Regulator advises on price comparison sites

For many people, price comparison websites have become the default method of finding the best deal on insurance products, loans and credit cards, energy suppliers … the list is endless.

In general, such sites represent a major step forward for consumers, enabling them to secure better value when buying goods and services. However, some people are missing out on potential savings because of a lack of trust. The role of price comparison sites is likely to become even more important in the future as online sales continue to grow and initiatives such as the Government’s ‘Midata’ project put more information in consumers’ hands.

So how can we tell that these sites are unbiased, always list the best deals in the right order and are not, in fact, bogus services?

The Office of Fair Trading is today launching advice to highlight how consumers can make the best use of price comparison websites. The body’s Top Tips has been compiled in conjunction with The 'Top Tips' have been developed in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Advertising Standards Authority, sector regulators and Citizens Advice.

The activity follows a review by the OFT that found that while price comparison websites can help people get better deals, usage can be held back by a lack of understanding, trust and confidence amongst some people. The review included a websweep of 55 sites, which found that a number could improve their privacy policies and their complaints and redress processes. It also identified scope for some sites to provide greater clarity about the way search results are presented, and clear identification of the business operating the website.

Another result of the review is that the OFT has written to 100 leading sites asking them to ensure they are providing clear information to consumers.

For Get Safe Online’s advice and information on using price comparison sites, click here.

The OFT's findings and advice on price comparison sites can be found by clicking here.

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