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To be frank, the gas/electricity supply market has been doing my head in for while now. They've got consumers jumping through hoops chasing the elusive carrot of a 'competitive' price as the goalposts appear to move on a daily basis. And now we're told that the gas industry's been manipulating prices, presumably for its own benefit? No surprises there then, if true. It seems that the current system of consumers ducking, dodging and diving in an attempt to get the best price, is being undermined by, not just the complicated methods of gas/electricity supply prices to the consumer, but also the apparent supplier manipulation of wholesale energy markets. Just who's kidding who in this supposed competitive 'free choice' market?
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I haven't got a clue which company or plan to go with ... Or even whether to fix or not. When I moved home 3 years ago I elected to go on my company's standard plan and fully expected it to be expensive as i would pay standard rate and have no reductions for high or low usage on the basis that I could assess my usage after a year. Strangely I called them 3 years later and also went to the comparison sites only to be told the standard plan with no special prices or features was the cheapest ... All the special tariffs were more expensive or basically the same as what I had already. It's a minefield and not necessarily cheaper having all these plans ...
The same goes for the Directory Enquiries ... Since it was opened up to competition I haven't a clue which is cheaper or what any of them actually would end up charging me once I am on the phone IF they actually manage to find the number/s I want. Back in the day it was 50p for 2 numbers and I used it occasionally ...
I'm very happy that politics is stepping into the fray about Corporate taxation in the UK, Energy Price fixing and even BBC complacency.
It seems as if we currently have a government that actually want to run the country rather than just buying our votes at election time.
None of the parties are particularly great but just at the moment I feel that they may be waking up to some of the real UK issues; OK some daft ones are in Australia pandering for public sympathy, but a few actually seem to be looking into the issues that fundamentally affect us in some depth.
I changed gas supplier about 5 years ago.
When the bills started rolling in I found the gas really was cheaper.
Quite recently I got a shock, it turned out the had been calculating my gas usage incorrectly and undercharging me.
At first I was accused of replacing my own gas meter without telling them, the gas meter serial number did not match there records
Then they admitted there records were wrong and they had been applying a metric meter calculation against my old imperial meter, how they managed this I will never know.
I now have a large debt to pay back, on top of ridiculously high gas prices
Quote: I now have a large debt to pay back,
How far back? There was a similar thing about a year ago and the court told the energy supplier there was a limit to how far they could backdate the debt (a year, maybe less).
Price fixing can be difficult to prove in a lot of situations. I remember when my dad's company was trying to break into a lucrative market selling specific parts to the constructoin industry: he could buy one item for about £2 and sell it for £8 which was the same as everyone else. If he undercut them a small amount, then being a small company they would let him ride with is because he did not have the kudos to attract the big customers. If he undercut too far he would piss them off and start a price war that he would be guaranteed to lose. So with no pressure at all he sold it at slightly under their price: to others the coincidence of prices could look like a cartel.
In relation to the OP, there have been several news articles explaining why this will be very difficult to prove: buying decisions are taken in the long term and spot prices can often bear little relation to the price at the time (but try convincing joe public of that).
Quote: How far back? There was a similar thing about a year ago and the court told the energy supplier there was a limit to how far they could backdate the debt (a year, maybe less)
The whole lot, but I refused and they accepted 12 months, but its still a lot.
So, energy supply companies are to be 'forced' to offer the most competetive plans to consumers whilst reducing the number of tarrifs to a measly four. Does this explain all the price hikes we've been seeing? Did energy supply companies see legislation coming? Tell you what though - if it happens and supply companies are forced to stop dealing in smoke screens and mirrors, watch a few of them go bust in a hurry.
Quote: watch a few of them go bust in a hurry
And their customers then facing loss of supply?
That's the problem in this totally inter-connected world of ours, simple solutions just breed even more problems (The Law if Unintended Consequences I think I've seen it called)
For things like Utilities I actually favour Nationalisation (and me a conservative - note the lower case "c") there is no way in my view that shareholders should be more important than customers for these essential industries.
It would mean charging realistic rates and / or increasing taxes to allow for the necessary infrastructiure inprovements but at least it would stop the profiteering that goes on at the moment (with most of the profits going out of the country now the majority of our utility co's are foreign owned)
The great privatisations coincided with the tax bonanza from North Sea oil. Whatever happened to all that money?
Tax cuts and MPs expenses.
In many cases, they sold off the utilities and railways then gave the purchaser of the utility a seeding fund (to put it politely) to start up their ownsership and start modernisation. The massive irony was that the seeding fund was in many cases as much as, or even more than, the subsidy the nationailsed industry had asked for which sort of negated the reason for selling it off.
That's what comes of allowing Politicians and Civil Service Bureaucrats to run a Business I guess Mike (as most of them never had to earn an honest crust through business it would be cruel to expect too much from them I guess )
Quote: The great privatisations coincided with the tax bonanza from North Sea oil. Whatever happened to all that money?
Britain used its oil and gas receipts to pay for tax cuts, mass unemployment and government spending (e.g. breaking the unions)
Thanks Margaret, your dogmatic approach knew no bounds........wanton single-mindedness can be a terrible thing in the wrong hands
If you want a check have a look at how uk energy prices compare to other countries in Europe. So yes there are issues that need investigation, but one of the problems is we have been enjoying very low energy prices compared to countries around us. So against that background, are UK energy prices unfair?
I am no maggie lover and have never voted conservative, but I am not certain you can level that charge at just her. The last government made the situation very bad by its financial mishandling and increase of borrowing. Like it or lump it, many ordinary people in the UK experienced an increase in living standard in the last 20 years that was artificial, so we have to face that reality some time.
The problem we face, is that the current government have not been radical enough in balancing the books, we still spend too much or raise too little tax, you can pick your choice but sadly all I can see is us having to cut spending further and raise taxes. We cannot keep on borrowing.
and how much has the introduction of means testing of energy prices added to our bills ?
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