I’m not a great one for joining things, but if there was an organisation whose sole aim was to put an end to the annual rigmarole of renewing car and house insurance, providers of telephones, gas, electricity, the internet and oil, then I would be a founder member.
When there was little or no choice, I’m not sure we were actually paying that much more for these services; and if you value your time at all, those frustrating hours spent poring over deliberately opaque figures and comparisons designed to obfuscate not help would negate any alleged savings anyway.
It is a constant battle between a lazy acceptance of what is already there and the readiness to dive recklessly into the cleverly spun blandishments that entice and bamboozle us away from the status quo.
I suppose that is why comparison sites entered the fray, nominally to help but also to make a further pound or three out of us. But how else can you make sense of the bewildering array of tariffs, unit prices, standing charges, weekend rates, Wednesday afternoon rates, toss a coin in the air rates and contract lock-ins? In the spectrum of those who have to deal or not deal with this annual conundrum, I suppose I am probably better equipped than some to eventually make some sense out the maze they lay down for us to stumble through, but there comes a point when you are tempted to do the equivalent of shutting your eyes and sticking a pin in the list.
And often the end result is that you yo-yo between, say, home insurers who give better rates to new customers. Where lies the economic sense in that? All that administrative work generated to perform a ritual circular dance every year.
I am contemplating, after decades with the same phone and internet provider, trying to find one whose bill I can understand and whose tariff doesn’t require a Masters in comparative balderdash.
My default position is conservative (with a small ‘c’). I have remained with the same bank all my life, as they haven’t put a foot wrong yet.
But a 17-page document which purports to explain my usage and charging for phone calls and emails and fails spectacularly on both counts is sufficient trigger to give them the bullet.
And after innumerable hours talking to lowly paid helpline operators in distant lands, the writing on the wall is legible, at least.