New European rules should make comparison sites more transparent

The European Commission, consumer organisations, regulators and comparison site providers have drawn up a new plan to ensure that such pages become more transparent. It is unclear whether the rules will become binding.

The parties involved in drawing up the rules have agreed on ten points that should improve transparency, the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reports. For example, comparison sites of airline tickets or telecom services should clearly indicate what advertising is and which business model is used. They must also provide insight into the exact relationship that exists with a supplier and, for example, they must not create a false impression that a product is about to be sold out.

The sites must also show how they arrive at their results and rankings, for example based on price, user comments or other criteria. A spokesman for the European Commission told the newspaper that the new rules “should end up in the European Directive on unfair commercial practices”. However, it is not clear exactly what legal status is intended by this.

In 2014, the European Commission conducted a study into comparison sites and looked at what consumers mainly encounter when using them. Then it turned out that almost two thirds of all consumers suffered from incomplete information and that only forty percent of the pages explained how they earn money.