Ofcom Price Comparison Accreditation
Consumer FAQ updated 06|11|13
Q1. What is Price Comparison Accreditation?
The Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme provides quality assurance that the calculations of price comparisons of fixed line, mobile, broadband and television services offered by accredited companies are accessible, accurate, up to date, transparent and comprehensive. The price accreditation scheme aims to give consumers a level of confidence and reassurance in markets where finding the best price for services can be an often confusing and sometimes daunting experience.
Companies can apply to Ofcom for accreditation of their price comparison calculator. The accreditation process involves an independent audit of the company's price calculator, which, if successful, may then be accredited by Ofcom. Once accredited, these companies can display the Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme logo on their websites and in any publicity campaigns.
Q2. Which companies have been accredited?
Ofcom currently has five accredited members under the Scheme, Simplify Digital, broadbandchoices, Billmonitor, Broadband.co.uk and Cable.co.uk.
The price comparison calculators provided by these companies were audited by Ofcom's independent auditor and having satisfied the audit requirements, Ofcom has deemed that their calculators are fit for accreditation under the Scheme.
Q3. What does accreditation mean to consumers?
Consumers will be able to contact companies accredited under the Scheme and feel assured that the information comparing the prices of fixed line, mobile, broadband and television, or bundles of these services meets minimum criteria that should generate accurate, transparent, comprehensive, up to date and accessible price information.
Only the method of calculating and presenting such prices, the price comparison calculator, is accredited under the Scheme. The accreditation does not extend to other activities of the company. For example Ofcom does not endorse any other non-price information including research reports, best buy guides or consumer forums that are provided along with the company's price comparison information.
Accredited companies should endeavour to make their price comparison information accessible to all consumers. These companies may do this by providing comparative prices online, over the phone or in writing to ensure that consumers seeking information on prices can do so by a variety of different contact methods.
Q4. I have a disability, which means I can't access information easily from websites - how can I get information about how to switch provider?
As part of the audit process prior to awarding accreditation, Ofcom assessed the methods of providing information to consumers with a variety of disabilities and access needs. The accredited companies' websites have been tailored to cater for consumers with visual impairments and are written in plain English.
Q5. Where can I find information about the prices of different services?
Consumers can contact any of the six accredited companies we have accredited and feel assured that they are receiving information on prices that meet the regulator's criteria for providing price comparison information.
Ofcom is the independent regulator of communications services in the UK, therefore Ofcom does not as a general practice provide consumers with specific information on the prices of individual services. But as consumers are increasingly seeking accurate, transparent, up to date, comprehensive and accessible information on prices, Ofcom has established an accreditation scheme to help address this need.
Q6. How can I find out what is the best deal for me?
Price is just one of a number of important factors that consumers should consider when looking for the best deal on services. There are many price comparison sites that provide information on the prices of fixed telephone, mobile, broadband and TV services. However, there are only six companies that have so far been accredited under the Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme.
Consumers can contact:
- BillMonitor (http://www.billmonitor.com);
- broadbandchoices (www.broadbandchoices.co.uk);
- Simplify Digital (www.simplifydigital.co.uk),
- Broadband.co.uk (http://www.broadband.co.uk/)
- Cable.co.uk (http://www.cable.co.uk)
Q7. Does this mean that only companies accredited by Ofcom are able to provide accurate price information?
Not necessarily. There are other numerous companies that offer price comparison services for consumers. Accreditation simply means that a company asked Ofcom to conduct an independent audit of their price comparison calculator. The audit was successful and Ofcom accredited these companies under the Scheme, which means we consider that their price comparison information meets minimum standards for consumers. At this stage, six companies have successfully applied for and been granted accreditation. Ofcom welcomes applications for accreditation from other price comparison companies. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Q8. What is Ofcom doing to ensure accredited companies remain accurate?
Companies accredited under the Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme are reviewed 12 months after the award of the accreditation and every 18 months thereafter. The companies must also notify Ofcom of any material changes to their price calculator or how they provide information on prices.
Ofcom has also introduced spot checks every three months on the information being provided by accredited websites. If we find that any accredited company no longer meets the terms of the accreditation agreement Ofcom can withdraw accreditation.
Q9. Do accredited companies provide price information on all types of relevant services?
The accreditation Scheme was designed to provide quality assured price comparisons of fixed line, mobile, broadband and television services. Accredited companies may focus on providing information on just one service while others provide information on several services. Accredited price comparison websites may in future provide comparisons for other relevant services, e.g. mobile broadband.