27 March 2017: The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has released research examining the behaviours of consumers in relation to switching 19 everyday services including, electricity, waste, gas, and financial services.
Overall, the CCPC found that 24% of consumers regularly change service providers often to avail of better rates. A further 46% look around for other providers, but only switch if they experience poor service or price, whilst a significant proportion, 30%, tend to stick to the same companies.
The CCPC research found that 41% of respondents had switched at least one service provider in the last 12 months. This is a reduction of 7% on results of similar research carried out in 2015. 15% of consumers had switched gas/electricity suppliers, while 14% had switched their internet/broadband provider. For most consumers who made the switch their research paid off, as the majority of consumers found that they made savings averaging €20 - €30 per month for each service they switched. Specific examples of savings made include an average of €287 a year on electricity supply, while those that switched broadband provider saved an annual average of €299.
Although the value of switching is evident in the reported savings, those that hadn’t switched services struggled to see the difference between offers or were not motivated to switch. In contrast, those that had switched services in the last 12 months cited difficulties making price comparisons or mistrust of offers for reasons why they do not switch more often.
In addition to household services, the research also examined switching behaviour in relation to financial services. It found that consumers were most likely to switch their motor insurance provider but they were least likely to switch their provider when it came to mortgages, savings/investments, and credit card providers, with 34% of those surveyed citing ‘hassle’ as a barrier to switching their personal current account.
Commenting on the research, Fergal O’Leary, Member of the CCPC said, “While the research is positive in that many consumers are still actively looking for better value, it is disappointing to see that the numbers switching are down compared to the numbers found by CCPC research conducted in 2015. It is our belief that markets work best when consumers are able and willing to seek a better deal. Our research shows that there are significant savings to be made, even if consumers switch only one or two providers. The savings made by the consumers in our survey will hopefully be an incentive to others to try to make savings of their own.
“Our role is to empower consumers by equipping them with the information they need so that they can make informed choices when it comes to buying products and services. As identified in our research, comparing and identifying the differences between financial products can be a challenge for consumers but the CCPC’s comparisons tools can quickly and easily allow consumers to compare the costs and benefits of financial products from the main providers in the Irish market.”
“The calculators provide independent information that is updated every day on our website www.consumerhelp.ie.”