Saturday, 28 July 2018

Big erruptions

It has come to light that one of the smaller utility companies has gone to the wall, ceased trading, gone tits up, or whatever you like to call it. They are dead. This is causing a lot of panic among it's customers, most of them will be on a monthly direct debit, and will be in credit. They are now wondering if they should make a move to another supplier now, or wait and see how it pans out. Will their credit be passed on to the new supplier, or do they have to apply for it to be returned to them.

The consensus is that they will be shoved onto another supplier, they will have to be to prevent a break in their gas and electric supplies, but no one know who they will end up with, and on what tariff they will be assigned to. What a mess.

If it happened that my company (Ebico), went bust I would not have that hassle, because I pay quarterly on a bill. They don't get my money up front, it stays with me until I have used their electricity and gas, then I pay them.

The utility companies are sitting on millions of £'s of customers money. If people made a better job of managing their own finances they would not have to spread the cost of their utilities over twelve monthly direct debits to level it out. All that is needed is to work out your annual usage, divide by 12, put cash away during the summer months when heating is not used, and build up a pot to cover the extra to pay in the winter.

I put my meter readings into my account at Ebico, they send a bill, and I pay. I've just paid one, £40, from 12 April to 11th July. If I go over to direct debit I save £7 per year. I won't bother.
Bye for now... ilona

31 comments:

  1. That's a very good point! I used to put a monthly amount in my account for all my bills and never missed a payment. Direct Debit just seems easier in many ways especially for someone like my mum who always forgets if she's paid a bill and pays it twice!

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    1. how can you pay a bill twice ? are there no records of it being paid ?

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  2. Blimey! That will cause a panic. Like you I pay my bills quarterly as they come in despite them constantly hassling me to set up a monthly DD. Their argument is that it's 'more convenient.' For who?? It's more convenient for me to keep my own money in my own account earning ME some (tiny) interest!

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  3. I was with GB Energy when they went bust and to be honest I was very impressed with the regulator. I was transferred to another supplier but allowed to keep my existing tarrif. I could have changed supplier if I wanted to but chose not to. I lost nothing and kept my cheaper fixed tarrif.

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    1. Same here, I think it was co-op, they just took the whole account including credit. I'm with another small supplier now because it really was a non event. The gas/electricity is actually supplied by other companies so you won't get cut off even if in limbo. In fact there has been the odd story through the years of people getting gas/electricity and not paying any bills because they've fallen through the gaps of billing companies. In short, no need for panic.

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  4. I wish we could all pay for what we use without all the silly discounts for this and that. I don’t like paying by direct debit. I don’t like it that people with pay meters pay more. This seems unfair as many families in rented accommodation have no choice and pay a higher tariff.

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    1. I think the whole system needs an overhaul. It's not fair that the less well off have to have a pay as you go meter, which means a higher tariff. The difficulty is though that people in rented accommodation move more frequently than those who have bought, which makes it very difficult for the utility companies to chase up unpaid bills. Perhaps easier for them to supply services through direct debits and meters.

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    2. Not with Ecotricity..everyone pays the same,however you pay..I've heard that some others may be following their lead,hopefully

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    3. Yes, this is a disgrace. The poor pay more for everything

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  5. hi ilona mayze and heidi - thank you for your saving tip re energy charges. i think i will save up and pay quarterly from now on as 12 monthly payments is so expensive. frugality is the answer and there are many foods like beans which are inexpensive. will give it a try anyway. we have rain at last and lots of it amy and benny are dodging the showers. have a good weekend. love liz amy and benny xxx

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  6. I totally agree Ilona. The trouble is that many people are just not good at managing their money. Even though they start well the temptation of that little pot of money that should be used for the electric, gas bill etc beckons them to spend it on something else. There's an ad at the moment where the mother tells her son " you'll just have to smell today" because the boilers gone wrong and she's about to arrange a loan with Quick Quid to pay for it is what is wrong too many bad managers that cannot budget for their future bills or a rainy day. It's kids bringing up kids in some cases. Makes you wonder what was they learnt at school ? Certainly not life skills.

