11 Dec Help choosing your energy broker
How do you know that your energy broker (sometimes known as a third party intermediary, or TPI) is acting fairly and compliantly?
A lot of businesses and suppliers you deal with on a day to day basis will be governed by a regulatory body, such as the Financial Conduct Authority, and this gives you some confidence that they act properly.
Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) regulates energy suppliers, but crucially doesn’t yet regulate TPI’s. Whilst Ofgem have created working groups to discuss future regulation, as it stands, there is no official regulation to ensure that energy brokers follow a standardised, and monitored, process.
So why should you trust an energy broker?… well the good news is the vast majority of brokers are honest and hard-working business people who place your business’ interests at the heart of what they do; but like in every industry there are a few “bad apples” that tarnish the sectors reputation.
In our opinion there’s three things to look out for when choosing an energy broker:
1. Is the broker transparent? Do they take the time to explain everything and check you understand, and can you see what they are earning from the deal?
2. Testimonials and reviews from other businesses
3. Does the broker voluntarily sign up to a code of practice? The most prevalent is E.ON’s TPI Code of Practice
E.ON TPI Code of Practice
In August 2012 the energy supplier E.ON developed the TPI Code of Practice, which was designed to improve sales processes for small and medium businesses and introduce minimum standards and disciplinary frameworks for those who broker energy.
The code seeks to protect the interests of customers through the development of four key principles:
Principle 1: Accurate and complete
Principle 2: Presented in a full and professional manner
Principle 3: Understood by our customers
Principle 4: Products or services must be appropriate for that customer
Although the code is only enforced when a broker works with E.ON it can be considered best practice across the industry.
If you’re interested in reading the full code of practice it can be found here:
We’re proud to follow the principles of E.ON’s TPI Code of Practice and seek to go even further to ensure that we do right by your business.
At every step of the process we utilise a checklist to ensure that you fully understand every stage. As the customer you sign off the checklist before we place your contract with the supplier so you can be confident you know what you have agreed.
1. We meet with you and discuss your energy requirements. Reviewing your energy bills we gather the required information to query your supply status with your supplier and explain the purpose of the Letter of Authority and what it enables us to do.
2. We set a Service Level Agreement, based on the supplier, so you know when you can expect to hear from us.
3. We send you the Letter of Authority, our Terms of Business and a Schedule of Services electronically and draw your attention to pertinent clauses. We explain by signing the Letter of Authority you agree to our Terms.
4. We obtain the necessary information from your energy supplier and determine the best course of action.
5. If you are able to change energy supplier we will submit termination to your current supplier so that you do not automatically renew. We’ll then prepare a quotation document specific to your business that presents a minimum of 5 competing products.
6. We meet with you a second time and talk you through the options, advising and making recommendations not only on price, but up to 10 other factors.
7. You select the contract that works best for your business. We tell you what we earn in commission and what you save, based on your current annual consumption. Before we progress we complete the checklist and set expectations for when the process will complete.
8. You complete and sign a Direct Debit mandate (if applicable) and we send you a copy of the contract to sign electronically. Once returned we send to Online Direct Ltd to process. As part of this process Online Direct Ltd may contact you to conduct an audit.
9. We manage your contract to ensure that it goes live with your chosen supplier without a hitch. If something doesn’t go as planned we resolve it with the supplier on your behalf.
10. We continue to manage your contract throughout its term for no additional cost. If you need to resolve an issue with the supplier we will assist.
If you’d like to learn more about our process, or would like to set up a short meeting to review your energy needs contact us today on 07887 757589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org