5 Ways Utilities Companies Milk Expats For Money
Arriving as a new expat in the Netherlands comes with a host of challenges. Fresh arrivals will need a BSN number, permanent address, bank account, and a job. If you have to look for a gas, electric, internet, or mobile network provider on top of that, it can feel overwhelming.
Even if you aren’t new, many expats renting apartments in the Netherlands have ‘all-inclusive’ contracts. Even if you become used to many other aspects of Dutch life then, moving to a ‘non-inclusive’ apartment will present unwelcome new headaches.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. For expats looking to figure out good providers – and the red flags to watch out for – here are five ways utility companies milk expats for money, and what you can do about them.
Unhelpful Customer Service
People in the service industry can be very straight-talking. To expats this can seem rude or even intimidating. This can put some people off asking for help or attention beyond basic service. Looking at expat community boards, you will find this is common during the registration process for utilities or telecom services. This is especially the case if you don’t speak Dutch.
Without help, this daunting process can see more timid expats concede to bad contracts. That can cost them more money than necessary. A utility connection service can help avoid the hassle and save money on utilities.
Making the Most of the Language Barrier
Written communications from utility providers will be in Dutch. This can leave expats confused at what is being asked of them. The Dutch are known for being world leaders when it comes to speaking English. This does not solve everything though. For many expats English is also a second language.
Seeking clarification for surprise charges, or to complain about bad service can be a terrifying experience. Yet choosing not to can see you facing preventable interest charges. In this case, it is important that you seek out help from a trusted third party to help navigate the process.
Exploiting Your Knowledge of the Rules
When you first arrive in the Netherlands as a fresh-faced expat, you will face many gaps in your knowledge. In particular, you will need to acquaint yourself with the laws of the land. Sadly, staff at utilities firms may not always point out areas of misunderstanding. After all, they may suit the possibility of you paying extra for service.
One prominent phone network in the Netherlands provides an example of this. It has a policy that customers with foreign ID must have Sim-only contracts for the first eight months of a deal. This is not a national law. Other networks do allow expats with foreign ID to begin inclusive contracts. However, that is not information vendors tend to offer up if you don’t ask them. As a result, some think they have no choice but to buy a phone outright, and begin a Sim-only contract. In such a situation, it is helpful to have an expert on your side. Look for someone who can explain the ins and outs of utilities rules to new users.
Counting on You Forgetting to Follow-Up
Once you have found a utility provider which works for you, following up is key. If it slips to the back of your mind, before your contract ends, it can cost you money.
When a utility contract ends, you will not necessarily need to do anything to keep receiving your service. If you don’t, though, you will typically keep paying the same price for the same allowances. Switching to another supplier could be beneficial, as could taking advantage of a new tariff from your old supplier. In this case, automatic renewals often end up losing expats money.
Divide and Conquer
Utilities firms know that you have to deal with multiple suppliers at any given time. They rely on that to avoid offering you their most competitive prices. This is one of the many ways utilities companies milk expats. Each of the previous factors can be avoided with a little help from PartnerPete, though. Managing separate contracts can seem like an impossible juggling act, so consolidating these tasks is key. PartnerPete can link all your utilities for free, in one phone call. This can help busy expats save time, effort, and money.
The platform also helps save money through the management of your existing contracts. The company’s Contract Coach service is currently available from just €4,95 per month. It offers expats the opportunity to improve their utility deals, along with a translation service. This way it can help foreign-language customers understand complicated communication from suppliers.