Home Your Tech Finder hit with ACCC fine for misleading consumers

Finder hit with ACCC fine for misleading consumers

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has slapped Finder (finder .com.au) with a fine of $10,800 for allegedly making false or misleading claims about the number of health insurance policies it compares on it website.

Finder, which trades as Hive Empire, runs an online comparison service that claims to enable consumers to compare insurance services financial services, energy and gas provision, technology and telecommunications, online shopping coupons and deals, travel, and accommodation.

The ACCC alleged that between February and May, Finder claimed on its website that its health insurance comparison service allowed consumers to “compare roughly 65,000 policies”. Actually, the number of policies compared was substantially less.

Finder was alleged to have made the misleading representation at the time when Australian health funds announce their annual premium “rate rises”. Known as the industry “switch period”, this is the annual peak period when consumers seek to change health insurance policies or insurance providers.

“The ACCC considered that Finder represented that its health insurance comparison service was more comprehensive than it was. In our view this was misleading and likely to divert consumers away from other online comparison services,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Consumers increasingly rely on comparator platforms to inform their choice of insurance provider, particularly when faced with a large range of policy options. Operators of comparator websites must ensure that the claims they make about market and product coverage are accurate so that consumers can make fully informed decisions.”

Finder has now removed the incorrect claim from its website.

Update, 24 November: Finder co-founder and director Fred Schebesta told iTWire that the ACCC release highlighted the fact that the site had misrepresented the number of health policies and this had been corrected as soon as the issue came to light.

In response to a request for comment, he said: "The original figure took into account policy variations including state and structure of offers, with each variation generating a different price.

"We worked closely with the ACCC to review and confirm the data on our site. We’ve ensured our data is accurate, and most importantly, meets our customers’ needs. While there was no intent to mislead our customers, we regret any confusion or inconvenience."

Schebesta said the issue was isolated, and no other services on finder.com.au were affected. "We’ve completed a full audit of our service and have put robust measures in place to ensure this doesn’t occur again," he added.

"We compare more health funds and policies than any other competitor and remain committed to helping millions of Australians make better informed decisions."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.