Eon misleading customers on "6% price cut" claims

Heard the one about Eon and it's "6% price cut for electricity"?
If you are with Eon I would contact them and check the facts, as I did, and with electricity price and standing charge cuts combined, are not as Eon's press office have claimed!

After recent press announcements that Eon were "cutting price of electricity by 6%" I contacted Eon via their twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/EONhelp) to ask if they would also be cutting their standard charge, which had increased by 19% at the same time as their recent price increases of 19%.
I was assured that their standing charges were being cut also, in my area, once the exact details were available they would come back to me.

Today Eon came back to me.
Quoting reduction in electricity price per kWh and reduction in standing charge in pence per day.
Put these reductions into percentages and it's easy to see why Eon chose to present the reductions in pence per day and pence per kWh - "6% cut" claims are false!

FACT - Our electricity with Eon has fallen by only 5.3%
FACT - Our standing charge has fallen by just 0.6%

Via Eon's twitter feed today, the emphasis is on percentages in the press, stated by Eon, as being "an average" percentage.

Let's provide some evidence of these "average of 6% cut" claims from Eon;

* "Energy company E.On is to cut its standard electricity prices by 6%, from Monday 27 February." (16-1-2012) source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16580323 - No mention of an average percentage cut on the BBC website.

* "E.ON announces 6% cut in electricity prices
 E.ON has today (MON 16 JAN) announced a 6% decrease in its standard electricity prices" (16-1-2012) source:
http://pressreleases.eon-uk.com/blogs//eonukpressreleases/archive/2012/01/16/1778.aspx - No mention of an average percentage cut on Eon's own website.

* "We've announced a cut in our electricty price of 6%" (16-1-2012) source: Eon's official twitter feed post which can be found at https://twitter.com/talkingenergy - no mention of an average percentage cut there.

* "Eon to cut electricity prices - Standard electricity tariff will drop by 6%" (16-1-2012) source: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/01/eon-to-cut-electricity-prices-276886/ - no mention of an average percentage cut there either.

The same results from a number of other high profile media websites:
- Guardian
- telegraph
- sky
You get the picture.

Eon have been stating the following;
"We have announced a 6% decrease in our standard electricity prices. The decrease, which equates to £31 off the average annual bill, will take effect from Monday 27th February 2012"
The £31 off the average bill claims give no indication whatsoever that they were arrived at by an average percentage reduction in their electricity prices - instead pointing to the figure of £31 being "Based on an Ofgem average of 3,300 kWh per annum paying by fixed monthly Direct Debit" source:
http://www.eonenergy.com/Price+decrease.htm

Now to you and me, a 6% reduction in electricity prices claim should be exactly that. Eon's price of electricity should fall by 6%, so why is ours only falling by 5.3%?

Now for the standing charge "cut"
Our standing charge costs our home £99.60 per year - whether we spend one penny piece on electricity or not - it is being "cut" by a staggering 0.6%
This equates to *Brace yourself... a whopping 1.15p per week!
Or to put it another way, a saving of 5p per calendar month!

Here are some of the twitter questions and answers from todays exchanges (Mine in bold):
@EONhelp Thanks for the #standingcharge info, however, if you cut 6% from 27.29p per day [standing charge], it should be 25.65p not 27.13p per day?
- @frugal_ways 6% is average across all tariffs, regions & levels of usage. Some will be more, some less. Your kWh price down 5.3%
@EONhelp C'mon, even you have to admit that #eon's standing charge "cut" of just 0.6% for #Lancashire is laughable after a 19% rise!

@EONhelp standing charge now £99.60 a year - after 6% "cut" it will be £99.02 a year a "saving" of 58p per year or just 1.1p per week #poor
- No reply
No reply because it is not being cut by 6%?

@EONhelp So Lancashire's kWh price down 5.3% which means other areas get a bigger than 6% (average) cut, name them please?
* If my cut is below average, by definition there must be some areas that will have their prices cut by more than the stated 6%
- @frugal_ways % cut depends on many things. Tariff, E7 or 1 rate, usage etc. Varies within regions as well as between regions

@EONhelp "% cut depends on usage" - don't follow that at all? What about the standing charge "cut" - 1.1p per week is pathetic do you agree?
- @frugal_ways Cut in press is average based on combo of things. Use one. Your SC cut less than some but SC still cheaper than most

So no other area given which receives a bigger percentage cut than 6%
No answer to what Eon mean by "percentage cut depends on usage"
How does this stack up with the press releases and marketing about "6% cut in Eon's electricity price"?
Even on official Eon web pages, there is no mention of the "% cut depends on many things. Tariff, E7 or 1 rate, usage etc"

The reason why there is no mention or disclaimer, is because Eon have been caught out with their proverbial pants down.
Putting out a statement saying they have "cut electricity prices by 6%" is misleading. The BBC website even includes a diagram listing "-6%" under Eon's electricity price column.

