Energy Assessors Assess New Challenges

Domestic energy assessors (DEAs) as a collective have felt  that they have suffered a number of blows within the market place since the introduction of the EPC requirement. Since the removal of the HIP legislation they have seemingly been dealt further challenges as the market place changes further. Is this about to change?

Many DEAs have left the energy assessment industry with complete disillusionment and losses on their time, effort and monetary investment; some after receiving questionable sales pitches and from training companies which were not achievable in reality. Though the flow of new energy assessors seems to remain.  We continue to receive comments on one of our most viewed articles, ‘Should I train as a DEA?’ with questions and thoughts from those who are considering re-training or wish to advise.

We recently wrote about the prospect of ‘Free EPCs’ (within ‘The Future for Energy Assessors’) that was discussed some time ago and was written off quickly by the DEA community as unworkable. However, with 2 of the big accreditation schemes NHER and BRE coming forward and seemingly supporting the concept to their members it had to be afforded some level of respect. The current situation seems unclear whether the accreditation schemes still intend to pursue and support this with many DEAs feeling that the proposal has become tainted.

Whether you are in favour of the ‘Free EPC’ idea or not it seemingly raises the conflict of interest issue once again; certainly the definition of such and how it applies equally to accreditation schemes, individual DEAs, EPC companies and other parties who come into contact with the EPC.

HIP2Go (a widely used HIP platform for DEAs) has recently gone into liquidation leaving many DEAs with thousands of pounds worth of unpaid invoices. We understand that even in cases where HIP2Go had processed payments from the DEA’s client , for e.g. estate agent or individual home seller, the payment the DEA was intended to receive has been left unpaid in some cases. A source told us that a number of official complaints have been lodged with the related professional industry and financial bodies / watchdogs  and we await to hear their responses.

Paul M Walker, chairman of IDEA said, “It is clear that many Energy Assessors have not been paid for their EPC element of the HIP they ordered, through HIPS2GO/ Hips Homes Ltd on behalf of their client. On the 17 June IDEA received information that the company were offering to pay 33% of fees owed to individual Energy Assessors. Mr Pett (MD) stated that this method would allow HIPS2GO to carry on trading and enable them to collect monies that they were owed.”

“Energy Assessors have not been paid for the HIP they ordered, through HIPS2GO/Hips Homes Ltd, that the client had taken the deferred payment option. In all cases HIPS2GO have received FULL payment from the vendor, but failed to pass on payments to the Energy Assessor/Home Information Pack Provider and some Search Providers. To date, those creditors that accepted the 33% “Offer” have still not received payment; those that have ordered searches that have not been completed still await their “promised“, refunds from HIPS2GO/HIPHOMES.”

“So where is the money paid to HIPS2GO by the home owners for their HIP/EPC/Deferred payment?  Money that by law, must be held in a client account by Hips Homes Ltd/HIPS2GO to pay for services.”

The professionals within the industry are constantly trying to promote quality, the benefits of the EPC and enhance the image of the energy performance certificate. This is often a struggle for Energy Assessors (DEAs) when competition is often volume based with little concern over the quality of the provision.

A new website selling EPCs has recently appeared on our radar and is causing a level of concern towards their business model. The basic business concept is:

  • the EPC is sold at rock bottom prices to the end consumer the home seller or landlord online
  • the online EPC provider then contacts as many local DEAs as possible and asks them to bid against each other.
  • The cheapest DEA wins the  instruction and is given details of the client
  • The DEA completes the instruction and uploads the EPC with their invoice.

Crystal Power, Director of Power Energy Assessors Ltd recently told us, “As a domestic energy assessor, I have been inundated with “offers of work” from this panel. I have sent them 5 emails asking them to stop sending me these offers, as they do not have an unsubscribe option on their emails, but to no avail. Phone calls to their offices have also not stopped the constant barrage of emails.”

“From talking to other energy assessors, I am not alone. I have recorded some 200 unsolicited emails from just a handful of other assessors and upon investigation, the “bidding” for the work is around the £15.00 mark! What worries me is that this panel are doing nothing to help the decline in fees in our industry and customers cannot be receiving a decent standard of service, or an accurate EPC. Panels like this are not helping themselves, their clients or the industry by taking this approach and yet again, it will be the energy assessors left to pick up the pieces once these panels go into administration”

Due to the downward mechanism of the bidding process, the cheapest DEA will win the instruction. As we all know cheapest is not always the best of option, and this process is not advertised to those considering buying an EPC Certificate. Winning bid fee levels we have witnessed are equivalent to approximately half minimum wage if calculations are made using typical times required for each EPC assessment and certification. If this is coupled with concerns that payment might not be received from the company, it doesn’t  seem a particluarly attractive prospect to us.


