How to beat rorts by energy ‘pay-on-time’ discounts

You know those ads where energy providers offer you big discounts for paying on time? Those discounts might actually be cunningly-disguised penalties for late payment, according to CHOICE… and that penalty could be up to 60 per cent of the total bill.

CHOICE use the example of a couple who were penalized $213.13 for accidentally failing to pay their first bill by the due date, after signing up for a new offer with their provider Energy Australia.

The new offer promised them a pay-on-time discount of 42 per cent but it ended up increasing their bill by 60 per cent.

The ACCC’s 2018 Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry found that “pay-on-time ‘discounts’ have emerged in response to attempts by government regulations to constrain late payment fees.” Research shows that people on energy payment plans only met the conditions to get the ‘discount’ 56% of the time. So 44% of the time they had to pay more on their bill, often amounting to hundreds of dollars.

Our tip: If you want to take up the offer, set up a direct debit so you definitely pay on time, every time.

Aldi gets the party started

As we emerge from our winter hibernation, chances are there might be a soiree or two on the agenda. Aldi’s here to help with their range of entertainer Special Buys available from Saturday 25 August, including the classic replica Harry Bertoia barstool for $69.99. Other retailers like Milano Republic or Replica Furniture, charge double that for their replicas – buying at Aldi saves you $280 on a set of 4.

Just out of interest, what would you expect to pay for a real harry Bertoia barstool, first released to the public in 1952? If the price isn’t even on the website, best not to ask. ($1,500 – $2,000 per stool it seems, from a quick google, depending on the rarity.)

And to prove that there’s always someone doing it cheaper, Glicks Furniture has the replica stools on sale for $59, so save another $10 per item. We suggest you inspect the merch in person to see who has the better quality.

Other Aldi replicas to look out for

One more furniture tip while we’re here: in November last year Aldi offered their replica Eames lounger and ottoman for less than $300. Note that at Matt Blatt you’ll pay $1,995 for the privilege, while at Temple & Webster the combo is a bit cheaper at $599 – so you’re saving $300 to $1700 if you shop Aldi. Cross your fingers they make it a Special Buy again before the year is out.

Sony celebrates end of winter – more reason to party

Sony’s got end-of-winter discounts on a range of products when you buy online or instore. Save $50 off waterproof Bluetooth party speakers, $140 off a 2.1ch Soundbar with wi-fi/Bluetooth technology and anywhere up to $700 off big flashy TVs.

Getting Smeggy with it

Always fancied one of those fancy coloured Smeg fridges? Now that you’re in party-planning mode, Myer has them on sale for $240 to $590 off the recommended retail price, depending on the model. And that includes bar fridges.

Qantas bonus time – what that means in real money

According to ads we’ve spied this week, Qantas is offering a bonus $300 flight voucher and 60,000 bonus Qantas points if you sign up for a Qantas Premier Platinum MasterCard, and you spend $4,000 within 90 days.

What do you get for 60,000 points? Our friends at PointHacks tell us that a Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Singapore/Hong Kong OR Sydney to Bangkok/Manila Qantas Premium Economy fare is 45,000 points one way only or 60,000 points one way for Business Class. As a guide.

To discover the cash value of those 60,000 points, Finder says that for just over 60,000 points you can get a 1-night stay in a Sydney 5-star hotel (worth $380). For 56,270 points you can get a Weber Baby Q Portable BBQ (worth $319). Best value comes from booking Qantas flights – for instance, they say a Sydney-Tokyo Qantas Economy Saver fare for 67,600 points retails at $512. So you’re looking at around $350 – $500 cash value for your 60,000 points, on top of a $300 travel voucher. Not to be sneezed at.

Also you’ll earn up to 2 points per $1 on eligible spends with the card, and receive freebies like two airport lounge passes per year, discounted flights and free travel insurance.

BUT: you need to spend that $4,000 on the card within 3 months, or you don’t get the benefits. And the card has an annual fee of $299, and an interest rate of 19.99 per cent. So you’d want to be a big spender who pays off their card each month and travels a lot to make the most of this card.

Look outside your current rental and save

A recent Sydney Morning Herald article has reported that rental prices are falling in some Sydney regions, so it pays to look around for something new when your lease is up, or negotiate with your current landlord.

The article talks about one renter whose landlord was going to put her rent up to $760 per week. Before she signed on the dotted line, she looked around and found another, better place nearby for $730 a week, saving her $30 a week on her current place, i.e., $1500+ a year in rent. (NB. You do have to factor in moving costs, set up costs for utilities etc., so get some quotes and do your sums first.)