Third Party Intermediaries (TPI) Programme

What your business needs to know about Third Party Intermediary (TPIs) services

Business can operate as Third party intermediary (TPIs) across all areas of procurement for businesses.
Business can operate as Utility Third party intermediary (TPIs) as long as they abide by the TPI Agreement set by OfGem. This should not be confused with businesses who do not abide by the Utility TPI OfGem Agreement.
Customers should:
– Always ask if a Utility TPI provider operates with the OfGem TPI Agreement
– Only use United Kingdom (U.K.) registered Utility TPI providers to be covered under UK law. Many business services operate outside UK law goverance for legal purposes so they are outside of liability.
– Only use Utility TPI providers who are registered tax payers (to remove criminality and show transparency). Ask for there HMRC registered number, this will normally end the conversation if they are not
– Only use Utility TPI providers who are PLC (Public Limited Company) and Ltd (Limited), this is for legal and finacial purposes
 
Utility Third party intermediary (TPIs) who abide by OfGem should proviide energy-related advice, aimed at helping business buy energy and/or manage energy needs.
Utility Third party intermediary (TPIs) businesses function across utility switching websites, energy brokers, and any company that offers support with energy procurement.

From May 2018, OfGem made the decision that all Comparison Websites no longer need to show the Whole of Market (WoM), and which utility provides are paying comparison sites commission to put forward there prices, and rates as the best available. Document is here: https://tinyurl.com/ybcyqv9y

Energy4 disagrees with the action of OfGem. Energy4 will continue since its inception in 2014, to provide independent, impartial, evidenced based, Whole of Market (WoM) transparent, non-biased utility information from 27+ utility providers

Whether your business is approached by a utility TPI directly or they contact your business, both your business and yourself should not feel under pressure to use their services. Your energy supply contract will always be with an energy supplier.
Utility Third party intermediary (TPIs) do NOT supply energy, as this would make them biased to sell there energy versus a competor utiltiy provider who could offer better prices.

 

A TPI can support you when getting a business energy quotation as the process is different from getting a quotation for your home.
• There are very few published prices in the business market and you need to contact suppliers to obtain a quotation.
• There is no obligation to supply you – a supplier may determine which customers they choose to supply by factors such as size of supply or your credit rating.
• There is generally no cooling-off period after you agree the contract (even when this agreement is made over the telephone rather than in writing).
• The contracts may last for multiple years and may have an early termination fee if you wish to change supplier before then.
 

Important questions to ask a TPI before you consider using their services

• Which suppliers will you be approaching to get prices?
• How many price offers will you give me?
• What will you do to help me switch supplier?
• What services will you provide during the life of the
contract?
• How will I be charged for these services?
– Will I be charged directly or indirectly (see over)?
 

Important

Q: Do TPIs always research the whole market?
A: No. Some TPIs research the whole market but others represent one or a small group of suppliers.
Q: Will a TPI always find the best energy deal for you?
A: No, TPIs are not necessarily required to find the best deal for you. You could find a better deal if you are prepared to look at different contract lengths or payment methods.
Q: Is agreeing to a contract over the phone binding?
A: Yes, your verbal agreement is binding.
Q: Are you obliged to accept an offer from a TPI?
A: No, make sure you understand the services they will provide for you, how they will be paid for these services and all terms and conditions before you accept.
Q: Are all offers presented in the same way?
A: No. Some factors in energy bills may change during the life of the contract (eg environmental tariffs). These may be presented on a pass-through basis (where they will be added to the energy price when the charges are known by the suppliers). Check that you understand whether your price may vary within the term of the contract.
Q: Is there a set duration for contracts?
A: No. Many contracts are fixed term and you should be clear how long you would be locked into the contract and whether there is a termination fee
 

Third Party Intermediaries:

What your small business needs to know

Paying for a TPI’s services

A TPI will charge for the services it provides you. This could be a direct charge paid by you to them (eg a flat fee, a charge per trade made on your behalf) or indirectly. For indirect payments, the TPI receives a payment from the supplier, which is added to your bill. Below is an illustrative example using simple figures to aid understanding:
 

Basic cost of energy 10p/kWh > TPI commission 1p/ kWh > Your bill shows 11p/kWh (paid to supplier) > Supplier passes 1p/kWh to TPI eg consumption 50,000 kWh/ annum, TPI receives £500

 

Consumer Protection:

TPIs must comply with consumer protection laws, including those which relate to business customers. For example,
a TPI is prohibited by the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations (BPMMRs) from carrying out
misleading advertising activities and should therefore always identify itself and be clear about the purpose of its call.
In November 2013, Ofgem acquired powers to apply to courts for an injunction to prevent breaches of the BPMMRs.
In instances where breaches of the BPMMRs may be criminal offences (which can be enforced by Trading Standards
and The CMA) Ofgem may notify these enforcers of concerns, where appropriate. Ofgem does not license TPIs but
has set out voluntary principles showing how they should operate, below.
 
Energy4 follows the principles and professional behaviour standards of OfGem and the TPI Programme

Honesty, Accuracy, Respect, Transparency, Customer-focused, and Professionalism