“Expect big energy companies to go bankrupt over resistance to change”

Fossil Fuels…Renewables…Geo-Politics…World Recession…Low Carbon Economy…the list goes on endlessly.

My question is: which path do “they” take us down given the crossroads at which we stand?

No doubt what this chap thinks – Jeremy Leggett, Solar Century founder. It is Jeremy’s quote above: “We can expect big energy companies to go bankrupt over resistance to change”:

Leggett

You can see where the quote came from and his very interesting thoughts in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLuCu8Fck2E.

Now depending on your personal take on this you might be intrigued by his latest venture which is an idea to be launched via crowdfunding: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-big-boost-climate-project.

I have another question: does this make you feel like this about solar and renewables or not?

 

 

solar with heart

 

As ever, your thoughts welcome: chris@community-buying.com

David Cameron, Prime Minister, & Ross McEwan, RBS Chief Executive, discuss Woodstock NatWest

Is this good enough?  The RBS Chief, Ross McEwan, responded to David Cameron’s letter about the campaign we are all part of to save the Woodstock branch. If taken on face value you might think many of the queries have been remedied. Think again. These are the points I have asked Mr Cameron to go back and get confirmed:

“But please delve below the banking speak and go back to the man that is running the bank that we all own and ask for clarification on the following points: 

  • RM says: “we have reached an agreement with the local post office – which is only a short walk away – that currently allows our customers to take money out, check balances and pay bills free of charge”
  • Q: the implication is that a one-off agreement has been reached with this one PO. Is this correct? Because if it is NOT then “customers” does NOT include business customers. Are they no longer to be considered “customers” by RBS? In addition has the bank come to an agreement with the PO on how the elderly and disabled will be served, given that the access to the PO is extremely difficult?
  • “in the coming months we will increase that offering to allow customers to deposit cash and cheques as well”
  • Q: the implication is that this agreement is close to completion and will be available in the next few months, is this correct? If so could the detail of the agreement actually be outlined because none of the other main high street banks have achieved this function so far with the PO? Also can you confirm if your customers from the business community continue to be excluded from this?
  • “We also intend to keep the ATM in place at the branch”
  • Q: what does “intend” mean? Research by locals suggests that the ATM will be run by a third party: is this correct? Why would you suggest that the bank are keeping this function themselves? How long will this facility continue to be free if the bank does not own the ATM?

There are many more questions that remain unanswered, however, these questions sound huge alarm bells that the local community deserve to have truly transparent answers to, don’t you agree?”

What do you think? Are RBS being straight with the community about why they are leaving? is Ross McEwan being transparent in his response to our Prime Minister?

I know what I think and I know what I will continue to do: CAMPAIGN!

If you would like more information, a copy of the full letter exchange between them or simply to add your support email us at: campaign@community-buying.com

A night to celebrate all of our people

My amazing team, representing every amazing person that has ever worked for or with CBL, collecting the certificate for Micro Business Award finalists at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park
RARELY KNOWN TO PUT ON A SUIT…BUT EVENING TAILS?          Katy Cameron & Faye Parker: my amazing team, collecting the certificate for Micro Business Award finalists, on behalf of every amazing person that has ever worked for or with CBL
Katy Cameron, Ana Bonasera & Faye Parker each have played a significant role in our journey...I am humbled they are so proud to tell the world all about our achievements
THEY TAUGHT ME SO MUCH ABOUT MY OWN BUSINESS BY INSISTING THAT WE BE INVOLVED IN THESE AWARDS!  Katy Cameron, Ana Bonasera & Faye Parker…each have played a significant role in our journey…I am humbled they are so proud of what they are part of they wanted to tell the world all about our achievements
Anthony Russell
REPRESENTING SO MANY BRILLIANT PEOPLE THAT HAVE ADDED THEIR UNIQUE ABILITIES AND TALENTS ON A WHOLE BUNCH OF PROJECTS OVER THE FOUR YEARS: Anthony Russell & Ana Bonasera
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THE COLLABORATORS – A RICH TAPESTRY OF SUPPORTERS, ADVOCATES, BACKERS & MENTORS WE THANK YOU ALL: Paul & Jo Rockwood 
greates
THERE ON BEHALF OF ALL OUR MEMBERS – YOUNG AND OLD – AND ALSO THE GREATEST MENTOR OF ALL: Mrs Pomfret!
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A MAVERICK NEEDS A PERFECT FOIL – TRUE PARTNERSHIP: Hannah Jago
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IT MAY APPEAR DARK BUT SHE IS AN INSPIRATIONAL LIGHT IN CBL: Hannah Jago
Brendan Cross of Hexagon Business Centres presents the award certificate to Micro Business Award finalists Community Buying Unlimited - Katy Cameron, Chris Pomfret & Faye Parker - at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park Picture: Ric Mellis
THE APPLICATION & THE INTERVIEW PROCESS WERE HUGE LEARNING EXPERIENCES FOR ME – WHEN DO BUSINESS OWNERS GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON & THEN PRESENT AGAINST EXTREMELY TOUGH COMPETITION WHAT MAKES THEIR BUSINESS BEYOND NORMAL LEVELS OF SPECIAL? Brendon Cross of Hexagon Business Centres presenting the award certificate to Micro Business Award finalists Community Buying Unlimited – Katy Cameron, Chris Pomfret & Faye Parker – at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park.  Picture: Ric Mellis      WE TRULY DID HAVE A SPLENDID GALA EVENING – WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK WOBA FOR PULLING TOGETHER SUCH AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT THAT WILL LAST MUCH LONGER THAN ONE NIGHT