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75 Responses to “Energy Assessors Assess New Challenges”

  1. Yet another CCJ against this company..

    HIP-SAVE LIMITED (07021228)
    A new CCJ has been matched to this company. Court NORTHAMPTON CCBC. Case Number 0QT89532. Date 08/09/2010. Amount 145.00

  2. So is HIP-SAVE still a trading company? Mr Whatcott has 2 closed companies against his name and 2 trading companies. recompanies allowed to trade under differnt names?
    HIP-SAVE
    Hipserve
    Savi.co.uk
    Express-EPC

  3. As already posted on another forum….Let us not forget, the staff at Express-EPC know exactly what is going on and they have been the barrier between us and the director for 2 years, thay are as guilty as he is.

  4. I have also not been paid by express- epc. a guy named chris whatcott is responsible for this ( writen on dea forums) he works in putterills of baldock and he is also on facebook.
    express-epc have no intention of paying people.

  5. Contacted Putterills

    Quote “Christopher Whatcott did previously own the franchise for the Putterills Baldock office but his franchise agreement was terminated several months ago by our company principal.

    We have recently been advised by several people that he has set up a new online estate agency business based in a shop at Hermitage Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire – ”

    SAVI (savi.co.uk). 01462 410066

  6. See the link below, lists the companies that use the mail box in Glous St.

    http://www.thecompanything.com/…/27%20OLD%20GLOUCESTER%20STREET/1

    I guess Express-EPC dont want anyone to know where they are trading from.

  7. As a thankyou to everyone, http://www.savi.co.uk have the house of the week on for 20k…first one gets it!

    Have a look at some of the other properties

  8. I am angry with myself for allowing this bunch of crooks to get away with it. Is it any wonder the public have the view that they do about all that are associated with the property industry. No matter how hard you try to be professional and do a quality job you find yourself avoiding telling people what you do for a living. All the quangos that are supposed to there to help us take too long and are generally overpaid clerical assistants. I am starting to believe there is only two ways to avoid the likes of EXPRESS EPC and that is 1/Avoid them at all cost 2/ If you are unlucky enough to be duped send in the LIVERPOOL collection agency!!!!

  9. http://www.savi.co.uk

    Maybe Mr Whatcott isnt as rich as we all think he is. Go to his online estate agency and click on all properties. Maybe we should send him food parcels to keep him and the Express-EPC team in Hitchin going. I wouldnt want them to starve.

    Poor souls.

  10. Have you noticed that if you go to all properties on the savi site that the details dont match the pictures.

    Express-EPC…Mr Whatcott, i thought you were a very shrewd man when this all started…how wrong i was.

  11. Express-EPC

    Thanks for the email from your accounts department this morning, its terrible that your good name is being dragged through the mud by certain indviduals and that you are the victim of a campaign aginst your company….Note that no other Panel is receiving this treatment, maybe this is because they paid me for the work i completed for them.

    If you want me to stop posting factual statements on here just transfer the money into my account.

  12. THE EMAIL RECEIVED, DEA’S MAKE YOUR OWN MIND UP

    Dear All,
    Once again we find ourselves writing to you to discuss the delays we have experienced in settling invoices which have taken us longer than we ever anticipated however, these delays have been compounded by the efforts of a small group of DEA’s who seem hell benthell bent on causing us as much disruption as possible. What these DEA’s do not seem to realise is that any and all disruption puts a strain on our resources as a business which we understand to be the intended objective but in doing so they are compounding the issues that we are faced with. Managing this level of disruption requires resource and whilst the disruptions continue we will be forced to dedicate resource to deal with it. This leaves us almost fighting a losing battle. We share a common goal here which is to ensure that your invoices are settled as quickly as possible. You will see some forum posts recently confirming that invoices are being paid albeit slower than we expected.

    As a responsible and professional business we have distanced ourselves from the growing number of accusations however unfounded and criticism currently been posted on some of the industry forums. We have now reached a point where we are being forced to defend our position. It has been said that we are responsible for discrediting the industry through the introduction of our bidding system. This was a system that had been embraced by many but also criticised by others. The criticism we received about this new process was in our opinion unfair and unjustified. We have many DEA’s who use the system as way of introducing other services relating to the property sales and rental market and in doing so, making it less about the fee they are getting for an EPC and more about the service they could offer as a surveyor for example. We have a number of DEA’s who continue to work with us on this basis and seem to be doing quite well out of it. It is important to mention that they are doing this without compromising the accuracy or time spent on doing the EPC.

