Do you head to price comparison sites when you’re looking for a deal? How do you know you’re getting a good price? Will Hayter from the Competition and Markets Authority talks through tips on getting the best from these sites.
We recently published a report on ‘digital comparison tools’ – price comparison and switching websites and apps. While we mostly found them to be a force for good we set out some ground rules for sites to follow. We also opened a competition law investigation into how one site has set up its contracts with insurers because we think this may lead to higher home insurance prices.
While we mostly found them to be a force for good we set out some ground rules for sites to follow. We also opened a competition law investigation into how one site has set up its contracts with insurers because we think this may lead to higher home insurance prices.
Price comparison sites
We’ve made it clear that we expect comparison sites to be Clear, Accurate, Responsible and Easy to use.
We also made a few suggestions for how people should use comparison sites to get the best out of them. I talked to various radio and TV shows about these, so the points below pick up on some of the questions that came up.
Comparison sites can save you time and money
No one wants to spend their evenings and weekends hunting around energy companies’ or insurers’ websites for the best deals. But it’s important that you do shop around because there are big savings to be had – sometimes as much as several hundred pounds per year.
Luckily comparison sites can help – their whole purpose is to bring lots of offers together in one place, help you compare and switch and sometimes they even offer rewards for using them.
Choose carefully between comparison sites, like you would any retailer
But it’s worth remembering that these sites are businesses –they need to make money, often through commissions, they charge the companies that appear on the sites. There’s nothing wrong with that but just choose carefully – like you would between supermarkets, or between any online retailers.
Not all sites are the same, so try more than one if you can
And when you choose, keep in mind that the sites are all different – they might include different suppliers, different offers, and use different ways of presenting the information or be clearer than others about how they protect your data and what control you have over its use. So try more than one if you can.
In our view, using one site is likely to be better than using none; but using two is even better, and that is still a much easier way of seeing 40 or 50 offers than going to each supplier directly.
Think about supermarkets for a moment: you might well have a favourite that’s cheaper, more convenient or has a better range. But you would probably base that on having tried a few in the past, and, if another was available or opened nearby you might well also try it out.
Check how the site has ordered results
Sites might order the results in different ways – by price, or by quality rating, or by some other measure. If you stick with the first ranking the site shows you, look to see if it explains what it’s based on; or even better, re-order or filter the results to suit what you need.
What’s your experience of comparison sites? Have you used them? Did you get what you needed? Do you know how the last site you used makes money? Did you find the site Clear, Accurate, Responsible and Easy to use?