Comparison shopping sites offer the promise of finding you the cheapest mobile phone/bank account/energy supplier/gadget. However, a recent court case reminds us that comparison sites won’t necessarily compare everything that’s on offer.
The Federal Court yesterday found that comparison Energy Watch had misled consumers in more than 80 advertisements broadcast last year. While some of the issues raised in court related to specific savings figures claimed, the bigger issue was the way the data was presented. As the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) explained:
Energy Watch had represented in its advertising that it compared the rates of all or many of the energy retailers in a person’s area when in fact the service it provided was to compare the rates of a person’s current energy retailer with those of the energy retailers with which Energy Watch has commercial agreements in place (referred to as its preferred suppliers).
That kind of issue doesn’t mean that comparison web sites aren’t a useful tool. But they are just one tool in your arsenal when researching a new purchase. Shopping around often means checking more than one resource, and double-checking the fine print carefully.