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  7. Each to his own I suppose. I personally love paying absolutely everything by direct debit. I know exactly where I am with my money and no big bills arriving. It's a personal choice and should not be deemed any less sensible than paying quarterly.

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    1. Exactly! It's a personal choice and it doesn't mean anyone choosing to pay by direct debit is less able to manage their finances.

      It's a great help to some elderly or disabled people who are unable to get to the post office or bank to pay their quarterly bills. Many rural areas don't even have post office or banking facilities nearby anyway.

      My utility company doesn't let you store up large amounts in credit, it automatically repays any credit at 3 monthly intervals.

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  8. What's your opinion on your smart meters? I'm assuming your not a fan?

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    1. Not a fan. I was told I had to have one by British Gas, not true, they are optional not compulsory at the moment. They say they save the customer money, not true, the only way to save money is to monitor your own usage and not switch things on until you need to, and switch off when you have finished. If anyone is in the habit of switching suppliers annually to get the best deals, the smart meter will not work with the new supplier and reverts back to a dumb meter. I am perfectly capable of reading my own meter. I don't want the utilities company spying on me every minute of the day, too much like big brother.

      https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5736826

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    2. Our smart meter is a blessing..we don't use enough so direct debits would be higher than our use. Also when we travel we don't have to worry about getting a reading to them on the right date.

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  9. There is no way in God's green earth I will pay direct debit for gas & electric. My money stays in my account earning interest NOT theres. I pay for what I use quarterly in cash. I totally agree with you.

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  10. We ended up with lots of cash in credit, bib things are getting much better now with smart meters. It takes hourly readings and we pay for what we use monthly with no Jake by direct debit.

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  11. I have never given in to paying my electricity bill by direct debit as I have heard plenty of horror stories about the monthly rate being suddenly increased by a huge amount due to a whim on the part of the electricity company and the account holder having to ring them up to negotiate a more reasonable rate. I also take exception to the dual fuel discount. I live in a village on a major road, yet we have no gas supply. Why should someone with a superior service be allowed a discount? I once wrote to the supply company pointing out that WE should receive a discount for NOT having access to a cheaper form of power. Not surprisingly they didn't think much to that idea!

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  12. Um...the phrase I've heard--and it always makes me laugh--is "tits up and taking on water." LOL I pay my electric on a level pay plan because it makes budgeting easier. Not that I'm not capable of paying a monthly bill. It is pretty accurate, so I rarely build up much of a credit. Also, where I live, there is only ONE supplier for natural gas and electric.

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  13. Interesting! In the USA we have level payment plans for most utilities, which is a God-sent if you are on a small fixed income or low paying job, in my opinion. We only have one provider for electricity or natural gas for the area you live in. I moved recently and had to switch utility companies. So I have to start the process of establishing paying my utility bill on time to qualify for the level payment plans along with the history of usage with the new utility companies. Things are going to be a little tight as I finish out a summer in Phoenix, AZ until I can establish a pattern of usage and go back on the level payment plan.

    I don't do direct debit on any bills if I can help it. I don't want anybody playing in my checking account except me. When you have lived paycheck-to-paycheck like I have most of my adult life, having some wiggle room of when you pay the bill can mean the difference in whether or not you have gas money to get to work or buy groceries for your kids.

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  14. I’m still paying by quarterly cheque for gas and electric, I am very confused by switching, I don’t understand how to do it. British Gas and Southern Elctric have really hiked their prices this year for anyone not on direct debit, I deal with it by cutting back as much as possible. I feel more in control that way, I don’t like the idea of companies being able to access my bank account. I have a diary and write down the due dates of all bills so I don’t forget when to pay. I can see a time when the only deals available will be via direct debit, but I’m hanging on as long as possible.

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  15. A few months ago for the first time ever, I received an email from my supplier British Gas - telling me that my a/c was in credit and how to reclaim my overpayment. Was v impressed as not received anything like this before. Could be a new policy of theirs?