If you are an Eon customer, get in touch with them and find out what your real percentage "cut" is. I'd wager that there's not many in the country that will see their electricity price per kWh fall by exactly the 6% they are claiming!

Eon want to "reset" their relations with their customers, to win back their trust - this misleading behaviour is one of the main reasons customers do not trust Eon in the first place!

UPDATE:
Straight from Eon themselves this morning;

6% is average cut. Some will have more/some less/some exactly 6%.

I have asked;
My area will only get a 5.3% cut, name an area that will get a cut greater than 6%?
- No answer
What do you mean by "% cut will depend on usage"? - (after this twitter reply " % cut depends on many things. Tariff, E7 or 1 rate, usage etc. Varies within regions as well as between regions ")
- No answer

I have posted them a link to this post, they have no comment to make, nothing to say.
I wonder why that is?
Eon's latest top down campaign, is to "reset" relations with their customers to regain "trust" - yet Eon tell their customers that "we are cutting our standard electricity price by 6%" when in fact, they are not.

Santander error is my own fault?

Just before Christmas, we drew £50 from a speedbank. Whilst checking our statement a week later we noticed that Santander had taken the money from our balance twice. A mistake Santander blamed the owner of the speedbank for.
Despite being able to see the duplicated withdrawal on the account, it took the best part of a week and three longwinded and unhelpful phone calls to get the money back.
I would have thought it good practice to safeguard a Santander customer's account by putting safeguards in place to avoid duplicate withdrawals?
Santander staff did not see the logic in this.

At no stage, did Santander accept any blame, as it was "not our cash machine that made the error."

In light of this we put it down to a genuine error/mistake, somewhere between Santander and Tesco, who's cash machine it was.
There was no apology or explanation as to what happened.

On Saturday, when using Santander's "make payments" set up on the Santander website, we had the following experience;

After five payments were made without a problem, a sixth payment was selected. An amount was put into the box and we clicked to confirm.
There was a few minutes delay, as the website attempted to confirm the payment had been made, so I clicked to cancel the transaction.
A box popped up immediately, asking for confirmation of the cancellation, I clicked on yes and the website went back to the main "payments" screen.

I clicked to make a payment on the transaction I had just cancelled, went straight through and made the payment without any delays. After a couple more payments, I went to the main account screen to make sure I hadn't missed a payment out, only to find that the delayed payment, I had clicked to confirm NOT TO PAY, had in fact been paid regardless of my instruction!
Now we have the same monthly bill being paid twice.
A phone call to Santander's telephone banking team went as follows...

* Had to confirm four forms of ID - including the security number on the back of the bank card, that itself would allow a customer service advisor to commit fraud if they so wished - NOT very "secure" are you Santander!

- Using your bill payment system via the website, there was a delayed response, so I clicked to cancel the payment, the confirm box popped up and was clicked. I've gone back into the account and found that your internet banking system ignored my request to cancel before paying and ignored my request to confirm this. Can you put the money back into the account please as it is needed?
* Yes, I can see from your account that it has indeed been paid twice. I will just speak to someone in the internet banking department to see if there are any current issues...
- With respect, I'm not interested in your "systems" and "internet issues" I just want the money paid back as it is needed!
* I won't be a moment.
[Tap your fingers for five minutes on hold with music]
* Hello, I have spoken to the internet banking department and they have informed me that they have no known issues at this time.
- Can we have the money back as it is needed?
* I'm afraid I can't help you with that, but I have a member of our internet banking team on the phone whom you can speak to...
- Can they credit the money back, that your "banking" system took in error?
* No.
- So what's the point of putting me through to another department then? Are you just passing the buck?
* I'm not passing the buck sir...
- Yes you are, all I want is the money back that Santander's error caused to be taken from the account, how do you think that will be sorted out by passing me onto another department that cannot pay the money back?
* They will be able to tell you any problems that the system might be having...
- I am not interested in your systems, I just want the money paid back into the account because it is needed!
* I will let the advsisor from the internet banking department go then as they won't be able to help with that.

