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Tips For Using Comparator Websites

Delia Rickard
15th September, 2015

These days comparator websites exist that can help you compare a broad range of complex products and services – from energy, health insurance and telecommunications contracts through to financial services. They can save you time and help you find a product or service that matches your needs.

On the downside, a lack of transparency by some industry players can undermine the benefits of comparator websites and mislead consumers in the process. Website operators may be misleading if they fail to display or incorrectly display relevant information and are not transparent about their commercial relationships.

Comparator websites can be an extremely useful tool, but make sure you know how they work before relying on a comparison. We have published new advice to help you get the most out of comparator websites.

Tips for using comparator websites

  • Know what is being compared. Comparator websites may not compare all the offers or products in the market. Check what’s on offer across a range of comparator sites.
  • Check if there’s a commercial relationship. Comparator website operators may have commercial relationships with or receive financial inducements from listed businesses that can influence recommendations.
  • Identify the site owner. Sometimes a comparator website is owned and operated by the same business that owns the products being compared. Check that the website tells you the identity of the business that owns and operates it.
  • Work out what you need. Before you start searching, work out what non-price factors are important to you. When searching, make sure the search fields are tailored to meet your needs. Where the option is provided, consider ranking by ‘benefits’ or ‘value’ rather than by ‘price’.
  • Check offer availability. Comparator website operators allow service providers to add or remove offers in a number of ways (e.g. placing restrictions on how many products can be sold in a month). A product that was available yesterday may no longer be available today. Check whether the offer is available on the service provider’s website.
  • Double-check what’s covered. Product classification can vary between service providers. When you receive your results, take a closer look at what is and is not covered. You may need to check the service providers’ own websites for the full details.
  • Check the site’s privacy policy. Some operators use your information for purposes other than comparing products. Make sure you are comfortable with how your data will be used.
  • Work out the total cost. Be aware that these websites may compare the headline price only, with additional fees and charges only disclosed further down the track. You should also factor in any exit fees for leaving your current contract. The lowest headline price may not always equate to the lowest final price.
  • Keep a record of any telephone calls. If you speak to a call centre operator, make sure you follow the above tips, don’t be pressured into making a quick decision, and ask for written confirmation of any offers.

Delia Rickard
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commision

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