Community Buying as CAS

COMMUNITY ACTION SUFFOLK BULK OIL BUYING SCHEME SUMMARY                     

In summary, the scheme works as follows: –

  • Community Buying at CAS Ltd maintains a central database of scheme member’s name, address, contact details and information such as location of the oil tank.
  • As new members join the scheme, we will let your coordinator know by e-mail, so that he/she will have a regularly updated list of paid-up members from which it will be possible to see which of them are on e-mail and which are not. We will be in touch with all new members explaining how they need to go about placing their orders.
  • Each month, your coordinator will e-mail all those local members on the list who have e-mail addresses to ask them whether they want to order oil and how much oil they want. This information is transmitted on an order form to the coordinator and becomes a binding order.
  • For those who are not on e-mail, the coordinator will identify somewhere in the village for a paper copy of the order form to be deposited.
  • At an agreed date the coordinator will collate all the requests for oil and fill in the details on the local coordinator’s oil order form for transmission to Community Buying at CAS Ltd.
  • The deadline for electronic submission of the local coordinator’s oil order form to is generally set as 12 noon on a Friday. One  off orders for people can usually be accommodated; however the price is unlikely to be as competitive.
  • Once Community Buying at CAS (or it’s agent AF Affinity) has negotiated the best possible price from across a whole range of suppliers, we will advise the local coordinator: 1) what price the oil will be, and 2) the approximate delivery date.
  • The coordinator will pass this information on to all members.

SCHEME DETAILS

AREAS COVERED – The Counties of Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire

THE PRICE – AF Affinity negotiations on behalf of the Community Buying groups negotiations take account of the international price of a barrel of oil as well as other factors such as bad weather, Christmas as well as the gross volume being ordered so ensuring the price you pay is the best possible price at the time.

QUANTITY – The minimum quantity that can be ordered is 500 litres.

VAT – The price quoted is exclusive of VAT which is currently 5%

THE ORDER FORM – When you complete and submit your order form (either online, by email, in writing, or verbally over the telephone), it becomes a firm order and not just an expression of interest. Thus the price obtained is based on everyone’s orders, so unless there are exceptional circumstances the order is definite as soon as it’s placed with the local coordinator.

MONEY – Local coordinators do not handle any money.

PAYMENTS FOR OIL – All payments for oil go directly from the customer to AF Affinity no matter who the supplier is. AF Affinity will pay for your oil on your behalf and will then take payment from you via Direct Debit after your oil is delivered.

DELIVERY OF OIL – We can only give an approximate delivery date to your village because the oil supplier will be attempting to meet the needs of all their customers, thought this is usually within 7 working days.

MEMBERSHIP – Individual household membership costs £20, Community Buildings (village halls) £30 and Businesses £100 all payable annually directly to Community Buying at CAS Ltd.

VILLAGE COORDINATOR – The scheme normally works through a volunteer local coordinator but we will act as your local coordinator until one is appointed. Local coordinators have FREE membership of the scheme.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We already have a local buying group in our village, so why do we need yours?
Why do we have to pay a membership fee?
Why do you need local coordinators?
How does this scheme help those in on low or fixed incomes?
What are the sorts of prices we can expect to pay?
Why have you changed buying partners?
How is the oil paid for?
Why do I need to set up a Direct Debit?
Direct Debits – where do I send my completed Direct Debit Form?
What do I put in the reference box on the DD form?
Can I pay by Card?
Why can’t I pay by cheque or cash to the driver?
What are the delivery arrangements?
I need advance notification of delivery, can this be done?
I don’t know how much oil I want do you do top ups?
Do you just supply Kerosene?
I’ve got an Aga, can you help?
Benefits of Community Buying at CAS – why should I join?

We already have a local buying group in our village, so why do we need yours?

The short answer is that you don’t. We have no intention of interfering in any way with some of the excellent schemes already operating in the county. Indeed looking to the future we may well be able to join forces to lobby government for a much better deal for rural communities solely dependent on oil for heating their homes and businesses.

We began our Suffolk Community Buying Scheme in January 2012 in order to help people (primarily in rural communities) by making oil buying easier and cheaper. We now have members from every corner of Suffolk, so wherever you are in the county, if you use heating oil, you can join our scheme. We have chosen AF Affinity, based in Norfolk, as our oil buyer. AF Affinity, a subsidiary of Anglia Farmers, use the agricultural buying power of their parent group to get our members better prices. Whilst we cannot guarantee to be the absolute cheapest, we can assure you that AF Affinity provide our members with consistently low prices and excellent levels of customer service.

If existing schemes want to encourage their members to join the Suffolk Community Buying scheme they are free to do so, as many smaller schemes may appreciate not having the hassle involved with negotiating, and buying in greater volumes should get better discounts. Unlike some other commercial schemes, members get the same unit price whether they buy 500 or 1000 litres or more, and by becoming a member of the scheme, you are supporting Community Action Suffolk’s charitable work in the communities of Suffolk.