[Which begs the question: Why bother getting in touch with them and keeping me on hold whilst you explain the first place?]

- So can you give me the money back your bank's error paid out?
* No! As I told you right at the beginning, I cannot do that!
- So get me a manager that can please?
* We can't give you the money back, you'll have to and ask the company it's been paid to as the payment has gone...
- So now I have to wait until monday to contact the company that Santander have paid twice, then and only then, if they agree to refund, it will take three working days before it appears back in the account, which if I'm lucky will be next friday, almost a week after Santander made the original error?
* There's nothing we can do!

So there you have it folks, if Santander make a mistake by paying a company twice because their website IGNORES your choice to cancel then IGNORES your confirmation of that request to cancel, you are stuffed.
It is not their fault - even though it is - they will refer you to a department that has no influence or power to reverse their own mistake - the department you speak to in the first instance will not have any power to refund their own error, you will have to phone the company (more expense to you) and ask for a refund yourself.

It is irrelevant that Santander made the mistake, their advisors can view it immediately on their screens that it has been paid twice and totally not the fault of the Santander "system" as it has "No known issues at this time"
Funny how Santander's systems always seem to benefit them and not the customer, when a mistake has been made. I wonder why that is???

Trading standards are doing nothing about supermarkets!

Supermarkets can ineffect get away with anything that they want. They are not subjected to the same laws/regulations as anyone else with a business. They are a law unto themselves and we are suffering in our pockets because of it.

I've just come off the phone with a trading standards officer, what a complete joke!

I reported Asda in my area and on a national scale for clearly misleading customers in their recent "price drop" campaign.

Asda:
On January 3rd 2012, Asda post on twitter about their "price drop" campaign, linking to their national blog on the Asda website (No doubt an email campaign as well?) stating that "Warburtons toastie loaf was now only £1.15 down from £1.35" alongside some other products that were reduced.
I replied that this was not the case at all.
The price in the week of 10th Dec 2011 the price was £1.15 and reminded them that they had increased the price to £1.30 from the week of the 18th Dec 2011, over the Christmas and New Year period (ie, the previous 14 days).
The new price of £1.35 represented another increase of 5p per loaf, both instore and on their website.
I could not find any store that was offering the £1.15 "price drop" price advertised.
I reminded them that a higher price must be charged for 28 days before it can be claimed to be "on sale"
Asda did not reply.

24 hours later, I notified Asda again.
Asda staff on twitter did not know which blog post I was referring to, despite these same staff posting on twitter about it and including a direct link to it.
I sent them the links to both their national campaign blog and to their website price checker showing the new higher price of £1.35
I received a reply back saying "Thanks - we'll look into it" around teatime on the 4th of January 2012.
That evening, their national blog was changed to drop the claim that warburtons toastie loaf (and some other products advertised in the same paragraph) was part of their "price drop". Nothing from Asda since and the price continues to be the increased price of £1.35

I notified Trading standards of this and awaited a call back.

This morning I spoke with my local trading standards office.
I'm told that trading standards have "home authority agreements" with other trading standards departments - which means trading standards in the area of asda's head office would have complaints referred to them for investigation.
This complaint will be referred to them but they may not act upon it, as it's only an individual complaint.
- How many complaints are required before trading standards will act?
* It doesn't go off the number of complaints!
- So breaking the law doesn't mean that a complaint will be acted upon?
* But this is just one complaint... it will be logged. They [trading standards in asda head office area] will be working closely with asda...
- I hear this all the time about how official bodies are "working closely" with companies, it's usually code for "doing nothing," and the logged complaint will be dropped after a short while. Who is working closely for us, the customers?
* [Silence!]
- We the taxpayer, fund trading standards to monitor supermarkets and other businesses, and to act when the law is broken, as is clearly the case here
* We do monitor the supermarkets!
- So how did trading standards manage to miss a national blog that mentioned a product directly, miss twitter posts of which trading standards is listed as a user of, miss a national advertising campaign, miss that the price hasn't been charged for 28 days at the higher price and now state that it won't act upon clear information given?
* We can't monitor every single price...
- I'm not talking about our local asda having one wrong price, this is a national campaign probably backed up by an email campaign?, a prime time television promotion, promoted via twitter, facebook, etc, and listed on their national website and instores across the UK at an inflated price which doesn't tally with their advertised "price drop"?
Don't you think this is reason enough to act?
* We do not have the time or resources available...
- Resources? It is free, costs are claimed back when the case is put before a court.
* We are going around in circles now...

