The TPI Code of Practice is a set of standards that sets the benchmark for responsible, high quality TPI’s acting as intermediaries between micro-business customers and suppliers. By signing up to this Code of Practice, TPI’s agree to:
1. Third Parties
4. Staff records
5. Sales material
6. Responsible selling
7. Related laws and regulations
8. Data Protection
9. Change of Tenancy
10.Supply contracts and submission
11. Customer contracts and consent
12. Sales commission
14. Systems and controls
15. Roles and responsibilities
16. Breaches and sanctions
If the TPI uses a third party, it’s their responsibility to make sure that anyone working on their behalf understands and follows this Code. Any actions of the third party are deemed to be the action and responsibility of the TPI and this is relevant throughout all principles laid out in this Code.
The TPI must keep details of any third parties they use. They must share them with suppliers, regulators, the Code Manager, the Independent Code Panel and their representatives, if asked. TPI’s must issue any third parties they use with unique identifiers that they must share with suppliers and upon request with the regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Code Panel and their representatives. The TPI must have a robust, continuous screening and selection process in place to determine which third parties they choose to use.
TPI’s must have robust recruitment processes to find people with the skills and professionalism to do their job to the high standards required by this Code.
2.2 Background checks
TPI’s must be able to show that for each of their sales representatives they have:
TPI’s must have an effective training programme in place. They must be able to show that all their representatives have gone through a thorough induction and assessment, before they’re allowed to provide services to a customer. They must also update their training as regularly as required, in line with the latest changes, for example (but not limited to) in the market, laws or regulations.
The TPI must assess all their representatives before they can provide services to customers – and again at least once a year after that. The assessment should confirm that the representatives at least fully understand:
TPI’s must keep training records for each of their representatives which show they’ve been through regular training and assessments, and when.
TPI’s must keep a record for each of their representatives, including their:
TPI’s should manage their staff records effectively to make each sales contract traceable to an individual representative. These records must be maintained in line with the Document Retention Policy, to allow customer queries and/or complaints to be fully investigated and resolved, and shared with suppliers, regulators, the Code Manager, Independent Code Panel and their representatives, if asked.
5.1 Honest, accurate and transparent
TPI’s must make sure that any sales materials they use, including web-based sales tools are written in a simple, accurate and transparent way. They mustn’t use any false or misleading information – or try to hide or gloss over any facts about which the customer should be made aware.
All quotes provided to the customer must:
5.3 Sample copies
TPI’s must share copies of their sales material with regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Code Panel and their representatives, if asked. They must also share copies of their sales material about suppliers’ products with the relevant supplier.
Whenever TPI’s talk to a customer, they must:
6.2 Nuisance calls and face to face sales
TPI’s must respect the customer’s right to say no. If a customer says it’s a bad time or they don’t want to talk, the TPI should accept this straight away – and not make a return visit and/or call back if the customer asks them not to.
6.3 Contact details
TPI’s will give the customer full contact details, including a phone number they can call, if they want to get in touch.
The TPI will treat everyone they talk to with the same courtesy and respect, whatever their background, beliefs or abilities. They won’t use sales tactics that make people feel excluded or alienated.
6.6 No pressure
The TPI won’t use high pressure sales tactics to push, force or bully anyone into buying anything. They will not exploit a person’s inexperience, vulnerability, suggestibility or sense of loyalty to make a sale – and will treat them with sensitivity and respect.
6.7 Honest, accurate and transparent
TPI’s will use clear, easy-to-understand language. They mustn’t say anything false or misleading to make a sale – or try to hide or gloss over anything. All relevant information will be presented to the customer so they can make an informed decision, such as (but not limited to):
The TPI is responsible for making sure they only present and/or sell to the customer products or services that are right for their business needs and circumstances. TPI’s will be respectful and fair with other TPI’s and suppliers.
The TPI must keep records of every quote they give out and every sale they make for at least 12 months from the first call or visit – or if a contract is agreed, 12 months after the end date (whichever is later).
7.1 Knowledge and Awareness
As well as this Code, TPI’s must be aware of (and comply with where applicable) other laws and regulations, including (but not limited to):
TPI’s also need to have an awareness of supplier obligations under the MRA (Master Registrations Agreement – Electricity) and SPAA (Supply Point Administration Agreement – Gas) for the transfer of energy suppliers.
TPI’s must be able to show awareness of legal/regulatory updates relevant to their business and implement changes where and when required.
The TPI will ensure that their business practices do not cause suppliers to breach any of the relevant laws and regulations.
8.1 Data handling
TPI’s are responsible for following the Data Protection Act, as far as it applies to collecting and storing people’s data and marketing preferences. The TPI must:
TPI’s must have a robust document retention policy in place and are responsible for maintaining this whilst meeting DPA requirements.
8.2 Marketing consent
The TPI will screen all customer data (both new and existing customers) against marketing exclusion lists, such as (but not limited to):
TPI’s are responsible for the correct use of “Change of Tenancy” by their representatives, by:
All evidence is to be made available to suppliers upon submission of supply contracts.
The TPI will not use a COT as a means to release a customer from their supply contract or any other reason than a genuine COT.
They will also provide this to regulators, the Code Manager and/or the Independent Code Panel upon request.
10.1 Transparent, accurate and fair
The TPI is responsible for making sure the customer fully understands that:
10.2 Verbal supply contracts
If the customer agrees to the contract by phone
TPI’s must keep a complete and unedited recording of this verification on file for at least the length of the contract term.
