Buying a Home Information Packs (HIPs) Will you Save or Lose your Money

Most people love a bargain and when it comes to Home Information Packs (HIPs) it really seems it is no different. However, by choosing the cheapest HIP provider are you going to lose or save your money?

We have in the past written about our concerns in regard to the ‘cheapest HIP providers’ which it is a shame the ‘Which’ report journalist never read as one of their seemingly recommended companies went ‘under‘ leaving many consumers without their paid for HIPs. The article Be aware of cheap, budget HIP & EPC providers certainly remains valid and with the uncertainty within the industry the Conservatives are giving rise to, we believe there is a real risk of an increased level of unscrupulous trading practice occurring over the coming months.

There is currently a number of HIP companies offering to save you money on your (HIP) Home Information Pack costs. Take a look round and you will see the type of advertising which is more accustomed to ‘pound shops’, ‘second hand car salesman’ and ‘electrical good suppliers’. Adverts often only allow a limited amount of text but quality doesn’t seem to be portrayed within most of these cheap HIP and EPC providers adverts. Is this an indication of the quality you will receive or the desire of the British public to buy something at what is an unbelievable price.

The HIP providers in question are often able to legitimately display logos of various genuine associations which portray increased quality of product to the consumer. A recent disclosure from IPSA members who have lost nearly £800,000 from HIP providers and other clients was startling and it is unlikely that any of this bad debt will be recoverable.

Domestic energy assessors who carry out the energy assessment to produce the energy performance certificate (EPC) are reporting struggling being paid by a number of companies, not just in a timely manner but at all. We are not able to disclose the HIP providers names at present though it seems they will come to light shortly.

Many DEAs are finding both the current financial and property market climate very challenging so often see offers of ‘new’ work an inviting relief. We have had contact with one DEA who wished to remain anonymous who told us,

“I had only carried out 2 EPCS in 2 weeks when I was contacted by …………. , the fees offered were quite low but I was in need of the money. I carried out the jobs as requested and 3 months later I still have not been paid. Obviously, I have tried to contact them. If I am luckily enough to get to speak to anyone which I usually have to do by posing as a possible customer I am given one excuse after another. In reality these EPCs have actually cost me to carry them out and certainly have not helped my financial situation. “

Some businesses are offering HIPs at a price which is substantially less than it actually costs. Is this a loss leader exercise to sell other products, a costly attempt to gain market share or are there more  unscrupulous plans with no intentions to pay their suppliers or supply the product to the consumer?

‘Loss leader’ strategies can often be legitimately seen by supermarkets for example. They may well offer ‘loss leader’ bananas in the hope you will come in and buy other products maybe even a £500 TV. But you wont see them offer TVs at £250 less than it costs in the hope you will come to their store and buy a banana.

With the uncertain future of HIPs what business adviser would recommend a HIP provider to consistently lose money on every product they sold to gain market share? (That is making the assumption that the HIPs are HIP-compliant and all the necessary documents/information are present)

For ‘dodgy’ HIP providers who do not pay their main suppliers i.e. energy assessors and search agents, the money they receive from the client / consumer is profit as in affect they have little costs. Unfortunately in this scenario, the consumer may receive a Home Information Pack, they may not and often dependant on how long they can keep trading.

The same phrase comes to mind time and time again if you are looking to buy a HIP, save your stress for actually moving and choose a quality HIP provider.

“If something seems to be too good to be true it normally is”

It could easily seem to be a bit of a gamble with some ‘cheap’ HIP providers whether you will actually receive what you believe you are paying for. We have no problem with gambling, however we prefer to gamble on the Grand National and generally put our bets on with a quality bookmaker, William Hill and not a budget HIP provider.

We look forward to your thoughts and views as always.

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