For the Gill family, switching electricity supply should have been simple, but it turned into a rather illuminating experience. Harminder, who runs a Londis in Coventry, says their contract with Scottish Power ended in January. “They took seven weeks to get back to us, so we went to a broker.”

The broker, Inco Direct, tried to place them with British Gas, which installed a smart meter, but it apparently would require half-hourly monitoring and British Gas couldn’t do electricity monitoring. Then the broker said Yorkshire Electricity can do it all, all inclusive prices. Yorkshire confirmed that a new regulation meant half-hourly monitoring. But they couldn’t do it either. (This became a requirement from April if your peak demand is more than 100 kWh or if you use more than 100,000 kWh per year.) Yorkshire Electricity was also more expensive than Scottish which finally got its finger out and offered to extend the store’s contract for another year. Yorkshire Electricity’s comeback was to say well, you signed a contract and we will bill you for three years from now on unless you sign a new contract for three years starting February 2018. After a bit of footplay, this was reduced to two years, but the Gills were neatly trussed up and stuck with a more expensive deal.

It turns out that they all use a third party to do the monitoring.

Harminder wants to get a message across to fellow retailers. “Our bill has gone up considerably. Be very wary of brokers. They don’t tell you everything. Third party monitoring is an extra cost.”

He’s going direct next time.