A recent study conducted by Which? Money revealed that comparison sites are not necessarily the best place to shop for financial products.

For the first time ever, Which? Money conducted a consumer satisfction survey on comparison sites that showed that on average, the customer rating for these sites was far beneath that of any other financial websites in the financial sector.  In fact, none of the sites scored any higher than 50%.

In general, Which? members indicated that they do not have much confidence in comparison sites.  In fact, only three out of ten said that they trusted comparison sites to help them find the best possible price.  The majority of them felt that they were being offered products that were being promoted by the website in order to earn commission, and in many cases that may be true.

One quarter of people surveyed reported that they did not make a purchase through one of the comparison sites because they found a less expensive quote elsewhere.  Twelve percent of people said that they were dissattisfied with the quotes that they received.  After searching for specific products on comparison sites, over half of the consumers reported buying the product not through the comparison site but directly from the  provider.

A Which? Money expert examined several comparison sites in detail, and found that several of them set unusually high default voluntary excesses.  Voluntary excesses such as these are frequently combined with the insurer’s compulsory excess when shown on the results page, which makes it difficult for customers to make accurate comparisons between products to find the policy that is best suited for them.

The sites that were the most popular were Confused.com, Moneysupermarket.com and Gocompare.com.  The most frequently searched products on these sites were savings accounts, home insurance and car insurance.

According Which? Money editor James Daley, it is clear that using financial comparison sites has its disadvantages, and the low scores given to them indicate that most customers found the user experience to be a rather unpleasant.

When shopping for the best price on financial products, it is wise to visit multiple sites to get as accurate a comparison as possible, and keep in mind that some companies will not be featured, so not all possible prices are being shown.  Look for things such as voluntary excess and make sure that the numbers that are being displayed truly reflect the value of the product.  Make sure that the policy is the suitable for your needs.