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Flow Gas - Electricity Price increase without warning

  • 26-01-2022 8:27am
    Registered Users Posts: 1,047 ✭✭✭

    Hey Folks,

    I know prices are going up for everyone but I got my 2nd bill from Flow Gas yesterday with an additional unannounced price increase.

    I signed up with them in September and knew a price increase was coming, that was fine. But then I received my 2nd bill (Nov to Jan) with an additional price increase from nearly the start of the bill. The bill notification arrived with notification of this historic price increase, so I had no idea it was coming until the bill arrived.

    Do utilities not have to tell you in advance if the price is going up? I'm probably caught somewhere on the small print that they can do this but I feel like they have broken the 12 month contract and I should be free to move without penalty of early termination.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,046 ✭✭✭silver2020

    You didn't sign up to a fixed price contract, so prices can go up and down.

    Too many people look at headline discounts rather than actual unit cost after discount.

    Eg, electric Ireland 26% off is CHEAPER than energias 41% off. Because electric Ireland has a lower standard rate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,553 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha

    Do utilities not have to tell you in advance if the price is going up? I'm probably caught somewhere on the small print that they can do this but I feel like they have broken the 12 month contract and I should be free to move without penalty of early termination.

    Had this problem myself with Energia, a bill just arrived and 55 of the 60 days use was charged at a new higher rate when I didnt know they had put their rates up.

    I checked it out on the Energy Regulator website. Basically an energy company can increase their prices and they have to use two different methods out of six possible methods to inform their customers. In Energias case they put a notice up on their website and an advertisement in a national newspaper and that was their obligation covered. I asked why they dont just email customers like they do for everything else and was told that a newspaper ad and website notification is company policy and thats that. Its a pretty shoddy system IMO and the regulator is asleep at the wheel allowing them to notify customers of an increase but to do it in such a way that a majority of their customers wont know about it until the bill arrives.

    Regarding early termination as it is a variable priced contract you cannot do that without penalty (typically a 50 euro early exit fee) . It is not like a phone or broadband company where you sign up for a fixed price. Depending on your use and the increase it might still be worth shopping around, Energia have a 35 euro cashback offer as do some other companies so most of the early exit fee is covered. But no matter where you go the new company can still jack up their rates just a few months into the 12 month contract.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,046 ✭✭✭silver2020

    If that's the system, then the system has to change.

    I have not read a physical newspaper for years and the only time I go onto an energy website is when I am switching.

    It should be "direct contact by mail or email AND one of the following"

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,553 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha

    I know and thats exactly what I said to the CS agent, nobody has time to be checking a website every day and most people no longer buy newspapers. But those methods are what the Energy Regulator are allowing them to use so of course they are going to use them to ensure their customers dont know about a price increase until it has already happened. If they told customers by email of an upcoming increase it would prompt some people to switch provider.

    Its the regulators fault but as often with regulators in this country they are next to useless and only there becasue EU directives say they have to be.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,047 ✭✭✭OmegaRed

    I cancelled my flow gas account the same day and switched to electric Ireland 26%. As Silver pointed out, it was the cheapest when I went digging. paying the 50 euro exit fee, I’ll save much more in the long term... (Until electric Ireland also increase prices with no notification...)

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  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 10,971 Mod ✭✭✭✭yoyo

    I switching to FloGas last year. Worst expierience ever with a utilities provider (and I've used quite a few). Firstly they don't offer online billing (or rather didn't when I signed up). Paper bills in the post and I could not get in contact with them to sign me up for their "new" online billing platform. They rang me towards the end of my contract asking would I like to stay with them!! Only time I heard from their CS team.

    They were cheapest when I compared prices on Bonkers last year, but very soon after they started sending considerable price increases (maybe linked to wholesale prices I'm not sure, but we're talking less than 2 months into the contract!). I was glad to leave them and go back to Electric Ireland this year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,063 ✭✭✭Bambaata

    Ive had near the exact experience with only difference being i managed to get setup online but in the last few months bills i've been notified about via email (saying to login to see new invoice), and in turn taken from my account, don't actually appear on the online system! Also moved to EI there about 2 weeks back, on doing the sums it was about 50% cost of the current prices of Flogas for a year's usage (at today's rates - 3450 Flogas v 1800 with EI - Gas & Elec)

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,090 ✭✭✭Ger Roe

    Absolutely... the regulator has a lot to answer for. Another of my peeve points is the difficulty you can have trying to find your start and and end contract date. It could be weeks after you 'sign up' that your account is actually transferred to a new provider and I have yet to receive a bill that states the date my contract actually started ... and the date it expires. It has to be a deliberate ploy to keep the info to themselves unless you call them to find out. Why is this allowed?

    If the regulator, and various government spokespersons, expect you to shop around for energy provision.. they at least need to give you a clear way of knowing when you should start the process. We have regulators in name only in this country... toothless and clueless for the most part.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,553 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha

    Id never noticed that about the contract date but you're right. I just have an alarm on my phone set for mid August every year and at that point I switch provider. I dont even bother to ring up the provider to seek a better deal as they dont seem to give them, loyalty costs you money in the energy market.

    Agree with you about regulators, a lot of them are just there becasue they have to be under EU law but they are completely ineffective. The likes of Comreg act as a go between for customers who are having grief with their provider. They will get individual problems resolved but the behaviour of the company wont change and theyll do it again. Im not even sure if they have the power to fine companies, or at least Ive never heard of them doing so. So year after year you hear stories like people paying Eir for 6 months becasue their parent died and Eir insists on speaking to a dead person to cancel the service. Comreg will get those kinds of problems resolved on an individual level but they dont get the company to change how they operate and it will carry on and happen over and over again. Nothing ever changes which completely daft given theyre the ones fielding all these types of complaints.

  • Registered Users Posts: 810 ✭✭✭raxy

    That depends on your usage. They have a lower standing charge but higher unit charge. You need to check your usage over the year to work out which is cheaper. Energia should be ~ 100 cheaper for me based on the last years usage.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,779 ✭✭✭gipi

    Aren't energy providers obliged to write to customers stating the date their contract ends and signalling the new payment rates (usually standard rates with no discount)? I know I've received a letter of this type (re electricity, not gas if I recall).

  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 10,971 Mod ✭✭✭✭yoyo

    That doesn't suprise me at all. I left a negative review of them on Google Reviews and I was "promised" they would sign me up for the online billing. Needless to say they never did get in touch. I suppose at least the paper bills they posted out had the data on them!! Think I even tried phoning and couldn't get through. Absolutely useless company I guess would give Eir a run for their money from a customer experience perspective.

    In saying that I contacted Electric Ireland last week asking about ability to monitor smart tarrif spend online and setup online billing again and they haven't gotten back to me yet!

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,146 ✭✭✭crisco10

    The only thing I'm grateful to FloGas for is that they upped their prices so much that it was a total no brainer to pay the termination fee and jump to EI.

    The payback period for termination fee was a few weeks IIRC.

    I tried signing up to online billing a few months ago, but gave up when it asked me to send an email requesting access. If the system can't set you up without human intervention, I had no hope the UI of the online billing section would be worth it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,553 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha

    Thats a good point, with electricity rates gone so high the 50 euro early termination fee is less of a disincentive not to switch as you can make it back on savings in the first couple of months. Also Energia gave me 35 euro cashback when switching back in August, not sure if that offer is still on but it absorbed most of the 50 euro termination fee of a previous contract that jacked prices twice in eight weeks.