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Consumer Rights And Comparison Websites

24 Feb 2022

Ever browsed one of the many comparison websites as an online shopper in Australia, and wondered what exactly your consumer rights are? Let’s debunk some myths.

Consumer-Rights-And-Comparison-Websites

For the unfamiliar, comparison websites are exactly as the name describes: websites that compare the prices, products, or services from competing companies. Sometimes known as aggregators or comparison shopping search engines, a comparison website is virtually a tool that shoppers often use to filter and compare specific types of product or services offered by different companies, with the comparisons themselves usually based on price, features, reviews and a wide variety of other criterias. 

On face value, they’re a great way to compare your options for things like insurance, credit cards, home loans and even flights. Without naming names, there’s a high chance that you’ve probably used a comparison website without even realising it. However, the dark side of comparison websites that many people aren’t even aware of is that they ultimately have to make money as well, and so it’s important to understand your consumer rights when it comes to how these websites present the products on offer. 

Know The Rules When Navigating Comparison Websites

While comparison websites seem like the perfect way to nab yourself a deal, the thing is that ratings and rankings on these types of platforms are not always clearly explained. When it comes to your rights as a consumer, you have every reason to ask questions with how and why particular recommendations are issued. 

What many people don’t know about comparison websites is that they generate money to fund their business enterprises through a number of methods, with the most common generally being from sponsored links, by showing sponsored links before non-sponsored links, and from commissions paid by the very same providers that are often recommended. 

In Australia, when you shop online, you have the same rights as you have when you buy in a store. Your consumer rights give you the right to expect – 

  • Truthful and accurate representations, statements or claims
  • All the necessary and important information that you need
  • Transparent disclosure of commercial relationships.

What many people don’t know is that these rules apply to aggregator style platforms as well, and not just online retailers or e-commerce businesses. Comparison websites may be considered misleading if they fail to or incorrectly display relevant information, or are not transparent about the types of commercial relationships they are engaged with. In addition, comparator websites may not compare all the offers or products in the market, despite having some clever marketing strategies that may insinuate otherwise. 

According to Trond Smith, many consumers would be horrified if they took the time to discover how these industry agreements work. As the Founder and CEO of member based buying group Kyco, his recent article published in the Australian Financial Review outlines his belief that the comparison websites industry needs an urgent overhaul. 

“Choice investigated these sites in 2017, and discovered one was charging a staggering 60% commission for each consumer it signed up to life insurance products. Another pocketed up to 52% of premiums over the expected life of a policy. These sites do not have the best interests of the community at heart and are currently under no obligation to disclose key information, most notably, the size and nature of commissions. Offers should be recommended based on price benefit to the consumer, rather than the size of the commission received by the third party.”

While it’s only natural for consumers to want the best possible deal, it’s worth considering what the true cost of using these types of websites really is. Thankfully, Trond is on a mission to present every day Australians with an alternative option. 

How To Save Money On Your Monthly Bills

Kyco is a member based buying group that ultimately aims to save Australians money on their energy, health and insurance bills. The more members we have, the more negotiating power we have to arrange low, long-term deals with service providers.

Kyco doesn’t play one provider off against another taking commissions of up to 30% like most comparison sites. Instead, we’re leveling the playing field with a low 3% capped commission. It’s free to become a member, and with no lock in contracts or unexpected price hikes, spending less on your annual bills has never been easier.