Switching your phone, broadband, TV or gas and electricity provider is supposed to save money, but all too often there are hidden costs. Follow these top ten tips to getting the most out of your switch…
1. Your needs
Think carefully about what you want from your new provider. For instance, do you usually use the phone at the weekends or do you often call abroad? Is most of the energy used in the evening? By focusing on the needs of your family, you can pinpoint what you’re looking for in your provider and not be bamboozled by smooth marketing tactics.
2. What’s included?
Find out exactly what’s included – will you still retain your voicemail services? Is there a UK-based call centre if you need any help? Good customer service is sometimes worth paying a bit extra for, so work out the best deal for you.
3. Use comparison sites…
Look on comparison websites for the best deal. It will save you a lot more time then going through each provider separately. And consider a bundle package that incorporates broadband and phone, and even TV, as this can work out cheaper.
4. …Then call the provider
Once you’ve seen a deal that looks appealing, ring the provider direct as comparison websites can add on their own commission. See if they have an even better offer for you.
5. Invite competition
Before you change providers, speak to someone on the customer service team at your current company. It’s surprising what kind of offer can suddenly be arranged when they think one of their customers is about to defect to a competitor.
6. Opt short-term
Be wary of very large discounts. Usually big savings are offered in conjunction with a long-term contract. These can last up to two years. If you later decide you’ve chosen the wrong provider and want to leave the contract early, then you could be subject to a substantial penalty.
7. Avoid fixed tariffs
Avoid fixed energy tariffs. They guarantee the price you pay will stay the same for a set amount of time and help you budget, but if prices fall you could end up paying more for your energy. You’ll probably have to pay a premium for the privilege too. Instead consider standard or capped tariffs. Some companies still reserve the right to increase fixed energy tariffs anyway, if the costs of raw commodities – such as oil and gas – rises.
8. Use the cooling-off period
Make use of the cooling-off period provided by your new utility provider, when you have the right to change your mind about the transfer without being fined. Make time to look through the deal again before this window closes.
9. Pay by direct debit
If you’ve always paid by cash or cheque, then consider setting up a direct debit. There are often savings to be made, plus you don’t have to worry about incurring a fine for late payment because it’s done for you.
10. Track your spend
With regards to gas and electricity, look into energy-efficient grants for insulation and ensure you read the meter on a regular basis. Double-check that your payments match the energy you’ve been using.
Switching providers is easier than you think – so why not start enjoying the savings now?!