Part THREE: Martin didn’t bother coming to say hello

I cannot wait to see the new film “Dallas Buyers Club” this weekend. Based on a true story that sounds extremely courageous and inspiring, I am expecting to see a film that depicts the Power of the Group and the point that when a group comes together it can do anything. I am expecting to see the very point that Martin Lewis does not get!

I left bringing this to a conclusion for a week because I just thought there might be a chance that the genius that is Martin Lewis would get in touch and humbly ask how he could make his article right. Sadly not. So here goes, the finale:

  1. The Power of the Group – Martin doesn’t get it. When you start a community buying group – whether it is for energy, nappies, organic vegetables or anything else – something magical happens and that group can literally do anything. However, you have to set it up right.
  2. Getting it wrong – in the section called: HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN CLUB he states “Setting up an oil club is fairly simple”. Hmm, that is kind of like saying playing Gary Kasparov at chess is fairly simple. I mean you might know the rules and be able to play a good game of chess, but you wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning. Set up an OIL Buying Group believing it is simple and you are setting yourself up to fail – oh it might take a year or two but you’ll get there.
  3. Rural Dual Fuel – when Martin Lewis talks about energy, just as when the media, government and all other consumer groups talk about energy, they are only ever referring to those consumers on dual fuel mains gas/electricity. You know, the only ones the Big Six are really interested in. All average annual stats are based on these users. When we began working on our Rural Dual Fuel concept – matching an electricity deal to the gamut of rural fuels – it did not take us long to understand just why those living off the main gas network feel the energy system is stacked up so unfairly against them. Electricity only UK residents are without question the poor relation. So surely the leading guru of all such things would get this and, in his first real article about a rural fuel, he would develop a system that is specifically tailored to those living off-gas with proper explanations and maybe some campaigning for making things fairer. Err, in a word no. Yes of course another link is given and yet again it is another link in the article that doesn’t do what it is supposed to. The article states: “Always cut your electricity bill too. Huge savings are possible”. Which seems like a very positive start, right? But wait a minute the link says: See Cheap Gas & Electricity for full help. Oh dear, spot the mistake that instantly sounds my alarm bells. I know before I click that link that is the bulk standard dual fuel information that frustrates those that live rurally so much. I have to say Martin that when my MP and I discussed this at length, even he (Mr David Cameron) got this quicker than you. Oh, I am being completely unfair, there are three lines dedicated to electricity only buried an awful long way into the article! Not anywhere near good enough.   

The biggest frustration I have with this article is that it does nothing to enhance the debate. The entire article is out of date and full of misinformation yes, but even worse than that it does nothing to offer solutions to the real issues. Nothing about making a dumb industry smart. Absolutely nothing about the truly terrible situation many find themselves in with regards to Fuel Poverty: simply stating the stat that 1.5 million depend on OIL to heat their homes hides the fact that some 300,000 are struggling with their bills so badly that many of whom can’t use OIL because they can’t afford it. What does that mean they use more of? Electricity. Which they can pay on a budget plan, but it will mean they pay more for over the year.

And finally, when somebody in DECC sees an article on heating OIL written by “Money Saving Expert”, they will probably go rushing around Whitehall singing “Hallelujah, praise the Lord, for Martin has finally spoken”. It won’t matter whether they have read it or not because DECC won’t understand what the issues are themselves. All I know is that they and this article have not helped heating OIL users. 

Martin says “There’s no slick solution” and he is of course wrong about that too. We are the only such solution and we could help every single one of his loyal subscribers to find their heating OIL at the best possible price, delivered in the best possible way. By doing so they would also become part of the very thing that is tackling the important issues. That’s what we do.

chris@community-buying.com