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Price Comparison Sites ?!
The thing about price comparison sites is they seem a good idea at first, until you think about it. Surely if you could compare like-for-like and choose the best deal, that would be good, wouldn't it? Well it would, except that things aren't as simple as that. Also, Price Comparison Sites have now suffered a severe setback. The famous insurance company Direct Line have punctured a hole in the Price Comparison Sites' dot-COM bubble by making a clear statement on the TV: "You won't find us on any price comparison sites!", and in doing so they've not only given a big thumbs-down for price comparison sites, but also they've fundamentally undermined the whole idea of price comparison sites for insurance! What's the point in having a price comparison site about insurance if one of the biggest names in insurance is missing?
Further news: Aviva have joined Direct Line in having nothing to do with Price Comparison Sites! Well Done to Aviva !
Well the good news on this is that you WILL find Direct Line Insurance AND Aviva on this site, but then again, we're not a price comparison site! Zyra's website is a general interest site full of content and stuff about all kinds of things, and I can tell you there's a lot more to choosing what you want in life than just the price.
Imagine choosing a wedding ring on the basis of it being the cheapest, or going on holiday and staying at the cheapest hotel you could possibly find!? OK, those are extreme examples, and to be fair to the idea of price comparison, there are some things it works for better than others. When the price comparison business first started, it was for things which could be judged almost on price alone as the product was identical. Electricity suppliers, for example, provide the same stuff as each other, and so when uSwitch and other Energy Switching Companies started, they were the acceptable face of price comparison, as the product was the same and could be compared on a purely objective basis. Where the idea of price comparison starts to fall down is where a more subjective choice is available. If you bought food and wine because it was price-compared to be the "best value", you might find it didn't taste so good! Plus, with so many people living on cheap plonk and the cheapest baked beans it would be a major contribution to atmospheric methane, which is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2. In fact, you might start to notice some of the great gourmet restaurants and wine chateaux saying "You won't find us on any price comparison sites!". It would be so funny, because people who had the ability to think about it would see the folly of the initial premise of price comparison, and then the rest of the populace would follow later once it had been pointed out.
You may be interested to know, I'm actually not against the idea of "comparison". It's just that you can't compare some things purely on the matter of price, or weight, or some other objective factor. You have to consider the quality and style, and ethical concerns you might have. I believe you should have a wide choice of possibilities to choose from, and then you make your own mind up about it, according to your own taste and good judgement.
You'll see a lot of categories at this site where you have a good choice, but it's up to you to choose what you think is best by your own criteria. There are reviews and testimonials here, and these are there to help you to choose rather than to tell you what's best for you!
Which is best, chalk or cheese? Well it depends on the application. In my experience, chalk is far superior for writing on a blackboard, whereas cheese has considerable advantages for use in sandwiches that you can eat.
Once you start to think about it, you can't even compare toilet rolls on the basis of price alone. Besides the fact that price comparison would just compare how many bogrolls you got for your money and the outside diameter without even considering the size of the middles of the toilet rolls, the matter of choosing bathroom tissue is very much a personal preference, and if it ever came to true PRICE comparison for that application, I'm sorry to say, the leading names in toilet paper such as Andrex, Kleenex, etc, would be outdone by some of the best selling newspapers and last year's telephone book.
Another thing about Price Comparison Sites; have you seen how much of their commission money they are chucking away on advertising?! All those flashy TV commercials have to be paid for out of the companys' commission, and that makes it like the silly PPC nonsense and the voucher codes fiasco. After you've considered the profit and loss, they are to a greater or lesser extent on a hiding to nothing. Also, the advertising is mainly so the price comparison sites can outdo each-other. Now OK, that's competition, which is fair enough, but there is a curious irony that sites which were set up to help competition between merchants be conducted on a more objective basis should themselves be in an unseemly competition to offer you the customer the same product. Who's going to compare the price comparison sites?! Where's the comparison there? Price comparison sites compete with each other mainly on the aesthetics of their advertising.
Yes but surely with car insurance, it's more a matter of just the price? After all, it's not as if you're getting your car insured because you want to have a safeguard against risk, but because you are compelled by law to have car insurance! Maybe, in which case Price Comparison Sites have something good to be said about them, but then again, even with home insurance, that's not so. You are at liberty to take the risk yourself if you dare. So, in the home insurance business you'll see a variety of different terms and conditions in policies. Some are more generous in the matter of accidental damage, or in whether deep freezers over 15 years old are covered, and how the matter of depreciation is taken into account if you have to make a claim. As soon as you get that sort of thing, it's no good just comparing the price. You have to do your own research, find out the facts, and make a well-informed good decision.
In my opinion, Direct Line Insurance and Aviva have made a good decision by shunning price comparison sites. Well Done to Direct Line, and Well Done to Aviva!
Update 2008/12: A remarkable exposť on BBC2's The Money Programme about price comparison sites revealed an additional downside to price comparison sites: They get hold of your personal details and give them away to other companies, who they try to SELL to you. Now that may all be good salesmanship and good for business, but essentially you have lost control. In contrast, what goes on at Zyra's website is that you can shop around a wide variety of places that are given a mention. Note the difference: YOU are in control. Admittedly you have to do a bit of extra work looking around Zyra's website, but it's not exactly legwork as you are exploring around and shopping around online on your computer, so hopefully you've got a comfy seat. As this website doesn't ask for your personal details when you're shopping around, it's entirely up to you if you want to contact any of the companies and get them to be in touch with you.
So, to sum it up:
* Price comparison sites compare "chalk" and "cheese" on price, rather than on any sensible basis. You are expected to compare on price, not on quality and on the finer details, which are important.
* Price comparison sites often have "privacy issues", and you are no longer in control.
* It only a few suppliers to boycott price comparison sites (eg. Direct Line, Aviva), and then the market available is fundamentally incomplete.
If you want to see some real comparison, take a look at how to choose which country to live in. This is typical of the type of stuff at Zyra's website. You make your own choices.