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Your loyalty will not be rewarded - so be savvy and switch

Loyalty is for losers. If you're stuck with the same providers for years, then the chances are that you are being ripped off, and royally.

All the best deals are reserved for switchers or those who threaten to switch.

And that is the case whether it is car or home insurance, electricity supply, waste services or health insurance.

If you are not an active switcher, then the chances are that you are over-paying for the products and services consumed by your household.

The reason for this is that service providers in this country know that most people won't bother moving from one company to another to get better value.

Just 25pc of consumers say they change companies often to avail of better deals, according to research commissioned by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the State body charged with promoting better consumer behaviour.

That means that companies can be confident the majority of consumers will just accept the prices they are charged.

The savvy will move, but not enough of them to put a dent in profits and force price cuts across the board.

The failure by energy companies to cut their prices for existing customers is a perfect example of this.

Electricity and gas suppliers have benefited from plunging prices of wholesale gas and crude oil, which they use to produce their end product.

For six months now oil and wholesale gas prices have been falling, producing huge profits for energy suppliers.

Yet they have not cut their standard tariffs for existing customers. Instead, they are offering discounts to switchers, because this is the only section of their customer base that poses a threat to their profits.

Just 17pc of households switch energy supplier, so most people will stay put and accept prices that are higher than they should be paying.

So, if you are foolish enough to stay with the same electricity supplier or the same health insurer for years, you are likely to be losing out.

This means the price of loyalty in this country is high.

Irish Independent