Handing power to consumers with telecoms price comparison

Oleksandr Petrykov, the founder of LetzCompare, wants to shift the power balance back to consumers Photo: LetzCompare

Oleksandr Petrykov, the founder of LetzCompare, wants to shift the power balance back to consumers Photo: LetzCompare

Luxembourg’s first telecommunications price comparison website launches this week, a tool for newcomers to make smart choices; but the entrepreneur behind the platform also hopes to hand power back to consumers and show companies they need to be more competitive.

“The idea behind LetzCompare is to make people’s lives easy,” said founder Oleksandr Petrykov ahead of the company’s official launch on 2 November. Originally from Ukraine, Petrykov has lived in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, where price comparison websites provide easy information for expats. “Coming to a new country, you don’t know how things work, how many providers there are, you don’t have time to search.”

But no such help was available when he arrived in the grand duchy. “I decided to fill this niche,” the entrepreneur said. During his research, he found that most people in Luxembourg can name only three telecoms providers that dominate the market. “In fact, we have 11 providers in the country,” he said. “So, the average consumer doesn’t know about eight other providers, which is a big gap.”

Many also aren’t aware of price differences and indeed, among the top players there is a certain convergence on fees. But the devil is in the detail and Petrykov said it can be less about how much you spend than about what you get in return. “LetzCompare is about maximising the value for your money.”

Being savvy

The website allows users to search for plans depending on the phone they want but also SIM-only deals and internet and TV packages, not only showing monthly fees but also the full cost of the contract for its duration. “There are so many offers, it’s easy to get lost,” Petrykov said.

In addition, there is a blog with advice on how to switch provider but also other things to consider when choosing a plan, like reception and network coverage gaps. “We try to dig into small topics and bring useful information to people.”

And even once you’ve made your pick, it’s wise to keep plugged into what you pay. The Luxembourg Regulatory Institute (ILR) in a study on telecommunications prices in the country said people should review conditions of their contracts when they expire as a better, cheaper offer could have become available in the meantime. It’s advice that Petrykov shares.

Luxembourg residents aren’t savvy about several aspects of their household spending. The ILR in a previous study also found that just one in five Luxembourg households can name their energy provider and more than half don’t know how to switch to a different one.

Consumer power

This complacency on the part of consumers is making it easier for companies to drag their feet, too, the ILR said. It offers an electricity and gas price comparison tool in French, German and Luxembourgish.

It’s an area that Petrykov is considering expanding into in future. Banks and insurance are another gap in the market. An insurance price comparison website, iCompare, that launched in 2017 has since ceased operations.

“Currently the power balance is with the companies,” said Petrykov. And while customers might complain they pay too much, there is little they can do on an individual basis.

Petrykov hopes to raise awareness among clients that they have options but also to shift attitudes around price comparison. “With LetzCompare, by using the website, you’re helping send a signal to the system that the power is actually with you.”