Research conducted on behalf of Switcher.ie has found that many Irish households are losing out on substantial cost savings on their household bills because they don’t feel equipped to switch. Four in ten (38%) consumers said not wanting to get tied into a contract was the main reason that they didn’t switch, and the same amount said they thought switching was too much hassle. Three in ten (31%) said they were unable to tell whether a new deal would be cheaper or not.
Six in ten (60%) consumers said they had considered switching utility provider in the past, but did not go ahead with it. Some other barriers to switching mentioned by these consumers included that they were fearful of trusting a new supplier, or were worried about their service being cut off. These concerns perhaps go some way to explaining the large numbers of consumers that say they have never switched household essentials like gas (78%), TV (75%), broadband (46%) and electricity (39%).
According to the Commission for Energy Regulation, switching levels for Irish consumers are amongst the highest in Europe. However, we know that only 13.5% of electricity customers and 16% of gas customers switched last year – and this has remained at a fairly constant level over the past number of years, which means that huge numbers of consumers are missing out on significant savings every year. At the moment, the average dual fuel customer could save as much as €360 a year just by switching energy suppliers alone. Switching to a cheaper deal for the likes of gas, electricity, insurance and broadband has the potential to save consumers hundreds of Euro each year.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “Worryingly, this research shows that many consumers are not switching providers for household essentials due to fear factors around switching, including signing a new contract, or switching being a hassle. The reality is that switching is a pretty straightforward process and inertia could be costing already hard-pressed consumers dearly each year. In fact, it’s likely that people spend more time each year comparing products in a supermarket than they do comparing products like electricity, gas or broadband, that could save them hundreds of Euro.
“While people might have some hesitations about signing up to a contract, most minimum terms are between just 12 and 24 months, and providers will generally offer an introductory discount to new customers for a number of months. It’s also worth remembering that consumers can avail of a 14 day cooling-off period, where they can cancel without penalty, if they sign up for a new product or service and decide they no longer want it.
“We see renewal notices playing a part in driving switches across the insurance industry. However for other household essentials, consumers won’t be reminded of when their contract’s minimum term is up. As such, we’d encourage consumers to take control of their household bills by making a note of when their minimum term ends for each contract they sign up for, so they know when they’re free to compare the market and switch to a cheaper deal, or a product better suited to them.
“In terms of comparing deals and making a switch, if you use a free and impartial service like Switcher.ie you can get all the tools, support and information you need to make informed decisions at a click of the button. Comparing deals and completing an energy switch only takes around 5 minutes – and all electricity and gas suppliers use the same pipes and cables, so there won’t be a loss in service.”