Watchdog investigates price comparison sites

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a cross-sector investigation into energy price comparison websites (PCWs). These firms allow consumers to compare the quality and price differences between various energy suppliers and […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a cross-sector investigation into energy price comparison websites (PCWs).

These firms allow consumers to compare the quality and price differences between various energy suppliers and switch contracts to get a better deal.

The study aims to look into how they interact with consumers, businesses and the economy.

It will also investigate some of the concerns surrounding PCWs as it has been suggested that they lack transparency with regards to conflicts of interest and anti-competitive practices.

When surveyed, nearly a third of people were unaware switching sites are paid by suppliers for each energy switch.

Will Hodson, Co-founder of consumer group TheBigDeal.com, welcomed the investigation. He said: “The CMA investigation is hugely welcome and good news for consumers. PCWs use multi-million-pound ad campaigns to promote a cuddly image of themselves. But the truth is that they are hard-edged companies that make hundreds of millions in profit and there are major concerns about how they operate.”

“In recent years, they have been caught hiding the cheapest gas and electricity deals from consumers online. They were also caught lying over the phone about what the best deals are so they could boost their profits. Too often PCWs do what is best for them not what is best for consumers.”