Price comparison sites are generally serving their users well, but could improve to be an even more effective tool for consumers, according to the competition watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking at how well 'digital comparison tools' - best-buy tables, comparison sites and switching services - serve consumers across different areas such as energy, legal services and financial products. Today it published an update on its ongoing study of the topic.

The watchdog found over 90% of recent users were very or fairly satisfied with the comparison tool they used, but raised a number of concerns about the way such websites are used:

  • Sites could improve transparency: It found this could be changed for the better, with a particular need to look at market coverage, business models and ranking methods.
  • Clarity on data use: There is room for improvement in how comparison tools explain the use of personal information to consumers and offer users the means to control how their data is shared.
  • Clarity on complaints: The CMA expect sites to be clear about their complaints policies, but found that the information provided varied considerably.

The CMA will now consider what remedies to take and make its final announcement in six months' time, on 28 September. However it's ruled out conducting a full market investigation, saying it will be able to address the problems using its existing powers.

Actions it could take include opening enforcement cases, making recommendations to other regulatory bodies and working in co-operation with firms.

Martin Lewis
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