Beware of angry cats warns frustrated Sean


The Daily Mail is frankly disgusted. “A proposed code of conduct for price comparison websites has collapsed,” it claims, “leaving consumers without a watchdog.”

Could nodding dog Churchill maybe fill in, if he’s not too busy hobnobbing with celebrities?

Launched in July last year (see previous story), the Comparison Consortium initiative was conceived as a way of heading off formal regulation. Its leading light, former boss Frustrated Sean Gardner, described trying to get other comparison sites on board as “like herding a group of angry cats.” Now, he says, “many consumers could be misled by false claims and misleading information.”

The Consortium’s collapse leaves consumers at the mercy of angry cats, the Mail claims. Which? Editor Daley James warns: ‘These are ruthlessly commercial organisations trying to make as much money as possible.’ Pending legislation to make such things illegal, consumers must clearly keep their wits about them.

“Among their pricing scams,” the Mail warns, “is the use of high excesses of up to £500 on motor insurance policies. This allows a site to quote a cheap price, but when they claim motorists find they have to pay most or all of the repair costs themselves.”

Why would leading comparison sites not play ball with the Comparison Consortium? Moneysupermeerkat said the CC’s standards were too low. Confused said it wouldn’t join because not enough people would join.

BeatThatQuote (who provide comparison services for… The Daily Mail) were proud to be the first website accredited by the Cat Consortium but withdrew again when the Consortium decided to become a limited company.

Meanwhile the Office of Fair Trading – kind of a watchdog itself – is looking into the comparison sites’ online sales practices and will report back later this year.

Cats. Dogs. This can only end badly.


Now officially more popular than Wayne Rooney (estimated value circa £30m), comparethemarket mascot Aleksandr Orlov has been put on the market for a mere £19.95.

Yes, for under twenty quid you will soon be able purchase your very own Aleksandr Orlov exclusively from gaudy Knightsbridge bazaar Harrods. Clad in smoking jacket and cravat, this year’s must-have Christmas toy even says “simples” if you jab him in the ribs.

In other meerkat news: Arshenal’s Andrey Arsavin apparently now endures the nickname meerkat on account of his accent. But have you ever wondered why meerkats – indigenous to South West Africa should be speaking with Russian accents?

Creative post-rationalisations include his arrival as a student back in the cold war era when many Africans shivered their way through a Soviet higher education, and – the official version – that he was kidnapped by Russian gangsters – but escaped… hmmm.

Could it be perhaps that the ad agency confused meerkats with another steppe-dwelling burrowing mammal the Marmot (marmota bobac) who might be expected to have a Russian – or at least a Mongolian – accent?

Apparently not. Ad agency insiders have confirmed the worst suspicions of thin-skinned East Europeans who regard the ads as racist by admitting the whole thing stemmed from hearing someone pronounce comparethemarket with a Slavic accent.

And the name? Borrowed perhaps from Alexander Mikhailovich Orlov the soviet spymaster who directed the kidnapping and execution of the POUM leader Andreu Nin before defecting to the US in 1938. Or could it be (this week’s cheap excuse for a picture of a scantily clad female) that they were inspired by Russian philologist Marina Orlova?

No idea, mate.

But love or loath, it’s hard to quibble with a spokescreature who took CTM’s brand awareness from 20% to 59% in the first eight months of the campaign, resulting in an 80% rise in quotes requested and a 73% drop in acquisition costs.

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