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Broadband comparison sites among most honest, says CMA

Thursday, September 28th 2017 by Oprah Flash

A report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found broadband comparison sites are among the most honest about how they make their money.

The CMA carried out a market study on consumers and their experiences when using comparison websites.

In the report, the CMA commended the broadband sector for being upfront with customers and giving information about their business models.

Comparison websites usually make their money through commissions paid by service providers for each purchase made on the website.

The report shows only a third of travel comparison sites provided this information.

While broadband comparison sites fared well on disclosing their business models, they fell down when it came to displaying full coverage of their market.

Just a third of broadband comparers were transparent about how much of the market is included in their comparison service.

Analysis of the data shows comparison sites work less well when comparing broadband than they do when comparing other industries such as insurance or travel.

In the report the authority went on to explain that sites comparing broadband "are not in a position to obtain information that would support better comparisons, such as actual broadband speeds".

Detailed information on the speeds individual premises can actually receive is held by broadband providers but is not made available to comparison sites.

The CMA praised comparison sites for making it quick and easy for customers to access the services they need but suggested that consumers looking for a new broadband provider should shop around and use more than one website.

'The benefits they deserve'

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “Our study has found that most people in the UK have used a comparison site at least once so it is vital that everyone gets the benefits they deserve.

“The good news is that more than 90% of the people we surveyed were very or fairly satisfied with the sites they used.

“But we have also found that improvements are needed to help people get even better deals.

“We are also taking enforcement action where we suspect the law may have been broken.”

Consumer champion Which? appealed to businesses to be held accountable and abide by the rules.

Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home services, said: “When shopping around via comparison websites or apps, customers should be confident that they can find the best deal for them and that their personal data will be used responsibly.

“All regulators must ensure businesses abide by the rules and that customers get good outcomes, or be ready to take action.”

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