Same plan recommended

Energy retailers love to keep their customers confused. There are many ways they do this, and one of the most common and the most frustrating is that they promote their plans using brand names, which have no direct relationship to the underlying prices. The actual prices can change at any time, which means that it's common for customers on the same named plan to be charged different rates.

At the time of this writing, wholesale prices are in decline, and we're seeing progressive decline in the acquisition prices offered by retailers to new customers. However, it's very common that the name for those plans remain the same, so the pricing offered to new customers for a particular plan is often better than what existing customers for that plan are paying. 

This is the classic example of a 'loyalty tax', a familiar dynamic that plays out across many product and service categories. We think the term Loyalty Tax is such a powerful idea, we registered it as a domain name—see https://loyaltytax.com.au.

Retailers routinely rely on the loyalty tax, safe in the knowledge that most of their existing customers will not notice that there are better deals available to them. 

Bill Hero subscribers will definitely notice, because our service analyses every bill and highlights the savings available. This can mean that Bill Hero subscribers might receive a recommendation to switch to a plan from the same retailer, or with the same name as the plan they're already on, even if it's a plan they've only recently switched to.

There are three main reasons why this might happen for you as a Bill Hero subscriber:

Price changes

Firstly, because prices can and do change independently of plan name, Bill Hero does not actually consider the plan name at all when comparing your bill against all the other plans in the market. Our system only looks at the detailed data contained in that bill. 

When we compare your bill against all the other plans in the market, we're actually comparing your effective rates as documented in your bill vs the rates currently on offer  to new customers. So if there has been a price change, and depending on where you've set your Bothered Threshold, this may result in a recommendation to switch to a plan with the same name as the plan you're currently on.

If you do find that your plan is now offered under a better price, you can ask your retailer to honour that price for you. The retailer is not obliged to change your pricing to match the current offer - sometimes they insist that the new pricing is available only to new customers, not to existing customers. If that happens for you, you can always switch to a different plan from the Bill Hero ranked results.

One-time incentives

Bill Hero includes any one-time incentives that might be offered with a plan in the calculations, and applies this pro-rata over 12 months—so a $120 incentive will manifest as a $10 reduction to a monthly bill. We do this even when the incentive is actually applied by the retailer in the very first bill, because otherwise our comparison would be unduly influenced by presence of an incentive in the first bill.

If you sign up for a plan that includes an incentive that is applied in the first bill, then the overall price for that first bill will be low, and it's likely that affter you switch, your first-bill result will show that you're on the best priced plan. However the incentive will not appear at all in the second and subsequent bills, making them next bill relatively high as compared to the first bill.

Because Bill Hero always focuses on actual prices as documented in each bill, it may then find that the same plan inclusive of the the pro-rata incentive comes in cheaper than what is documented in the second bill, and so the system might recommend switching to that same plan again. 

This situation is quite rare, but it is possible. If you're seeing your plan appear again at top of your rankings only by virtue of an incentive that you've already received, you should look to the next ranked plan and consider what savings value it can provide for you. You can also use the 'Incentives' toggle in the Bill Hero results screen to re-sort the ranked plans by price excluding incentives.

Bait-and-switch

It's not uncommon that a retailer will promote a plan with competitive pricing, but will then default to showing a less competitive plan when new customers sign up. Unless you're paying detailed attention in the signup process, you might find that the seemingly great plan you thought you were signing up for is not what you get. 

If Bill Hero recommends a plan for you that you think you've just switched to, check the plan name carefully. You'll usually find your actual plan name on your bill, and Bill Hero displays those plan names on the cards we use to display each plan. If the names don't match then you're not actually on the recommended plan, and may have fallen for a retailer bait-and-switch.

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