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New Code of Practice for Energy Brokers

What difference does it make for your business?

Today the new Third Party Intermediary Code of Practice for micro businesses comes into effect.

But what does that actually mean for businesses?

The code was instigated by E.ON as part of its Reset Review, and is a set of rules and guidelines for business energy brokers and business energy price comparison websites. It gives you a good way to spot if you’re picking a reputable energy broker – if they’re subscribed to the Code you know that they’re held to a high standard and will be audited by the Code managers.

Here’s a quick summary of the rules:

  • Audited staff – all staff must be background checked and given regular training and assessments. They must also clearly identify themselves and whom they work for when you speak to them.
  • Honest, accurate and clear – all communication, whether it’s on the phone or face-to-face must be honest, accurate and clear.
  • No pressure – sales people shouldn’t put you under any pressure or push you into doing anything you’re not completely sure about.
  • Annual estimates – if you ask, brokers must provide an estimate of your annual energy costs before you sign a contract, and it must be based on up-to-date prices, and with a summary of the main terms of the contract.
  • Contracts – a contract with a broker, whilst not commonplace, must be clear, easy to understand and transparent and will be subject to regular audits.
  • Letters of Authority – so that brokers can act on your behalf and negotiate with energy suppliers, they should get you to sign a Letter of Authority, which must make it clear what they are getting your permission to do.
  • Contracts with energy suppliers – before you sign a contract with an energy supplier, the broker must make sure you understand what you’re signing and its implications. If you’re agreeing to a contract over the phone, the broker should read the full verbal contract to you.
  • If your switch is rejected – if the supplier you want to switch to rejects your application for any reason, the broker must let you know right away.
  • Your privacy – brokers must adhere to the Data Protection Act and screen their customer data to make sure that it’s in line with the marketing consent lists like the Telephone Preference Service.
  • Complaints – brokers must have a simple and effective system for handling complaints in place.
  • Audits – brokers will be audited to make sure they’re sticking to the Code at least once a year. If they don’t stick to the Code, they can be fined or suspended from selling certain tariffs.

Business Juice is a founder member of the Code alongside E.ON – our team have been training and testing staff (even the developers who build our website!) to make sure that they are up-to-speed. They have welcomed the Code, but our CEO James Constant warns that in order to produce a market that really ensures that businesses get a fair deal that the Code should apply to all sales, billing and contracting interactions including those of Suppliers and customers.

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