James Moore: Comparison sites are not quite consumer champions

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The Independent Online

Outlook "Our goal is to save more people money," declared Peter Plumb, the chief executive of moneysupermarket.com, the price comparison website. And with consumer champion Martin Lewis and his moneysavingexpert on board, surely only a cynic would doubt it. A cynic like me.

Mr Lewis pops up all over the place and thus serves as a marvellous free ad (BBC presenters usually cough with embarrassment and say there are alternatives out there when he opines).

Advertising is a big driver for these sites, and Moneysupermarket's have been very successful recently. So successful that pre-tax profits grew by a more than a third to £43m, thanks to the cut it takes on each sale. Score one for the consumer champions then? Well, maybe. The Financial Conduct Authority is poking around the industry. It describes price comparison sites like this as "a useful tool". But calling them consumer champions? That might be over-egging it.