Fen Blow - Lower bills are simply a gas

PUBLISHED: 11:54 10 March 2006 | UPDATED: 21:46 28 May 2010

Don't you just love British Gas? It really knows how to make its customers happy. Last week it raised its prices by more than 20 per cent. This means the typical Fenland family that uses British Gas will see its gas bill rise by £113 each year and its ele

Don't you just love British Gas? It really knows how to make its customers happy.Last week it raised its prices by more than 20 per cent. This means the typical Fenland family that uses British Gas will see its gas bill rise by £113 each year and its electricity bill by £71.But that wasn't a one-off rise. Since the start of 2004, British Gas prices have risen by a whopping two-thirds. Why, I wonder, is anyone idiot enough to stick with it when it's so easy to switch to a cheaper supplier - provided you've got a computer?This is where I worry. Fen folk are losing out in the modern world (so I'm told) simply because many homes in this area are computer-free zones - and many older folk are too frightened to pop into their local library and learn how to use the internet.One of my favourite Fen citizens is Molly. I'm sure she won't mind my saying she's not the youngest lady in Whittlesey but she's become a "silver surfer" in her mature years, learning how to use a computer to make life fun - and easier.Another elderly friend, Jim, who claims to hate computers, asked my help to find him cheaper gas and electricity. He'd been pestered by salesmen calling at the door, offering what sounded like fantastic deals. He was very rightly suspicious of their sales patter and wanted fair and objective advice.It's easy to find - and free. I got him to tot up how much he spent a year on electricity and gas and he came round with his recent bills. We clicked on the Consumer Association's non-profit-making website. This can be found agt www.which.co.uk/switch. We followed the simple steps and found alternative cheaper suppliers.I persuaded him not to go with Powergen because, in my experience, it is a serious pain in the posterior. He opted for another supplier and next day I felt really smug. Powergen was topping the British Gas price rise and putting up its gas prices by almost 25 per cent and electricity by more than 18 per cent.Jim won't need a new meter. All that happens is that his bill will come from a different company and he'll save about £170 a year.Soon, he'll be able to afford a computer.

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