Switching service providers in Ireland: ‘I saved €500 this year on one utility bill alone’

“When it comes to switching, I think everyone has a savvy friend or relative who can advise them. In my case, I have my aunt to thank. She’d call and say, ‘Have you switched your electricity or gas recently because this crowd are doing a great deal?’ She made me question overpaying for services. It’s money that could be used elsewhere.

then realised that there are switcher sites that do the research work for you, so I started to use those before calling the provider. And I realised if you tell them, ‘company X is doing this deal’, they will try to do their best for you.

I have a dual-fuel bundle and by switching provider I got 33pc off the standard rate so I have saved €500 this year on that utility bill alone. And, of course, when you add that up over a couple of years and across all your services, you really see the saving.

My contract with SSE expires this month [January] so I called last month and asked, ‘What’s the best you can do to retain me?’ They offered 10pc off the standard unit rates and a free boiler service as well. The representative told me to call back when the contract expires as better deals may become available in the meantime. When I’m comparing across providers for gas and electricity, I focus on the unit rate cost, because the standing charges are pretty similar across them all.

Of course, the cheapest isn’t always the best and I always look at what I’m getting in return. Last year, I switched from Eir to Virgin. I’m paying a little bit more but I’m getting 1GB broadband as opposed to 250MG — and that’s important to me in terms of my business.

Yes, being on hold is frustrating for people, especially when everyone is so busy. I put the phone on speaker or have my ear buds in and do the laundry so it’s not lost time. And I say to myself, ‘OK, I may be on hold for a while but I’m potentially going to save a lot of after-tax money that would take me far longer to earn’.

My contract with SSE expires this month so I called and asked, ‘What’s the best you can do to retain me?

I’m lucky in that as a business owner, I’m flexible. I don’t have to ring at lunchtime, as many employees do, and I generally find the wait times are better after 2pm. While being on hold can be painful, the people are generally really helpful when you do get through to them. Asking them about the times of day with the shortest wait times can be helpful, too. If I’m on hold for more than 15/20 minutes, I generally hang up and try at a different time.

The cost-of-living crisis has made everyone really look at where they are wasting money and identify ways to save it. And that’s probably contributing to the longer wait times on calls these days.

My other tip is to note when your contract expires and add it to your diary. That means you’re not wasting money by realising you were out of contract six months earlier and you could have been on a better deal elsewhere or even with your current provider. And once it’s in your diary, you can block out a slot of one or two hours to do your research and make your calls.

My aunt influenced me to start switching providers 10 years ago or more. I now really appreciate the value of not wasting money and making sure I’m getting the best, and the right, deal for me and my family.”

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