PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR
MORE service provider firms are using cash-back incentives to get people to switch to them and remain even when offers expire, it has emerged.
But this has prompted consumer advocates to advise householders to keep switching when deals run out, and avoid being swayed by fringe benefits.
ESB/Electric Ireland is the latest to offer consumers €25 back in cash if they switch their electricity and gas to it through cash-back website FatCheese.ie.
Tesco is offering its customers discounts on Bord Gais gas or electricity bills through the retailer's Clubcard scheme.
FatCheese.ie is one of around 30 websites offering deals and discounts, along with GrabOne which is owned by the group that publishes this newspaper.
Three out of five consumers have signed up for an online discount site.
Service providers such as Electric Ireland and Bord Gais are now using deal sites to attract switcher customers and get people to remain with those providers, according to Simon Moynihan of independent comparison site Bonkers.ie.
He said utility providers were trying to ensure customers remain loyal to them by offering extra Clubcard points or cash-back. But he added that consumers should switch to another provider when the deal they sign up for runs out.
Bord Gais Energy and Tesco have agreed a deal that could deliver savings of around 10pc to hard-pressed consumers struggling to pay energy bills.
Customers are able to use their Tesco Clubcard points to get a discount on their Bord Gais gas or electricity bills.
If a Tesco customer receives a €5 discount voucher as a result of their Tesco Clubcard points, Bord Gais will double the value and give the consumer €10 off their gas or electricity bill.
And householders who sign up for Sky television through FatCheese.ie get up to €135 back. The same site offers €115 for new UPC customers.
More than four out of 10 people shop online on a regular basis and this figure is growing, according to Central Statistics Office research.
Not all of these complete a purchase online, but they are using the websites to research the best value.
- Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor