(Picture: AP, Christoph Schmidt)
The competition authorities want to uncover an investigation into the comparison portals problems and ensure greater transparency. Consumers must be able to rely on the offers, the Cartel boss says.
The Federal Cartel Office investigated the comparison portals on the Internet on "possible violations of consumer rights regulations". The so-called sector inquiry would focus on comparing offers from the areas of travel, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and energy, the antitrust authority announced in Bonn on Tuesday. With this study, the Bundeskartellamt put his new investigation skills in the field of consumer protection for the first time in a particular dispute a.
"Objectivity and transparency"
"Millions of consumers inform themselves daily with the help of comparison portals on the Internet," the president of the Bundeskartellamt, Andreas Mundt said. "Bookings have high amounts and far-reaching contracts are influenced by the information provided by the portals. We need to ensure that consumers can rely on the reliability, objectivity and transparency of the portals. "
Comparison portals like Idealo, Verivox or Check24 enjoy the German internet popularity. Also Heise Media operates a price comparison with the daughter miser. Consumers can compare costs and conditions of various goods and services, including electricity tariffs and insurance companies in the major databases of providers. The providers make money among other commissions and advertising.
Consumer advocates complain that the comparison portals provide no neutral product comparison, but occur, for example in insurance as a broker. Therefore, they demand more transparency from the industry: "Operator of comparison portals should provide comprehensive and easy to understand about ranking methods and financing in a prominent position of the portal," says Jutta Gurkmann the Consumer Federation.
In proceedings against Check24 the Federal Association of German insurance brokers could (BVK) assert that the comparison portal must prove its brokerage significantly. In April this year also the Federal Court of pioneering found that comparison portals are obliged to point out gaps in the offer - for example if only providers are listed that meet certain conditions.
"Everything else is advertising"
"Rankings in comparison portals should have to be independent of commission payments or business. Everything else is advertising and should not have been issued as an independent comparison "says Verbraucherschützerin Gurkmann. The issue has long since reached the policy. Already in 2016, the European Commission has taken the initiative for more transparency in comparison portals.
"Until now, problems with comparison portals are pursued mainly through individual private law litigation," said Cartel boss Mundt. His authority would now fundamentally deal with the issue. So any deficiencies in the civil and public enforcement of consumer protection law could be identified.
New consumer rights
It is the first time that the Cartel uses his summer extended by an amendment competencies. They give the Authority the possibility to perform in case of reasonable suspicion of serious violations of consumer rights regulations sector inquiries. They are not directed against specific companies, but are examining the practices in an entire industry.(Vbr)