Thursday, February 5, 2009

Unión Fenosa, Endesa, Iberduero... choose your weapon

There is apparently dissatisfaction in this neck of the woods because the electricity companies has been sending out bills that are higher than usual. These companies are de facto monopolies in their regions but prices and services are controlled by law. The government, for whatever reason, has ordered thye companies to bill each month instead of every two months as they have done for many years. They were also permitted to raise their prices by up to 8%, so they did, of course. But also, the government didn't seem to realize that changing the billing system, and thus the measuring system, would involve costs, costs which will naturally be passed on to the consumer. One way of reducing these extra costs is not to measure monthy, but to read as before and estimate the consumption for the odd months, bearing in mind patterns of use and the severe cold of December and January, and pitching it high just in case. Presumably this will be corrected when accurate readings are taken. The government has been urging people to complain about their bills, I imagine to divert attention from their own role in it all. I expect it will all be forgotten in a month.

I don't bother much with the press so this is all extrapolated from a brief conversation with a friend last night. She had a very different motivation, wanting to rant more than analyse, which is not surprising as she had just looked at her bill. I may of course be completely wrong. Since I am sure you can't wait to find out, I shall return to the topic next month (if I remember).

The real point of this is to draw attention to the underlying problem, which is the lack of competition. If your electricty company breaks its contract you can complain and maybe go to court, but if the contract is defined by law, and you have nowhere else to go, all you can do is moan and buy candles.

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