Coronavirus Information and Support

CNG has seen a growing number of SMEs now using brokers to manage their energy supply. Brokers play a vital role in meeting customer needs and to serve as impartial advisors finding the energy supplier that’s right for each business.

However, more recently there has been an increase in unscrupulous brokers within the market taking advantage of the more vulnerable SMEs, such as charities, community sports clubs, and care homes. It is frustrating to hear, as there are many brokers and consultants in the market who have the customer’s best interest at heart who are now at risk of having their reputation undermined, but unfortunately these rogue brokers are nothing new.

Certain brokers have been operating in this way for far too long, and it is great to see that Ofgem are looking to put measures in place to ensure the customer gets a better, fairer deal. This is a big step forward in cracking down on those brokers who do not have the customers’ needs as top priority.

At CNG we have championed doing the right thing for over 26 years, and we only work with brokers and consultants who share the same values as us. We hold ourselves accountable as a supplier for not only how we work, but who we work with. We pride ourselves on building strong relationships with the right partners and have many a time refused to work with those who simply did not match up to these values.

Having been in the industry for many years, the advice I would give to any SMEs thinking of using an energy broker is:

  • Check which, and how many suppliers the broker works with. Any reputable broker/TPI should be able to provide you with offers from a minimum of five different suppliers.

  • Getting a good price is important to all businesses, and even more so now off the back of the coronavirus crisis. If you are moving to use a broker/TPI, review the unit rates on your renewal letter from your current supplier. It may not be the most competitive price, but it will give you a good idea. Ask for market intelligence, ask them to tell you where the market has gone since you last renewed. If it’s gone up, by how much and why? This would enable you to get a rough idea on what a good price might be for your contract.

  • Ask them how they will help you make an informed choice! Yes you want to get a good price, but it is also important that your consultant helps you choose the supplier who you will receive a good service from too. A good TPI will be knowledgeable on each of their suppliers and be able to answer any questions you should have on them.          

  • If you already use a TPI, and you are unsure if you are getting the best value, shop around! This way you can benchmark them against one another.

  • Transparency is really important, brokers should always be clear about how they earn commission and the new regulations will make sure that these fees and key contract details are more transparent.

  • Has your energy consultant asked you to agree an LOA (Letter of Authority)? An LOA enables them to act on your behalf. If you have not been asked to agree one of these, it is usually a red flag. Make sure you are clear from the start on what you are giving them permission to do and what you are not.

  • Do your research! We are lucky enough to live in a day and age where we don’t have to take their word for it, we can hear from their customers too – check reviews, accreditations and awards! 

CNG set out to make energy simple and do the right thing for customers and we will continue to champion the cause along with many other brokers and consultants who I know have the same frustrations towards ‘the unscrupulous’.

When hearing from a care home as part of some market research we had conducted for CNG, it was shocking to hear a certain level of fear factor businesses had in switching supply. One care home said: “We have to keep the care home at a certain temperature. If I go fiddling about with suppliers, who knows I won’t be cut off for days?”.

When it comes to energy supply, it isn’t simply a functional business transaction. This is about people’s livelihoods. It all boils down to trust and ensuring the vulnerable or fearful are not exploited.

If we all did the right thing, regulatory measures wouldn’t be required, but sadly these rogue brokers are tarnishing the reputation of the industry as a whole and many other brokers and consultants who have the customer’s interest at heart.  I hope that with these new measures in place, transparency and best practice, SMEs will feel much more confident and get the fair deal they deserve.