How do you buy your power? Or, more specifically, how do you decide which company to buy your power from?
Here’s how I do it. Ever six months or so I go to uSwitch and spend five minutes researching who does the cheapest gas and electricity for our usage. If I find something that is much cheaper than our existing supplier then I’ll change. Most of the time I can make the change over the internet by simply following a link from the uSwitch site. Most of the time the differences are so small that it’s not worth changing.
One thing that I will never do is to sign on for a new power supplier from people who knock on my door and try to tell me a new supplier without giving me time to investigate their offers. Firstly, I think it’s incredibly rude to disturb people whilst they are at home, but mostly it’s the hard-sell tactics that I object to.
We had one last week. He was from npower, but they are all as bad. I noticed him as I was walking home, but realised that he was walking away from my house. When I got in, my wife said that he had knocked at the door but she had ignored him. But an hour or so later he came back. I answered the door and he immediately launched into his nonsense. Apparently, most of my neighbours had realised that he could save them money so they had all signed up. He didn’t have price data for my current supplier but he knew that he could save me money. I tried to explain to him how uSwitch works, but it seemed to just confuse him.
In the end I told him that I refused to do business with any company who called on me uninvited as I considered it rude. He started to argue that it wasn’t rude, but realised that he was wasting his time and retreated.
Ususally I just let these things go, but on this occasion I decided to take it further. Firstly I checked with Uswitch and, as I suspected, my supplier (Scottish Power in case you’re interested) we still the cheaper than npower by about a tenner a year. Then I emailed npower customer services to complain about them sending out uninformed and unethical sales people.
Today I got a reply from them. They were sorry to hear that I felt their sales representative was attempting to mislead me. They were also sure that normally “the standard of service offered by our Sales Team is professional and of the highest standard”. They also pointed out that if I sent them my address they would pass my details to their “Marketing Supression Team” which would stop me getting further visits.
That last item got me thinking. Of course, it’ll be an improvement if I get no more sales visits from npower. But there are many other power companies who delight in trying to mis-sell their services in this way. The absense of the npower team will scarely be noticed. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a industry-wide “Marketing Supression” list that all of the power companies signed up to. I can’t be the only person who gets annoyed by this.
I have no idea how effective these sales calls are. It must work to some extent as it’s a relatively sales method. I know those people won’t be paid much (and most of it will be commission), but there are a lot of them. I’m surprised that people listen to their nonsense, and I worry that they are preying on people who don’t have the presence of mind to think about what they are being told and therefore take it at face value. I suppose that if you’re told that “most of your neighbours are switching” and you’re not given a chance to check that out before signing, then some people will just accept it.
Until we can get an industry-wide marketing suppression list (or, better, banning this kind of selling) can any one recommend any good tactics for annoying these people?
And please, make use of uSwitch.