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Comparison Web site shopping hits SA – but beware

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South African consumers are fast catching on to the convenience of comparative shopping on the Internet.

An increasing number of people are discovering that the internet is the most cost effective and quickest way of comparing prices, from cellphones to microwaves, cars to quad bikes and tummy tucks to insurance.
In South Africa this is still a cumbersome and onerous affair: surfing the multitude of well known and popular Web sites to find a product, comparing the prices and finding the best deal.
American and European consumers, for some years now have websites doing the comparing for them and the trend has begun to catch on in South Africa with sites such as www.ratesdirect.co.za which compares commodities such as credit cards, financial services, insurances and broadband Internet and is busy expanding its bouquet on an ongoing basis.
"Firstly we believe that it is essential for any reputable company to review and update their site on at least a six-monthly basis," says Erez Atia. MD of RatesDirect. "As everyone knows, technology is not static and internet users benefit from the regular upgrades, it also enables us to add new products and build the site according to our users' needs and wants. Secondly, we monitor and update prices on an ongoing basis, ensuring that users always have the latest information on hand with at least four independent quotes for the same or similar product."
While currently concentrating on financial services, ratesdirect.co.za aims to expand to a more comprehensive product comparison site such as www.kelkoo.com in the UK which compares most household items and includes customer reviews and specials from the more well-known stores.
"Currently we are concentrating on the financial product side of things, but expanding into other consumer products is something that we are planning to develop. We want to create a service that is unique, user-friendly and pertinent to the South African market," says Atia.
"It is essential when looking for a product, to be aware of the most reputable players in the market and make sure the comparisons made are indeed independent. That should always be a good indicator of whether the comparing website has its finger on the pulse and is aware of the market and the reputation of the service providers," advises Atia.