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Results from council promoted Collective Switching Scheme are now being emailed to approximately 160,000 households who registered an interest in the scheme. But should you accept the offer of the winner of the auction?
Though the auction was held on the 9th April, it has taken some time for, at least some of, the personalised email notifications to be sent out. It would certainly make business sense to prioritise those with the greatest savings which goes some way to explain why I didn't receive my offer until today.
So what about the deal? Well, for dual fuel, direct debit customers, the auction was won by Sainsbury's Energy with, somewhat surprisingly, their Price Promise July 2014 tariff with (at least in my case) a £210 bill credit to be paid after 12 months. There is a cancellation charge of £70 (£35 per fuel) and of course, if you leave before the anniversary, you won't receive that bill credit.
I say surprisingly, that's because the Sainsbury's Energy Price Promise July 2014 tariff itself is one of the least competitive tariffs available – at least without that bill credit. What we don't know whether that bill credit is fixed across all participants or varies according to usage. That highlights one of our issues with the scheme, the lack of transparency.
Predictably, I shop around for my energy and the Collective Switching Scheme offer works out £400 a year more expensive (before credit) than my current deal which ends in March 2014.
When presenting the winning bid, they show your current annual cost (£1506 in my case), the new annual cost (£1906) and "Year 1 bill including credit” (£1696). However you only get that bill credit after 12 months in a 15 month term, so showing that lower figure isn't really representative. We'd prefer to see it showing the correct proportion of the discount attributable to a year giving an estimated annual cost of £1738 for comparison terms.
It's perhaps unfair to compare the Collective Switching Scheme deal with my existing tariff as it's no longer available. However, running a quote on my usage figures through the MoneyMaxim energy comparison service gives a lowest cost of £1385 with Spark Advance saving over £350 per year. That is a variable tariff so it could go up, though you can also leave without penalty. Prefer a fix? How about Flow Energy's Thames Fixed Online Sept 2014 tariff still saving £197 over the Collective Switching Scheme winning bid.
Our verdict? The Collective Switching Scheme has been good at raising awareness but the winning bid isn't impressive and it's been a long wait for the answer. You can get better deals using an energy comparison website.