Archive for the ‘family budget’ Category

The other day when I was walking around the Richmond riverside I saw couple of Geocaching boxes. If you don’t know what is this and have kids over 3 years old you are seriously missing out!

Just go to http://www.geochaching.com

It is basically a game at you play with your kids. Like a real treasure hunt set up by real people. You follow the clues and find the treasure I.e. the plastic box with a little gift inside a paper with date when it was placed there. You replace the gift with smth of similar value usually smth small btw £1-£5. And that’s it. It is all free activity and lots of fun for little treasure hunters and map readers!
Now in stead of sitting at home or shopping just put the layers, willies and other weather proofs on and go 🙂 Arrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

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Ok, this is not an activitiy to do with your child. But every penny we save goes towards their Uni fund right? Yes it is about the energy hiking prices. If you are not interested you can skip it from here to my other articles 🙂

Last week I got a call from Southern Electric. Normally as soon as I find out they are cold callers (d’ohhhh) I politely turn their offers down and hung up. But I was in a good mood, she didn’t have any funny accent (so I could understand her) and having a tea so decided why not to drill their (!) brains a bit.

After the learnt lines like: “We are the energy providers in your area, the others rent from us, so if you  switch to us we would offer you a better deal” line (I had to inturrupt her and ask her to go to the point though). She said that with the current providers I am paying more and they would make it cheaper if we switch to them. I doubted but I did not get to the math point so, I was gasping the air waiting for her to finish her line and to start drilling her with calculations 🙂

I know, that is not such a nice thing to do. But it gets to me, when they just call out of nowhere, having no info but my number and that I am not their customer, they claim that I am paying more and they know better. So I started!

I said ok, the prices are going up, until when you will fix the price? She said until March 2013 (my current is till May 2013). Taking into account my house specifications, how much they would charge for month for dual energy by direct debit (they prefer that). And if they would cover my leaving costs from the current supplier (they DIDN’T, but doesn’t hurt to ask right?). If there are charges to open an accoun  with them (THERE ARE!). I was writing them all down. And added up the yearly sums and the result was that if I switch to them I would have to pay £200 more a year. Why? Because she called me and tried to persade me they are better. I laughed at all this and said thanks for wasting my time and you need to learn some basic Math (honestly just basics) before trying to call me more.

Since I did not have any energy companies calling me anymore. So I believe she passed the message.

I have done my homework, before switching to my current provider I have checked all energy suppliers. I went trough USWITCH (just google it). And got a cashback for swithching. It is always better to do the switches online, as if you do it over the phone or via seeing the person you would lose that £50 or £100 cashback that you would gain otherwise doing it all by yourself online. And FIX your prices now. As the prices are hiking and the latest you start to pay the raised prices the less you will pay out. Ifyou can afford pay by direct debit. Take your meter readings and update your profile often so you do not end up paying “guesstimate” rate but for the actual usage.

Some other little energy saving tricks that some of us know some of don’t.

  1. Turn off the lights of the rooms you are not physically in.
  2. Turn off the energy supply from the sockets! (Even when TV is off, but plugged in it consumes 30% of the usual energy consumption). This little trick will bring your yearly bill to -£250!
  3. The other obvious ones you know. Keep the frezer full at least with newspaper. Fully load the washing mashine etc…

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Being of a financial background myself, I am often surprised how little people are aware of their consumer rights. Sometimes they do not claim what they have rights for, other times they claim what they are not supposed to. In order not to feel foolish, just come to my courses. I am organising next ones with the local authorities, so it may be free of charge.

In both cases the interaction between the buyer and  the shop assisstant is not pleasant. As not being fully aware of your rights brings confusion and deception. In my experience, the cosumer has to learn HOW TO STAY CALM. Because a shouting consumer is not an easy person to deal with and most of the time you would not get the outcome you were expecting. Unfortunately I had been in this kind of situation, when I went clothes shopping for my tot together with another fellow mom. I was actually ashamed to stay there next to a person who is not being “a respected member of society”. Luckily the shop assisstant was calm enough and did what she wanted. But I could not go back to the same shop for ages, thinking they might be pointing at me saying “look there is the lady, who’s friend was shouting”.

Another day, buying my jeans, I had to wait quite a long time, as a lady in front of me wanted to return a T-shirt. She was saying that she only bought it a week ago, washed and wore once after which it had a hole in it. She was upset to buy a T from a well known brand, to pay a lot for the supposed quality and not to get a reasonable wear. The shop assistant kept saying he can’t help and they were both stuck in an argument. I had to jump in, as I could not help and overhear the whole conversation. I suggested the old lady to go to her bank and bring a bank statement where it shows the transaction with the shop. Than she has a legal right to return or exchange an item. The shop assisstant was not aware of this, but we called a store manager who after several calls agreed this is the best they can do. It is pity that it took so long due to the shop staff being short of this knowledge too. As many customers who were going to buy just left the shop as they could not wait long.

I came across a very good article  about consumer rights (the link is clickable) today and thought I would share it here. So that in future we know what we are entitled to and in which circumstances.

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