The battle of the financial comparison web sites

It looks like Which? Money has stirred up a hornets nest with their findings that financial comparison sites scored less than 50% in their customer satisfaction survey.

As our news item showed, the vast majority of Which? members did not trust the comparison web sites to show the best products for them. They felt that the web sites were only displaying financial products that earned the most commission.

Strong stuff, that has caused indignation from some of the sites mentioned in the Which? findings. Moneysupermarket.com, Confused.com and GoCompare.com have all published their reactions to the report via the news wires.

“We take on board the views expressed by Which?. However, as usual with their reports, a slight pinch of salt is required. The research was carried out amongst Which? readers only and this does raise the question of just how representative the findings can be.”,  retorts Hayley Parsons, CEO of GoCompare.com.

The Confused.com CEO seems a bit more indignant when he says “It might be an idea for Which? to compare their reviews! Earlier this year it congratulated Confused.com on our market-leading position. In fact its insurance expert Dan Moore said: ‘Confused.com has shown that it is possible to give consumers what they want, a fair quote based on criteria they selected. Other sites should follow their lead.'”.

On the other hand Ian Willams of moneysupermarket.com comments that “Even though we have topped Which?’s survey, we don’t recognise its portrayal of moneysupermarket.com.”

The major comparison sites are clearly not happy with the Which? report and this is understandable when you consider how much they spend on advertising and building their market positions.

Personally, I think that that making it easy to compare prices for complex products such as car insurance is a good thing for consumers. We no longer have to sit down with a few cups of coffee and the Yellow Pages and spend all morning phoning around for quotes.

Are the comparison sites perfect? We all know that they are not, particularly as they operate under commercial constraints in a highly competitive market.

There may be more to the Which? findings than initially meets the eye, though. Hayley Parsons from GoCompare.com mentions that “Remember, for the last few years, Which? have been encouraging their readers to use the Which? ‘Best Buys’ rather than independent financial comparison sites, so it would be naive to think that their readers are suddenly huge fans.”

So a battle is raging this morning in the comparison site market. However if the Which? report forces the comparison web sites to make improvements to their customer service, that is a good thing for consumers.

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