No matter that it's the same stuff coming over the wires or through the pipes, or how often one warns about sudden price hikes, somebody somewhere is facing whopping increases in their energy bills because they forgot to cancel their contract in time.
I've had three complaints in the past few weeks. Most recent was Roger Dicker, who runs Kentford Village Stores at Newmarket.
"Npower has doubled my electricity bill. In fact, the night rate doubled and the day rate has gone up by 60%. I got caught because I missed the 90-day cancellation deadline by 15 days. And there's nothing I can do about it. I know the market, but I still got caught."
Well, he's not alone. The fact is that energy companies will always offer you a good deal, but once they've got you signed up you're on an 'evergreen' contract. This means no warning when the contract is due to be 'renewed', they will just roll you over in the clover and
do it again.
Jonathan Elliott, director of and sister companies and (which act like brokers, don't charge you anything and offer other bolt-ons like best deals on phone top-ups), says that one of his standard pieces of advice is to put your notice in writing the minute you sign up in the first place and then put a note in your diary to remind yourself to confirm the cancellation closer to the due date. This way, the energy company has the option of continuing to offer you its
best tariff.
Elliott reckons he can save small businesses up to 50% off the price they are currently paying.
Roger Dicker did manage a bit of bartering. "It went up
by about £700, but I did some pleading on the phone and managed to get it down
to £400."
Roger suggests that I tell readers: "Once you've read this, go and cancel your contract, before you have a cup of tea or sack a member
of staff!"