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New business energy broker code of practice - UHL signs up

Energy provider E.ON recently announced a set of guidelines and industry standards for the energy sales industry, created with the intention of helping consumers get the best possible service when setting up their energy contracts. The energy provider summarised its Third Party Intermediary (TPI) Code of Practice by saying it will protect small UK businesses by facilitating the contract between them and the suppliers and helping them get the best energy deal. These standards and guidelines must be closely adhered to by business energy brokers and business energy price comparison websites when dealing with customers to ensure the products offered satisfy their requirements. Utlity Helpline have signed up to the code of practice. E.ON set up the TPI code of practice as a key element of its Reset Review, and it's being seen within the industry as 'seal of approval' for those that follow it, giving business customers peace of mind that they're using a reputable energy broker All that subscribe to the TPI Code are held to a high standard and will also be regularly audited by the Code managers.

Business energy broker standards:

  • Company representatives must be background checked and offered regular training and assessment. When dealing with customers, they  must clearly identify themselves and the company they represent.
  • Business communication, whether written, on the phone or in person, must be honest, clear and accurate.
  • Sales staff must refrain from applying any pressure to purchase or otherwise coerce a customer into doing anything they're unsure about.
  • Annual estimates, if requested, must be supplied by energy brokers prior to customers signing a contract. These need to accurately reflect current prices and summarise the key terms of the contract.
  • Energy brokers' contracts must be clear, transparent and simple to understand. They are also subject to audits.
  • Letters of Authority, that are obtained by brokers to enable them to negotiate with energy suppliers on a customer's behalf, must clearly set out what they are requesting the customer's permission to do.
  • Energy supplier contracts must be explained in detail, prior to the customer signing. The business energy broker must ensure the customer understands the implications of the contract being signed. If the contract is being agreed by phone, the energy broker must read out the entire contract.
  • If a chosen energy supplier turns down a customer's application for any reason, the energy broker needs to inform them immediately.
  • The Data Protection Act must be adhered to by energy brokers and screen their customer data to ensure it conforms  with the marketing consent lists such as the Telephone Preference Service.
  • A complaints system that's simple and effective must be put in place by brokers.
Audits will be carried out to determine whether energy brokers are adhering to the Code. These will be carried out at least annually and those that are seen to be transgressing the Code can be fined or suspended from offering certain tariffs. If you'd like to find out more about the TPI Code of Practice, and how it helps you, please call us on  01432 378690.

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )