VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Keep switching to keep your energy bills low

There has been no greater advocate of the liberalization of the energy market than Money Mail.

For decades, we have been campaigning to break the stranglehold of Big Six suppliers and to stimulate competition so that customers can get a better deal.

Time and time again we have reported how readers can save hundreds of pounds a year by giving less well-known companies a chance.

There has been no greater advocate of the liberalization of the energy market than Money Mail

There has been no greater advocate of the liberalization of the energy market than Money Mail

Today it may be time to admit that the race to compete on price has some negative consequences.

As we report today, many customers are at a loss after months of struggling to get their money back from small businesses that have gone bankrupt.

This section has tried for years to persuade households to shop around, but now I fear that customers will become so frustrated that they will stop switching.

This would be a devastating outcome, because staying with the same supplier year after year means you can miss huge savings.

It would be unfair to provide all small suppliers with the same brush. Many do a fantastic job, and without forcing giants such as British Gas to compete for your habits, bills can get a breath of fresh air.

So what should you do? Well, I switch energy suppliers every year and I admit that I have been a good cavalier so far when it came to choosing a supplier. My mantra was: & # 39; Cheapest is the best. & # 39;

Now I will pay much more attention to how the customer service of a company is arranged by Citizens Advice.

This is vital because high numbers of complaints and problems with recovering credit are a signal that a supplier may be in trouble.

Watchdog Ofgem has promised to increase service standards and force new companies to implement stricter controls before they can hire customers.

But it has to move quickly before nervous households are driven back to the expensive Big Six suppliers.

Sharks refueled

It is a relief to hear that a gang of cold-watered sharks that have shaken £ 425,000 to older victims in five months have been taking to the streets for a while.

The four scammers, who call themselves the & # 39; Wolves of Wind Street & # 39; were imprisoned on Monday to smuggle together, in their own charming words, & # 39; pensionable losers & # 39 ;.

As Money Mail recently reported, the group of victims had promised new boilers in exchange for a £ 299 or £ 399 prepayment under a government scheme that did not exist.

The gang, which chose their nickname because they had earned much of their unlawfully earned profits from food and drink in the notorious Wind Street nightclub district in Swansea, South Wales, were only stopped after local marketing standards intervened.

The trio of managers was imprisoned for three years and nine months each. A fourth employee was sentenced to 18 months. If it was up to me, I would throw the key away.

In honor of Axa

Here at Money Mail we regularly hear from readers who feel let down by insurers. So it makes a nice change to print a positive story.

Tony, from Dawlish, South Devon, says that his travel insurer, AXA, went beyond obligation when his wife fell ill in India.

After a stay in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, the couple came with food poisoning. Tony recovered, but his wife had to spend six days in the hospital.

He writes: & # 39; Axa covered all hospital costs and additional accommodation costs and took control of the situation, which was a relief. It also paid for first class flights home and flew in caring Dr. Singh Satvender to provide medical assistance during the journey home. & # 39;

Well done AXA!

v.bischoff@dailymail.co.uk