So I received an email today from the Money Savings Expert, Martin Lewis with some of the advice in italics below.  I normally skim read these however this one really caught my attention and to be quite frank annoyed the hell out of me.   Here we have a supposed Money Saving Expert advising customers to view only the large suppliers tariffs? I think you may need to reconsider your company name sir!  Let’s take a look at the top tips that went out to thousands of UK consumers:

  1. New. We’ve launched a tool so you can check you’re on your supplier’s cheapest tariff. If you’re on a supplier’s standard rate, you’re not on its cheapest. That’s why we’ve added a new ‘My Current Supplier’ filter to Cheap Energy Club. Just check your Energy Club details are up to date so we know which your current supplier is.

 Savings can be massive. From March, a typical Npower user on its standard dual fuel tariff could save £230+/yr by moving to its cheapest. A British Gas customer can switch to Sainsbury’s Energy (which British Gas operates) and pay the same, plus get a £100 Sainsbury’s gift card. Both switches give you £30 cashback. See Switching without switching for full help.

 What MSE didn’t say:

  • A lot of smaller suppliers Standard Variable Rate tariffs can be cheaper than their fixed rate tariffs – here’s why – when fixing for 1, 2 or 3 years you are effectively paying your supplier to manage the wholesale market fluctuation risk for you. Tracking on a variable rate you are not, you manage the risk yourself. A sweeping statement to make which is outdated.  Notice the promotion of npower and British Gas and Sainsburys one cant help but wonder if they are paying a commission for this plug so I checked and guess what – well surprise surprise!  Npower showing a whopping £230 more expensive to their loyal customers  – WOW!
  1. Worried about small providers? See only deals from big names. There are about 50 energy suppliers, all offering multiple tariffs, so it can be dizzying choosing the right one. So now you can filter our Cheap Energy Club results to show only tariffs, incl the cheapest, from the Big 6 plus Co-op, First Utility and Ovo.

Seriously?

  • Let me translate this for you – please filter your search to the Big 6 and next 3 large suppliers – we know that’s not going to provide you with a full market view and definitely wont get you the best deal but hey ho! – my opinion its deluded commission hungry advice! Adivse to consumers which is completely flying in the face of an industry which is desperately trying to encourage competition and support new market entrants to deliver diverse innovative new products!

If you want money savings advice I’d go somewhere else this is not good advice at all so far.  A Money Saving Expert who is advising you to hide nearly 3/4 of the market, bravo sir bravo!  While I’m on this soap box, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are in favour of these switching sites only showing you tariffs from company’s that pay them commission – totally opaque and unfair on consumers.

  1.  If you’re in Wales, Scot or parts of NW Eng ACT NOW to see if you should get our cheap collective fixed deal. We’ve negotiated a cheap deal with EDF for at least 15,000 dual fuel switches (30,000 single), incl Economy 7.

This isn’t a blockbuster like some of our previous collective switches. However it’s with a big-name company, we’ll be supporting it, and on average, incl cashback, at the time of its launch it was the cheapest fix on the market after Iresa (whose price raises concerns over sustainability).

 Whether it’s a good deal for you or not depends on where you live and your usage, which is why we do it as part of a whole-of-market comparison in Cheap Energy Club, so you can see how it stacks up against others.

 As long as you were signed up for this email or were registered for the club before 8pm last Friday, it’ll show up in your results and our top picks if still available.

 EDF scored a decent 60% ‘great’ in our latest customer service poll. More info on the tariffs, including a full review and FAQs, in our 6th MSE Collective guide.

  • NO ITS NOT URGENT
  • You’re right MSE It isn’t a blockbuster! but no worries that’s some amazing commission you’ve earned there off the back of trusting consumers – some 30k households may not be getting the best deal in the market off this shoddy advice! Another dig at a new entrant as well which could be seen as deliberately making consumers nervous so they choose a Big 6.  Can anyone else see this pattern emerging here?
  1. Switching’s easy. It’s the same gas, same electricity. You won’t be cut off, and they don’t send engineers round to tinker with your meter. Just fill in your details, give a meter reading & the companies do the rest.
  • Well they got this bit right it is easy but you don’t have to do it here they forgot to mention that bit! Switching is commission free via the energy suppliers own site and the more people who go direct the lower prices will be, suppliers cost to acquire will be far less if we cut out the middle man – these savings would be reflected in the prices we pay – Martin Lewis did not become a multi millionaire by offering these services for free.
  1. You can still switch and save if you have a prepay meter. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay, and the Big 6 (and some smaller suppliers) have stopped charging to swap you to one, though most people require a credit check. On typical use, switching to the cheapest fix can save £295/yr. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide for full info.

