Emily’s Money Matters blog alerted me to the findings of Â some recent Which? research into customer satisfaction with price comparison websites.
Which? customers were asked to rate their experience with all of the major comparison sites for five criteria; clarity of information, ease of use, range of options available, number of quotes provided and transparency of results.
The overall ratings don’t make for great reading for any of the comparison sites:
The results are actually slightly down from last year, and display a definite unease that consumers have with these sites.
So why is this? Well, whilst the comparison sites were initially seen as being on the consumer’s side, there’s now a fair amount of suspicion about the independence of the results. Many feel that those who pay the most will be shown as the top quote on any comparison table.
The quotes also tend to use a lot of assumptions when taking your details online; these often keep online forms far simpler to fill in, and make it easier for the comparison sites to provide because of the smaller range of criteria that they have to account for in their quotation tools, but the assumptions can mean that quotes can be inaccurate or worse, could invalidate the policy.
Also, there are providers who either offer better deals by going direct, or who do not provide their products to comparison sites at all, so no comparison site can offer you a search of the whole market. Plus the fact that there are now a number of comparison sites fragments the market and makes a consumer’s choice more difficult (time for a comparison site of comparison sites, or perhaps room in the market for a broker service which accesses all these sites to provide a wider range of quotes?).
Finally, there’s the worry about what is happening to your data when entering contact details on these sites. In general I’d say they need to be more transparent about where your details will end up and who’ll be dealing with your enquiry. In a lot of cases it won’t be the comparison site themselves, but a third-party.
A couple of notes about the research data. Firstly, the data sample size for some of the lesser-known comparison sites is quite small, which could make them less accurate. Also, there’s no mention of which types of quote (such as car insurance, home insurance) the survey was based on (we assume a mix of all), but there could well be variations within the results if we were to start looking at the what was quoted for.