Editorial: Public has the power

CLAIRE ALLISON
Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014

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OPINION: It can be easy, as a tax-paying, rate-paying, bill-paying member of the public, to feel like everything's getting more and more expensive. And to feel there's really not a lot we can do about it.

But several thousand South Canterbury people have apparently thought differently, and taken the step of switching power companies in order - it would make sense to assume - to pay less.

There are about 31,600 power customers in South Canterbury. Last year, there were 4264 completed switches - where the customer changed from one power company to another. Of course, some people might have swapped more than once in that year, but putting that to one side, that's about 13 per cent of customers doing something about getting a better deal.

The number is up on 2012 - when 3296 changed power companies - so it would seem the word is slowly getting out.

It would be foolish of electricity companies to assume that all the other customers out there haven't changed because they're happy with the deal they're getting, or feel loyalty to their existing power provider.

It's far more likely that most of us don't switch because we either assume that the power companies are all much of a muchness so there's little point, or we're essentially lazy and can't be bothered with the perceived hassle involved in doing something like that.

But with potential savings of about $180 per year - that's $15 a month - it's worth having a look. Yes, power prices have risen by about $260 a year, or $21.60 a month since 2010, so even basic maths shows that we'll be paying more. But exploring our options could help rein in those increases.

Electricity Authority chief executive Carl Hansen makes a good point when he says that the more consumers who exercise their ability to find the best deal, the more the electricity retailers will have to improve their service to retain or win customers.

Competition only exists if we use it. And that is the power of the customer. Let's use that power.

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- The Timaru Herald

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