This was the most stressful to set up:
Electricity & Gas
As soon as you plug your phone in you’ll get at least 5 calls a day from sales people trying to sell you an electricity and or gas contract each one of them hell bent on tricking you. So be warned these sales people are aggressive, persistent and very under hand. In my experience they seemed to tell me whatever I wanted to hear even if it wasn’t true. I didn’t need a gas contract but I would imagine it’s the same.
Here are tips of what to look out for when researching electricity & gas:
1) Look at the rates, there is the day rate, the night rate and the standard rate. Usually your night rate will be cheaper than your day rate, although I think if you’re a restaurant/bar/club mainly open at night that will probably change.
2) Get quotes from different companies, and if there is a specific company that you want to be with but they’re a little bit more expensive, ask if they can better the deal or at least price match.
3) Check if the rates are fixed for the year. If they’re not they could bump up the cost dramatically and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
4) Check how long the contract is, some are for one year or two years and some sell you contracts for three years. I personally went for a 1 year contract, I wanted to be able to shop around to check I would be getting the best deal each year.
5) Make sure you call them, that way you know you are speaking to the right company and getting the best advice about their service. I found sales people from agencies will make it sound like they are from a certain company which they’re not and like I said, tell you anything you want to hear. If you speak to a sales person just say ‘No thank you. I will sort it myself.’
6) Most companies prefer to do a verbal contract over the phone which is recorded. There is no cooling off period like there is for domestic contracts for you to cancel and if you speak to them without seeing their terms and conditions first you could regret it.
7) Following from point 6, read over the terms and conditions before signing or doing a verbal contract. Boring but essential, you’ll realise that some of the companies are scandalous when you read the small print. Most have the terms and conditions on their website.
8) Finally when you are speaking to someone on the phone always note down their full name and the company name for reference just in case you need to call them or have any discrepancies.
If you do your research it should be simple. Unfortunately I hadn’t done any research on this. Once I had the keys to the shop it was all systems go to get the shop ready in 2 weeks. So I admit this part didn’t get looked into that much and I was so naive with this that I ended up with 3 electricity contracts! Yeah I know…. I was in a right pickle.
Here’s my horror story:
I had been saying no to all of the sales calls as I wanted to research it myself but it was getting closer and closer to the opening day and I still hadn’t done anything about it. When one particular salesman called I was up a ladder covered in paint and stressing out about all the other things I needed to do. His call came at the right moment and I didn’t realise he was from an agency only content with his own commission. He sold me a contract to an electricity company I hadn’t heard of (they only cover commercial properties) but seemed to have a good deal. I asked whether there was a cooling off period to look over the terms and conditions and cancel if I wanted, he said yes. Unfortunately they don’t do cooling off periods for businesses like they do for domestic contracts which I hadn’t realised. Then I had a phone call an hour later to say that the verbal contract hadn’t been recorded could we do it again and actually now another electricity company are showing up to have a better deal. Alarms bells should have been ringing but I seemed to be deaf to them. I said yes, as long as I still had the cooling off period to look over and cancel if I wanted. ‘Yes madam that’s fine’. Liar.
The next day guess what arrived in the post? Two electricity contracts and when I looked over the terms and conditions for both of them they were awful. Basically I would get a competitive deal for the first 3 months but then they would review it and could change the rates at any point and I had no say- so basically they were going to charge whatever they liked. I looked them up and all I could see were awful reviews of people loosing so much money and who had aslo been tricked into their contract.
My only option was to first call the bank and tell them not to release any funds to either of these two companies as I felt I had been coerced into the contracts and secondly make sure that the current electricity provider would not transfer the electricity over to these people. Luckily the current provider was a company I recognised and agreed with me a good deal where it would be at a fixed rate for the year. So I made a decision to take a contract with them and take the consequences from the other two companies. Looking at the reviews it seemed like it would still be the cheaper option in the long run.
In the end I didn’t have to forfeit any money, although I was threatened they would take a large sum for the inconvenience. I insisted that I had been coerced into these contracts and if they aren’t regulating who sells their contracts it was their fault that I was in this mess. I also called up one of the customer service people crying and I think they took pity on me and mentioned that if the electricity isn’t transferred to them then technically the contract is not valid. The company will keep appealing to take it over a certain amount of times and if it’s not transferred they will give up. That’s exactly what happened and after a month or so they stopped trying and I haven’t heard anything since then. Literally a two month-long nightmare and one route I would not recommend doing. I reported the sales company to OFGEM but I haven’t heard anything.
Well I hope this has helped and will prepare you for all those sales calls. If you have any other tips or suggestions please leave them in the comments below. Also if you could share and spread the word I would be most grateful!