Presentation on theme: "The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland (NI) consumers. Our aim is to make."— Presentation transcript:
The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland (NI) consumers. Our aim is to make the consumer voice heard and make it count.
Main areas of work Energy: electricity, natural gas and coal Transport: road, rail, air and sea Water and sewerage Consumer Support Money Affairs Consumer Education 2
Complaints Research Investigations Campaigns Lobbying Education & Skills
Switching Suppliers The market to supply electricity to domestic customers in Northern Ireland was ‘opened’ to competition on 1 November This meant that, once registered, any number of electricity supply companies could sell electricity to domestic customers.
NIE look after the electricity network and owns the wires and meters. It doesn’t matter who your supplier NIE still read your meter and respond to faults and outages.
There are currently four suppliers to choose from … New companies can join the market and there may well be more in the future …
When switching electricity supplier there is no change to your meter, electrical wiring, electricity supply and how and when your meter is read. During switching there will be no interruption to your supply of energy. Hassle free - Your new supplier takes care of any paperwork. Unless you choose a fixed contract – you can switch as many times and whenever you wish. Is it safe to switch ?
You’re protected… All companies operating as electricity suppliers must have a licence provided by the Utility Regulator.
You’re protected : Codes of practice set out by European law and enforced by the Utility Regulator : Marketing and Sales Complaints Handling Payment of bills Provision of services for persons who are of pensionable age have disabilities or chronically sick Energy efficiency Service for customers
If something does go wrong … You can complain directly to the company if your still not happy or the issue hasn’t been sorted you can come to the Consumer Council and we will resolve the issue on your behalf. The Consumer Council has authority under the Energy (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 to : ‘represent the views of consumers … to public authorities… and other persons whose activities may affect the interests of consumers’.
Benefits of switching If you've never switched your electricity supplier, then you will save money on your energy bills by moving to a different supplier.
Rising energy bills Heating oil 62% increase since 2009 Electricity 61% increase during 2007 You could get a better service … competition is helping to encourage companies to offer better levels of service and many companies offer additional services and offers for customers such offers on insulation or energy saving products. Benefits of switching
What to look for before you switch: Which company is the cheapest : You can check on the CCNI website or contact us for the latest prices Is there a contract? Some companies offer cheaper rates if you sign up to minimum term contract meaning you must stay with them for that length of time before switching again.
Contracts : Your energy contract is a legally binding document. An contract can be agreed over the telephone, online or signed face-to-face with a sales adviser. Never sign anything on your doorstep Even if the salesperson says it is not a contract or an agreement. Don’t feel pressured to agree to anything on your doorstep. Any offer made to you about can’t be withdrawn you can take your time and find out if its right for you.
Your new supplier must provide you with written confirmation of your contract. You should ask a potential supplier for information about: unit prices of gas and electricity the terms and conditions of the tariff length of contract (if fixed term) discounts cancellation charges – for example if you want to end your contract early. Your supplier must give you 14 days to change your mind about the contract after you have agreed it.
What are the payment options: Check how you can make payments. Options usually include: quarterly bills monthly direct debit prepayment meters
Are your bills up to date? If you pay quarterly or monthly, make sure you most recent bill matches your meter reading if your last bill was an estimate you might end up with larger than normal bill from old supplier.
Ways to save without switching Pay as you go Consumers can convert free of charge to a keypad meter: Companies offer cheaper tariffs or reward schemes for customer using pre-payment meters.
Change your payment and billing method Many companies offer discounts for paying by Direct Debit or receiving your bills online billing.
Switch Tariff It might also be worthwhile checking with your current electricity supplier to see if you are on the most suitable tariff.
Shopping around for oil: The Consumer Council’s oil survey has found that here can be a difference between an average of £30 to £50 on a 900 litre fill between suppliers.