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VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Cold reality of bill hikes.

VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Cold reality of bill hikes… and why joining the Don’t Pay UK campaign could make a bad situation even worse

At Money Mail, we take great pride in offering as many tips and tricks as we can find to help readers slash their bills.

It isn’t often we are stumped —there is always something you can do to make savings. But when it comes to tackling the ongoing energy crisis, some of the advice out there feels almost insulting.

With the average bill now tipped to hit £3,580 in October and £4,430 next April, who wants to hear that putting foil behind the radiators might claw back a few pennies?

Given the scale of the energy bill crisis, it seems inevitable the Government will have to intervene — soon, says Victoria Bischoff

And for thousands of vulnerable and elderly customers, turning down the heating is simply not an option — and won’t protect them from soaring standing charges anyway, as you pay these fixed daily fees regardless of how much power you use.

It’s little wonder, then, that the Don’t Pay UK campaign is gaining worrying momentum.

Tens of thousands of people, including church figures and teachers, have signed up to the civil disobedience movement, which is encouraging households to cancel their energy direct debits on October 1 — the day the price cap is set to soar. It’s essentially an energy bill strike.

The group hopes to recruit one million members and believes there is safety in numbers. But the cold reality is that joining in could make a bad situation even worse.

Suppliers could appoint debt collectors or pursue unpaid bills through the courts. A county court judgment would be catastrophic for your credit score and may even prevent you from borrowing money in the future.

Firms can even obtain a warrant to enter your home and install a pre-payment meter, which could push up your bills even further.

Given the scale of this crisis, it seems inevitable the Government will have to intervene — soon.

In the meantime, households face the dilemma of whether to lock into sky-high fixed tariffs to protect against future price hikes.

While some of the quotes being bandied around by providers look ludicrously expensive, in light of the latest price cap predictions, many panicked customers will be wondering whether the deals will look quite so absurd come April.

However, as we reveal on Pages 33 and 34, you should be very cautious. Keep in mind that the cost of exiting fixed energy deals has also soared, so if wholesale prices do ease next year — as is hoped — getting out could be expensive.

It pays to haggle

While on the topic of bills, a pat on the back for Sky — and a reminder of why it always pays to ask for a better deal.

Money Mail reader Penny, from Christchurch, Dorset, says: ‘I was paying £35 per month for the most basic broadband deal.

‘When I phoned Sky to see if it could knock off a few pounds, I mentioned I was on pension credit. I was asked for my National Insurance number to verify this and now I pay just £20 a month.

‘Not every company will do this but it’s definitely worth asking. I’m absolutely delighted!’

If you’ve had success in bartering down your bills, I’d love to hear from you. Write to me at the email address below or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.

TfL tap trap

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve finally got the hang of this Apple Pay business.

Despite my initial concerns, it often feels safer paying with my smartphone than with a card because I’m required to approve each transaction using facial recognition technology.

The main downside seemed to be that my phone regularly ran out of battery. But I recently discovered another costly catch: I’d thought I could switch between using Apple Pay and my contactless card when taking the Tube or bus in London — I’m making the payment with the same card, after all — but it turns out this was a big mistake.

If you use different devices to pay, Transport for London will record each tap as a separate, incomplete journey because it can’t see where you started. And that means you end up being charged the maximum fare.

Fortunately, I caught on sooner rather than later. But ouch!



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