This morning I’ve had to pay out a small fortune in annual renewals: TV licence, home insurance; as well as the latest electricity bill.
I’ll avoid the debate about the BBC’s licence fee but I can say categorically that the insurance renewal quote and the electricity bill were a right royal rip-off. And this is a blog post explaining why and how you can avoid being ripped off using the Internet.
First up, the ridiculous expensive electricity bill that is covering the hottest three months the UK has seen for about 50 years.
The amount – Â£240 – really bugged me so I checked the meter and was annoyed to see it was right. I figured [tag]Southern Electric[/tag] must be one of these utility companies that have just increased their prices by 50 percent because they can, so I set about moving provider.
I found a great website – [tag]Uswitch[/tag].com – where you are shown how much you could save by switching gas and electricity providers and then, in just a few clicks, actually do it. The site does all the paperwork for you. Now THAT is what the Internet is all about. I could save Â£114 a year by switching to [tag]NPower[/tag], I was told, and click here, give your details and we’ll do it for you.
I didn’t do it though because that was still a small saving and it was the actual cost that was bugging me. Anyway, after some research, I figured out that the change to summer hours meant that my boiler was turning on in the morning just as Southern Electric starts charging at the higher day rate. So I’ve changed the timing but not shifted provider.
I most definitely have shifted home insurance provider though.
I have been with [tag]Direct Line[/tag] for two years and never claimed but each year the insurance has gone up. Last year I left it too late and decided what the hell and renewed. This year I thought I’d check it out.
These are the figures:
Now this is a very restricted [tag]insurance[/tag] claim as it is only contents insurance and all the things I have that are valuable have their own insurance (laptop, camera, iPod etc etc). But it still felt too high, so I did some research.
First of all, I went to Direct Line’s website and worked my way around all the questions to give the exact same situation as my current insurance to get a quote. The result? Â£22 cheaper! – Â£113.40. So Direct Line is actually ripping me off for being a loyal customer.
So then I did some research on the Net – giving up on insurance websites where they asked for too much information in the hope of tying me in before they gave a quote (companies please note) and eventually went with the [tag]AA[/tag] for just Â£68.21. Not only is that literally half the price but it also comes with more than twice the cover (Â£40,000) than my Direct Line insurance.
Before I finalised it though, I called up Direct Line to see if they were interested in my custom. I called the renewal number and said very clearly and straightforwardly: “Hi, I am looking at renewing my house insurance with you, and I’ve been with you for two years, but the premium has gone up again. Not only that but I’ve checked on your website and you are charging me more than a new quote. I have also found a quote from another company that is half what you are asking. Now, is there any flexibility in your quote? If not, I’ll not renew but if there is, let’s talk.”
The bloke at the other end said: “Well, sir, the offer you received would have been the best offer we could have given you…” So I said: “Okay, fine thanks then, I won’t renew.” And hung up.
So in summary: Direct Line is a rip-off and electricity companies are evil.