Business & Finance Debt

Getting a Better Deal on Utilities

Let's face it...
Unless you have decided to totally shun the world and live 100% 'off the grid' you are going to incur expenses for utilities.
It certainly pays to know who all the utility suppliers are in your area so you can compare both the level of service and pricing they offer.
Generally, there are 3 main types of utilities which are Water, Electricity and Gas however, there are certain elements of the process for getting better deals on your utilities that can be utilised and applied when you are trying to get a better deal on just about anything (e.
g.
phone plans, TV plans, etc).
Quite a lot of people are unsure about approaching their utility companies to try to get a better deal, as they feel as though they don't want to 'rock the boat' or they 'don't have a right to complain' about the charges.
However, it must be remembered that YOU are paying THEM for a service and if you feel you are paying too much or that you are not getting the level of service you are paying for, then you definitely have the right to ask for a better deal...
It's that simple! Water In most areas, the supply of water generally resides in a different setting to other utility suppliers, as the water companies (retail suppliers) are often shielded from competitive market forces.
This means they are not under pressure to out-perform their competitors, as they have a natural monopoly, however they do come under the essential services umbrella and as such, have their licences monitored by Essential Services Commissions.
Water businesses usually have to submit their prices to the essential services commissions who assess and authorise the water and waste water prices that these companies are able to charge.
There is not a whole lot you can do about the charges you receive for the water you use (unless there is more than one retail supplier in your area) however, if you are experiencing difficulty paying your water bills you should definitely contact your water utility company to request that you be placed on a 'hardship payment plan' in order for you to get back on track.
If you do not get any satisfaction from the water utility company you should contact the Water Ombudsman in your area to make a formal complaint about your supplier.
You can find contact details for the water ombudsman in your area and particulars of how to make a complaint (complaints process) by conducting a quick internet search.
Search by typing the words 'Water Ombudsman' as well as the 'State' you currently live in, into the search engine and this should quickly point you in the right direction.
Electricity & Gas Electricity and Gas utilities can provide good opportunities for people to achieve real savings, as there is usually more than one supplier competing for your business.
This means that unlike water suppliers, electricity and gas suppliers are not shielded from competitive market forces and are definitely under pressure to out-perform their competitors.
With the rising cost of just about everything nowadays you should certainly be concerned about getting the best deal for the electricity and gas you use.
The 2 major areas that interest the consumer are: Price and Service.
· How much are you paying for the electricity / gas you use, when compared to other companies prices? · Do you often have supply issues? · Are your bills / statements accurate? · Can you get hold of a representative on the phone when you call the company? · Does the company seem willing to work with you to resolve an issue These are all questions you need to ask yourself when reviewing the performance of your utility company.
If you are not happy with your current electricity / gas supplier don't be afraid to compare their prices and service with other suppliers that may be in your area.
Like most things, a quick internet search will usually reveal other suppliers in your area and you can also utilise 'Comparison' sites to simplify the process even further.
These sites are great as they often allow you to easily compare the key elements of the various plans that are available, so you can make an informed decision.
Once you have the necessary information to make a decision, it is simply a matter of either staying with your current supplier or switching companies.
Don't forget that if you do decide to switch companies (especially for a better price), you always have the option of calling your existing supplier first (if their service is good) to inform them that you are going to switch to another company if they cannot offer you a better deal than the one you are currently on! It is a little known fact that these companies usually have whole teams devoted to keeping the customers that are threatening to leave to go to other suppliers and, generally have special deals available for those customers that are willing to stay with them.
It is important to note that if you do get transferred to one of these 'customer retention' teams, make sure they don't try to 'add' any additional 'conditions' to the new deals they offer you...
You must be very clear when speaking with them that you want a better deal, without any additional conditions, or you will take your business elsewhere! Another strategy that has been used by a few enterprising people (with some spare time on their hands) is to band together with a number of other people (households) in their area and approach various electricity and gas companies for the total supply of all the households in the group.
Using this method, the electricity / gas supply companies are effectively tendering for bulk supply of their products and as we all know, things are usually cheaper when you buy in bulk! As always, to use this method, you would have to ensure that all parties to the agreement are fully aware of, and comfortable with the terms and conditions of the agreement, prior to entering into it.
Like anything to do with money management, it doesn't take a 'rocket scientist' to find a better deal, you just have to sit down and go through the process methodically.
The procedure for getting better deals on just about anything is essentially the same, as mentioned above, you just have to take the time to sit down and compare your current deal with other deals that are available (i.
e.
go through the process).
Who knows...
From this simple little exercise you may even find that you end up with a much better deal on your utilities, and freeing up vital funds that can be used elsewhere.

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