Ask A Broadsheet Reader



Shocked Consumer writes:

Electric Ireland just tried to sell us their Pay as You Go Service promising it was 4% cheaper. Had a quick look around online and see that they failed to mention it would also bring a new additional daily standing charge of 19 cents.

Did the maths. Over a year’s usage using €1300 as a measure (what we paid in 2013) rather than save us €52 euro it’d cost €17 more!!!

How can they get away with promising 4% savings yet charge 1% more? Not mentioning a new standing charge in the sales pitch seems a massive oversight. Is that lawful?


22 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

      1. Owen C

        the official pitch advertisements available on their website do not mention the 4% cheaper thing, so unclear if the pitch to you was deliberate or just poorly phrased etc.

      2. Robert

        They can say anything they like on the phone – never agree to anything until you have it in writing

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      People with super tight budgets? Sometimes you don’t have a choice, the meter is already in.

      1. Disasta

        So instead of being sensible enough to manage your usage you get in a pay as you go so the electricity cuts when you go overboard? Seems a bit silly.

        1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

          Being sensible has nothing to do with it. Some people do have to decide about having the heating on or being able to cook dinner.

          1. karlj

            That makes no sense. They will pay more with a prepay meter everyday than they would by directdebit/postoffice etc.

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            It doesn’t make financial sense but if you can see down to penny what you spending that’s a benefit for people who cannot afford to overspend. Lots of articles/research about this if you are interested.

            Also, I’ve moved into flats that had meters. I had no choice about what to use even if I wanted to.

    2. Shocked Consumer

      A nice feature is that they promise you can track usage (daily breakdowns, etc.) via app – but no idea how good or informative that’d be. Would like knowing what devices are sucking the most energy though.

  1. Shocked Consumer

    Was offered as such on the phone. I absolutely abhor phonecall or doorstop sales pitches for this very reason.

    1. karlj

      Call an advertising regulatory body funded by advertisers to voluntarily regulate advertising..

  2. rotide

    Witthout providing the small print (and believe me, it’s there or a link to it), it’s impossible to answer the question.

    In 99% of cases the marketing dept will have been over the claim with a fine tooth comb to make sure its justifiable.

    1. rotide

      In fact, you just said “4% cheaper”. 4% cheaper than what? This is the sort of thing I mean.

  3. RDJ

    Chances are that this was 4% cheaper compared to the standard unit rate for electricity (from that same supplier).

    When you see discounts offered, that’s normally the terminology.

    And invariably these statements are followed by “Standing Charges also apply”. Which are rarely part of any offers or discounts.

    Good luck going to the ASAI. As highlighted above, voluntary organisation enforcing rules voluntarily subjected to by people funding voluntary organisation.

    There is legislation (Consumer Protection Act) which aims to prevent false advertising, so presumably the consumer agency would be the people to complain to here? Though, if offered over the phone, maybe things will be a little hazy – was the call recorded?

    Technically, an offer over the phone, if accepted, would constitute a contract, so I wonder what strength can be assigned to the offer itself if not taken up, but still false.

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