We have all heard of comparison websites. They can be used to compare the prices of all kinds of things, perhaps the most notable being many different forms of insurance. The adverts – the ones that contain the cute talking meerkats or the blustering opera singers, for example – tell us that this is absolutely, definitely the best thing to do; it is how you will not only find a good deal that just right for you, but how you’ll save money in the process.
But is that the truth? What are the positives and negatives of using comparison sites?
Some of the positive aspects of using price comparison websites include the following things:
- Money Saving – When you use a comparison site, such as Utility Bidder, you input your data and the clever algorithms sift through all the relevant companies and then offer you up a list of those that can help, along with what they do and how much they will charge. You can then compare each one, and you might come across some companies that you had never heard of before and that you would not have considered if you had not been presented with the information. In this way, you can easily and quickly find the best deal, and save yourself a good amount of money in the process. Remember, though, to check what you get for your money.
- Convenient – Who these days has the time to sit and plough through dozens of websites, inputting data into each one, and then comparing the results once you have them all? The number will be a low one – there are very few of us who have that kind of time, and, to be honest, even if we do find ourselves with a whole day of nothing to do, there are plenty of other pursuits that would be more enjoyable than searching for insurance. Comparison sites make searching for a renewal quote, or even first time insurance, convenient. You can take a fraction of the time it would otherwise take and receive all of the information on one screen at one time. You can even choose to have it emailed to you so you can think about it later.
- Wide Choice – There are loads of price comparison sites to choose from, and some will have the same companies on them, but there will be others that are unique to that particular comparison site. What does that mean? It means you can pick two or three comparison sites and input your data and have an even wider range of insurers to choose from. You are sure to find a deal that suits you, and even if you do choose to use more than one comparison site, it will only involve you inputting your data two or three times rather than the dozens of times you’d have to do it if you went for each site individually.
Some of the negative aspects of using price comparison websites include the following things:
- There Are Fees – The comparison sites are not doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts; they are there to make money, and they do this by charging a fee to the companies that feature on their sites. It might be a one off fee or a percentage; it will depend partly on the deal arranged and partly on the product bought. Although this is not something you necessarily have to worry about, remember that the sellers will want to make their money back somehow, and it might be a more expensive way to use them than if you went to them directly. Not only that, but smaller companies who do not have much of a marketing budget but who would do an excellent job for you are effectively priced out of these sites and you’ll never get to see or hear about them.
- Not All Sellers Use Them – Although there is definitely a wide range of sellers on each comparison site, they are not all going to be there and they will not all show us. This could be because, as above, they can not afford the fees. It might be because they can only pick one comparison site to be a member of, and it is not the one you are using. Or it could simply be that they do not want to. They even use the fact that they are not on any comparison sites in their marketing. When you use comparison sites, you will not be getting a full picture of the market, and you could be missing out on an even better deal from a company that does not subscribe.
- The Personal Touch Is Gone – When you go to a supplier directly, you will often be given a point of contact, someone you can go to if you have any queries, and who will ensure that your product is going to give you exactly what you want it to. This is not the case on a comparison site – you will be shown a list of products, and then you are on your own. You need to make the decision without any additional help or advice, and this can lead to people picking something that just is not what they need; they can be paying out for something that just is not going to help them if they need it to.
Price comparison sites are extremely useful for time poor people who know what they want and just want to get on with the purchase. It is easy, quick, offers plenty of information, and the buying process is a smooth one too.
For those who have more complicated needs or who are unsure about the product to begin with, they might not be quite so useful; they can be positively harmful because the wrong product is bought.
It is always wise to assess your own situation and needs before using a price comparison site.