Personal Finance: We need single, one-stop Internet sites to soothe our sore eyes
Saturday 04 September 1999
Yes, is the easy answer. The Internet does offer tremendous potential to buy good-value products, including financial ones. The process is not yet complete.
For example, most financial companies prepared to deal on the Internet as well as by phone or post don't operate a "dual pricing" strategy. They don't pass on to customers the benefits of far lower administration costs of deals on the Web.
One interesting exception is Egg, the Prudential's phone and Internet company, which maintains a higher savings rate of 0.25 per cent on its instant access account if you run it on the Web. On the mortgage front, cheeky old Egg has decided to distinguish its Internet-based service from the phone-based one by charging new phone applicants a pounds 199 fee. The day will come,when it becomes untenable to charge the same for something which requires infinitely less "human" time to order.
Even so, there is another problem: today's users are often subjected a bewildering and time-wasting search to find just that right deal. The process of finding home or car insurance is a case in point. With one exception, getting a quote takes almost as long on the Net as it does over the phone. You are forced to go from site to site, filling in the same details again and again to get a quote.
Now Direct Line is offering its insurance services over the Net. It consistently offers good value and is well worth getting a quote from. And it promises online application will take only two minutes.
There is a company called Screentrade which has contacts with a dozen insurers and can get quotes from allusing one application form. The trouble is, say friends who tried, Screentrade quotes are often higher than they can get over the phone or from other Internet providers.
There is a crying need for one site to provide a platform to all providers, allowing individuals the chance to post their details and getting a quote from all of them.
We also need a mechanism to show different fund managers' performance, plus a way to buy their products immediately. The same with mortgages - and almost any product you care to name. I suspect that's not far away. But until then, getting a quote for anything is a painful experience barely worth going through. It's a shame.
Finally, more readers have called to ask for a free copy of The Independent's Guide on Independent Financial Advice, which tells you exactly what steps to take to find an IFA. It comes with a list of names and telephone numbers to whom you can go for help. Call 0117 9712932 for your copy
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...