Drowning in a flood of price comparison sites

by , Head of Money & Travel Research Money 26 March 2013
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With dozens of websites offering to help you get a better deal on your insurance and energy, I’m wondering why there’s no easy way to compare the comparison sites.

Comparison websites

‘Switch your deal and save hundreds! Compare all the offers on the market in a matter of minutes!’ Is it just me, or are promises like this becoming less motivational and more exhausting?

Not because regularly switching energy, insurance and savings accounts can’t leave you better off – I’m proof positive that it can – but because of the effort involved.

Who compares the comparison sites?

Price comparison sites were designed to take the stress out of the switching process by offering a one-stop shop to compare the market. But with the proliferation of these sites in recent years, with all of them claiming to offer the very best deal, do I need to visit every site to be sure I’ve made the right choice?

Surely that defeats the purpose. And I’ll be honest – other than covering different brands, I can’t really spot much of a difference between them in terms of how the sites work. The focus often seems to be on price alone, which means many miss out an equally important part of the equation – the quality of the products.

One comparison site to rule them all

The travel industry has evolved to deliver a solution to the multitude of comparison sites, with services such as Trivago and Kayak aggregating the best prices from all the comparison sites. Perhaps this is the route that the financial services industry needs to follow.

It shouldn’t have to be like this, though. My pipe dream is a genuine one-stop shop that compares all brands on the market, shows me the price I’ll really get when I click through with no hidden extras, and tells me whether the company will offer me a service that will match the price. Here’s hoping.

Do you use price comparison websites?

Yes (79%, 877 Votes)

No (21%, 236 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,113

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13 comments

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william

I must admit, I’m not a fan of comparison sites, so tend to avoid them. All the adverts all the spam emails soon after using one etc. And don’t forget they’re in business to make money and how to they do that, referral fees. So I tend to use cashback sites, where most of those referral fees come to me and not the website.

And you’d think that the companies that offer the services you’re looking for would see how poorly they come out compared to others and adjust their prices, but they never seen to bother with that. The expensive companies stay expensive. Odd that.

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David

The best savings account I found is a Platinum Savings Account with the Dunfermline Building Society,Honestly it pays 5% gross per annum

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Micky

I have consistently used comparison sites as opposed to cash back as by comparing the 2 the cash back is never the winner on the best prices.

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Andy

I normally use a few comparison sites with false identities to prevent handing over my phone details. Almost the moment I receive the internet response I receive a phone calls asking me to repeat the process over the phone for a cheaper quote. Sorry if they cannot give me a cheap quote on the first attempt of asking they are not going to get a second chance to waste my time.

I was also very surprised to find my classic car insurance quote from one company, who I am already insured with, on a comparison site was 3 time the price of my renewal quote and also 3x the quote obtained from the providers own website.

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Chris daniels

Checked three insurance comparison websites for my sons insurance. Some big differences then went to direct line and beat the lot by 50 pounds. The comparison websites helped persuade me the direct quote was good value.

Is that what they are meant for?

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David

I was with Direct Line until they refused to pay for my claim of 2000 pounds.

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Ally

I’m happy with insurance from one of the Which? Best Buys but always use a comparison site to check I am getting a good deal. Often not the case straight off but worth it to be able to haggle with some authority!

They are not perfect but do cover a large part of the market – not 100% – but then if your quote is for £500 and the site shows £200 you know that it is worth looking more. If it’s £1 difference then possibly not worth the effort?

If you do not use at least one to get some comparisons without a lot of telephone calls or other means of getting individual quotes how do you know your renewal quote is a good offer? Suggestions welcome!!

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RM

Don’t forget the premium is only a part of the insurance total deal. The real crunch comes when things go wrong and you need to claim.
For this reason I always look the Which? summary of customer satisfaction and make a shortlist of those companies I’d be prepared to consider. And, in fact, my lowest quotation for car insurance via Moneysupermarket.com turned out to be one of the top three companies in this table.

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John Ward

If there were simple tariffs, like-for-like contract terms, and standardised examples and quotations, we would not need these parasitic websites. I have used them occasionally but find it tiresome. Quality of service – especially claims handling experience in insurance – and peace of mind count for much more than price for me.

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Jeff

These comparison sites and the companies who use them as referrers are highlighting an underlying problem. No customer loyalty.

That problem is that many companies will offer new customers better deals than their existing customers. This must also increase the admin costs of processing new customers’ details. Then having got that customer, they rely on inertia and try to sting them at the next renewal.
Fortunately, the insurance company that I use provides me with renewal premiums which are lower than any that I get via the price comparison sites, or direct from other insurers. And “my” insurance company is always in the Which top 5.
Unfortunately, things other than insurance that I buy don’t always have the choice an “honest” provider. Telecoms springs to mind.
As for haggling over a renewal quote (for any type of product), if a company offers me a reduction for haggling, I generally move away from them. My reason: if haggling gives me a better price, why didn’t they offer this first place – I always ask them why they are trying to rip me off? The silence sometimes is deafening.

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wavechange

I only use price comparison sites if they happen to turn up when I am looking for information on products and prices. None have encouraged me to plan to use them again.

I value sites that provide customers’ reviews, though there is no need to use price comparison sites for these. Reading the low ratings can sometimes be very helpful.

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Rod

I do use these sites but often find when you get a good quote when you click through it is often considerably more.I recently renewed my car insurance & found a well known company with a good price offering free courtesy car & legal protection when I clicked through thes for shown as extra so I . Better to make one or two phone calls yourself.stayed with my existing insurer for the third year

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J wilde

I have found that certain companies that quote a price on comparison sites then do a search on your credit rating even if you do not use them. They state that as you agree to the terms and conditions of the comparison sites they can do this. I have complained to 2 companies that have done this to no avail

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