Price comparison sites have saved many of us a small fortune on our energy bills over the years.
After all, who has the time to contact more than 80 suppliers to work out which is the cheapest?
Yet, while there is no doubt that these sites offer an invaluable service, users must be aware of the catches.
Lower bills: There is no doubt that price comparison sites offer an invaluable service but users must be aware of the catches
As we report today, if you want to see every single deal available – and not just the ones earning these websites a juicy commission – you’ll need to seek out a very small tick box somewhere on the page. This option should be made much clearer.
But more concerning are the increasingly popular ‘auto-switching’ services, which promise to do all the hard work for you.
Many people wouldn’t mind paying a little extra simply to have one less dull job to do.
But some of these firms compare tariffs from as few as just nine suppliers — while others wouldn’t even say which suppliers are on their books.
And, unlike most major comparison sites, which are signed up to a code of conduct with watchdog Ofgem, these services are entirely unregulated. There must be greater transparency so customers can be sure they are getting a decent deal.
Money Mail also hears far too many grumbles from readers about switches gone wrong as a result of terrible customer service.
Many say they have been left waiting months for a final bill, or even charged twice by both their new and old supplier. So is it any wonder that the number of people switching has plummeted?
Yet with home workers set to face a considerable jump in their heating bills, it has never been more important to move to a cheaper deal.
And you can’t rely on the energy price cap – which has just been extended until the end of 2021 – to protect your pocket.
Loyal customers on their supplier’s default tariff are still paying in the region of £200 a year more than those with a new fixed tariff.
If you have a switching story to tell, write to us at email@example.com.
We reported last week how one wedding venue had pocketed more than £7,000 after a couple was forced to cancel their big day in June.
Over lockdown the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stood firmly in the customer’s corner and ordered firms to cough up for cancelled events.
But it now appears to have quietly backtracked on its initial refund policy and allowed Bijou Weddings Group to retain more than a third of deposits paid to cover ‘reasonable costs’. This is a shameful way to treat already bitterly disappointed couples.
It sets a worrying precedent, too. What’s to stop other firms, wedding or otherwise, from also withholding sizeable chunks of customers’ cash? And who decides what is considered reasonable?
As one Money Mail reader who works in the wedding industry told us: ‘For a company to withhold more than £7,000 because of such a cancellation is appalling and could almost be called criminal.
‘The money is there to pay for the catering, service, flowers, drinks, glassware etc. — none of which has been spent.
The main expenditure to date has no doubt been letters, emails, meetings and tastings — nothing resembling £7,000.’ The CMA must rethink its position.
I’m a big fan of fingerprint security on smartphones. It’s faster than typing in a Pin and feels much more secure for mobile banking.
Sadly, I hadn’t realised when ordering my new iPhone that it uses facial recognition instead, which is far from ideal when out and about wearing a mask.
One customer service representative at my bank told me she receives several calls a day from people unable to log in because they’ve not realised they must remove their face covering.
I was briefly elated when someone told me I could alter my phone’s settings to make it recognise a second ‘alternative’ appearance. Did that mean I could register a picture of myself both with and without a mask?
Alas not. A message popped up to say: ‘Face obstructed. Try removing anything that may be covering your face’. Something for Apple’s tech whizzes to ponder…