I am at home minding my own business when a snazzily dressed young man and woman knock at my door. They can help me change energy suppliers and save me hundreds of pounds a year. Oh, good. But can I trust them? The world is stuffed with crooks and scoundrels. Helpfully, they are laden with identification badges, cards and documents, so I go for it.
Why not? We are often nagged to change to cheaper versions of everything because there are bound to be some, and it is a fair bet that whatever supplier you currently have is ripping you off, or soon will be.
The young man sits down and, on his tablet thingy, whips through a squillion calculations like greased lightning, proving that I am being taken for a sucker and should change from X to Y supplier. Which I do.
And once you have changed one, I find, you get a taste for it and want to change everything, so I did: energy, dog and car insurance, telephone and broadband. Such fabulous offers! So much cheaper! Why didn’t I do this years ago?
I’ll tell you why. Because soon after my burst of swapping, I noticed that the lovely cheap new prices were just to hook me in, and after one year they would zoom up again, and I would have to start all over again, widdling about endlessly online, doing complex calculations, comparing, arguing, sacking one lot, hiring another.
What a fool, thinking that I would get an everlasting fairly priced product anywhere from anyone; or that “standard variable tariff” meant basic and cheap; or that the same product would cost the same, whoever was selling it; or that there are any giant companies anywhere in the world not making a colossal profit, which they might then squirrel away somewhere offshore.
So, as it is winter, perhaps our government could at least hurry up with its energy supply legislation to save us all about £120 a year. A piffling sum to them, but they know it will defrost the desperate common people and keep them grateful.
Meanwhile “the ball is in [the suppliers’] court,” says Dermot Nolan, Ofgem’s chief executive. So that’s all right then.