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.