MoneySavingExpert pockets himself a packet

1 June 2012

martin lewisWell. Golly gosh and bless my soul. The top ‘independent’ money saving advice site has been sold to a comparison broker. But it’s OK, Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert will definitely retain its independence even though it will be owned by moneysupermarket.com, one of the biggest providers of affiliate links to MSE.

In a three year deal worth £87m, the site will be sold to the comparison giant, but Lewis will remain as editor-in-chief. There may be scope for him to stay on beyond the three years, but that is not part of the deal. What is very definitely part of the deal, according to Lewis, is a very strong editorial policy that will preserve the site’s editorial independence.

Lewis claims that the editorial code, included as part of the legal agreement, will “guarantee” the site continues to operate as it does now. The editorial code itelf is quite long (although you can read it here if you are so inclined) but briefly it states:

“The site continues to follow its founding principles. Our primary job is to continue to ensure we provide the best information to help consumers, based on journalistic research, and this editorial line will stay independent of any commercial objectives or influence.

Lewis says that “the Editorial Code and the way the site will continue to operate satisfies that, and while this is a sale, it's certainly not a sell-out.” Really? While Lewis will undoubtedly have some influence for the next three years, what will happen after that?  With no ownership and no guarantee of continued editorial control can the Moneyy Saving Expert really “guarantee” that all the links won’t become moneysupermarket links? And that the content won’t be influenced a teeny little bit by who is paying the bills? As MS forum user Lansker puts it “If it looks like a sellout and quacks like a sell out, it is a sell out.”

And the masses are not happy. Other quotes from the forum post where the sellout buyout was announced include gems from Sablade who declared it as “a very sad day for your unbiased opinions - a sell out! We now need a new unbiased independent website.” Sablade is clearly gifted with the art of visualisation, continuing with “unfortunately the voice of the consumer has been bought, money can buy anything, anyone has their price and Mr Lewis has dumped on his own doorstep. To start with we will see no difference but drip by drip moneysupermarket will suffocate this site and strip it of all its ways to turn the public's free advice into pure profit.”

User Fifer raises another point “There's a question missing from the Q&A. ‘What's in in for MoneySupermarket.com and how will they make a return on their massive investment?’” But Fifer doesnot stop there. He goes on to forecast the downfall of the site:

“There will be a period of stability followed by a decreasing level of activity by the founders and an increasing level of commercial activity.

Even if that was not the case, the commercial association tarnishes any claim of independence. Even if the site remained completely true to its founding principles, the commercial link will destroy people's perception of independence and fairness. The site, however honest it may be, will not be trusted.”

K-man was less wordy in his response “Shocking. Deleting myself from the forum as soon as I work out how to do it”

So given that Lewis must know that the deal is going to tarnish the site’s reputation and the displeasure of the people he is trying to help, why did he do it? You already know the answer to this one don’t you.

In his response to the news, Martin Lewis clearly says “Of course, I'd be silly to say that the large amount of money for me, my team and to charity wasn't a big part of the decision” and we shouldn’t really be surprised. Even before the deal was announced, on the finance page of the site Lewis declared that “the site is a very substantial part of my income; and I make a very good living…so I hope the site continues to make very decent money, like any business … in fact I'd be delighted if it made me a billionaire, providing it never compromises my ethics and recommendations." In the year ended 31 October 2011, MoneySavingExpert reported an income of £15.773 million (2010: £11.361 million)

An £87m wedge may not quite make him a billionaire, but at what cost? Can he really go happily to the bank content in the knowledge that he has not compromised his ethics and recommendations? Will you use the site* anymore? Perhaps the most poignant summing up of the whole shebang should be that of forum user Landsker “at least if you'd sold to Compare the Market, we'd have the meerkats to enliven things.”

