We all know the scenario, you’re at home enjoying a nice book or trying to get some work done, and the doorbell rings. It’s another door-to-door salesman who wants you to switch to a different electricity, gas or water supplier. You’d love to tell him to ‘buzz off’ but he keeps talking, and then you find yourself slowly starting to consider his offer. Door-to-door sales are how many of us sign up to a new utility provider, but it’s often the case that we don’t take much time to read the contract and carefully consider its terms and conditions. We simply want to get back to what we were doing, the salesman has taken up enough of our time already. This is a dangerous situation, because many people discover something that they don’t like about the company they’ve signed up with when it’s too late. They’ve received the first bill and they’re locked into a contract lasting for a year and can’t escape without incurring a hefty exit fee.
Don’t be one of those suckers! Here are some important things that every homeowner should seriously consider before signing up with any new utility provider.
Are they really the cheapest?
Don’t take what the salesman says for granted. Double check their rates and those of their competitors by using an energy rate comparison service. Websites like Save Central offer an easy method for comparing energy providers.
When do I use the most energy/gas/water?
It’s common for utility providers to charge different rates depending on what time you use their service. The purpose of this is to encourage users to avoid using the service during peak times, when there’s more stress on the network. Before you sign anything, do a quick audit of when you use energy/gas/water the most, and consider if it’s worthwhile changing your family’s habits take advantage of cheaper off peak rates.
Is there a discount for paying on time or by a certain method?
Many utility companies offer a discount if you pay your bill within a certain amount of time, or if you pay via direct debit. Conversely, there an also be very significant fees for paying late. Look at your credit history, do you consistently pay off your credit card, or are you paying interest fees every month? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to look at the late fees very closely. It may be worthwhile going with a more expensive provider if they have cheaper late fees.
Is there a quota/limit on my monthly usage?
Mobile internet providers make a huge portion of their profit by charging their customers a fee for exceeding their data allowance. Look at your old bills and work out how much you use each month, keeping in mind any seasonal variations. Just as you don’t want to be locked into contract that doesn’t offer enough allowance, don’t be tempted to sign up for a level that is way above what you’re currently using. It could be a big waste.
Ivy Delfin is a blogger and marketer who works for online comparison service, Save Central
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post*