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Citizen advice Manchester
Mr President, we welcome the message that Ofgem, the body that regulates us in the field of renewable energies, wants greater power to safeguard the smallest companies in the nation from overeager intermediaries. It' s just a disgrace it took so long to solve this one. More than two third of small companies buy power and natural gas from an agent who serves as an agent between them.
Theoretically, good estate agents should deal with the small company by providing information about the best offers and rates on the website ?but-?but, which is not always the case. Speaking in his recent reply to the government's Consumer Green Paper, Ofgem said: If utilities are selling to homes, Ofgem ensures that they comply with stringent criteria.
Supplier have been fined heavily for violating these regulations. It is clear that small companies need similar protection. Through our Consumer Hotline and Extra Help Unit, we advise small companies. In cases where real estate agents have used harsh practices, including open frauds, our consultants have assisted in winning deals.
Monetary effects on companies that have been wrongly divested can be ?at-?at, which is the worse, it can put a profit-making company in the red. What's more, it can also be a bad thing. We last year released a listing of the most frequent broker issues that small companies used to contact us. Concrete instances are agents who claim to be from an agency, the claim that a new commodity is needed, and the concealment of dealings with certain power utilities.
There is no requirement to keep a log of the discussion between a real estate agent and a company leading to a deal, which means that it is very hard to trace a complaint. Instead, these companies are relying on the good will of their utility company to terminate their contracts. It is not just for individuals that this poor level of security has devastating effects, but for the whole one.
There are signs of an exposure shortfall in this industry and we believe that some of this is due to the behavior of brokerage firms. That will be detrimental to the markets and the consumer because there will not be the same pressures to keep the price down. In order to fight this, we need to regulate our power suppliers.
We have been demanding this since 2004, but it is still the case that entrepreneurs cannot depend on the same protection in their offices as they do at home. Citizens Advice believes that the right answer is a binding ethical statement. It should mirror the six volunteer principals we have worked with Ofgem to promote best practices among estate agents.
They clearly describe to the power sector the demands we have on the behaviour of power suppliers.