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  16. I'm with 1st Utility for both gas and electric: I am very happy with their supply and customer care. I have smart meters for both electric and gas and my indoors box sits on top of my washing machine, it tells me every day what I am using. I pay £30 per month direct debit which covers standing charges and usage for 9 months of the year; the winter months I just go online and top-up the balance I owe so I am always correct with each month. I do the same as Kateonthecoast and write down on a calendar every bill during the year so I know what to expect I have to pay, then I feel in control and don't worry what is forthcoming.

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  17. Interesting post but what intrigues me is that you have a CHOICE of which utility company to use. In the USA, you will find only one company for gas, one for water and one for electricity in the area you live in. Hence, it's a monopoly and we have to pay whatever rate. They can offer discounts for low income or payment plans. I still prefer getting my monthly paper bill and paying each month.

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    1. It would be easier if we didn't have so much choice here. There are so many new, smaller companies jostling for our money, it's confusing, and deters many people from swapping. We have comparison sites, but each company has it's own tariffs so that confuses even more.

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  18. I am gobsmacked at the small amount you have paid for one quarter ! my standing charges are more than you've paid and I'm on a pretty good tariff and exceptionally frugal with usage. I looked up your company, in my never ending search to reduce costs, and found it said if you have a 'credit meter' you don't pay any standing charges - is this what you have ? and what is the difference between having a smart meter and a credit meter ?

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    1. Before I left British Gas about 5 years ago, they replaced both my meters. They wanted to put in Smart Meters but I said no, I don't want them, so they are ordinary meters. Not sure if that's what is called credit meters.

      A Smart Meter can send readings to the supplier every hour, so they always know how much the customer is using and at what time of day or night it is used. They can turn your electricity or gas off if you fall behind with payments, and if you change suppliers they won't work with the new supplier. They try and tell you that you will save money with a Smart Meter, that's daft. The only way to save money is to look for the best price per Kw hour, change supplier to the best deal, or use less.

      You might benefit from changing to a supplier with no standing charge. Even if you say you are frugal with your usage you might not be. For example, I get my Dyson out once a week, if that, I don't need to live in a super clean house. I use the washing machine once a fortnight, have a bath once a week. I call that frugal.

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    2. Thanks for that.
      I just checked my latest bill and the standing charges are £56, and actual usage £51 - !! I think I may switch to Ebico. The 'no standing charge' tariffs are recommended for people who use less than average energy - I guess that's me. I haven't come across another supplier that offers a 'no standing charge' tariff.

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  19. I have my bills, except fzed biklor cash ones like food & gasoline for the car, set up on computerized billing. BUT it originates in my credit union account, not on the vendors' systems. This way, if I need to make adjustments, it's under my control...
    Lucky ones in the UK who have coices in their utility suppliers!!

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  20. Just thought I'd get back to this, about being frugal with energy, electricity in particular.
    I do the same as you, i.e. one bath per week, washing machine on once a fortnight, and loads of other frugal stuff that is basic common sense really, but I thought you'd like to know one or two more I do.
    First of all I volunteer twice a week in a shop, they allow me to boil water and fill two flasks, so not only have I saved the electricity from not boiling the kettle, I have enough boiling water for several hot drinks.
    I have a wide mouthed thermos flask that I use to cook meals in, only the cost of filling it with the water, no other energy is used.
    I don't have a TV, like you I believe, I also don't have a microwave, my oven is not working so can't use that, the landlord wont replace it. I cook with my slow cooker, small 'toaster' oven and thermos flask.
    I don't use a vacuum, I have a carpet sweeper.
    I wash up once a day.
    My favourite though, is I have a Rocket Stove, used outdoors of course, I try to use it twice a week to save electricity. It boils water very fast just using a few twigs or other dry material. I usually boil enough to fill my flasks, wash up, and enough to wash and rinse my hair.
    As you say - I call that frugal.

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