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Caution urged as TPI Code of Practice Shelved.

Amid continued evidence from TEC Members and beyond of aggressive sales tactics, claims of significant savings which would have been available anyway and a lack of clarity of fees it seems that the energy regulator sees no need to act to restrict this behaviour. Instead they seem to be issuing a “play nicely children” request to the TPI community which amounts to a “carry on with your shady practise”.

This comes at a time when TPIs have made considerable hay under the sunshine of lower wholesale energy prices. It is easy in this environment to claim they can make savings compared to previous contract prices, as the cost of the energy itself on wholesale markets would have delivered this anyway. The question that might be asked is how much of the saving would you have got anyway. TEC would have been disappointed if our contracts had not delivered more than the savings levels we have heard offered. Indeed the good news offer of a saving gives these providers more scope to include higher, often hidden, commissions which are added to these lower prices. It is true to say that recent sharp rises in wholesale prices reduces their opportunities, but this is no comfort to those who have been signed up to, in some cases, 5 year arrangements with these unregulated market players.

TEC has been successful of late in closing down attempts to establish “flag of convenience” frameworks, with a TPI acting as agent for a Public Body such as a housing association. This area does not fall under the scope of OFGEM’s powers but is of significant interest to the Crown Commercial Service Mystery Shopper Programme (Scope of CCS Mystery Shopper Service) , with them acting as the arbiter of compliant procurement. However these arrangements are being used as a means to establish less transparent arrangements which channel significant funds away from the provision of front line services. For the time being TPIs have the green light to carry on making significant profits at the taxpayer’s expense, some of which they are demanding up front from energy suppliers, so they get paid before the supplier does. The Public Sector is one area where they have made only limited inroads due to the requirements for compliant procurement and they are making an all-out attack on the Public Sector via questionable frameworks.

TEC and other Public Buying Organisations will continue to lobby Government to act against the unscrupulous players in this market, and will not rest until we play on a level playing field.

Please click here to read Energy Lives News article on this topic.

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