83% save money shopping around

CASH-STRAPPED consumers are still missing out on cost savings by failing to shop around to find the best deals on car and health insurance, phone, broadband, tv and other services.

Just over half (56%) of consumers surveyed have ever switched from one service provider to another, despite the fact that the vast majority (83%) of those who have switched say making the change saved them money.

Mobile phone users are most likely to switch, with 27% saying they have moved from one network provider to another, followed by people buying car insurance (26%), landline phone services (17%) and groceries (16%).

Just 15% of consumers have switched electricity supplier, despite the intense competition in the market, and the figure drops to 5% for credit cards and health insurance.

The proportion of those who have changed how they get their broadband, banking services, home insurance, TV package, gym membership and top-up grocery shop ranges from 5-15%, while only 1% have switched mortgage provider.

Switching has increased in some services in the past 12 months, mainly in electricity (up 7%), mobile phones, broadband and landlines (up 6%) and car insurance (up 5%) but the National Consumer Agency (NCA), which commissioned the survey of 1,000 adults said there was scope for much more shopping around.

Maria Hurley, director of research at the NCA, said: “With consumer incomes shrinking, insurance premiums in many areas rising and the prospect of a tough budget, every penny counts.”

Ms Hurley said contrary to common belief the survey showed switching was not difficult, with 79% describing the process as easy, and 87% saying the service from their new supplier was equal to or better than before.

However, she acknowledged that some consumers were unsure if they would benefit by switching. To help them decide, the NCA has worked out a series of insurance cost comparisons and created a tool called the Economiser to enable people compare their spending on groceries, energy, mobile phones, and TV and telecoms packages. Both services are available on the NCA website, www.consumerconnect.ie.

Money was the main factor prompting people to shop around, with 78% saying their existing provider was too expensive, but savings were not the only motivation. More than a quarter (29%) cited poor customer service, poor coverage or reception or other problems with their existing provider as a key reason for switching.

The greatest likelihood of switching in future was in car insurance where 14% said they might change to a new provider in future, while just 6% had any thoughts of changing electricity supplier.


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