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Comparator website operators and businesses to follow new guidance

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Operators of comparator websites and businesses whose products are listed on them have been targeted in new guidance released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The guidance seeks to help consumers understand how to get the best outcomes when using comparator websites as well as providing guidance to business on how to comply with competition and consumer protection laws.

The guidance sets out three guiding principles for operators of comparator websites and business:

• Facilitating honest, like for like comparisons
• Being transparent about commercial relationships
• Clearly disclosing who and what is being compared

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said “poor conduct by some industry participants can mislead consumers.

“Operators should carefully read this guidance as there will be no excuse for non-compliance with the Australian Consumer Law, and the ACCC will continue to take action where necessary,” Ms Rickard said.

The guidance has been released following a recent review of comparator websites prompted by complaints of misleading information.

The ACCC released a report, The Comparator Website Industry in Australia, in November 2014 which set out concerns over a lack of transparency in regards to the:

• extent of the comparison service, including market coverage
• savings achieved by using the comparison service
• comparison services being unbiased, impartial or independent
• value rankings
• undisclosed commercial relationships affecting recommendations to consumers
• content and quality assurance of product information.