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Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Friday, 17 February 2012

Bulk-buying energy

BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 18th February 2012 at 1204 GMT On Radio 4 and Online

About 100,000 people have signed up to negotiate a bulk discount on gas and electricity. The Big Switch is being run by the consumer group Which? and campaign group 38 Degrees.

Consumers are being asked to sign up by 31 March and then energy companies will be invited to submit deals and take part in a reverse auction.

The winning deal will be offered to everyone who signed up and Which? will handle the switching process, taking some commission.

The idea of negotiating a bulk fuel discount for consumers has already been done in The Netherlands.

Sandra De Jong from the Dutch consumer organisation, Consumentenbond and Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd join the programme.

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Financial apps

Paul handing Gemma 10
Paul and Gemma complete a swift transaction started by mobile phone

This week a new payment method by mobile phone was launched with great fanfare.

Barclays' Pingit app lets users transfer cash for free to anyone with a UK mobile phone number and current account, as long as they pre-register with the bank.

Barclays says it is the first service of its kind in Europe, although similar systems have operated in Africa for years.

Paul talks to Mike Hawkes from the Mobile Data Association and Dave Birch, chair of the Digital Money Forum.

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The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation fell sharply to 3.6% last month, down from 4.2% the previous month.

As inflation falls and new savings deals come on the market, the programme looks at whether you can find inflation-beating savings and ISA accounts.

Linda McBain from Investec and Anna Bowes from speaks to the programme.

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Changes to bailiff powers

New powers for bailiffs and new controls over them were announced this week in a consultation paper by the Ministry of Justice. But it remains unclear exactly when, how and whether bailiffs will be able to break into your home. The plans also include a new scale of fees which debtors will have to pay if bailiff action is taken to recover a debt. Paul speaks to Peter Tutton from Citizens Advice

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Credit history

If you have been cautious about using things like credit and store cards, can it rebound on you in future?

A "thin file" is the technical term for a credit record with almost nothing on it.

Many people do not realise it can stop you getting credit as much as a fat file with missed payments can.

Paul hears one listener's experience of being unable to get a mobile phone contract and talks to Neil Munroe, external affairs director at Equifax.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 GMT.

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