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Energy Broker Red Flags: 10 Things to Watch Out For

Finding the cheapest deal on your business energy is tough and takes a lot of administration work. A business energy broker can save you time and money on your energy deal by doing the legwork for you. You can also leverage their experience and benefit from deals that you may struggle to find if you went direct to the supplier. But regulation of energy brokers market is lax. Almost anyone can set up as an energy broker and there are a lot of unscrupulous operators that you should watch out for. We’ve put together a list of red flags that should help you distinguish between the sharks and the brokers that will genuinely benefit your business.

Cold calling

Most businesses that we speak to have had the experience of energy brokers calling them out of the blue. Energy brokers that practice cold calling operate on a high volume of customers and rarely offer the service standards in line with what their clients expect. The most unscrupulous brokers will misrepresent where they are calling from. One common tactic is pretending to call pretending to be a supplier like British Gas. Exercise caution with cold callers. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

No office visits

Sometimes, you might think you’re getting a whole office when you only get a bedroom broker. It’s difficult to tell how an energy broker is set up just from their website and phone calls. Suggesting a visit to their premises will give you a better understanding of their business and set your mind at ease. If the broker refuses a visit for no good reason, you might be right to treat them with suspicion.

No clarity on fees

Brokers operate on different fee models. Some operate on a commission basis, where the broker receives a payment from a supplier which is added to your bills. Others operate on a professional basis, where you pay the broker directly. Make sure you know if your utility broker is being upfront and honest about their fee structure. Be wary of any brokers offering their services for free. Their costs will be buried elsewhere in your bills.

No references

Can the broker provide you with references from companies and organisations that are of a similar size and in similar industries? If not then the best case scenario is that they don’t have experience working with businesses like yours. The worst-case is that they can’t find a customer to say good things about them.

Poor online reviews

Online reviews tell you about the general quality of a broker. Reviews can be posted on Google, on a feedback site like Feefo or on social networks like Facebook. Make sure you check a variety of sources and if a broker has a lot of one-star ratings and negative feedback, then you may want to avoid them.

Pushy salespeople

Brokers should do their bit to keep the process moving along. But there is a difference between pushing things forward and being pushy and uncooperative. Good brokers should work at a pace that’s good for their clients and refrain from applying undue pressure before a company has had enough time to consider their full range of options.

Few contract offers

A good broker will supply you with a range of contract offers. If a broker only offers you one or two contracts to choose from, they are limiting your choices and giving you little in the way of price comparisons. Giving you dozens of offers might be overkill, especially if there isn’t much difference in prices. But most good brokers will give you at least three or four strong options to choose from.

No explanations

Once you get to the tender stage, your energy broker should provide a detailed summary of bids along with their recommendation of which offer to accept. They should tell you why they’ve chosen that supplier and explain some of the risks and costs associated with that contract, including any early termination fees or the possibility of any end of contract payments.

Supplier contact restricted

Your broker should always be upfront about which supplier they have chosen and not restrict your freedom to contact the supplier directly if you so choose. If the broker doesn’t reveal the name of their chosen supplier or stops you contacting them, there is something fishy going on and you might be missing out on the best deal.

Poor communication

If you have already used a supplier and they weren’t very good at communicating this should be a red flag. It may also be that they just aren’t good at communicating in the first instance. If they take a long time to get back to you for example. You rely on energy broker to communicate throughout the course of a contract and contact you when you have enough time to review other contracts before it is time to renew.

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )