It would appear that the vendor
is attempting to act as a public utility, without actually providing any infrastructure.
This is the "Enron" model, which as you may be aware, turned out to be a house of cards, because the traders employed by the corporation
bought and sold energy and lost all of the corporation's and investors' money in doing so.
The principal legal issue is whether or not this sort of business
enterprise is lawful in the state where the sales are taking place. There may be specific laws prohibiting a business from buying and selling accounts for a profit (this is similar to someone increasing the cost of a real estate transaction by charging a referral fee for no actual real estate settlement
services -- which prohibited under RESPA federal law).
Since there is no federal prohibition on this activity, the issue devolves to the state in which the activity takes place. It may be perfectly legal -- or not, dependent upon state law.
Re services provided, the only real service is the ability to negotiate with the public utilities for a lower price, which if the vendor can make the margin large enough, it could pass the savings to the end user and then pocket any difference as profit.
In reality, actually extracting a profit from this sort of transaction is usually impossible, which is why Enron went bust. It's mostly "smoke and mirrors."
Hope this helps.
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