19 Nov Comparethemarket fined for insurance price rigging
RICE comparison website Comparethemarket has been slapped with a £17.9 million fine by watchdogs for overcharging on home insurance.
In a huge embarrassment to a business positioned as a consumer champion, the Competition and Markets Authority says that over two years it stopped insurers from offering cheaper deals on other websites.
Compare the market, best known for its meerkat ads, said: “We fundamentally disagree with the conclusions the CMA has drawn and will be carefully examining the detailed rationale behind the decision and considering all of our options.”
Rocio Conch at Which?, said:
“The actions of ComparetheMarket have fallen well below the standard you’d expect from a company who claims to be working in the best interest of consumers.”
She added: “Customers should be able to trust that they can find the best deals when using price comparison sites, and any business found to be flouting the rules should be held to account.”
The CMA ruling was blunt. “Price comparison websites are excellent for consumers. They promote competition between providers, offer choice for customers, and make it easier for consumers to find the best bargains,” said Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA.
“It is therefore unacceptable that ComparetheMarket, which has been the largest price comparison site for home insurance for several years, used clauses in its contracts that restricted home insurers from offering bigger discounts on competing websites – so limiting the bargains potentially available to consumers.”
Compare, part of the BGL Group, claims to have helped more than six million customers save money in the last year.