The government's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has released a new report showing that consumers may not be getting the best value for money on their energy tariff when they visit price comparison websites to find a provider.
The report, released by the CMA on 26 September 2017, showed that while generally customers are happy to use price comparison websites to compare things like holidays, car insurance and energy deals, they may not always be getting the best deal. In fact, the CMA has raised concerns about a number of areas across the price comparison industry, from data protection to violations of competition law.
The report comes hot on the heels of news that the CMA will open a competition law investigation into one price comparison website which has been unfairly driving up home insurance prices through an exclusivity contract. Concerns have been raised about whether price comparison websites really are offering a true reflection of the market, and the CMA has recommended that consumers who use digital comparison tools (or DCTs) browse more than one website to find the best deals, and check how results are being displayed for different insurance products and other things like energy tariffs and package holidays.
The CMA report raises additional concerns about how price comparison websites operate, including how personal data is stored and shared; and the way information about providers and prices is presented on webpages, for example how pricing results are being ordered, and what makes some results more preferential than others.
While the CMA report's outlook is generally quite positive - overall, consumers are very happy to find energy deals and other products through websites like GoCompare, USwitch and CompareTheMarket - it does raise concerns about transparency across the price comparison sector. It’s clear that price comparison websites need to work together across the industry to ensure best practice.
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