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24th Aug 2019 Login  
uSwitch not dependable in my experience
by Simon at 2008-04-16 18:01:13 (Blog::Simon)
I've been on a Scottish Power Green Energy H2O tariff for about a year, but following notification of a considerable hike in my monthly direct debit due to price rises (up to 58.50 from 36.50 even though I've been in credit for ages), I headed over to uSwitch.com for a price comparison.

Frankly, I wish I hadn't bothered.

I used 6646 KWh in the last 12 months, and I was making the comparison on 10th March 2008.

uSwitch told me that Southern Electric's Better Plan Nil Service Charge would save me 180/year or thereabouts.

No brainer - I switched.

Around the 4th April I got a phone call from Scottish Power letting me know that they thought Southern Electric would be more expensive than the tariff I was already on, as they'd raised their prices on the 1st April.

I thanked them for the info, and went to check it out. I went back to uSwitch and did the comparison again and found that Southern Electric were still coming out cheaper, but only by about 60 a year now.

So I called uSwitch and asked them if their website was up to date with current prices, and they said it was. I then asked them why Scottish Power might be calling me to give me duff information and they speculated that it was 'just marketing', and they might be 'making an assumption' about my usage.

Fair enough, seemed plausible, can't blame them for trying I thought. I let the previously ordered switch go through and the change of supplier was scheduled for the 15th April.

Today (16th April) I received from Southern Electric a nice package containing a wireless electricity monitor (very handy, great idea - it has a clip that goes round the meter->fusebox supply lead and broadcasts the instantaneous usage to a separate display unit).

Since it needs to have the KWh price entered in order to be able to report costs rather than simply units used, I called Southern Electric's "Better Plan Helpdesk" to get the exact p/KWh for my tariff.

To my surprise, they said 13.91p/KWh - which, even allowing for the Nil Service Charge, seemed rather high. I queried it with them, and they passed me onto their sales dept who - kindly - went through and calculated exactly what my annual bill would be based on my usage, and also calculated what it would be based on Scottish Power's current prices.

They were good enough to admit that, in fact, Scottish Power were going to be about 60 a year cheaper than them. Can't fault Southern Electric there.

I then created a spreadsheet to work this all out for myself, and came up with the same result. Hmmm.

So I went back to uSwitch and did the comparison for a third time and to my complete surprise it told me that Southern Electric's Better Plan Nil Service Charge was STILL my cheapest option, and Scottish Power's best offering (my old tariff, incidentally) was over 60 a year more expensive.

Then I rang Scottish Power and confirmed that the prices I was working from in my spreadsheet were correct, and they are.

What this means is that uSwitch's website is 120 out in its calculations for my specific case - whether it's accurate for anyone else I can't tell.

I've initiated a switch back to Scottish Power (directly, by phone with them), and the only consolation of the to-ing and fro-ing is that I've got a nice electricity monitoring tool out of it.

Finally, I've called uSwitch and reported this to them and they're passing the report up the chain to be looked at.

The moral of this tale? Don't trust price comparison/utility switching websites to be accurate. Double check the calculations BEFORE you make the switch, or you could end up losing money instead of saving it.


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