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Andy Homer, Chairman of Utility Aid, increases the support for the regulation of energy brokers

19 June 2017

If you read Giles Hankinson's recent UA blog, you can see how much Utility Aid and its staff believe in a small but important way we can help to make a difference for our customers, the charities and the organisations we work for. So, I would like to expand on a theme Giles has touched on - something called regulation. Most of us can see why some regulation is necessary - food safety for example. But many fight against the imposition of regulation ('too much red-tape') whilst some take a somewhat cynical position and oppose regulation because, frankly, it cuts into their margin, their profit. Such views are sometimes dressed up by representing them as a 'free market' philosophy. Beware of market makers preaching philosophy and that includes me; but - having declared my hand, here's my point. I am in favour of regulating the selling and marketing of utilities to small businesses and charities. Why? Because in 2005 I ran an insurance business and the selling and marketing of insurance had regulation thrust upon it by the Financial Services Act, with the first regulator the FSA, now known as the FCA ( Financial Conduct Authority). It was not easy - selling practices had to be overhauled, documented and audited. The focus shifted from price, price, price, to quality of service and quality of product. Price pressure has not changed, it never will in a competitive market, which is how it should be. I am afraid that not all business sectors have been putting the customer first, for example local authorities are being granted extra powers in 2017 to help regulate the practices around the letting of property to tenants - not before time. And how much do we trust some of the internet booking agents for live events? Some - because they have a trusted brand. But surely regulation in that sector cannot be far away. So, should it be in the utility advice space? Those voices that oppose regulation have self-interest set before customer interest. That has to stop.

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