills clearer.

    Only then will every one be happy.  I have no idea of clarity.  I am a disabled guy but my mental state is so over fraut with anxiety because I can not see where and how I am in debt.

    Please I hope and pray that others are like me out here and  recognise how much they actually are paying.  I hope and pray smart meter works out.

    So that is money I will have to find and anyway hardly spend anything treat wise on me.  Can not afford to.  Struggling with this mentally.  Snowing now had heating off from lunch time yesterday.  Small bungalow but ended up staying warm till about 4.30pm then back on couple hours.  Why today have to keep it on barely above freezing today.

    Why in this country a constant battle with living just to heat a home.  Do we live in Rip Off Britain?  



    Take care keep warm best wishes. 
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