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Consumers use comparison sites to get better deal with current provider

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Price comparison sites are popular among consumers looking for the best deal, but a market study reveals they are also used for research.

A report into digital comparison tools (DCT) by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found comparison sites have become an important way for many people to buy services such as insurance and utilities, with 84% of people looking for car insurance using such a site in the past year.

More than half (52%) used comparison sites for broadband and 67% used them to find the best energy deal.

However, the survey of 4,000 consumers revealed many people actually use comparison sites for research with 44% admitting they don’t buy directly through them. Instead, they use the information gathered to negotiate a better deal with their existing provider.

Many of those polled said they use more than one comparison site to find the best deal.

The CMA report found comparison sites generally work well for consumers but improvements may be necessary to help more people get even better deals. It identified four possible areas of concern:

  • whether sites could be more transparent – for instance in their market coverage and business models, and in their treatment of personal data
  • whether the benefits they can offer could be further improved if suppliers made more information available
  • certain practices and contractual arrangements that could limit healthy competition between DCTs
  • the way DCTs are regulated

As a result, the regulator is seeking further views on these areas for the next phase of its study with a final report set for publication by 28 September 2017.

Dan Plant, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Simple and clear switching is vital to ensuring people get a better deal and the CMA is right to check the DCT market is working competitively and in the consumer interest.

“We are pleased the CMA’s findings are broadly positive, acknowledging that DCTs drive more choice, lower prices and better matching between consumers and suppliers. Its research also shows 85% of internet users have used a DCT, 89% understood DCTs do not show whole of market, and more than 90% were satisfied.”