Always the same response from businesses when they don't have an answer... "we are going around in circles now" - we wouldn't be going around in circles if they provided us with a straight answer!

I left the trading standards officer with one more issue - how could it be, that despite claims that there is no collusion between the big supermarkets, yet for the entire Christmas and New Year period, rival supermarkets across the country had exactly the same opening and closing times?
* There is nothing wrong with having the same store times between supermarkets...

Totally and utterly useless.
If I were to run my business in this way, trading standards would be all over me like a rash.
It would appear that supermarkets can do whatever they like, and that regulation and trading standards are quite happy to do nothing about it what so ever!
If trading standards are not working for us, why do we continue to pay them millions of taxpayer's money each year?
Even more worrying, who will stand up for us, the customer?

At a time when family finances are stretched to the limit, we need to know that trading standards are doing their job correctly and on our behalf, not on behalf of the big four. Clearly, this is another example of a watchdog/regulator not being fit for purpose!

UPDATE:
In response to comments received, I have provided information on laws and codes of practice that can be applied, in this case. Where possible, I have also provided links to information online for your reference.

Section 20 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 makes it a criminal offence for a person in the course of his business to give consumers a misleading price indication about goods, services, accommodation (including the sale of new homes) or facilities. It applies however you give the price indication - for example, in a TV or press advertisement, on a website, by email or text message, in a catalogue or leaflet, on notices, price tickets or shelf-edge marking in stores, or if you give it orally, for example on the telephone.

Under section 25 of the Act, the act gives the Secretary of State power to approve codes of practice to give practical guidance to traders. It is addressed to traders and sets out what is good practice to follow in giving price indications in a wide range of different circumstances, so as to avoid giving misleading price indications.
It is guidance, rather than mandatory, although it may be taken into account in establishing whether an offence has been committed under the Act.

 

If a Trading Standards Officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a business has given a misleading price indication, the Act gives the Officer power to require them to produce any records relating to their business and to seize and detain goods or records which the Officer has reasonable grounds for believing may be required as evidence in court proceedings.
It is in the business' interest to be able to demonstrate that any claims they have made are accurate and valid. The Act makes it an offence to obstruct a Trading Standards Officer intentionally or to fail (without good cause) to give any assistance or information the Officer may reasonably require to carry out his duties under the Act.
This code of practice deals only with the requirements of Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Where a reduced price is claimed then the product should have been offered for sale at the higher price for at least 28 days in the previous 6 months in the same outlet. If the comparison does not meet those criteria then they should provide an explanation which is unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible to the consumer

Where traders make use of advertisements they should have regard to the relevant rules governing misleading advertising via the Advertising Standards Association.

Other law:
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 -
As published on Trading standards own website
http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/advice-business-ftbussum3.cfm

As is clear, there are many grounds for action by trading standards, a convincing argument for ignoring a legitimate complaint about a national campaign I have yet to hear.

No retraction was made by asda, no acknowledgement was published to thousands of people it advertised to that it got it wrong, made an error, etc.
It took almost 2 days before asda simply removed the text claims from their blog post. Nothing more about it was said.

Actual loss or penalty charge?

"Actual loss" is a gauge for determining whether or not the fees, charges, termination costs or administration fees (and many more charges dressed up with fancy names) are what your personal circumstances have done to cause a loss to a business where a contract exists.

This maybe your mobile phone contract, your bank account, your credit agreement, etc.

I don't think any person can deny that if you have gone over drawn by £3, you have cost the bank £3 plus an amount for recovering that £3. This is "Actual loss" and should be paid willingly.
Problems arise when a bank charge is levied against your account for say £25 for going overdrawn.
The bank wants its £3 plus cost for an automated letter, an envelope, a stamp. Being generous this [in the real world] would generate a charge to your account of around £6 in total. So why the £25 charge?

Banks *I'm using banks as an example, it could in theory be any other industry claim continuously that it lists the charges applicable in it's terms and conditions. This is completely irrelevant!
Continuing to repeat the same question, "Is this charge actual loss?" results in at best, some very bizarre and obscure attempts to justify it without giving you a straight answer. This is because in almost every case, the charge not only recovers money for the amount of actual cost to the bank, but an additional amount, that has nothing to do with how you manage your account whatsoever.
As the charge issued against your account is not entirely for the bank's actual loss, caused by your management of your account, under common law in England and Wales [legal precedent dates back to the early 1900s] this is deemed to be "a penalty."
"Penalty charges" are unenforceable under common law (in England and Wales) - it really is that simple!

