back to article WANTED: Actual HELPFUL info on price-comparison websites

The Office of Fair Trading has had a word with price-comparison websites, suggesting they up their game to improve consumer trust. The watchdog said it has written to 100 leading price aggregators urging them provide clearer information to would-be punters. The OFT found that, following a sweep of 55 such sites that operate in …

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Reading their guide..

"The OFT's 2007 market study into internet shopping estimated that if consumers used price comparison websites as effectively as they could they would stand to gain additional savings of £150m - £240m per year."

Wow. I could save millions per year? What a useless piece of information to put on a page designed for your average consumer. How the hell does that number relate to how much I could personally save?

Saying that, it is useful to know that there are accreditation schemes for comparison sites.

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Re: Reading their guide..

It is about £2.50 to £4 per person per year. Put that way, it doesn't sound like it is worth the effort.

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Unhappy

Optional

Is there a price comparison site of price comparison sites?

I liked it in the early days of one site (confused.com) - you enter your details once and it does all the leg work, now I have to enter the same details in 5-10 sites to get different prices from the same insurance companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Work cut out

When I worked on an aggregator, "The Electric Banana"* (don't bother looking - it's not there anymore) I had our test version set up to use the test web services the brokers supplied. Out of curiosity, I bought a disposable cell phone, and used it's number, and my own address for testing. Phone started ringing after the first few quotes had come back. And 4 years later, we are still getting junk mail in the test names at home.

*made up for the joke

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Re: Work cut out

I pity whoever has the phone number 01234567890. (Hopefully no-one...).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Work cut out

Yeah, and whoever owns f@chance.com.

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Other good phone number ...

I use the web site's customer complaints phone number. If I cannot find such a number then it is time to look for a different vendor.

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Re: Work cut out

Believe it of not, OFCOM has dummy phone numbers you can use for testing. Well, to be more precise they publish a list of numbers that will never be assigned. Not sure about Royal Mail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Work cut out

I get a dozen or so letters through the post each year addressed to Mr Qwertyuiop and Mr Asdfghjkl - tells me something about how good their computer is at sorting out the chaff.

Mind you, it's difficult to get insurance quotes for home or car withut giving your postcode and address.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, duh.

Price comparison is complicated. You practically have to be on the size of Google if you want to do even a half-way reasonable job.

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Re: Well, duh.

You mean the way google will tell you a product is listed from £50 and when you drill down the cheapest is £55 and most of the times delivery is listed as free it actually isn't for the product you selected but the shop happens to offer it somewhere, or only on the second Tuesday of the month for people who's name begins with X.

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Re: Well, duh.

Personally, I let me insurer quote me for a renewal, thank them very much and phone back the next day telling them I've been offered 12% less. They always offer 15% less (than their original quote) which I promise to consider and then accept the following day.

This minimizes phonecalls, bills, spam and irritation.

It also shows exactly how badly insurance companies are ripping us off.

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Unhappy

Confused are particularly bad at this I think

I use custom addresses for each form I fill in, so I KNOW the spam has come from them selling/leaking my address - as well as several calls from those helpful 'claim back money' companies or surveys - some of whom plainly said 'it may be because you put your phone number into a price comparison website'.

Simple - I block that address entirely, but confused cannot then email me deals etc. Their loss.

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Anonymous Coward

I have used lots of price comparison sites

But, I do not receive any junk mail, phone calls or e-mails.

This might be because:

I have signed up to MPS and TPS

I check the boxes which say I do not want them to contact me

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Re: I have used lots of price comparison sites

@AC - Unfortunately some companies don't pay any attention to MPS and TPS or they're calling from outside the UK and so can stick two fingers up to them.

As for e-mails, I own my domain, so if I give Fred Bloggs & Co an e-mail address I put fredbloggs.com@... as the address and if I start getting spam to that name I know who has been careless with my details (and can be blocked from future contact!)

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Holmes

@AC - Re: I have used lots of price comparison sites

Wrote

" I do not receive any junk mail, phone calls or e-mails...... have signed up to MPS and TPS"

So have I, but you are lucky. As someone else said, it does not stop calls from abroad which apparently are very cheap to make these days if you sign up with phone companies as a bulk customer.

Also, a lot of junk mail is simple addressed to "The Homeowner" or not addressed at all. How can these have been checked against the MPS?

I even get phone calls from salesmen in the UK, including one from Talk-Talk. When I told this guy I was in the TPS he pretended he had never heard of it - a salesman in a phone company FFS!

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Re: I have used lots of price comparison sites

Those need renewal every year, remember - don't let that catch you out!

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Mushroom

YOU MEAN THE MEERKAT'S LYING TO US? THE BASTARD!

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Anonymous Coward

price comparison

do you want the long thin dick or the short fat one

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Anonymous Coward

MoneySupermarket

I have a major beef with MoneySup regarding my recent experience in car insurance comparison.

They sent me an e-mail of their own accord showing their top three prices that they had found 'using the details that I gave them last year'. The prices were cheaper than the same insurers for the same cover through other avenues so, after considerable time spent checking all the different sites and cashback deals I went through them.

Only when getting to the final stage before paying did I notice that some of the details passed through from MoneySup to the insurer were inaccurate. I checked and the same problem occurred with several insurers. An honest error, you might think. However, some key factors such as the value of the vehicle and the estimated annual mileage were *considerably* reduced from what I had entered. My occupation was changed as well as some other information being wrong. In my opinion the only explanation for this was that MoneySup's website has been deliberately programmed to systematically change this information in order to generate artificially low quotes.

This is a very worrying problem as it would be easy to overlook these discrepancies and assume that the details that you had personally entered would be persistent. This would potentially result in a user buying insurance that might not be valid and that would present great difficulty if needing to claim.

This is a seriously dishonest and underhanded move by MoneySup and I would advise any users of their site to be extremely careful and triple-check all information before making their purchase.

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Use a unique email address on each site...

that way, when spam starts to arrive, you know where they got the address. Watch the meerkat!

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Holmes

@banjomike - Re: Use a unique email address on each site...

Wrote :- "..that way, when spam starts to arrive, you know where they got the address."

And then you do ... what?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @banjomike - Use a unique email address on each site...

blackhole it.

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