The TPICoP is the Third Party Intermediary (TPI) Code of Practice. This is a set of standards written for TPIs within the UK Energy Industry. The CoP sets a high standard for how TPIs operate. It will help regulate how they sell their services to businesses and ensure it’s done the right way. The main principles of the CoP are:
– Accurate and complete information
– Presented in a full and professional manner
– Understood by customers
– Products and services are appropriate for the customer
The goal is to give business consumers confidence when dealing with TPIs while also providing oversight in an unregulated industry.
Why Was the Code Created?
Unlike energy suppliers, TPIs are not regulated by OFGEM. Because of this, there was little regulation or oversight into how they did business. The CoP aims to fix this lack of regulation while also creating disciplinary oversight for TPIs. An Independent Code Manager will oversee companies who signed the Code. They will check that TPIs are abiding by the standards set within the CoP. If they are not, there will be a process to discipline them.
Who Does TPICoP Affect?
Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs)
TPIs are at the top of the list of those affected by these regulatory changes. There is now a standardized code of conduct in place for these companies for the first time. There will be standards as to how and when they interact and sell to consumers. In reality, there are already many TPIs operating at these high standards. For those companies, the only change will be formalizing their high standards of business. They will also want to advertise that they are part of TPICoP to build consumer confidence in their company. For businesses that aren’t operating at the level of the CoP, it will encourage them to operate at a higher industry standard. This will cause them to provide better service to business customers.
While the Code will have a massive impact on TPIs, there is arguably a bigger impact on micro-businesses. Micro-businesses are defined by OFGEM as:
– Having fewer than 10 employees and doing less than €2 million in business a year
– Using less than 100,000 kWh of electricity per year
– Using less than 293,000 kWh of gas per year
Previously, there were no regulations on TPIs. Because of that, micro-businesses were at risk when purchasing new energy contracts. TPIs could supply business owners with inaccurate information. They could neglect to give them information on money-saving contracts. Business owners ran the risk of getting locked into overpriced contracts that didn’t deliver the services that the business actually needed.
The aim of the TPICoP is to help eliminate that risk. When shopping around for new energy contracts, micro-businesses will be able to verify that the TPI signed the Code of Practice. This will give them some confidence in their dealings and recourse if they are unfairly treated. The code will help protect business owners. It will ensure they are getting the right standard of care from TPIs and energy brokers.
If you have concerns about the way a TPI is trying to sell you energy, you can register complaints with the Independent Code Manager. They will investigate.
When Will the Code Take Effect?
The intention is for the code to go into effect at the end of Q1 2019. Micro-business owners who want to change their energy contract should keep this in mind as they start to explore their provider options. Working with a company who signed the TPICoP can provide peace of mind that you are being dealt with fairly and honestly.
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