Sunday Times article on the "oil firm rip-off"

Here is some recommended reading about comparison website BoilerJuice and its dirty little secret: being owned by an oil supplier. Buy the Sunday Times (January 9, 2011) or subscribe online to read the article: Cold customers ripped off by oil firm by Jamie McGinnes. There are some very interesting numbers about how much (and how frequently) some people are paying for their oil, but the focus of the article is the fact that DCC Energy (a major UK oil supplier) owns and controls the Boilerjuice website.

The Boilerjuice promise is that "you always know you're getting the cheapest heating oil price". Given the website's conflicting interest by its parent company, this seems like a highly dubious claim.

Read the whole article to decide for yourself!


6 Comments

by chris cole on 06 February 2011 Reply
I approached Boiler Juice out of curiosity about supplying 103 members in November to see if they would supply - they said NO, and that each individual would have to go online AND make payment before a delivery - I knew 2 years back about them and was warned by other suppliers not to trust them. I get cheaper quotes form "sister companies" when I look for prices anyhow AND will always work to save (and achieve each month) around 5p per litre against the average price (I compare 11 different suppliers each month) before placing an order.
by James Charles on 12 January 2011 Reply
In terms of boilerjuice being more expensive, of course they will be when everybody is busy. If a supplier is struggling to furfill their own commitments they are not going to give a comparison site their best prices. As demand for heating oil drops these prices will drop as companies submit more competitive quotes to the boilerjuice site trying to furfill any spare delivery capacity they may have all internet sites are the same. A supplier will quote you more cheaper directly as they are not selling via a 3rd party but gaining a new customer who will give them repeat business.
by James Charles on 12 January 2011 Reply
Dont under stand why people seemed so shocked that an Oil supply company owns Boiler juice. Before it was owned by DCC it was owned by another major oil company. When DCC bought them they took it over as part of this business. Nearly every site out there is owned or funded by an Oil supplier and as far as I'm concened as long as they offer the cheapest price I dont care who owns them. Having bought of the Boilerjuice site I have had lots of deliveries from independents who are not owned by DCC to there is obviously some price comparison of the suppliers.
by ukoilman on 17 January 2011 Reply
James, to my knowledge Boilerjuice.com was started by a man called Paul Ward, a non oil company man that was trying to benefit his village by buying bulk for his village. He nearly went broke and lost his house as a result of his endeavours until DCC came along. I think you are a little misguided to state that boilerjuice.com was owned by an opil company prior to DCC. Ask Paul Ward, he's approachable and on Twitter.

The business concept is a brilliant one, and you are right to say that as distributors struggle to fulfil their committments there is a temptation to load the price in their favor as opposed to a "brokerage" operation. Also to say that all sites are owned or funded by an oil supplier is poppycock some are some aren't.

by John Swindells on 12 January 2011 Reply
There is a real conflict of interest, James, and they don't state this on their website. It's important for people to know who profits from these price comparison services.
by James Charles on 13 January 2011 Reply
OK fair point :) just as a matter of interest Boilerjuice now says a "DCC company" on the front page of the website at the bottom.
by John Swindells on 14 January 2011 Reply
Well spotted! It looks like this was in direct response to the criticism they were receiving - although how many people will see it down there, and realise its significance?
by Simon Tolson on 12 January 2011 Reply
My experiences of Boilerjuice are not unique it seems, I read the Sunday Times article on 9/1 with interest, with reason that will hit their share price. Their big mistake is to think all customers are stupid and have short memories.
by Shaida Van Helfteren on 10 January 2011 Reply
For the last 2 /3 years I have used both Boiler Juice and Oil Direct. I live at the bottom of a small hill and there is no reason why I should be charged extra because of that, but that is what happens when I order and pay for my oil through either of these companies. The price is much of the muchness and there is absolutely no saving but with the extended anxiety of if and when I might hope to get a very expensive necessity without which life in my home would grind into a stop! Does anybody care? I doubt it!
by John Swindells on 12 January 2011 Reply
Do you actually get surcharged because of your location? As James Charles says, you aren't asked about delivery specifics when you get a quote - just postcode, quantity and maybe the type of tanker required.
by James Charles on 12 January 2011 Reply
Both of these sites give a price based on a postcode and a quantity. Online quotes are completly automated and will have no idea you live on a hill. Prices are just generated from a Matrix there is no human imput on the websites. If your not happy with the price they offer buy somewhere else :) Not specifly defending either site but their are many other sites out there doing the same thing and some are cheaper and offer faster deliveries than Boilerjuice, they just happen to be the most well known.
by Shaida Van Helfteren on 12 January 2011 Reply
What a patronizing ass. Does this man work for Boiler juice? OK, read my lips, someone from Boiler juice rang and said, "none of the supplayers in your area will deliver the oil that we quoted and you paid for, unless you pay them more, because your drive is a bit steep", I should know that that was an actual human voice. No, I was not stoned at the time! Next time read before you squik!
by James Charles on 13 January 2011 Reply
Apologies did not mean to seem patronising. I do have links with the oil industry but do not work for any DCC owned company (Boilerjuice) As a rule all web prices no matter which site used are quoted off a matrix and generated automaticly. I can understand you being annoyed if they were charging an addition for being on a hill. Purchasing online should give you a contract to purchase fuel at the price quoted. I have never heard of any supplier charging an excess due to an access issue such as a hill.
by mike waghorne on 09 January 2011 Reply
I used to use Boiler juice ! they sent me a e-mail just recently quoting for a supply of 1000lts X amount of ?, so I went to the site of the company they last supplied me from and it was ?100 cheaper yes the are a rip off
by John Swindells on 14 January 2011 Reply
In my experience, Boilerjuice quotes have usually been reasonable, and have only been quoting extravagant rates during the cold weather. They should be only one of many sources of oil prices.

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