Not long ago, I wrote an article about a range of gadgets that can cut your home heating bills. Feeling rather pleased, I decided to go off in search of even more money devices. But as I browsed the web, I started to realise that (cue the dramatic music from Cape Fear) regardless of how much money we can try to save we’re still getting ripped off to the tune of many millions of pounds per year.
“What?” I hear you say. “But surely those kindly men who run the energy companies know the hardships we’re facing? Surely they wouldn’t torture us even further with punitive charges just for something as simple as accepting a gas supply from them?” I am sorry to say that your delusion has reached dizzying heights – every day you and I are being hit with ridiculous charges. Charges like these…
Exorbitant Exit Charges
Imagine this: you’re on holiday and you decide that a visit to a local dinosaur park is the order of the day. Queuing in the bright sunlight, you start to salivate at the thought of riding a lumbering behemoth from a forgotten age. Your brain goes into overdrive as you mentally prepare yourself to take a friendly, plant munching triceratops into battle with a fearsome T-rex. Now picture the looks of disappointment on your children’s (and your) faces when you find out that the only jousting you’ll be doing is with the overly officious park attendant who is intent on stopping you from even breathing on the grass.
Hey, no problems – you can simply leave and ask for your money back. But there’s a fly in the primordial ointment: not only will you not get your money back but you’ll also have to pay to exit the park. Welcome to the perversely named world of customer services!
In Scotland alone, our Northern customers pay somewhere in the region of £50 million every year!
I know the energy companies are businesses and they have to make a profit or fail but charging customers £50 cancellations fees ranks alongside having the moral values of a drug-addled rattlesnake.
Bogus Administration Fees
How flush are you feeling right now? Are the coffers overflowing with £50 notes? No? Maybe you’ve been forced to cut back this month and can only afford to have your hand stitched underpants made from £20 notes. I’m sorry – what do you mean don’t have cash to throw away on frivolous items such as financially-themed underwear? Get yourself back to work and start earning more money before you’re fined for, well, not earning enough money. How’s that for a vicious cycle? I know it’s a bit over the top but, in effect, the energy companies can do this to you using administrative fees.
Got yourself in arrears with you monthly gas bills because of an emergency that emptied you bank account? Not a problem – expect to be hit with an administrative fee that saps your finances and makes next month’s bills even harder to pay.
What’s worse is that some gas and electricity suppliers will even charge you administrative fee for connecting you their service with the obligatory engineers visit designed to give you peace of mind (and furnish the energy suppliers piggy bank with even more of your money).
Here’s an idea: if you’re tired of being charged with miscellaneous fees why not hit back and bill your gas or electricity supplier for you time? Every time they ask you to do something for them, like filling in documentation that they should already have, send an invoice requesting payment for your efforts.
Ludicrous Supply Charges
I know that all our readers are incredibly charitable. In fact, I’m guessing most of you are racing Martin Lewis for the title of the ‘Saint of Money Giving’. Looking at your philanthropic credentials, I’d say you’re the kind of person who will happily hand over a ten pound note to a petrol station attendant just for the privilege of using his pumps, right? What do you mean by ‘no’? Aren’t you thrilled by the idea of paying a levy for nothing more than lifting the pump from the cradle?
In the world of home energy supply, this is known as a daily standing charge and, in most cases, you’ll find it’s incredibly difficult to avoid. Although my petrol station example might seem a little extreme that is pretty much how it works – on top of your usage bills – you pay a charge for being connected to a supplier.
Genius move on the part of the energy companies but not so great for home owners who can fork out up to £360 a year in supply charges.