Like most consumers, I loathe telemarketers and door-to-door salesmen. But for some unfathomable reason, I didn’t immediately shut down the sales rep who dropped by the other day. It was a bad idea. They’re very good at their job. Once they had their foot in the door, they had me changing energy retailers before I had even finished scrutinising their ID badge.
What I should have done was either stalled for time by asking for some information to read or taken advantage of the mandatory 10-day cooling-off period as per Consumer Affairs‘ advice, but I didn’t; I thought that decent rates and discounts for paying on time were better than high rates and no incentives at all. And so, I went on with my life and forgot about the new contract.
A couple of weeks later, my former energy retailer called. They offered to match prices and pay out my cancellation fee. I felt disloyal, so I agreed to stay with them. They told me they’d patch me through to the new retailer but I had to be ‘firm’ when making my cancellation request.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been ‘firm’ in my life and am ambivalent towards power companies in general. Hence when the guy from the new retailer started offering me better discounts to win my business, my resolve wobbled. He then asked whether I wanted to stick with a retroactive business or if I wanted to try a company that was actively making sure that customers were getting a good deal.
His words were scripted, and I doubted his claim, but he made me realise that energy retailers rarely reward customer loyalty. I found my anti-Andrew-Bolt-self nodding to one Herald Sun reader’s sentiment, ‘Clearly we are seen as fair game by some, if not all of the power companies’ (Dennis O’Keefe, ‘What price loyalty?’ via The Herald Sun, 8/7/2013). Like with most commodities, if I wanted to get the best deal in gas and electricity, I’d have to get it myself.
In the end, I went with the new energy retailer. It’s not the best deal out there and I’m not even sure if they’ll continue to reward me after the contract expires, but it’s a step away from the losing side.