ACCC Penalises Comparison Website for Alleged Misleading Conduct

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) has announced that it has penalised Hive Empire Pty Limited (trading as finder.com.au (Finder)), the amount of $10,800 following the issue of an infringement notice by the ACCC for alleged false or misleading claims on its comparison website about the number of health insurance policies its website compares.

The allegations of misleading conduct related to activity between February and May 2017, where Finder’s website stated to consumers that its health insurance comparison service allowed customers to compare “roughly 65,000 policies”, but according to the ACCC, the actual number of policies compared was substantially less than this.

The ACCC considered it had reasonable grounds to believe that Finder had breached the Australian Consumer Law (the ACL) by purporting to compare a large number of policies, where in fact the actual number of policies compared were substantially less than claimed.

Finder said “the original figure took into account policy variations including state and structure of offers, with each variation generating a different price … While there was no intent to mislead our customers, we regret any confusion or inconvenience.”

Finder made the allegedly misleading representation during the period when Australian health funds announce their annual premium “rate rises”. This is the annual peak period when consumers seek to change health insurance policies or insurance providers, often having used online health insurance comparison services.

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