Home > Consumer Protection > How Are Price Comparison Sites Regulated?

How Are Price Comparison Sites Regulated?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 10 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Comparison Consortium Financial Website

You’ve probably seen adverts for websites that let you compare prices for absolutely everything online – from insurance and mortgages to holidays and supermarkets. Recent surveys show 54% of UK adults who have access to the Internet have used a financial price comparison website, and that half of adults decide on their home or motor insurance policy simply based on the prices quoted on these sites. A third of UK adults have bought at least one financial product online within the past two years.

If you’ve ever wondered who keeps a watchful eye on the standards of these websites and makes sure that they don’t break any rules, well, from 2008 there has been an organisation called The Comparison Consortium in place to try and uphold standards for comparison websites. The consortium consists of a committee with more than 40 years combined industry experience on some of the UK’s biggest comparison websites. Although membership of the organisation is not compulsory, it's hoped that membership will give respectability to members and improve consumer confidence.

Why Does the Industry Need Regulating?

Recently, BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme highlighted the fact that comparison websites for financial products "had an obvious incentive to feature companies that give them the best rewards."

Research by the programme discovered that comparison websites can make money from advertisers in several ways, including fees for prominent product placements, money for every customer who clicks through to a particular company, for leads generated etc. According to co-founder of the Comparison Consortium, Richard Mason, the industry needs an ‘authority figure’ as it’s a relatively new concept that has transformed the way consumers shop for financial products and services. He added that the introduction of this Code will ensure that customers are treated fairly and respectfully.

What Does the Comparison Consortium Do?

The published objectives of the Comparison Consortium are

  • To uphold and to develop a set of clear practices and procedures which will represent the best interest of consumers, and which will also encourage price comparison websites to operate professionally and at the highest standard.
  • To award accreditation to all price comparison websites who adhere to the Comparison Consortium’s Code of Practice and comply with the Complaints Procedure.
  • To improve on existing customer service levels by enforcing a common customer complaints policy.
  • To act as an ambassador for the price comparison industry and to promote good standards of practice which will be representative of consumers’ interests.

The Comparison Industry Code of Practice

In July 2009, The Comparison Consortium released its code of practice, designed to represent consumers’ best interests, and also enhance the reputation of the comparison market. The consortium is trying to encourage as many comparison websites as possible to sign up to this code, and accreditation scheme. As there is no compulsory regulation of comparison sites, the idea was to try and introduce a code that will keep consumers happy, and at the same time give established members some kudos with the accreditation scheme.

Accredited websites will now be able to display a Comparison Consortium seal of approval, which should tell users that they are members of the Comparison Consortium and that they trade according to the Code of Practice. There is also a complaints procedure can be used by members of the public who might have had problems with a member.

What The Comparison Consortium Can't Do

The Comparison Consortium can’t give you advice on insurance or financial products, and it isn’t an ombudsman or a statutory regulator. If you need that type of assistance, you should contact Consumer Direct, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Advertising Standards Authority, your local authority trading standards office or the Office of Fair Trading, depending on your particular issue.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Smithy
    Re: Faulty Goods
    Faulty log burner bought on line. Did not notice fault in 30 days. Can I request a replacement rather than repair? I have lost confidence in product…
    21 January 2020
  • Giedre
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    Hello, i bought a car 2010 BMW 520d. The dealer said the car has warranty for all the possible brakedowns unless it is wear and…
    21 January 2020
  • Nezer
    Re: Dealing With Cowboy Builders
    We employed Neil Parry, plastering and property maintenance from Rhyl to carry out a full house refurbishment. His son, James Neil…
    20 January 2020
  • Dee
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    Hi, We bought my son a fiat 500s from a well-known car dealer in London 2 months ago It has been back to him now for a sensor…
    13 January 2020
  • Mike
    Re: Leasing A Car Explained
    I have leased a new Audi A7 over 4 years, had it 10 months from new. It has developed issues when driving and 8 electrical faults on…
    9 January 2020
  • Gen
    Re: Gardener Overcharged Us: Can We Refuse to Pay?
    We asked a drainage company to assess a flooding problem in our basement. We chose a company that clearly…
    9 January 2020
  • Jenny
    Re: What If Your Plumber Makes Mistakes?
    Hello, Recently we had an emergent situation where our main sewage line was blocked with tree roots, verified by a…
    9 January 2020
  • valep88
    Re: Buying a Used Car: Your Rights
    Good evening, I bought a second hand Nissan Juke 2011, 1.6petrol with 80k mileage. After 3 months of use, roughly after 3k…
    7 January 2020
  • Linette
    Re: Spa Treatments: Your Consumer Rights
    I had eyelash extension at a WOW BAR and within 24 hours experienced itching and burning, by the time I went back to the…
    7 January 2020
  • Happy Traveler
    Re: Booking a Holiday - What if it Goes Wrong
    Hi, I booked a flight from Joburg to Cape Town with an online travel agent, over the phone in the UK. The Agent…
    7 January 2020