Negotiating the maze of alternative suppliers

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Confession time ... I get my electricity from ScottishPower and my gas supply from Scottish Gas.

And, even worse, I’ve never shopped around for an alternative supplier.

Yes, I know​, it’s not good. If I listen to all the hype, I could be saving myself money every month. And, with recent announcements of price increases, it’s really something that I need to do.

But it’s just so complicated – or so it seems. Those who’ve switched, and I know people who do it on a regular basis, all say it’s simple.

However, my excuse is that previous experiences of shopping around for alternative service suppliers have not been good.

Take the time I was looking for new car insurance and thought I’d got some great deal only to discover that details in the small print were going to make it even more expensive than my previous policy. The policy that I’d just cancelled! So there I was making frantic phone calls to the old insurer trying to get the deal that they had initially offered me and I’d rejected.

Regular readers have already been regaled with my attempts to move an ISA to get a better interest rate only for it to be ‘lost’ in the process. Some stories have a happy ending and I did finally get compensation for the lost interest and my distress, which shows it is worthwhile standing up for yourself.

But I can’t help thinking that if I’m confused by all the options, how do older people in the community cope? I remember one elderly friend signing up for a too-good-to-be-true energy deal – and it was.

It’s all very well to tell us to shop around but the information has to be easily accessible, not everyone has access to the internet, and, more importantly, be in an easy-to-understand format.

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