On Wednesday, December 12, the Bundeskartellamt presented the results of its sector inquiry into online comparison websites. The inquiry into a large number of comparison websites from the areas of travel, energy, insurance, telecommunications, and financial services has in some areas confirmed the suspicions of consumer rights violations. The companies concerned will now have the possibility to comment on the consultation paper, which was published Wednesday.
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt stated: “Online comparison websites are an important tool, provided that they deliver objective and truthful results. A large part of the comparative information is correct and reliable. However, our inquiry has also shown that consumers’ rights could be violated in a number of cases. Consumers are often not informed about the details of the ranking criteria for their search results and the comparison websites’ recommendations, which can be misleading. For example, sometimes important insurers are not included in the comparison. Hotels can buy ranking positions on hotel booking platforms. And in some cases, a comparison website covers less than 50% of the offers available on the market. In short: Consumers cannot always rely on comparison websites to really find the best offer for their requirements.”
The consultation paper presented Wednesday details the outcome of the Bundeskartellamt’s investigations and contains an initial legal assessment. The market players concerned and other interested parties can comment on the paper until February 4, 2019. After assessing the comments the Bundeskartellamt is going to publish a conclusive report on its sector inquiry on comparison websites in 2019.
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