Why do we have to pay a membership fee?

The membership fee will be more than covered by the potential savings on price. This fee covers the administration costs of the scheme and allows us to ensure people who don’t have access to the internet can also become members and we therefore have staff and other costs to cover. All surpluses will be re-invested in our charity in order to continue our general charitable work in support of communities.

There are already many fantastic schemes around the county run by volunteers on a purely voluntary basis, and there are also scheme run more commercially, which, though they may not charge a membership fee, will add a commission per litre of oil purchased.

As you may be aware, the voluntary sector is being expected to play an even bigger part in the support of our communities but without necessarily the financial support from national or local government. We do, therefore, have to look at ways in which we can generate some income to pay for our charitable activities in communities throughout Suffolk and we are trying to do this whilst also helping people to get a better deal on their heating oil.

Membership

Individual household membership costs £20, Community Buildings (village halls) £30 and Businesses £100 all payable annually directly to Community Buying at CAS Ltd. For more information please click on our oil buying leaflet below.

Oil buying leaflet

Why do you need local coordinators?

Whilst the majority of people have access to the internet and are comfortable with e-commerce, there are still many people who either do not have access to the internet or simply do not want access to the internet. Community Buying at CAS strongly believe that people who don’t have access to the internet and those that can least afford these high oil prices must be able to become members if they want to.

There is no reason why these people should not be able to benefit from the savings of bulk buying. We are therefore asking for volunteers to come forward in each village to act as a coordinator for the local community’s oil orders. They will be asked to promote the scheme in their villages, and collect oil orders on a monthly basis from scheme members. No money needs to change hands, it is simply the provision of a local person to co-ordinate local orders. The scheme normally works through a volunteer local coordinator but Community Buying at CAS will act as your local coordinator until one is appointed in areas that don’t yet have a coordinator. Local coordinators have FREE membership of the scheme.

To view our coordinators oil buying leaflet click here

To help publicise the scheme to people in your community who may not have internet access, the following posters are available for you to print:

Oil Buying poster

If you would like any publicity material to be sent out to you to help your community, please let us know by emailing oil@communitybuying.org.uk

How does this scheme help those in on low or fixed incomes?

Our buying partners AF Affinity Ltd can provide members with the ability to set up a regular monthly saving option which may be of interest to members who are on fixed or low incomes to help stagger the cost of oil buying, much like the monthly payments for other utilities. Please email oil@communitybuying.org.uk to request a monthly payment form. Through the Suffolk Community Buying scheme members who purchase the smallest amount of 500 litres get same price as those ordering 1000 litres or more.

What are the sorts of prices we can expect to pay?

This is hard to say because the price of oil changes daily, so prices one day can be different to prices paid on the day before and the day after. We cannot guarantee to be the cheapest, but we will do our very best to ensure that our oil buyer gets the very best price he can on that day for our members.  We also hope to be able to drive the price down once the order size goes up. As at 27th January 2016, our negotiator found a highest price of 29.30p per litre, an average of 26.76p per litre, and bought at 23.98p per litre (VAT of 5% must be added to all prices shown). That’s a saving of £26.27 (inc. VAT) on an average 900 litre order compared to the average prices quoted and would cover our £20 membership fee within one order. Those of you that look to commercial brokers or price comparison websites may wish to note that the price offered on the 27th January 2016 was also beaten by on average 3 pence per litre across the county. We will be publishing the prices we buy oil at on the website each time we buy, so watch this space!

Please also see the indicative graph on the home page, which shows the prices that the scheme bought oil at in the past.

Negotiations take account of the international price of a barrel of oil as well as other factors such as bad weather, Christmas as well as the gross volume being ordered so ensuring the price you pay is the best possible price at the time.

Why have you changed buying partners?

We have been closely monitoring our scheme since its inception and have listened to feedback from our members. Generally speaking everyone has been pleased with the prices we have been able to achieve and the level of support we are able to offer through our office, however, problems with billing and payment have been a consistent problem area. The move to AF Affinity enables us to streamline the whole billing and payment process which is good for our members and good for the oil suppliers.

AF Affinity is a buying group offering businesses and their employees an extensive range of products and utilities at consistently low prices. This is achieved through the unparalleled buying power of its parent company, Anglia Farmers (AF), a dedicated purchasing organisation with a negotiating turnover in excess of £200 million.

Our agreement with AF Affinity will also enable us to introduce online ordering and new products and services at discounted prices.

How is the oil paid for?

All payments for oil go directly from the customer to AF Affinity via Direct Debit (covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee) as per the terms and conditions.

Why do I need to set up a Direct Debit?