If I had a pound for everytime a telephone advisor reels off how "charges are listed in their terms and conditions" and "our charges are very competitive compared to every other company in that partcular industry" I would be a very rich man indeed.

The simple test whenever you are faced with a charge/fee, etc, is to ask continuously, "Is this charge/fee actual loss?"
Nine times out of ten, you will not receive a straight answer.
Don't be bothered by this, most of the time the telephone operators have not been trained to answer this question, or have been trained to answer it in a manner that won't allow for any comebacks or claims.
Occasionally, you will get an advisor who will concede over the phone that a charge/fee does not recover actual loss. These are rare occasions indeed, but joyous ones. First declare that you wish for what was said to be confirmed in writing (don't panic, it will never happen) so write to them and demand a written transcript of the call.
Once they play it back and their admission is heard, a "goodwill gesture" of the charge/fee reversal, will often come about as if by magic!

Failing that, the scope for further action becomes available.
If you decide to go via the small claims route, (that's a big if) it would be one of your "3 strikes against them" in that, can they appear before a district judge and prove that their charge is "actual loss"?
Hopefully, it will rarely if ever, come to this.
Continuous questioning of "is this charge an actual loss?" - along with, "Please provide a breakdown of the charge/fee in writing" - usually gives you good grounds for senior people within the company to waiver the charge/fee.

Remember, this is not avoidance of paying charges/admin fees, etc.
If these fees are actual loss then fair enough. That they are listed in terms and conditions is irrelevant, they must, under common law in England and Wales, be ONLY for "actual loss."
If they are not, then they are a "Penalty charge" and you are within your rights to stand your ground and demand that they are reversed.

Be strong, stand up for yourself!

Energy saving fight back - Washing clothes

Saving money on doing the laundry every week in theory, should be easy.

As part of our home's energy saving fightback [in which we look at everything we do from week to week] applying the simple process of breaking down each cost the savings appear before my very eyes.

Not a lot we can do about the washing machine, as frugal as I am, even I would not advocate dragging the family washing to a stream and beating it on rocks. Nor would I go with throwing clothes in the bath and walking on them, etc.
I can however, monitor how much electricity, in money, we are using.

Since I started this action against energy companies, our home has completed seven loads of washing. I'm informed by our electricity provider that each washing cycle uses up between 43p and 47p. Already that's more than £3 used in electric, but that can't be helped.
What I can have an effect upon is washing powder, conditioner, drying clothes, etc.

Can you believe that some people use conditioner in their washer, then take clothes out, put them into a tumble dryer and add more conditioner?
Why not just use conditioner when drying?
Washing powder is an easy one, catering packs from the cash & carry, contain much more powder than the supermarket branded/own brand boxes. *If you could only see, 7KG-8KG of powder in catering packs, that do the same "amount" of washes as supermarket boxes, which have less powder in them and claim to do the same number of washes!

Fabric conditioner is again an easy one to save on. A concentrated 5 litre tub of branded conditioner, for around £8 lasts well over a month.
Another habit I've gotten out of, is filling the conditioner compartment in the washer drawer. Simple trick: Buy a concentrated 1 litre bottle of branded conditioner - use it - wash bottle out and refill it from 5 litre catering size tub. Not only is it easier to use, but it's also saving me money because the lid capacity is 1 measure for a wash!
It doesn't fill the conditioner section in the washer tray as it doesn't need to.
How many times have you filled the tray up with conditioner instead of just using the lid of the bottle? We've all done it at some point.

Next savings come from drying.
Tumble dryers are wonderful things, especially in emergencies. With a little bit of planning ahead, they can become redundant.
Using in excess of 50p per load, already I have saved over £3.50 from my electricity.
Sounds petty I know, but consider this...
£3.50 per week saved is equal to £182.00 electricity per year!

Yes, we use two washing lines, but what about the winter months? What about when it's chucking it down?
Going back to my childhood helps. We have an old wooden framed wardrobe in the spare room, I hang the t-shirts in there, I can only wear one t-shirt at a time, etc.
A cheap clothes horse looks after the smaller stuff and two radiator hangers are more than enough for the socks etc.
Dry by the next day, costing not a penny piece. Using just the heat from the burner and air from the windows blowing through the house, I can dry all the clothes at a saving of 50p per load.
Even if I only save on 4 loads of drying per week, that would be £104.00 per year, in the family's pocket.
Little victories.....