Retailers wise up to the web
Sunday 06 September 1998
One of them is Marks & Spencer, which has a large and sophisticated financial services arm providing loans, pensions and investments, as well as the company's charge card.
M&S has revamped its financial services web site, which works with secure documents, using the browser's encryption facilities. The site covers savings and investments, personal loans and a reserve account, which is a flexible loan facility, as well as account card services and life and pensions.
New applications for the M&S charge card can be submitted and existing customers can change their address, their statement date, or opt to pay by direct debit online - although the direct debit form has to be printed out and posted as it requires a signature.
The savings and investment section gives details on the M&S low-cost PEP, including the way it is taxed and how the company works out the value of investments.
For loans, the site provides a calculator to work out monthly payments and secure online application forms for new customers.
The most comprehensive part of the site, though, deals with life and pensions. M&S sells stand-alone pensions, schemes for additional contributions, and serious illness cover. It also sells lump-sum life cover.
Internet users cannot apply online for life or pension products, but can request information and a personal illustration by calling a freephone number.
In addition, M&S provides a useful pension calculator which illustrates the likely monthly and annual pension for a given premium, retirement age and the age of the applicant.
The site provides a walk-though calculator that adds up outgoings and liabilities for a family. Sensibly, it provides some sample figures, such as the monthly cost of running a car or funeral costs, as well as a guide to the state benefits for a widow or widower.
The process might seem a little morbid, but the resulting figures can be quite frightening. For example, a professional person with a young family would need insurance worth several hundred thousand pounds to provide an adequate income after death.
In recent years supermarkets like Safeway, Tesco and Sainsbury's have also introduced financial products such as savings accounts, pensions and insurance. Boots is the latest to introduce a range of insurance products, including medical cover and travel policies.
Tesco's personal finance section consists of a page with some phone numbers to call for more information. Sainsbury's takes a similar approach.
Boots' web site is rather more useful. The company only sells insurance. Its health products include dental and family health insurance, child injury, adult accident and pregnancy. Travel policies include single and annual trip, winter sports cover, and a gap-year policy.
Contacts: Boots, www.boots.co.ok; Marks & Spencer, www.marks-and-spencer.co.uk/financial- services; Sainsbury's, www.jsainsbury. co.uk; Tesco, www.tesco. co.uk
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
Bank Holiday Monday opening times: Are Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets open today?
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...