One Big Switch: Is It Worth It?

One Big Switch: Is It Worth It?

You may have noticed the Big Queensland Electricity Switch campaign lately. It seems to be all over the news websites, and even some Queensland personalities are joining in.

Meanwhile, One Big Switch, who are the ones behind it all, are claiming over 45,000 Queenslanders have already signed up (as of publishing).

But is it really worth all the fuss?

You may remember a similar campaign last year, giving those in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide the same chance to save on their electricity bills.

Now One Big Switch is letting you save on electricity (and private health).

What Is It?

The Big Queensland Electricity Switch allows you to sign up to One Big Switch and receive a bulk discount (along with thousands of other people) on your electricity. Sounds good, but what’s the real deal?

The Deal

One Big Switch is a company that wants to make money.

And they make their money by getting a commission on every person they sign up. One Big Switch don’t reveal the amount of the commission, but in a story they ran last year on The One Big Switch, Media Watch suggested a very conservative figure was $50.

If only half of those who signed up ended up switching to another electricity provider, One Big Switch, the company, would earn a whopping $1,100,000 at current sign on figures.

And remember this is a conservative figure. As One Big Switch states on their website:

The commission One Big Switch may receive will vary depending on the type of product or service and the value of that product or service.

The Result

So while One Big Switch is raking in over a million dollars (or more), are you any better off if you sign up and switch?

Well, that all depends on individual circumstances (as you will see below), but you need to be careful that you will actually be better off.

One Big Switch has been telling everyone they could save up to 12% on their electricity bills, but (like Media Watch asked last year), you may ask 12% off what exactly?

This is where it all gets a little murky.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the percentage rate discount.

From personal and other experiences I can tell you you may be able to get that sort of discount right now and not wait for the One Big Switch to negotiate a deal for you. How?

Simply pick up the phone and call your electricity supplier and tell them you are looking at switching to another supplier.

Or have a look at a number of electricity comparison websites out there already. Ben Freund from GoSwitch stated on GB Radio, back on June 25, 2012:

You can probably get a better discount than 12% just by doing it today.

So, it may be time to ask the question – why sign up to One Big Switch in the first place if you can negotiate your own discount?

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

GoSwitch’s Ben Freund also brought up a good point on GB Radio:

There’s no group buying for electricity because there’s no one size fits all.

That’s why all the comparison sites compare like for like. Every electricity company charges you differently.

This was the experience of one South Australian who stated on the Whirlpool forum on March 22, 2012:

One Big Switch sent me an offer to switch to Tru Engery and I would get 12.5% discount of my bill. After checking the rates of both companies, I stuck with Powerdirect.

You have to watch the b@$^%!ds, Tru-Energy have their lowest rate for the first 100 KwH, whereas Powerdirect’s lowest rate is for the first 300KwH…

This one example illustrates the dangers of group discounts. You may be better to do your own research, rather than relying on One Big Switch to find a group discount and include you in it.

Another reason NOT to join One Big Switch could be the way it collects and uses the personal information you provide to it when signing up.

Collecting your Information

One Big Switch are pretty up front with you about collecting your information, if you read their Terms & Conditions. As they state:

One Big Switch is collecting personal information about you.

They go on to mention:

We may use the personal information you provide for the purposes of arranging credit and for direct marketing of products and other services offered by One Big Switch or an organisation we are affiliated with or represent.

And…

…we may disclose your personal information to other organisations that provide products or services used or marketed by us.

And, finally…

We may also receive personal information about you from those organisations when we have referred you to that organisation.

So, to sum up, they can not only use your information and give it to others, they can get your information from those they partner with as well.

Still feel like you are getting a fair deal? (Let us know in the comments below)

They do give you an opt out, but you need to contact them if you do not want One Big Switch to use your information:

Level 9, 5 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000 and/or by calling 1300 131 639.

You can also gain access to the information they hold about you at the same location and number.

Conclusion

So, while One Big Switch looks like a great deal on the one hand, you give up a lot more than you might first realise in the way of personal information and the way it is handled, for the same discount you may be able to receive yourself just by calling your current provider.

One saying comes to mind: If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.

What do you think? Have you signed up to One Big Switch?

A big thanks to the team at Media Watch for some of the information provided in this article.

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