Is anything more irritating than price comparison site adverts? Yes, the sites themselves. Comparison sites have made it easier to shop around, but are they always working in your best interests?
As if opera singers, meerkats and scratchy-cartoon women singing YMCA aren’t bad enough; our research has found that using some price comparison sites can prove even worse.
Overall satisfaction scores for the sites we tested stood at a pitiful 42%. Why? How long have you got?
Of the 9,000 respondents to our recent survey, two-fifths didn’t make a purchase on the site after searching for a financial product.
When we asked why these people didn’t make a purchase, 14% said they just didn’t trust comparison sites, while 12% were unhappy with the quote they got. And almost 10% said the quote they got on the site differed from the one they were offered when they clicked through to the product provider’s own site.
Cheaper now, but it could cost you later
How could this happen? Surely there could be nothing more ‘simples’ than popping in a few details and seeing a range of results that are based on the information you’ve provided?
Apparently not, as the reality is many comparison sites use tactics that may be designed to deliver a quote as quickly as possible. To do this they use pre-selected answers, make assumptions and strip out additional benefits that you pay extra for, until after you’ve got your quote.
In some cases this can make quotes appear cheaper, but can result in you getting a policy that will cost you more in the long-run.
Unexpected surprises with pre-ticked excess
Take motor insurance as an example. Comparison sites will presume you don’t have any motoring convictions. But if you miss this box, and subsequently buy a policy, you could find yourself without cover if you do happen to have previous convictions.
Excess is also an issue. Nine of the eleven sites we looked at pre-selected a voluntary excess of more than £150. In one case (Moneyexpert.com) this excess was significantly higher, at £400. And that’s before the compulsory excess was added at the results page!
It’s obvious why this kind of action would irritate people. Say you’re buying insurance for your trusty motor, which is valued at £1,400. If you fail to untick the voluntary excess, you may have to pay £400 upfront in the event of a claim, right? Nope, because there’s the compulsory excess to factor in as well. If that’s £600, you’ll now have to pay £1,000 upfront.
Sure, you may get a cheap quote initially, but is it really worth it if you’re stumping up for most of the repairs? I don’t think so, and this is the key problem with comparison sites.
Price comparison sites may offer a convenient way to get dozens of quotes, but what you’re offered might not be what you were expecting.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way around the need to read the small print, and you’ll have to make sure you double-check every page of the forms that come with your quote. But then again, maybe that’s better than spending half a day on the phone with lots of different financial providers, hasn’t it?