/ Money, Motoring, Travel & Leisure

Why you’re right not to trust price comparison sites

Price comparison site characters

Why is it that people don’t trust price comparison sites? Every insurance deal in one place, lined up side-by-side so you can see the cheapest at a glance – where’s the issue?

Could it be that the whole point of price comparison sites is to draw together everything that’s available so you can compare it, but some of them leave out about 90% of the market, including some big names? This defeats the object.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the ‘cheapest deal’ on one site can be hundreds of pounds more expensive than the cheapest deal on another, even if you put in exactly the same information, leaving you with the urge to go and check three more. And to throw in some insurers’ own sites as well, for good measure.

Comparison sites aren’t giving you the full picture

The results of our latest investigation into comparison sites reveal another reason why we are right not to trust these sites and their less-than-objective analysis. The claims of being ‘unbiased’ and ‘expert’ ring hollow when you find out that some of the companies are being rather generous to themselves when they are presenting the deals.

Our researchers found that, when you are looking for a quote, Moneyexpert.com, pre-selects an excess of £400. Meanwhile, Comparethemarket.com, Confused.com, GoCompare.com, MoneySupermarket.com, TescoCompare.com and Uswitch.com all pre-select a £250 excess. Hey presto: you can make a quote look better than it really is. Simples.

How to find the deal that really is best

So how do you find the best deal that really is the best deal? Since some insurers are slashing benefits from their policies to cut their prices, you may find that the lowest price doesn’t mean cover that’s fit for purpose. Instead, choose a Which? Recommended Provider – we’ve already checked that these policies cover what you need them to, and that the company offers good service.

Every year, when you get the almost inevitable letter about a rise in your premium, look around at the competition and don’t be afraid to use lower quotes to haggle with your existing provider.

Do you trust price comparison websites?

No (61%, 611 Votes)

It depends on the particular comparison site (30%, 300 Votes)

Yes (10%, 96 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,007

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The other reason for me not liking comparison sites is that they will potentiayl get any/all the cashback thats on offer from the insurance company for a new policy rather than me getting insurance via a cashback site after working out which one is the best ( 99% the cheapest) policy for me. Some of the big names offer £50+ cashback, I’d rather have that than a less than £5 cuddly toy not matter how cute some of them may be

And don’t forget the FCA are currently looking into renewal quotes not being on par with quotes for new customers

buyer beware says:
15 July 2013

Price comparison sites stop people being able to compare prices which is bad for competition but that is the idea. It’s really important we get rid of them in the energy market. They are the cause of complex pricing and pricing with all the adds on so they can publish a table that does not make anything clear and take money from shoppers by adding commission for getting inbetween customers and retailers.

Shedbuilder says:
15 July 2013

I have heard that these comparison sites sell your contact details, in particular your phone number, on to companies who then bombard you with ‘ marketing’ or nuisance calls. I never had any of these calls until after I used a comparison site. At one stage I was getting 10 or so a week.

The trick with comparison sites is never give them your real phone number or email address and remember to alter it once you get the quote you’ll be accepting, assuming you don’t go looking at their site directly of via a cashback site instead.

Al says:
18 July 2013

I think everyone should have a dedicated email address that they use for companies who they think might spam them, I know I do.

Then keep it separate from you’re own personal spam free email address.

Al says:
18 July 2013

I don’t trust some of the bigger comparison sites because they hide the fact that they are linked to larger organisations that also sell insurance etc – how can we ever be 100% that they are completely impartial when they display results?

I switched with [link removed.] a few months ago simply because I think the larger sites are too powerful and have too much of a stranglehold on the market and aren’t always clear what links they have.

I really am not surprised at the lack of trust. On paper a comparison site is an absolutely brilliant idea – fast and convenient, but some companies have ruined that trust. It’s such a shame.

Stan says:
25 July 2013

I use 2 sites to get a decent coverage of the market when doing car or house insurance renewal. I find it easy to recall last year’s saved quote and review it for any changes in circumstances. This saves time. In the case of my car it has been insured with a company not on price comparison sites and they have beaten their competitors so the sites are a useful test.
With our home insurance I have used the sites to beat the renewal from our exisiting provider down to the price for a new customer as shown on the comparison sites.
So they do have their uses but as the review shows they are not perfect.

A friend of mine wanted a cheap run about he asked me to get some prices the car £500 went one of those compair sites there valuation £140 the car was worth they wanted £800 the man was 58 75% no claims make your own mind up???

I have spent this past 2 weeks trying to find the best deal for me, not necessarily the cheapest, I am totally confused, I think E-ON could be right for me so used 3 comparison sites, They all give the same yearly prices but all three differ in the yearly savings compared to my present provider, BG,
I went directly to the E-ON site and they are giving me a better deal than any of the comparison sites
I am using the Age uk quotes. As my contact is up on the 30th of nov 2013 where do I go from here !
Without telephoning them I cannot find out when to change over so as not to pay the early opt out fee
I would welcome any advice please.

The best deal is almost meaningless when it comes to Energy suppliers and comparison sites. What were the actual tariffs/energy supplier that each comparison site said was best ? If they all suggested the same thing, then try going via a cashback site to select that tariff from that energy company.

I have just worked out why U-Switch is giving me bogus Energy comparison results. Their tariff figures for my current supplier (Octopus Flexible June 2018 v1) are wrong. They are inflated. As a result I was being told I could save £166 by switching to Bulb. In actual fact it would have cost me £66 pa more ha I followed their advice. This is not the first (or second) time I have had these problems. I now use the site to get an indication, then check the rates with the company, and plug their figures into my own s/sheet.

I suspect that the large savings predicted assume that you are on your current supplier’s standard variable tariff. If you switch by contacting your new supplier rather than using a switching service, that will avoid the switching service collecting a fee that can be as much as £60 – paid for by all consumers.

I have not found any mistakes in pricing so far. It would be interesting to know what U-Switch has to say about the error, Richard.