Currently charged up about Electric Ireland’s ‘price cuts’, Graham Archer asks: what kind of fools do people think we’ve become when we’re offered a deal that goes…no direct debit equals no cuts equals no benefit!
As I write, the airwaves are humming with talk about ESB Electric Ireland’s proposed new price cuts.
If we believe the blurb, the ESB has been released from its bondage, its handcuffs have been removed and now it is free to fight back against those nasty individuals who have been luring its customers away.
On Morning Ireland, its smooth-talking spokesman spread his silken message across a bleary-eyed nation, promising savings that could amount to (wait for it) over one hundred euros a year.
Since then, there have been many interviews and debates on the subject, mostly negative in tone – including the intervention of a Minister who has asked for a rethink having first welcomed the announcement with open arms.
As readers know, I am an old-fashioned kind of guy. Because of this, I have remained loyal to the ESB, never once taking time to look at what its rivals have to offer. As far as I am concerned, the ESB does a good job and I have no intention of switching from them.
However, the people who keep my lights burning are not the people who have concocted this new price plan. I suspect they come from a much more modern generation – one that thinks that customers are there to be screwed. Contrast their action with the view of many like myself who say: If you’re going to give a price cut, give it …give it across the board, without fear or favour, and give it to everyone so that all may enjoy its benefits.
But that’s not the way Electric Ireland has gone about it. Oh no! Their scheme is loaded with ifs, buts and ands. Seems they were up all night trying to figure out how to create an illusion of price cuts without actually giving any to anyone, save for those who qualify to receive them.
In this case, the phrase Terms and Conditions has been applied liberally – primarily to exclude from the scheme those customers that Electric Ireland cherishes less equally than others. Even for those they cherish more equally, there is a condition; it being that they must sign up for the discounts by completing a direct debit mandate. No direct debit equals no cuts equals no benefit.
Is it any wonder that I pose the question: What kind of fools do people think we have become?
As a loyal customer, I have this simple message: Stop trying to browbeat your customers or to offer them inducements in return for their compliance. Stop being sneaky …stop looking for ways to give with one hand while taking away with another. If you want to give us the benefit of competition through cheaper electricity, do so…just reduce the price and leave it at that.
But there is a second purpose to my story – one that I do my best to observe and one that I hope might benefit others in these hard pressed times. It is this: never buy anything that you cannot pay for by cheque or with the cash in your pocket!
Digressing, I remember once being called by a supplier directing me to sign a direct debit so that her company could continue to supply their service to me. Their plan was to cease issuing invoices and to transfer everyone to direct debit before a certain cut-off date after which they would withdraw service from all but those who had followed their direction. (I hasten to add that I did not owe them a penny and my account was fully paid and up-to-date).
I refused their request…adding that if my signing a direct debit was a necessary pre-condition to their continuing to do business with me, then I would have to find an alternative supplier. That was two years ago – they are still supplying me today and invoicing me for their service!
So, don’t be browbeaten or induced into signing a direct debit. All of that was fine in the days of the Celtic Tiger. Then we could afford to have withdrawals being made from our bank accounts without batting an eyelid.
Because times have changed, we can control our spending by confining ourselves to the cash we have in hand and use it only when required. And should we wish to save on our electricity costs, there is an alternative option…one that does not involve the need to sign our lives away on a direct debit form.
It’s an option not promoted by the man on Morning Ireland …we should use less of it!
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