What is a collective switch? Money Saving Expert & more
We’re all looking to save a bit of money here and there when we can; however, according to Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis, it doesn’t have to be as hard as we’re making it. By changing who supplies us with certain things, we can save large amounts of money without having to alter our lifestyles in any way. One of the things that the majority of UK households are overpaying for is energy utilities. It can be a pain: some people aren’t sure on who they should switch to and are sceptical as to whether the money they will save is actually worth the time spent switching. This is why many collectives, such as ‘Money Saving Expert’, ‘Big Community Switch’, ‘The People’s Power’ and many others have begun conducting collective switches for the UK public. Their aim is to make it as easy and simple to understand as possible to switch. But, what is a collective switch?
What is a collective switch?
A collective switch is when a trusted intermediary, such as a local council or a website (for this article we will use Money Saving Expert as our example), collects a large group of energy users together in order to create leverage against energy companies to offer the select group a special deal in return for their custom.
Once the group has been formed, an auction will be conducted in which energy providers bid for the custom of the large group of energy users represented by the intermediary. Money Saving Expert claim to only put their name on tariffs that has excellent customer service and that’s price is cheaper than that of the market’s current cheapest tariff. This offer is not available directly through the utility, nor can you find it through any other medium. Due to regulations, to be eligible for this special tariff, one must be affiliated with the intermediary through membership (or such similar principles); however, lucky for Money Saving Expert, membership to their service can be defined in two ways, both of which are free: membership in their ‘Cheap Energy Club’; or subscription to their weekly email newsletter.
What do they get out of this?
For each customer that switches to one of their chosen collective switch tariffs, Money Saving Expert is paid £60 by the energy supplier. £30 of this is paid back to you, the customer. The other £30 is used to pay their suppliers and various other things. They state that for each switch they receive around £11, most of which they use to pay their staff and business costs, leaving a little profit leftover.
Surely one tariff can’t suit everyone?
No, one tariff does not suit everyone, which is why Money Saving Expert chose a tariff for each of their four categories: cheapest dual fuel; cheapest two year fix; cheapest green tariff; and cheapest prepayment tariff. Sometimes, they do not receive a deal for a certain category that fits their criteria and therefore do not run the category in that event; however, generally speaking, they run four categories, aiming to provide a tariff that fits as many people’s needs as possible.
Big Switch Event 5
Their most recent collective switch event was their fifth and was held between September 14th 2016 - 30th October 2016. Below is the details of the tariffs that were chosen: (All price estimations are made based on typical household usage)
Cheapest Dual Fuel
MSE British Gas Collective Fix Oct 2017 - 1 year fix - Typical usage cost: £755 per year - £30 cashback
Cheapest Two Year Fix
SSE 2 Year Fix - 2 year fix - Typical usage cost: £838 per year - £30 cashback
Cheapest Green Tariff
Bulb MSE 1 Year Fix - 1 year fix - 100% renewable energy - Typical usage cost: £834 per year - £30 cashback + £10 credit
Cheapest prepayment tariff
No sufficient deal offered.
How long will this all take?
The switch will usually be completed in around three weeks; however, the cashback from applicable tariffs will not be sent for around three months, as due to the complexity of the behind-the-scenes processes in this collective switch, it can take a while for Money Saving Expert to be informed of your contractual completion. These collective switches have been run roughly every 6-8 months by Money Saving Expert since 2014.
Martin Lewis OBE
Martin Lewis, the founder and current chair of Money Saving Expert, is the most googled British man; more people have searched Mr Lewis than Beyonce and Andy Murray. He started off his journey to success at London School of Economics (LSE) where he studied Government and Law. He’d always been passionate about finances from a young age and having been general secretary at the university student union, after he finished his studies, it didn’t take long before he wanted to channel his passion.
In 2003 he made a website called ‘moneysavingexpert.com’ for just £100 in which he answered as many questions that he could that were previously going unanswered. His campaigning and helping people out was and has been since, a large part of the website’s success. It is now the UK’s biggest consumer website with over 15 million monthly users and 11 million subscribers to the weekly email newsletter ‘Martin Money tips’. He still attends work in the Money Saving Expert office to oversee operations and likes to keep his feet on the ground and his goal at the forefront of his mind.
He has since had an extensive amount of TV coverage with his prime-time ITV series ‘The Martin Lewis Money Show’. He is also the resident expert on ‘This Morning’, ‘Good Morning Britain’ and BBC’s Radio 5 Live’s ‘Lunch Money Martin’.
Martin Lewis claims that he does not or never has had a profit focused mindset; he wishes to help all those who are interested to be more money-savvy. The profits that he has made over the years has been a bi-product of his passion for the work that he does for people every day.
 Image sourced from The Evening Standard.