    We all have the freedom of choice. If you didn’t like our bidding system then you are well within your rights to have an opinion and to express that opinion in whatever way you feel appropriate. You also have the right to choose not to engage in any business with us. We do however draw the line at behaviour that involves the customer which is even more damaging to the industry than any system we could introduce. We have documented evidence of DEA’s accepting jobs and uploading pornographic images for the customer to see. There is a post on one particular forum where a DEA boasts of uploading an image of 2 fingers in the shape of a ‘V’ and openly encourages others to do the same. He has also gone to the extraordinary lengths of uploading the same image onto the forum to make it easier for other DEA’s to use. Despite there being an obvious breach of the terms and conditions of the forum this kind of post seems to receive high praise. We have had a conversation with this DEA regarding his actions to no avail. We are considering our legal position with this particular DEA. Other examples include DEA’s accepting jobs and not doing anything with them or accepting jobs in order to call the customer and suggest they initiate a chargeback which in some cases has been the case. This has also become a popular boast in one of the forums. It would also appear as though DEA’s are turning on one another by placing orders in order to obtain the contact details of DEA’s who wishes to work for us only to give them a lot of verbal abuse for doing so. This is not the kind of behaviour you would expect from an industry that prides itself on maintaining a high level of professionalism. Having recently received an email from Paul Walker of IDEA containing a selection of carefully chosen swear words it is evident that even self promoted champions of our industry are capable of stooping to new levels of unprofessionalism. We retain a copy of this email on file for future reference. Other issues include involving other businesses to whom we have relationships with and bombarding them with phone calls. Taking all of this into consideration, i have to ask whether or not we are really the ones bringing the industry into disrepute or perhaps we have allowed ourselves to become an easy target through our inefficiencies and invoice delays. Both of which we readily admit. We do not deny our weaknesses and will continue to do what we can to resolve all issues. We have stood in the shadows for a while now observing the lengths people will go to in order disrupt a business like ours. We have largely ignored the abuse and criticism but will take a stand against anybody acting in a malicious manner with the sole intention of causing us disruption. Abusive phone calls to any business we have relationships with will no longer be tolerated nor will the abusive emails and all manner of threats contained therein.

    We have written to each of the accreditation bodies outlining our concerns for the industry and bringing their attention to those DEA’s who have conducted themselves in a less than professional way. We are also continuing to pay invoices in the order of when they were produced and recent posts on some of the forums confirm this. As mentioned above, we understand that you might not want to work with us again but please be assured that your invoices will be paid regardless. We are a reputable company and will ensure that all monies owed are paid in full and as soon as possible.

    I sincerely hope that this email is received in the spirit it was intended. We share a common goal and it is important that we work together to ensure this goal is achieved.

    Regards

    Express-EPC

  13. Mr Whatcott, please read this link, this what people think of you.

    http://whatstheidea.org.uk/blog/?p=188#comments

  14. EXPRESS EPC/ MR Whatcott.

    Watch out tomorrow (Friday).

    If you are not on the EAT “Stream”, look here about 9 AM?

    http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/

  15. Its good to hear Mr Whatcotts views, im quite surprised that he thinks that the DEA community started all this.

    http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/News/Story/?storyid=3617&title=Row_explodes_over_pricing_in_energy_assessor_world&type=news_features

  16. Seen and copied from another Forum..it appears that CW is posing as DEA’s to defend his quarter.

    ————————————————————
    Couple of points worth mentioning. In the ‘I have been paid’ thread ‘Si’ reports that he has now received his payment. The IP address of the poster shows as 82.6.153.71 . 2 posts further down ‘Paul’ has responded to another poster asking for him to forward his invoice again – guess what ‘Paul’s’ IP address is? Yep 82.6.153.71 !

    Received: from ChrisWhatcotPC ([82.6.153.71]) by savi.co.uk with MailEnable ESMTP; Sat, 12 Dec 2009 20:43:07 +0000

  17. Express- EPC dont seem to be advertising anymore, maybe they are taking a few days out to straighten up the accounts and get my money out to me, YIPEE

  18. Sign on door of Closed Savi Office reads as follows

    THIS OFFICE IS NOT YET OPEN AND WE DO NOT HAVE ANY PROPERTIES ON THE MARKET.
    FOR ANY ENQUIRIES PLEASE EMAIL INFO@SAVI.CO.UK

    This office was fully operational 4 weeks ago when i visited it.

  19. Beware …Express-EPC have relaunched as EPC NOW.

  20. Interesting article on Express-EPC and Mr Whatcott.

    http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/News/S….e=news_features

  21. Has anyone been paid?

  22. NextDayEPC, How many domain names did you buy? Are you going to pay any of your debts? Holly BAnk House is a mail forwarding address, not a company address. If you are intending to run a company legally and properly put where you are trading from.

  23. I wish i read this article last year when it first came out!

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