May 2024

Beware estate agents, comparison websites and insurance brokers

A couple of years ago, I published a book DON’T BUY IT! about the tricks and traps salespeople use to take our money from us. Sadly most of my readers seem to have taken the title literally and didn’t buy it. That’s a pity really as in it I show how people like estate agents, car salespeople, telesales, financial services and timeshare scammers relieve us of large quantities of our cash. So, anyone buying and reading the book should easily be able to save themselves, their family and their friends hundreds of times the few quid the book costs.

Never mind. I recently came across three new examples of how easily our money can be taken from us:

1. Estate Agents

A couple of months ago I put my home up for sale as I was buying another one. Normally I would have had to pay a traditional high-street estate agent around £3,000 to handle the sale. Instead I decided to use an on-line estate agent, Purplebricks. Purplebricks only cost about £800. However, with a traditional estate agent you only pay when your home is sold. But with Purplebricks you pay immediately, whether your home sells or not.

For me, the interesting bit started about 4 weeks after my property appeared on the main property websites – PrimeLocation, RightMove, Zoopla etc. I started getting contacted by local traditional high-street estate agents. Some offered to refund the £800 I paid to Purplebricks if I let the estate agent handle the sale. Others offered to sell my home for the same fee as Purplebricks, £800, instead of their normal fee of around £3,000.

So, the moral of the story is, if you first place your home for sale with an on-line estate agent, you’ll find your local high-street estate agents suddenly become remarkably flexible concerning the fees they will charge for selling your property.

2. Comparison websites and insurance brokers

I had to insure my new home and so decided to try to find a good insurance quote using comparison website Gocompare. Two things happened:

  • First, when I contacted the ‘insurance company’ offering the ‘best deal’, I found I was actually talking to an insurance broker who claimed that they could definitely find me the best price. The cheapest price they came up with was over £330 from insurance company Liverpool Victoria
  • Secondly, being tightfisted, I tried another comparison website, MoneySupermarket. Here I found to my surprise that insurance company, Liverpool Victoria, could provide the home insurance I wanted for only £190. This possibility was not even mentioned on Gocompare

There are probably two lessons here:

  1. Many comparison websites don’t do quite as many price comparisons as you might have expected from their advertising. So, to be certain of finding the best price, you actually have to try at least two comparison websites. I hadn’t realised that until recently
  2. Insurance brokers claim that they can find the best price as they can choose from a wide range of insurance companies. This is a bunch of lies. The price I got by buying directly from Liverpool Victoria was £130 cheaper than buying the same policy with the same company through an insurance broker. So, when using a comparison website, make sure you’re dealing directly with an insurance company and not being fooled into going through an expensive insurance broker eager to take their cut of your cash.

Anyway, although today’s blog isn’t dealing with the big, important issues like the suicide of the West and the world’s descent into barbarism and chaos, hopefully some readers may find my experiences with estate agents, comparison websites and insurance brokers useful.

3 comments to Beware estate agents, comparison websites and insurance brokers

  • MGJ

    Thank you. Sounds like useful advice and it’s good to see you are back.

  • John Fields

    That must have been the shortest “I’m stopping – it’s
    too dangerous” on record. However, I am delighted that
    you are back Mr Craig.

  • Caratacus

    Grateful that rumours of your retirement were greatly exaggerated, Mr. C 🙂 and thanks for the advice. I am currently deciding on the best wording for a message to Santander Insurance requesting them to poke their Home Contents Insurance Policy where the sun may be somewhat inhibited in its attempt to cast light upon one and all. So another timely lesson is learnt!

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