Dear Big Energy Suppliers
I realise this is a hard time for you. Ed Miliband’s announcement in yesterday’s speech that he was calling for a price freeze for the first 20 months of a Labour government must have come as a horrible shock to you. A bit like the kind of shocks that many people in the UK have had when they discover that they have had a pay freeze – or even a pay cut, as so many people have.
The thing is, many of us have suffered far more. Some have been made redundant, or have had to move from a full time to a part time job. Some suffering the stress of unemployment, of their businesses going bust – people, unlike corporations, can suffer sickness, have mental health problems and all kinds of other things that make their lives difficult. Many have had their benefits cut or even removed – and we have also all suffered from price increases of many kinds – power isn’t the only thing that costs money.
So you see, actually you’re much better off than many people – and given the lovely mantra of our dear Prime Minister, that we’re all in it together, isn’t it time that you had to tighten your belts in the way that we have all had to tighten our belts over the last few years? After all, we all know that you’ve got a fair few notches in those belts to be able to tighten – the billions of pounds of profits you’ve made and the billions of pounds you’ve given out in dividends make that very clear. Tightening your belts a little shouldn’t be that hard – it’s not as though you’re going to have to choose between heating your houses or eating, as quite at lot of your customers are going to have to.
Anyway, there is still another solution available to you – and it’s a good, capitalist, market-based solution that good capitalists like yourselves should approve of. If your prices are frozen, and if your profit margins are squeezed, there’s still a way to make money: get new customers. Fortunately for you, it’s nice and easy for people to switch energy suppliers these days – so all you have to do is to persuade people to choose your company rather than others.
There are a couple of ways you could do that. One is to lower your prices even further than the frozen prices Ed Miliband is suggesting. If you did that, and made a big show of it, people should flock to you. Attractive? It might even make you look more like ‘good guys’ rather than the exploitative, money-grabbing villains that you appear to many people today. Wouldn’t that be good? And you’d be helping the economy to recover, helping people to thrive too.
There’s another way too – and that way’s available right now. I can even give you an example of a new customer you could win: me. I’m available right now, and could shift supplier in an instant. I’m ready to do so – and will indeed promise to switch right now to the first of the big suppliers who does one simple thing: promise to stop resisting, campaigning and lobbying against the proposed price freeze, but instead says ‘fair enough, we’ll accept that we need to do our bit for the country and for the people, and embrace the idea.’
It’s good market capitalism – and I’m sure you’ll like the idea of winning customers this way. I’m sure, too, that you won’t all work together to resist it and make sure prices stay high – that would look suspiciously like behaving like a cartel, and I’m sure such an idea would be totally against your nature.
So, I look forward to hearing from you. Just put a nice comment on this blog, saying that you’re willing to make such a pledge, and I’ll switch suppliers to you within the day.