They must give a transcript of the recording to the customer if asked. Upon request, they must share the recordings with the suppliers they associate with, regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Control Panel and their representatives.
10.3 Paper and electronic supply contracts (including web-based)
If the customer agrees a supply contract either in an electronic or paper format, a copy needs to be stored on file for at least the length of the contract.
10.4 Submitting Supply Contracts
TPI’s and suppliers must agree:
If there are any issues with the contract, the TPI must get in touch with the customer to resolve them before the contract goes to the supplier. If the supplier rejects a contract, the TPI must let the customer know.
Where a TPI forms a contract directly with the customer for the service(s) they are providing, the agreement must be clear on the duration of the agreement and any fees that are associated with it, and:
The TPI is responsible for making sure they only present and/or sell micro-business customers energy products and/or services that are right for their business needs and circumstances.
11.2 Letter of Authority (LOA)
Where a customer wants the TPI to act on their behalf, the TPI must have Letter(s) of Authority in place, either presented verbally (which is recorded) or documented (with signature), in clear easy-to-understand language that includes:
TPI’s should provide the customer with a copy of the LOA (together with a copy of any contract). Where the TPI has the relevant LOA in place, they should always ensure the customer is in agreement with the contract before they agree on the behalf of the customer.
12.1 Transparent fees
If a TPI receives any commission, then they must not market their services as “free”. The TPI will tell customers they may be paid a commission. If the customer asks, the TPI will also explain:
TPI’s must have a fair, transparent and effective system for handling any complaints from customers.
13.1 In writing
The TPI will write up and publish their complaints process clearly, explaining:
TPI’s are responsible for making sure all their representatives are fully trained on their complaints and escalation procedures.
As soon as the TPI gets a complaint (in writing or verbally), they must:
13.4 Over 7 days
Any complaints not resolved between the TPI and the customer within 7 days must be escalated to the Code Manager. Permission must be granted from the customer before any information obtained is shared with the Independent Code Manager.
The TPI must have a system for logging and tracking all customer complaints – and share this information with the suppliers they associate with, regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Code Panel and their representatives, if asked.
13.6 Types of complaint
TPI’s must take appropriate steps to resolve any complaints about:
The TPI and Supplier agree to be bound by the Code Manager’s decisions, including compensation
TPI’s are responsible for making sure they have robust controls and systems in place for making sure their representatives comply with this Code and monitor compliance against the Code. They must also be able to show proof of these systems to suppliers, regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Code Panel and their representatives, if asked.
Each year, TPI’s will be expected to submit a self-assessment questionnaire on their compliance to the Code to Suppliers. Any failure to complete this self assessment will be regarded as a breach.
14.3 Audits Compliance
with this Code is subject to audit and TPI’s will be audited by suppliers signed onto this Code, also the Code Manager or other independent auditors can check them at any time.
Audits will be in line with data protection and subject to commercial confidentiality.
No sensitive or personal information will be sent to or retained by auditors; the Auditor will require visibility of this to complete the audit but this will not be removed from the TPI’s premises.
The TPI will agree service level agreements (SLAs) for responding to requests from auditors – whether a routine or unscheduled audit, from a supplier, regulator, independent auditor, the Code Manager or the Independent Code Panel and their representatives.
TPI’s are responsible for making sure all their representatives (including any third parties they use) know and comply with this Code.
The TPI should also make their customers aware of the Code.
They’re also answerable to the suppliers they associate with, external auditors, regulators, the Code Manager and the Independent Code Panel.
Suppliers must audit TPI’s to make sure they stick to this Code, and:
Suppliers must also:
15.3 Code Manager
The Code Manager is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Code, including:
15.4 Independent Code Panel
An Independent Code Panel will:
15.5 Independent auditor
The Code Manager will also appoint an independent auditor to audit the Code at least once a year and whenever the Code Manager thinks it is needed.
If a TPI fails to comply with the Code, it will be treated as a breach, either minor or major. Breaches will typically be identified by direct reporting by the TPI or the supplier, for example complaints made to the supplier, Code Manager or via the Code audit process.
16.1.a Minor breaches
Defined as: a violation of the Code and/or control weakness resulting in potential harm or damage to the customer and/or customers business. These will be managed between the TPI and supplier who will agree what action to take. The supplier will share information about these breaches with the Code Manager. Typically minor breaches will be isolated incidents or oversights e.g not giving contact details, mistakes in verification scripts, etc.
16.1.b Major breaches
Defined as: a violation of the Code and/or control weakness resulting in potential and/or immediate harm to the customer and/or customer’s business; also an illegal and/or fraudulent practice.
These will also be managed between the TPI and supplier and the supplier will report them to the Code Manager straight away. Typically major breaches will be systemic or repeated breaches of the Code or any evidence of fraud or deliberate manipulation e.g. editing call recordings or evidence of fraudulent changes of tenancy. An accumulation of minor breaches may also be considered to be a major breach.
If a TPI breaches this Code, they face sanctions including:
and more, such as legal action if reportable to the police.
Where a TPI has been suspended and/or expelled from the Code, participating suppliers will not to accept supply contracts during the suspension and/or expulsion from them and/or any of their representatives.
The Code Manager will set the appropriate sanctions (overseen by the Independent Code Panel) and put everything in writing – breaches, action plans, timescales and sanctions.