Power Bills

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Guess work, incentives and trickery -- It's the battle of the electricity bill and power companies have you in their sights.

Jen Carter is a busy working mum and like most of us, she wants to pay less for her electricity. But when a salesperson from "Queensland Electricity" came knocking asking her to switch providers, she was not impressed.

With promises of a 7% reduction on her bill and a flashy retail discount card Jen got the hard sell. And it is no wonder, it's a lucrative industry worth more than $3.2 billion dollars, with the typical household spending $5,500 a year on energy. "I had my three year old under my feet, we hadn't organized dinner yet so their was no dinner on the table. I was highly distracted and they were in a big rush, didn't explain things and didn't really give me a chance to respond to things", Jen said.

If you live in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia, your electricity industry is deregulated. That means you could have as many as 20 providers angling for your business. Competition is fierce and if they can't dazzle you with their brilliance, they seem more than happy to baffle you with B.S.

Zoe Pearce is another home owner who says she was almost tricked into switching power companies. She thought she was helping the environment, but it was the salesman who was helping himself to her account. "We said yes we' d be happy to take the devices, he started filling out a form. It wasn't until he was half way through that form that he asked for the meter number and I thought hang on a minute he's trying to get us to sign contract here", Zoe said.

When a bill for more than $500 lobbed into Peter Perry's mailbox he became suspicious. "I believe everybody, now, should start looking at their meter boxes every time they get a statement. Go out there and check it. If you don't know how to read it, get a neighbour or someone to show you how to read it", he said.

But close enough is good enough when it comes to your power bill. Companies only have to actually read your meter once a year -- they can estimate how much power you are using as many times as they like so it's up to you to ensure you're not getting ripped off.

Leon Hayes is a former door to door salesman, turned businessman. He's co-director of switch select.com, a website where you can compare and sign up to electricity providers for yourself, without the pressures of the sales pitch. "Your average savings are anywhere between 3 and 5% in Queensland, up to 10% in Victoria and in New South Wales around 6 OR 7%", he said.

His message is simple -- do the research because when it comes to your electricity bill, ultimately it is you who has the power. "Don't be scared to switch your supplier but make sure you read the fine print, make sure you choose the right company based on your needs", he said.

For further information visit the website: www.switchselect.com.au

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