In the past fortnight I’ve had two complaints about Economy Power. NN Obadeyi wrote to me from Superfreeze in Manchester to say that there had been four increases in her bill in the past 18 months, and whopping they are too. Her standing charges have gone up by 88.5%, her day units by 34.7% and her night unit charge by a staggering 98%. Economy Power says it is due to rising wholesale electricity costs plus distribution and transmission costs. Her contract is binding until April 2006 (which was a relief to her as she thought it would run until 2008).

Raju Patel, who runs News Bit at Watford, says he was persuaded to switch supplies to Economy Power because he was promised lower charges. Instead, his bill has gone up from about £1,200 a year to £2,000. This is complicated by confusing invoices and statements, copies of which he sent me and which I don’t understand either. If you ring Economy Power someone will tell you which bit of the bill needs paying (while also admitting that a lot of people complain that they don’t understand it).

I put both retailers onto Energy Watch to see what could be done but Raj has reported back saying that Energy Watch’s business team (0845 906 0708) told him that he signed the contract and he is therefore stuck. I still urge anyone with complaints of this nature to get onto Energy Watch. They need to be aware that these two retailers are not the only ones affected. Jac writes: Welsh retailers need to make a fuss about rates.

John Ricci, who trades in Bargoed, Mid Glamorgan, as L Ricci & Sons, has asked me to publish a call to fellow retailers to lobby for a rates reduction in Wales.He’s been studying the subject and tells me that in 2007 Scotland will get the same sort of reduction that England gets (a 50% reduction in your rates if your rateable value is less than £5,000). Wales won’t.

“We need to make a fuss,” he told me, “Caerphilly has already met their minister and we meet with our local representative shortly. We need to keep the momentum up. All Welsh retailers should get in touch with their local Welsh Assembly member.” I’m happy to support this call to arms.

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