Friday, March 21, 2014

One Big Switch or Two Big Switches

Big Switch
One Big Switch
Two Big Switches?

"One Big Switch", a group energy purchasing business, opened it's doors on 16th February last. It is a private enterprise AFAIK and its aim is to gather "members" with a view to taking advantage of group or bulk discounts for electricity, gas etc. It sounds a great idea on the surface of it, and it is one I have previously exercised the old brain over.

The general idea in this case seems to be for the business to gather "members" and use the numbers game to barter for discounts. It would use a similar system pioneered by "One Big Switch" with some success in other countries, Australia in particular. It would seem that it was quite successful in Australia with a quoted 500,000 members - I must check that quoted fact out with my contacts in Auz. It is also said that One Big Switch is now one of the largest consumer organisations in the world?

The business is co-founded by Oliver Tattan, who also co-founded health insurer GloHealth, and has several other additional business interests.

So what will One Big Switch actually do? My understanding is that it will try to gather numbers / members and use bargaining power to obtain discounts. It will then pass on part of the discount to the customers while keeping part as it's means of income. It appears to be a privately owned business, and to operate as any other private business. How will the company develop and evolve? I would think much as any other private business, it's success will depend on how many customers it can get and on how much discount it can offers those customers.

There is no charge to sign up as a "member", and the advertising states that there is no obligation on the consumer to accept the negotiated deal. Whether or not there are any other obligation or liabilities to "members" is one of the questions I posed in writing to the company, without a response to date. I also rang and asked to talk to someone but I am still waiting a reply.