*not that you need any site other than Bitterwallet, of course.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice

42 comments

  • Mike H.
    And will he continue saving money? Or anyone else money for that matter? Will he fuck! Mr. Lewis said "£87M Fuck you all you cheap scrounging cunts! I'm off to get plastered and buy jetski's with my fit weather providing bint!"
  • Her L.
    I bet you now wish you were friends with Martin Lewis. I know I do, but I still think he's a cunt. Just a richer cunt. Language Cynthia!
  • Her L.
    Of course when HUKD sells I'll expect Paul to invite me round for a drink at his in-home bar. I hear they're all the rage these days.
  • vibeone
    I like him. End of.
  • vibeone
    ^ Above is a fake. Although this post will also appear fake - I agree with Mike Hock. This isn't a surprise though - I've called Martin Lewis a cunt for many years. Some believed, some didn't. Now he's removed any doubt. Not that I care - I've got loads of money.
  • Dai
    Any bids for Bitterwallet yet?
  • jkljlkjkj
    Sell outs
  • Idi A.
    @ Dai Hah! Why do YOU think this bunch are getting so snarky about Lewis' good fortune? (and I do mean fortune...)
  • Mike H.
    If the regulars each give £1 they should get at least £12 for BW
  • vibeone
    ^^^^ Mike I'll give you £12 for a certain something you have ;)
  • Martin L.
    Life just couldn't get better. My lightning rod brings the rain to Lara Lewington and I just made alotta money! Those norks :)
  • Chewbacca
    He's a cheesy, smarmy English get. and a cunt.
  • Alexis
    Meh. Good luck to him.
  • Her L.
    vibeone, it'll take more than £12 for Mike to give back your Mum's virginity.
  • Mike H.
    LOLA @ lola
  • vibeone
    I still dont know who vibeone is
  • Her L.
    Instead of spending half an hour searching for an elusive voucher code, or two days comparing cheap flights and hotel rooms, and invested time and effort into a site like MSE, we'd be the ones bare-arsed scooching along the GMTV sofa in front of a distraught Lorraine Kelly and the one that looks like a less pretty version of Alex Jones from the One Show.
  • Shaniaa
    aye right am no giving £1 to this site haha!, spent all ma money on farmville & fags, waiting on my jobseekers moneh coming through on friday tho.
  • Mike C.
    Fair fucks to him, he worked hard and now he is rolling in it, get jealous often Cunts ?
  • I l.
    The man made his money on the back of the desperate - the indebted, the bankrupt, those on benefits and the pure hard up. He makes me sick... And now his little kiddies are off to Eton or Harrow.... FFS
  • Mike H.
    Hopefully his site will now come up on Anonymous's radar and they can dish out some justice.
  • Martin L.
    Awwwww diddums. I made money by helping the desperate – the indebted, the bankrupt, those on benefits and the pure hard up find cheaper deals, better savings and ways out of debt. I took a cut; I'm not a fucking charity. Literally millions of people got a better deal than they normally would. What the fuck did you do to help out? That's right - fuck all you whining shitbag.
  • Clunge
    I always thought he was a cunt but I still liked the website a lot. I guess he didn't have anything to lose and everything to gain...everyone thought he was a cunt anyway - now he's just an even richer cunt.
  • Martin L.
    Who pays BitterWallet staff? How is this money generated?
  • Martin L.
    I love the fucking bankrupts aswell. I get to laugh at them skint fucks earning me money. I often sign up for a regular account and just and say "Hi bankrupts pay off your debts because you make me look fucking bad" I also enjoy talking to "Ifwisheswerehorses" She offered me sex for a 10 deck of lambert. I told her to get a fucking job. Ahh well I am fucking richer than all you peasants.
  • Sawyer
    Can't blame him really. His membership stands at 7 million plus - the figures must be about to hit a plateau. £87 million for a site that still looks like something from the 90s is the deal of the century - he'd be ignoring his own advice not to take it. He is a little bit annoying though.
  • Martin L.
    @feltz No. I was in a coma at the tine.
  • Spencer
    Fair play to him.... He spent years helping people save money. so in that sense, I got no beef with him. As for selling out... Would you sell a website for £87million? Cos I sure as fuck would? Who cares if people call you a sell out? Your rich as fuck and you'd just leave and go enjoy your life elsewhere...
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