Over the past year or two, I have sometimes heard friends talking about how most of us are paying through the nose for our power and the huge discounts that are available, if you get off your bum and ask for them. But like most of us, ringing up my electricity and gas service provider to talk about anything is about as inviting as a trip to the dentist. So I put it off. And off. And off.
Until finally, fed up just one too many times by what seemed to be ridiculously high electricity and gas bills, I bit the bullet and telephoned my power company.
I won't mention the name of my power service provider as I don't want to give it free advertising and I assume that all power companies, or at least, all Australian ones, are the same in the way they operate. I have been with the one company, in one or another of its permutations, for ten or more years. For the last couple of years I've been getting an 11% discount on my electricity and gas bills if I pay them on time. (Before that, there was virtually no discount at all.)
Anyway, I finally pulled my finger out and phoned my service provider. Half an hour later, I am advised that I will now get a whopping 34% off my electricity bills and 27% off my gas bills (as long as I pay them on time).
Looking back at my power bills last year, and the year before that - ouch!$!$! I ONLY WISH I HAD PHONED THEM EARLIER!!!
I said the same to my service provider and she said, matter-of-factly and politely, that it is always best to pop into your power service provider's website around this time of year to see the latest deals on offer; as if everybody knows that - as if it's okay for power companies to charge exorbitant rates to their long standing customers who don't know they are being ripped off, and up to the customers themselves to ensure that they are not being ripped off.
So this is the way power companies operate: it is up to the customer to shop around and find the best deals for him or herself, otherwise we WILL and WE ARE ALLOWED TO charge our customers through the nose.
In this system, people who are more educated and internet-savvy get the best deals for their electricity and gas; whereas pensioners, poor people and people with less education - those who don't tend to jump onto websites to compare prices, and who would rather eat chopped liver than telephone their power company - continue to pay exorbitant prices.
This system rewards people who already have the advantage and are likely to be richer. It disadvantages people who are already disadvantaged and are poorer.
Is this way of doing things legal? It seems to be. Is it fair? No.
I suggest that anyone who has been procrastinating like me and not getting around to phoning their power company to get a better deal : JUMP ON YOUR POWER COMPANY'S WEBSITE OR GIVE THEM A RING and GET A BETTER DEAL TODAY! (All I did was vaguely ask for a better deal and they gave me 34% off without batting an eyelid.)
Then jump onto the phone or however you talk to your family, and ask your Mum, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa and any of your relations what sort of discount their power company gives them on their electricity and gas. Tell them to ring up their power service provider to get a better deal and if they reply, 'No, I'd rather eat chopped liver,' then get another family member to ring up the service provider for them, and ask the company to match that 34% discount.
Which the power company will, because they know they never should have been charging your Mum/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa those exorbitant prices in the first place, and that even with that large discount the company is still laughing all the way to the bank.
Postcript: if you do contact your power company and get a better deal than 34% please let us know in your comments. If you'd like to know which power service provider I am with, just ask in the comments and I'll tell you.