The Water Act 2014 will allow all eligible non-household customers to choose their supplier of water and wastewater retail services from April 2017.
Third party intermediaries (TPIs) are common in markets that have similar structures to the business retail market, including the energy market and the financial services market. In the energy market, TPIs are organisations or individuals that give energy related advice, aimed at helping customers buy energy and/or manage their energy needs. Third party intermediaries include switching sites, energy brokers and any company that offers support with energy procurement. We expect to see similar services being offered by TPIs in the business retail market.
The use of TPIs is a key opportunity for customers to engage through a forum they already use for other services and to potentially benefit from multi-utility offerings. For example, there is potential for a triple utility offering should a current energy TPI choose to enter the water sector. Product bundling may become a new business model within the business retail market.
The activities of TPIs are therefore likely to be an important contributor to the successful functioning of the water business retail market.
This consultation sets out our proposed approach to protecting customers in the business retail market through the introduction of principles for any new voluntary code of conduct for TPIs. And we set out our proposed approach for implementing these principles. We consider that the opportunity to sign up to a voluntary code of practice will benefit TPIs because it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate to business customers that they offer the same commitments on customer protection as licensed retailers.
We also set out in this document where we could enhance our ability to protect water and wastewater customers through powers to enforce existing consumer protection legislation.
We welcome your responses to this consultation by 7 March 2017. Please email your responses to [email protected], with the subject ‘Third Party Intermediaries: principles for voluntary TPI codes of conduct consultation’, or post them to: Retail Market Opening Programme, Ofwat, 4th floor, 21 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3HF.
- TPI letter of authority final PDF 74.04 KB