…of our discontent. The best we can expect today is 4 degrees and snow is expected by weekend. The new age of austerity is foreshadowing perhaps 90,000 jobs lost in Greater Manchester within the public sector and related businesses, energy prices are going up and this week the train companies have announced well above inflation rises in fares as a Christmas present. A Standard open return from London to Manchester is going up by 6.5%
What have the energy companies and the train companies got in common? To my mind they are both quasi competitive set ups that can basically do what they like because it is too difficult to set up in competition to them. The existing competition is supposed to benefit the consumer just benefits the shareholders and overpaid top echelons of their management. And they still continue to rub our noses in it claiming that the fare rises are needed to “invest in the infrastructure” etc and telling us how important we are to them.
The other area of congruence in these 21st century Dick Turpins is how impenetrable they make their pricing/fare structures. You will get different ticket prices from the websites, staff, telephone etc, it will vary by the number of travellers, it all seems like a plot to confuse ensuring that the average traveller just gives up and pays. The energy companies are even worse, despite the wholesale price of gas falling for almost 2 years ( and even the USA starting to export gas for the first time in decades ) they still claim they need to increase prices. They then tell us how much they are investing in alternative energy sources and how they helping the vulnerable. They add that we can avoid the price rises by using energy monitors or installing a new energy efficient boiler. ( I wonder who will do that then ? Free Boiler anyone? ) Their bills and pricing tariffs are as complex as the rail companies. You too can understand them if you have a free weekend and a calculator capable of computation to 10 decimal places. Meanwhile Centrica ( British Gas’s parent
company ) enjoys record profits.
Ofgem , who are supposed to keep the leash on these energy attack dogs, are useless in my view. They just seem to be upstairs having a fag whilst British Gas the pit bull savages the public’s purse. There are tips on using ofgems rules to avoid price rises for a few weeks like this but who has the time?