Killing me softly with their bills

Just received a wonderful letter this morning from ‘Craig Walters’, a customer service assistant at my electricity company Atlantic (‘energy made better’).  Atlantic is the trading name of SSE Energy, one of the ‘big six’ suppliers which an Ofgem report last  October found were making average profits of £125 on ‘dual use’ household bills, compared with £15 in June.

That’s pretty good business for them, though somewhat less appealing to us humble consumers, especially in these austere times.  But luckily we have Energy Secretary Chris Huhne to defend the little people.

Huhne responded to last year’s report by ordering an ‘energy summit’ that would include energy companies as well as consumer groups in order ‘ to see what more can be done to help consumers save money on their gas and electricity bills.’

Today’s missive from Atlantic suggests that these efforts have yet to bear fruit.   Not that Craig is so impolite as to declare that Atlantic have actually increased my bill as such.   On the contrary, it merely turns out that he and his colleagues have been ‘monitoring your account in order to ensure that you are paying the right amount toward your Electricity charges and arrears.’

Hey thanks Craig.   That is sweet of you.  But what’s this?   It turns out that ‘ We have checked your account and found that your payments need to change.  You are currently paying £35 a month and your new monthly payment will be increased to £54.’

Say whaaat??   That’s, like,  £19.  Now Craig, why does my payment ‘need’ to go up by such a whopping amount?  Was it the Christmas tree lights or the breadmaking machine?  The electric toothbrush or the electric cooker?

Craig isn’t very enlightening on this point,  though he does helpfully inform me that ‘ We’ll take care of everything for you, so you don’t need to do anything.’

Why thank you Craig.   I really appreciate the effort that you and your colleagues have gone to on my behalf.   Though I would have appreciated it more if I’d found you roaming the house with a mask, a striped jumper and a bag labelled ‘swag’ while you rifled through my wallet.

Because at least that would be more honest.    And that is what you and your company are – a bunch of bleeding thieves who charge what they like because they know they can get away with it.

Now what was that they used to tell us, about market forces making everything cheaper and more efficient than state-controlled railways, gas, electricity, water and all that other socialist mumbo jumbo?  And what happened to the chairman of the Commons Climate Change and Energy committee Tim Yeo’s call last October for Competition Commission inquiry to curb the ‘absolutely crass behaviour’ of energy suppliers?

Not too much, it seems.  On the contrary, their behaviour remains as crass – and as unchecked – as ever.

But as Craig’s letter can attest, they do it so sweetly.