UK's first extended warranties price comparison website launched following OFT action
The UK’s first extended warranties price comparison website has been launched today following action by the OFT.
The new website will make it much easier to shop around and compare extended warranties for a wide range of domestic electrical goods. With providers on the site covering around 75 per cent of UK extended warranty sales, shoppers will have improved information on the choice of deals at their fingertips, helping them to find the best deal.
Household names Argos and Dixons, two of the largest electrical retailers in the UK, are members of the site as part of legally enforceable undertakings agreed with the OFT, which were designed to address the competition problems identified in the market.
Additional extended warranty providers – Domestic and General, Warranty Direct, Tesco and Richer Sounds - have voluntarily signed up, giving consumers a wide variety of information to help them make an informed choice. The OFT is calling on other providers to follow their lead and take advantage of the opportunity to display their products to a wider audience.
The new website follows an OFT market study last year, which revealed various competition concerns in the £1 billion per year market for extended warranties that could mean consumers are not getting the best value for money. In particular the OFT found that:
- Competition is limited by the retailers' 'point of sale' advantage in being able to sell extended warranties at the same time as they sell the electrical goods
- Only around a quarter of consumers shop around forextended warranties
- When buying an extended warranty at the same time as anelectrical good, shoppers do not have enough relevantinformation to make an informed decision about whether the extended warranty is value for money
To address these concerns, the OFT agreed a package of measures with Dixons and Argos that included setting up the comparison website and improving the accessibility of information to consumers.
Ann Pope, OFT Senior Director in Services, Infrastructure and Public markets, said: ’Millions of extended warranties are purchased by UK consumers, so this site will provide a much needed tool to make it easier for them to choose the best deal. We urge consumers to shop around before they buy an extended warranty with their electrical good to make sure they are getting value for money.
‘We appreciate the constructive approach taken by Dixons and Argos in setting up the website. It is good to see other providers coming on to the website. We hope that more providers get on board so consumers have even more information to help them make an informed choice. ’
The OFT suggests that shoppers think carefully about the following before they buy a warranty:
If you do decide to buy a warranty, remember you don’t have to buy one in store. Take time and shop around for the best deal using www.compareextendedwarranties.co.uk
• If you do buy a warranty, you have cancellation rights if you change your mind
• Some providers offer warranties where the price of the warranty is included in the price of the electrical good
• You have statutory rights if something goes wrong - see the OFT’s short consumer advice video on their rights here
• Although warranties generally do offer additional rights, you may also be covered by your household insurance
1. To download an infographic for this story please click here.
2. To review the website prior to tomorrow’s launch please contact the OFT Press Office for access.
3. ‘Compare Extended Warranties’ is operated by an independent website manager. It allows customers to compare the prices, features, and benefits of warranties from a variety of providers. Although the website is primarily funded by Argos and Dixons, it is operated by an independent website manager and is open to all providers which meet certain limited criteria. All information on the website is supplied by warranty providers, who are obliged to ensure that the data they provide is accurate. The OFT does not complete detailed checks on the information. The website is an information only website and warranties cannot be purchased directly from it. It does not include links to particular providers, so consumers will need to visit providers’ sites if they are interested in purchasing a warranty. Some providers can only provide warranties for goods they have supplied. However, even in those instances, the website allows consumers to compare the prices of those warranties against other available warranties, to help shoppers to assess value for money.
4. For further details about the OFT’s market study and the undertakings obtained by the OFT see: http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2012/53-12. In addition to establishing the website, Dixons and Argos agreed to improve information to consumers on their websites and in-store material, and conduct regular independent mystery shopping exercises to help ensure shoppers get accurate information from sales staff.
5. The undertakings were given by Dixons and Argos under section 154 of Enterprise Act 2002, in lieu of the OFT referring the market to the Competition Commission. They will be monitored by the OFT under section 162 of the same Act and are enforceable by the OFT if Dixons and Argos do not comply with them.
6. In addition to Dixons and Argos, Comet originally agreed to maintain the website. Since entering administration at the end of 2012, Comet no longer plays any role in relation to the website.
7. www.compareextendedwarranties.co.uk is supported by the Trading Standard Institute, Which?, Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Citizens Advice Cymru, Consumer Council of Northern Ireland, Money Advice Service and the Association of British Insurers.
8. Further information about consumers’ cancellation rights when buying warranties can be found under on the OFT website here
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