Category: Morally Wrong

How Comparison Sites Cheat

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was concerned that comparison web sites were making hotel rooms seem more popular than they actually are.

Expedia,,, ebookers and trivago have been investigated by the CMA over pressure selling and misleading discount claims.

“The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market,” said CMA Chairman Andrew Tyrie.

The CMA will now seek to make the rest of the sector follow the same rules as the six companies it has named.

The companies have all agreed to the following:-

  • To make it clearer how hotels are graded, including whether hotels paying the ranking sites more have received a position higher up the list
  • To not give a false impression of a hotel’s popularity to rush customers into making a booking. For example, when saying that other customers are looking at the same hotel as you, it should be made clear it they are searching for different dates. Some sites were also placing sold-out hotels within search results to put pressure on people to book more quickly. They have now committed not to do this
  • To be clear about discounts and only promoting deals that are actually available at that time. The CMA found sites comparing a higher weekend room rate with a weekday rate or comparing the price of a luxury suite with a standard room
  • To show charges such as taxes, booking or resort fees in the price

The companies have until 1 September 2019 to comply with the demands, otherwise they could be taken to court.

Compare the Market’s so-called most favoured nation contract clauses stopped home insurers from listing better prices elsewhere, in a bid to stop rivals winning home insurance customers.

But the practice also meant that home insurers were more likely to pay higher commission rates to comparison sites, potentially passing on the extra costs to customers.

“Our investigation has provisionally found that Compare the Market has broken the law by preventing home insurers from offering lower prices elsewhere. This could result in people paying higher premiums than they need to” said the CMA.

Well done the regulator. Comparison websites need to be fair and honest with their customers.

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What Facebook Must Do To Regain Trust

In the beginning, Facebook was a simple online service for people to connect to others – from their college, neighbourhood, shared interests etc. but it grew huge and into a monopoly position.

Rather than trying to be a force for good in the world, Facebook has been all about self-interest, money, greed, destroying any opposition and growing ever more dominant.

At the same time, it has deliberately ignored warnings over damaging content and damaging practices, ignored user privacy concerns and ignored its negative impact on society. Facebook has repeatedly been disgraced for bad behaviour but still continues in the same way.


Facebook must transform itself and its people.

  1. Understand that the content created by the users belongs to the users not to Facebook. We choose to let Facebook use that content but for our benefit not for allowing greed to grow ever worseand our privacy to be undermined.
  2. Respect theuser’s wishes over use of their content.
  3. Do not use data for reasons other than specified to the users.
  4. Do not track users on websites or services other than those owned by Facebook.
  5. Stop trying to make Facebook more addictive or appealing to teenagers and children.
  6. Protect children from damaging content and use panels of citizens to determine what material should and shouldn’t be allowed.
  7. Make all processes over advertising clean and transparent.This will give away a little of Facebook’s advantage but it is necessary.
  8. Facebook is not a publisher in the same sense as a newspaper, radio or TV station, but it is publishing content and must share responsibility for that content and any damage that may come from inadequate controls on content and access.
  9. Be open, honest and transparent about challenges and what is being done to fix them.
  10. Stop targeting ‘competitors’ – you must not abuse your monopoly position. Use it to help people not to destroy businesses you don’t like

Now is the time for Facebook to transform itself from a pariah into a respected business.

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Cold Callers Selling Call Blockers

Elderly homeowners are being targeted by cold callers selling expensive gadgets that supposedly block cold callers.

Sometimes the scammers have no product and the whole thing is just a con to get the victim’s credit card details but there appear to be several companies actually selling products they claim can block cold callers.

But, they are contacting people registered on the Telephone Preference Service who should not be called so they are operating illegally. These companies sell expensive products that turn out to be cheap and ineffective – either stopping all calls or are incompatible with most people’s home phones or are too complicated for the end user to understand.

One such company was Telecom Protection Service which was stopped in 2017 after being found guilty of defrauding hundreds of people. Also, a company named  IT Protect Ltd was fined £400,000 for cold calling to sell call blockers more recently.

Other companies have since sprung up to continue this scam.

If you want a call blocking service, first try your phone provider as most have call blocking feature available and quite often these are free or at a modest charge.

If you do want or need a gadget to plug into your phone line for blocking callers then research what’s available and pick one that is recommended by experts and by its customers. Do not ever respond to cold callers trying to sell anything as it will never be value for money.

If you have any experiences with cold callers do let me know, by email.

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GDPR Non Compliance

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) places legal requirements on organisations that use any personal data and send out marketing emails etc.

It is up to each organisation to ensure they comply with the regulations and there are nasty punishments for those who don’t.

However, some scammers have been finding new ways to get at businesses over GDPR.

For example, by sending emails and letters that threaten action unless your business registers with them.

(see blog post )

Some scammers check business names against the public list of those that pay the Data Protection fees but others are too lazy to do that and just send the threatening emails to everyone on the spam lists they buy.

There are of course exemptions from paying the fees e.g. voluntary and charity organisations are often exempt depending on how they do their marketing.

If you’re exempt then don’t be taken in by threatening emails.

If you’re not sure if your business is exempt then refer to

Don’t be conned.

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