Consumers make 'Big Switch' for discounts
Consumers are now banding together for the first time in order to try and get a cheaper deal on their energy bills.
More than 17,000 consumers have already signed up to the One Big Switch campaign, promising to negotiate with energy companies for a bulk discount deal.
One Big Switch is a joint venture with a similar Australian company which has signed up half a million consumers there in the last year, and now offers discount rates for energy, health insurance and even mortgages.
In Ireland, it is offering to negotiate lower prices on gas and electricity bills if it can sign up 20,000 consumers (onebigswitch.ie).
Co-founder Oliver Tatton says that the more consumers it gets on board, the more clout it will have to persuade Irish energy companies to offer a lower-priced deal to members, and it hopes to have an offer on the table within three weeks.
It plans to operate on a 'winner takes all' approach by selecting the energy provider offering the best prices, the ability to take on a large number of new customers, and fees paid to Onebigswitch.ie.
One Big Switch is a business venture which plans to make its money through these fees from the successful energy provider.
Mr Tatton says that consumers who signed up to their campaign were not obliged to accept the energy offer and switch provider when it became available.
"Some may use the offer to go back to their own provider and ask for a better deal in return for staying with them," he says.
Mr Tatton, who is also a founding partner of health insurance company Glohealth, said that affinity schemes were not a new idea in business, but this was the first time Irish consumers were being given the opportunity to avail of one in the energy market.