Broke, and broker: 3 million SMEs suffer in contact with tariff intermediaries, Octopus poll finds


A poll released today by Octopus Energy for Business finds approximately 3.2 million small businesses have emerged bruised in their dealings with energy tariff brokers in the last year alone.

Deceptive or downright dishonest practices rife among Britain’s tariff advisors include, or so the survey found:

  • locking businesses into expensive supply contracts
  • concealing commission
  • cold calling with aggressive sales tactics
  • brokers falsely representing themselves as energy suppliers

The sector’s catalogue of near-criminality is laid out in Octopus’ new report, Small businesses in the dark: Energy brokers and the hidden scandal in energy prices”.  Its conclusions rest on the opinions of 1,000 firms reporting, each of them employing fewer than 50 staff.

As solutions to rooting out exploitation of often outwitted small corporates, Octopus urges government to impose more disclosure of commissions received by advisors from power companies, a cap on their value, and an end to cold calls.  Octopus’ remedies amount to a call for Britain’s spiralling proliferation of brokers to meet adequate regulation for the first time.

Small firms questioned by the study’s researchers backed the changes, when questioned in June. Nearly eight in ten, or 78%, told Octopus’ pollsters that brokers’ commissions should be disclosed in detail and in writing, and before customers put ink on any contract.

At 70%, only slightly fewer wealth creators want a cap on intermediaries’ commissions.

Octopus Energy for Business retails 100% renewable electricity & gas to 60,000 SMEs.  The supplier is calling for immediate action to protect small businesses’ interests.

It points out that, even as D-ESNZ and Ofgem are currently looking into suppliers’ working relationships with brokers, brokers themselves remain free of direct accountabilty to any regulator.  Few, if any, advisors are licenced by Ofgem as an energy supplier.

Octopus Energy for Business’ CEO Zoisa North-Bond said: “The pandemic, inflation and the cost of living crisis have increased pressures on small businesses to colossal levels.

“It’s simply not right that some energy brokers have been capitalising on this. The business energy market has become the Wild West, and bad broker behaviour is running rampant.

“It’s fundamental we raise awareness of these damaging practices”, the Octopus chief went on ”and there are things that can be done now to drastically improve transparency in the market. We need to stand up for small businesses to help drive down bills – and we need to get moving today.”

Read the Octopus report here.


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