MoneySaverSpain: Cheaper utilities? A new approach in Spain
Collective buying is being introduced in many areas such as vehicles, flights and housing, in order to achieve lower prices for consumers based on the higher number of final purchasers.For the first time in Spain there will be an attempt to apply this 'group buying' or 'collective buying' to the utilities market.
Spanish Consumer Organisation OCU wants to bid on future utilities auctions (these normally take place quarterly). According to their data, this system already works in other EU countries such as Germany, Belgium or The Netherlands.
Gas and electric suppliers offer similar tariffs, with low possibilities for consumer savings and with even less transparency due to confusing tariffs, lots of small print, discounts that really don't add up to much and add-on services that aren't worth having. The OCU aims to disrupt the market by taking part in utilities auctions and, in order for it to work, they need to have as many participants as possible.
As a utilities consumer in Spain you can take part in this initiative, but don't worry as you won't be under any obligation to change contract if you're not convinced by the final results. The way it works is as follows:
- Sign-up on the OCU website set up for this (you don't need to be a member of the Organisation). Just include your name, email and phone number.
- Taking part is free during the whole process.
- The OCU will study all offers made by the utilities companies and won't accept any that have abusive clauses.
- They will propose the company that offers the highest saving for consumers.
- Consumers will have up to 31 December 2013 to decide whether to change their current contract or not. If the OCU proposes the same company that you already use, you'll be able to sign up to the new more favourable contract.
Remember, utilities companies are not forced to make any offers to the OCU – in this case the Organisation will advise you on your best options. If you let them know about your current consumption and tariff (optional) you'll get a personalised study back by email. The next auction will start on 16 October, with results out by 4 November. It will be interesting to see whether this initiative is successful given that electricity, in particular, has increased substantially over the last few years in Spain.
If you already have the Bono Social (see our post on who can get this), then this initiative isn't for you as the OCU won't be able to get a lower tariff.
Reprinted with permission of Money Saver Spain.