We are always happy to hear your feedback: chris@community-buying.com

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

 

So what did Martin Lewis get wrong? Part ONE!

Gosh where to start there are so many things to cover, but let’s get straight to the stuff that makes MSE what it is: the links. 

Published links: if you are going to publish a link or three, do you think you might want to really check out where you are sending people, especially if they are your committed followers and supporters: you know the ones that handed you success? Not only where you are sending them in terms of their ethics, but what about the efficacy of the link, i.e. does it actually work? So, what did Martin do? Oh dear, he sent his committed followers here: 

  • FPS “find a supplier” directory – in goes my postcode and out come just two of more than ten local suppliers that could get me OIL and also one that is over 80 miles away. Brilliant. I am in Oxfordshire, difficult to get more central. What about those more remote, surely the service is perfected for them. I put in a member’s postcode in Tintagel! The search couldn’t find me any of the numerous local suppliers actually in the county of Cornwall, but instead gave me the closest one of 107 miles away in Devon and a second in Somerset. 
  • Heating OIL Club Finder – again in went my postcode. Great three village schemes that are near me, but might as well be in Scotland because they are schemes for those villages, one county-wide scheme for Warwickshire. I live in Oxfordshire. Happily it did lead me to the county-wide group that CBL actually runs. But what about my member in Tintagel? Their search gave me Cornwall OIL Club which doesn’t exist, and three groups that run in Devon: more dufus than genius me thinks.
  • Online price comparison sites – there are four listed. They have been listed apparently because Martin believes they are “independent”. Firstly, what does that even mean? And what ever it does mean, what difference does that make if one of them listed has such an abhorrent business model that it literally damages the heating OIL industry with every single order and actually keeps those who are the vulnerable fuel poor, vulnerable and fuel poor? I advise members on buying heating OIL every day of the year, I know this market in the same way that Martin knows his markets, and I don’t completely understand these sites. So why would anyone supposedly making a stand for financial transparency actually send traffic to them without checking this stuff out? For example, one states they are independent and takes no payments from buyers or sellers, but run the site from the proceeds of monitor sales. Which monitor? Made and supplied by whom? Supporting what organisations? As soon as you give them the credibility of sending traffic their way you have effectively given the seal of approval. But the seal of approval for what? Did you check out the one that spends more time slating the others you have listed than actually responding to the enquiries? On that site once again my postcode went into a search with a request for an email back from the seven suppliers that supposedly want to send me a quote. The supply market is the least busy it has been at this time of year for as long as industry stalwarts recall, yet three days on and still not one out of seven suppliers have followed up. I also put in my mobile phone number so I could have a little treat and see how they pitched me. 

Are you getting this Martin? None of your links actually work. Problem is you don’t understand why, because you don’t understand the heating OIL industry and, in particular, the archaic nature of the business.

What did you actually write? So the links are pretty much useless, but was what you actually wrote any use to your followers? Well this what I posted to mine on Facebook this morning: 

“Genius or dufus? Martin Lewis doesn’t understand Heating OIL. He has never needed to. In a strange move away from his usual genius he has launched a page that is rammed full of mistakes, dated information and will simply misinform those that use the advice and the links provided. You want an insight into what I mean? It is called “Cheap Heating OIL” – a simple mistake, but there is no such thing! Then the very first line says: ““The 1.5 million people in the UK rely on a heating OIL tank to warm their homes”. Err no they don’t. It is 1.5 million homes. NOT people. That means many more people. But that still isn’t the point. It is probably more like 1.7 million homes, 300,000 rural businesses, schools, estates and, of course, farms. If it includes farms then that affects EVERY living soul in the UK, because it influences the price of what we pay for the products in our shops. Martin you got this so badly wrong, but here’s the thing, because it is on MSE it will be seen as the gospel according to and that means he has achieved exactly what he aims NOT to do. Martin Lewis is misinforming…Best you come and talk to us so we can help you sort the debacle!”

I can’t put it any more succinctly that that. I offer you the option to come and talk about how you put the debacle right, but I know I won’t get that call. In the meantime I will think about Part TWO and which of the other 20 odd errors I want to spend time covering. 

chris@community-buying.com