Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are oil buying clubs and schemes?

Oil clubs are groups of people mainly in rural areas, who combine their orders for domestic heating oil. There are oil clubs established in Essex already – and RCCE’s Oil Buying Scheme aims to provide additional coverage to the off-grid areas without a club – and to share learning and best practice with established schemes.  We also believe that community buildings and rural businesses will benefit from joining RCCE’s Oil Buying Scheme, with the opportunity of making savings on oil purchase for village halls, business premises etc.

 

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

The short answer is that you don’t. RCCE has 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.

Our scheme operates in partnership with our sister organisation in Suffolk, Community Buying at CAS, and with AF Affinity, a subsidiary of Anglia Farmers, which is able to use the buying power of its parent company to offer consistently low prices.

If existing schemes want to encourage their members to join RCCE’s Oil Buying Scheme they are welcome 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 RCCE’s charitable work in the communities of Essex.

 

Why do we have to pay a membership fee?

The membership fee will be more than covered by the potential savings on price. Clearly, we do have staff and other costs to cover, but all surpluses will be re-invested in our charity in order to continue our general work in support of communities. The voluntary sector is being expected to play an even bigger part in the support of our communities. With funding streams under continuing pressure we have to look at alternative ways to generate income.

 

Why do you need local co-ordinators?

Whilst the majority of people have access to the internet and are comfortable with e-commerce, there are still many people who don’t.  RCCE believes that everyone who would like the opportunity to join the scheme should be able to, regardless of whether they are have access to the internet or not.

So for the scheme to be accessible and to work efficiently we are asking for volunteers to come forward in each village to act as a co-ordinator 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. Co-ordinators have no responsibility for collecting money, it is simply the provision of a local person to co-ordinate local orders. If a co-ordinator has not yet been appointed in your village, you can order direct or perhaps you would like to volunteer? Local co-ordinators have FREE membership of the scheme.

 

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

This is hard to say because the price of oil varies from day to day – and because we expect to be able to drive the price down once the order size goes up. As an example, on 1st August 2014, the negotiator found a highest price of 57.50p per litre, an average of 53.63p per litre, and bought at 49.99p per litre (all prices +5% VAT). That’s a saving of £36.40 on a 1,000 litre order and would easily cover our membership fee. We will be publishing the prices we buy oil at on the website each month. Please also see the indicative graph on the Oil Scheme home page which shows the prices that the scheme bought oil at last year.

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.

 

What is the area covered by this scheme?

Membership is open to anyone living in Essex.

 

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

The minimum quantity that can be ordered is 500 litres.  Please Note: 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.

 

How is the oil paid for?

AF Affinity will pay the oil supply companies directly and will then invoice each member for the oil they have had delivered. This will do away with members having to contact different oil companies to arrange payment. AF Affinity’s preferred method for members to pay them will be by direct debit, although advance payment by debit or credit card will also be acceptable to them.

 

What are the delivery arrangements?

RCCE’s Oil Buying Scheme 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. Please allow up to a maximum of four weeks for delivery of oil from the monthly bulk oil order date. In most cases delivery will be sooner. 

Benefits of RCCE’s Oil Buying Scheme – why should I join?

Many local schemes are run entirely by volunteers which of course is great and local community action is at the core of RCCEs ethos.  However, smaller schemes may not be able to get competitive prices and can involve a lot of work. Some community schemes are able to negotiate a commission from the oil supplier to cover costs and /or be reinvested in the community. The RCCE scheme is not a commission based model, as this can work against us when trying to negotiate the best price. Some buying syndicates are run as commercial operations and whilst these schemes can deliver good prices, there is no other community involvement or benefit.