If you don’t want to or can’t change meters, do a Cheap Energy Club prepay comparison anyway, because you could still save – though if you’re in debt with your supplier you may not be able to move.

 Guess what?

  • Most of the new entrants who offer prepayment tariffs are cheaper than the Big 6 you know the ones who get a token in brackets mention, they don’t charge you to have the meter removed for smart PAYG and some even offer to move you to Direct Debit! You don’t need to use MSE to get a fair deal most new entrants don’t pay switching sites because they are expensive and inflate the price you have to pay. Who do you think picks up the cost of commissions to these sites? HELLO….. WE DO!!!  How much do they charge – well lets start the bidding at £15-£40 per fuel – yes you read that right per fuel!!!
  1. If you’re on elec or gas only you can still move. Though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the ‘Edit details’ section.
  • If you are on a single fuel most new entrants don’t care and you aren’t treated any differently to dual fuel customers the market is so diverse now its absolutely worth shopping around – do yourself and new entrants a favour, stop using these switching sites they are a complete rip off and the only winners in this industry!
  1. It’s cheaper to pay by direct debit. Suppliers charge about 7% less if you pay this way. Always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills. If you estimate, you could end up with overly inflated monthly payments or face a bill shock if you’ve not paid enough.
  • Some suppliers do charge you less to pay by Direct Debit – actually MSE alot don’t and they charge the same price regardless of payment method so as not to discriminate against those who prefer to pay by cash or debit card, the market has changed keep up.
  1. If you don’t think you’ll bother to keep switching, look for a longer fix. It won’t be the cheapest deal you can get, but it protects against price rises for longer. Do a full market comparison and fix until 2019 to cover you for the next two winters.
  • ……Engie fix to June 2019 and paying MSE commission as well surprise surprise! Is this really great advice, the best deal?
  1.  You can get ‘unlimited’ energy for a fixed price. If you’re worried about your direct debit shooting up as quickly as temperatures drop, Green Star’s Unlimited tariff* lets you pay a fixed amount every month regardless of how much energy you use – good for someone freezing at home and fearful of putting the heating on.

All prices are personalised. You need to give it past bills to calculate a flat monthly rate, fixed for 12 months. The tariff cost is similar to a Big 6 standard tariff, but there are £30/fuel exit fees. For medium users, it’s about £1,068/yr, or £89/mth. Yet even if your usage rockets, Green Star says it’ll honour the deal – useful if you just want peace of mind. See Is Green Star any good?

  • As expensive as a Big 6 standard tariff? – great advice! (Detect the hint of sarcasm)
  1. If you’re thinking of moving home, make sure you can take your deal with you. Not all suppliers let you transfer fixed deals to a new property. So it’s best to check with your supplier to see if it’s possible. If you do need to leave early, most suppliers charge exit fees, typically £30/fuel, though the odd firm doesn’t at all and some waive them if you move home. It’s best to check before applying so you’re in the know.

Really why?

  • Why not get a fresh new quote and see if you could be paying much less? A change of occupancy rarely, if ever attracts an exit fee as the old supplier gets to keep the supply usually on a standard variable rate too! MSE is it just to difficult now to make factual statements about who does what with there being so many actively competing suppliers?

In Summary

Heres my view, today households are choosing between heating and eating, fuel poverty levels are far too high and elderly and vulnerable people are literally freezing to death – and here we are happily driving commission payments to switching sites like MSE which is supposedly saving us all money – I suspect it is driving up costs to supply and the only winners are the switching sites – not suppliers and definitely not consumers? These sites are the real rip offs and a major problem with this broken industry!