Price comparison sites still running wild as watchdog plan flops
Dealing with price comparison websites is like crawling through a minefield covered with broken glass with a squirrel in your trousers and a Mynah bird squawking obscenities in your earhole. Or so they say.
It can be a living nightmare with no way of knowing how comparisons are made, who is paying for enhanced listings and the frustration of that finding the price you are quoted isn’t always the price you pay. Which is why it would be a good idea for an official watchdog to appear that would police the oeuvre and sort out the cowboys from the good guys (if indeed there are any).
The good news is that a proposed code of conduct for price comparison sites has been under discussion for the past few months. The bad news is that discussions have collapsed and what was going to be a voluntary watchdog will now not be created.
Sean Gardner, former managing director of the Moneyexpert website and head of the Comparison Consortium until its demise, says: 'Trying to bring many of these people together felt like herding a group of angry cats. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that many consumers will continue to be misled. It is immensely frustrating.'
If you do buy any financial product through a price comparison, sit down in a well-lit room, turn the TV off and unplug the phone and make sure you’re wide awake. Then read all of the small print. All of it – otherwise you could quite easily find yourself signing up for a product that could be useless in the future, eg; insurance that is null and void because you skimmed over some of the details at the application stage.
Would you even use a price comparison site given the shady reputation that they’ve picked up over the years? Or do you treat them as a guide to where the best bargains are before dealing directly with the company in question? Tell us. In the little box.