Payment by credit and debit card is possible under exceptional circumstances but is not preferred. The Direct Debit scheme is by far the most convenient way to pay, it means you are only charged for the oil that has been delivered and an invoice has been sent to you – payment will usually be taken from your account between 7 and 21 days after delivery. This saves you time and it enables us and AF Affinity to focus our time on giving you the best service at the best possible prices. If we do not have guaranteed payment arrangements in place at the start of negotiations we cannot necessarily get the best terms from our suppliers as the main syndicate bulk order will be reduced in size. This arrangement with AF Affinity also means less work for the oil companies which in turn help us achieve even better prices. The Direct Debit Form can be downloaded here: Please click here to download the Direct Debit Form.

Direct Debit Guarantee: Your rights

Organisations using the Direct Debit Scheme go through a careful vetting process before they’re authorised, and are closely monitored by the banking industry. The efficiency and security of Direct Debit is monitored and protected by your own bank or building society.

 The Direct Debit Guarantee applies to all Direct Debits. It protects you in the rare event that there is an error in the payment of your Direct Debit.

 Direct Debit Guarantee

  • The Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits
  • If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request
  • If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society
  • If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when the organisation asks you to
  • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify the organisation.

If you are unable to set up a Direct Debit then AF Affinity will call you on the day price negotiations start to get your card details and take payment in advance. Please ensure that you are contactable by telephone on the day. The price you will be charged will be the price on the day which may not necessarily be the final negotiated syndicate price. If there is a price differential then, then the actual amount charged to your card will be adjusted accordingly. If AF Affinity are unable to contact you by 5pm on the day when negotiations start they will leave a message informing you that you will need to telephone them at your earliest convenience. They may be unable to include you in the syndicate bulk order at that stage but will be able to quote a spot price for just your order.

Direct Debits – where do I send my completed Direct Debit Form?

Community Buying at CAS Ltd, Community Action Suffolk, Brightspace, 160 Hadleigh Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 0HH

What do I put in the reference box on the Direct Debit form?

Please leave this blank as it is for internal use only to ensure you are identified as a Suffolk Community Buying Member.

Can I pay by Card?

Yes, in exceptional circumstances you can pay by Debit or Credit card (there is a charge for the use of Credit Cards) but payment has to be made in advance. If you wish to pay for your oil in this way, please let us know at the time of ordering.  AF Affinity will call you on the day price negotiations start to get your card details and take payment in advance. Please ensure that you are contactable by telephone on the day. The price you will be charged will be the price on the day which may not necessarily be the final negotiated syndicate price. If there is a price differential then, then the actual amount charged to your card will be adjusted accordingly. If AF Affinity are unable to contact you by 5pm on the day when negotiations start they will leave a message informing you that you will need to telephone them at your earliest convenience. They may be unable to include you in the syndicate bulk order at that stage but will be able to quote a spot price for just your order.

Why can’t I pay by cheque or cash to the driver?

Unfortunately this option is not available under the terms of our agreement with AF Affinity.

What are the delivery arrangements?

Community Buying at CAS can only give an approximate delivery date to your village because the oil supplier will be attempting to meet the needs of all their customers.

I need advance notification of delivery, can this be done?

Yes, please ensure that all special requirements are noted on the order form and these will be passed to the oil company with your order.

I don’t know how much oil I want, do you do top ups?

No, but if you slightly over estimate your requirements this will allow your tank to be filled up. We do ask that you provide as accurate an estimate as possible of how much oil you think will fit into your tank. With the Direct Debit payment arrangements you will only be invoiced and charged for the amount delivered. If you are paying by card then the initial charge will be for the maximum amount of oil you think you need, if less is actually delivered then you will receive a refund for the difference.

Do you just supply Kerosene?

No, we can supply Kerosene, Oil Additive, Red Diesel and LPG. If you have any particular requirements, please let us know and we may be able to assist.

I’ve got an Aga, can you help?

Yes, we can supply oil additive too, and it can be ordered in the same way.

What is the area covered by this project?

Membership is open to anyone living in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. We also work in partnership with the Rural Community Council of Essex. To join this scheme please click here.

What is the minimum amount of oil that can be ordered?

The minimum quantity that can be ordered is 500 litres.

VAT – The price quoted is exclusive of VAT which is currently 5%

The Order Form

When you complete and submit your order form it becomes a firm order and not just an expression of interest. Thus the price obtained is based on everyone’s orders, so unless there are exceptional circumstances the order is definite as soon as it’s placed with the local coordinator or Community Buying at CAS if your area does not have a local coordinator.

Benefits of Community Buying at CAS Ltd – why should I join?

Finally, the buying group that we are developing works with on the ground community groups that people join, feel good about being a part of something that is benefitting them, their neighbours and the rest of their community by them being in it together. They are groups that will help each other out when the snows come back and they are groups that will be able to buy other necessities together. We have a developing model that has true social, environmental and financial benefits, and as such, this is the only model that fits the Community Action Suffolk remit.