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ASA supports OFT's campaign to make the best use of price comparison websites

23 November 2012

To support the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) campaign to raise consumer awareness of price comparison websites, we’ve produced some top tips to help consumers make better use of price comparison sites.

In the run up to Christmas everyone is keen to grab a bargain and price comparison sites provide a great opportunity for consumers to find the best deals. The UK Advertising Code contains strict rules that require advertisers to be clear in their advertising by using fair comparisons and letting you know about any limitations on offers. By understanding these requirements and following our top tips you can shop around with confidence.

Our top tips for using price comparison websites:

  • Make sure it’s a fair comparison. The advertisement must compare products meeting the same need or intended for the same purpose, objectively comparing one or more material and relevant features of those products. Remember it is within your rights to know what the differences are between the products.
  • Remember you can opt out. Think about whether and how you want your details to be used; your data could be used by the company to contact you again or passed on to third parties.
  • Use more than one price comparison site. Some sites make superiority claims, about for example, having compared the widest selection of home insurers to find you the best deal. To make sure you really are getting the best deal, you may want to check other comparison sites.  
  • Read the small print. Make sure to read the small print so that you know what conditions apply to each comparison.
  • If you see something that seems misleading, contact us. If you do come across an advert that you believe is misleading, you can make a complaint to the ASA online, by post or phone (020 7492 2222). You can find more information here.

The overarching principle of the rules is that price comparison ads with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product.

We take seriously any concerns we receive about ads that are potentially misleading or contain claims that cannot be supported. The ASA has upheld a number of complaints about these types of ads, which you can access below. It is important to note that natural listings on a price comparison site do not fall within the ASA’s remit; preferential listings (that are paid for) and claims about the comparison service itself do fall within remit.

A review carried out by the OFT found that price comparison websites represent a major step forward for consumers, by enabling them to secure better deals, but some people are missing out on potential savings because of a lack of trust. So to help consumers make the best use of price comparison sites, and to assist those that don’t currently use them they have published a review, their own top tips guide, and two short films.

We hope that our top tips, along with the OFT’s wider campaign, will mean that the public is able to make more confident choices when using price comparison websites.

Key ASA rulings

Moneysupermarket.com Ltd

Gocompare.com Ltd

Useful links

CAP code

OFT consumer protection campaign

 

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