A woman has set up a website that helps elderly people plan their funerals after discovering how fake comparison website are misleading customers by luring them in and using their personal details to pester them with calls.
Sally Hill, 42 from Leeds set up the UK’s first website that compares all national providers of funeral plans without asking visitors for their personal details after discovering a gap in the market for a genuine comparison site.
She was inspired to set up FuneralPlanMarket.com after discovering that people are visiting websites where they believe they will get a list of results to compare funeral plan options – like they do when comparing insurance, for example.
Sally explained: ‘Typically these fake comparison sites get visitors to fill out their details and then target them later for a nasty sales call. They are duping people and it must be hugely disappointing to be treated like that when you simply want to find the best deal for your own funeral.
‘The customer is then predominantly only offered the option of one supplier. This doesn’t provide them with the impartial comparison they required to enable them to make an informed choice.
‘Even worse many customers are forced into buying a funeral plan that is far more expensive than comparable plans available.
Sally Hilly from Leeds set up FuneralPlanMarket.com after discovering so-called comparison sites were using people’s details to target them with calls and sell them expensive plans (stock image)
‘None of these sites actually provide a comparison for customers to compare funeral plans.
‘In addition, many of these fake comparison sites do not notify the customer that they will receive a phone call and those that do, do so in very small writing, which is often faded – all of these practices are in breach of data protection rules.’
‘It also raises the question as to why search engines allow them to advertise?’
Sally previous worked in the energy comparison site sector and decided to set up a service for funeral plan price comparisons when she discovered that none existed.
‘Because of my previous role as the founder and director of an energy price comparison website, I understand the very high standards of practice required to achieve Ofgem accreditation and I wanted to bring those same requirements to the funeral plan market.
‘When I began to research the market in February of this year I was even more amazed that websites were posing as comparison sites when this was not the case,’ she recalled.’
Sally previously founded an energy market comparison site and wanted to bring the same high standards of practice required to achieve Ofgem accreditation to the funeral plan market
While fake comparison sites may be unethical, is there anything illegal about them?
‘The key here is data protection regulation,’ Sally explained. ‘The new General Data Protection Regulations (GPDR) that come in to force next year should help.
‘These will require websites to be more clear about why they are requesting customer information and what they are going to do with it.
‘That said a number of the website operating fake comparison sites are not complying with the existing requirements.
‘For example, one I know of does not include any text regarding consent or agreement to privacy policies.
‘The challenge with adequate legislation is enforcement and if search engines allow websites to advertise that do not comply with the relevant requirements this is very challenging.’
If you are concerned about a comparison website, the warning sign is being asked for personal details.
‘If a website requires your telephone number to be a mandatory field, for you, to be provided with a comparison service then it is unlikely that you will be able to compare prices on that website,’ Sally said.