MoneySavingExpert.com, a site offering consumers tips on reducing bills and finding the best deals, has been sold by its owner Martin Lewis for a reported £87 million. The buyer is Moneysupermarket.com, which already provides the click-through links on MoneySavingExpert.com that make money for both sites. Many users of MoneySavingExpert are furious at the move, which they see as selling out to a site that is more commercial in its outlook, and biased with it, and they claim will mean more spam and unwelcome changes to the site, although Lewis claims the deal includes safeguards against this.
One thing that’s for certain is that Martin Lewis is the one who is now laughing all the way to the bank. To his credit, he’s giving £10 million to charity, which of course he needn’t have done. But then that’s much the same as Bill Gates giving billions to charity. When you have such a large amount of money that most people could not even imagine, you can afford to be generous without having any impact on your own spending power or lifestyle.
I have thought for some time that MoneySavingExpert had lost its way. To me, money saving means finding the best deal, or looking for loopholes that allow the saving of a few pennies here or there. However, the site seemed to have shifted its emphasis towards claiming charges back from banks. First it was overdraft charges, and now it’s payment protection insurance premiums. That’s not money saving; that’s litigation. It’s nothing to do with saving money, but rather getting back money that you were stupid enough to lose in the first place. The advice to those who want to save money should be: make sure you don’t use an overdraft, particularly an unauthorised one; and don’t pay for useless insurance.
Take the analogy of a tradesman coming to do work to your home. The MoneySavingExpert approach would be to obtain several quotes, and find personal recommendations to make sure the one you choose will carry out good work. But the ReclaimChargesExpert approach would be to not bother with any of that, then when the work is complete, claim there is a minor problem with the work, withhold some of the money, and tell the tradesman to sue you. That may well save you money, but it’s not a good way to go about business.
I have long thought that campaigns to abolish overdraft charges are misguided as they could mean an increase in the cost of banking for the very sort of people MoneySavingExpert is supposed to be for, and could even mean the poorest in society would be unable to afford to use a bank account. And indeed, the banking industry is still trying to chip away at the free banking we enjoy in this country, under the guise of increasing competition.
Whatever other changes there are to MoneySavingExpert.com, perhaps one good thing will come out of the takeover. Hopefully they will remove Martin Lewis’s name and picture from the masthead of the site, and that will mean we no longer need to endure the incorrect apostrophe that features there. Just as every transaction has pennies to save, every cloud does have a silver lining.