Way back in June last year I had a lightbulb moment and finally got around to switching energy supplier. I was thrilled at the time because, unbelievably, I was going to save over £1,000 a year on my gas and electricity by moving from British Gas to Sainsbury’s. That seems like a lot but Minted Towers is a draughty old pile to heat. It works out at about 30% less.
Figuring out my annual usage was a sticking point until I actually read my bill and saw that British Gas had displayed it in a handy graph. After that, the process was easy enough going through uswitch.com. I earmarked the cash for the handbag/Aperol fund and sat back to watch the saving roll in. Which it has, but I confess it’s not all been plain sailing.
First off, Sainsbury’s bills you quarterly yet you pay a monthly direct debit. This makes statements really quite hard to understand. I was alarmed to get a bill in February which showed I was £236.70 in hock to them. Not that I was so worried that I did anything about it until last week, when I saw on the website that my fortunes had reversed and I was £43.06 in credit.
Second is that, while British Gas emailed me every month asking for a meter reading, Sainsbury’s only does it quarterly. And, last bill, I got no prompt at all. So all the debits and credits are coming off estimates of my usage. This couldn’t go on. I steeled myself and called the helpline.
At the call centre, Josh was the short-straw picker who got to take my query. He managed to confuse me further about meter readings (the timing of, let’s not go there) and seemed keen to ‘close’ my complaint that day – as, in fact, was I. I did at least extract a promise that the prompts would be restarted. Also, he explained that my bill was generated before my monthly direct debit hit the account, hence February’s deficit.
I decided I would submit a meter reading too while I was about it. The website hiccupped when it saw my leccy was miles less than the estimate: I will receive a call! Good - I’ll send them the photo of the meter I’ve just taken. Let battle commence!
These are niggles are a small price to pay compared to the saving, I suppose. I could also get a smart meter as Charlotte says, but I've read too many articles saying they don't work properly. I would still recommend people look into switching. But you must bear in mind that the sites do get paid commission. Check you have pressed the whole market button and aren’t just viewing the deals the site gets paid for. And naturally we’ve got an SMM guide to cutting fuel bills here.