Online shoppers are unforgiving - once they’ve gone, they’ve gone for good

Millions prefer buying online to speaking with a salesperson – for everything from financial services, to car insurance and utilities

Nottingham, UK, 07 December 2016 – When it comes to buying financial services, utilities, or car insurance, just one in five (21%)* favour speaking to a provider in person, while the rest  prefer online dealings.

Despite often complex information, terms and conditions that underpin financial products and services, the vast majority of customers favour online transactions, according new research by Experian.  Car insurance (54%) and utility providers (53%) top the list with consumers saying they prefer to apply online than deal with an individual.

However, four out of five (81%) experience frustration when going through a financial providers’ ‘digital journey’.  The biggest bug-bear for nearly a third of online applicants (29%) was answering all the questions only to be told they did not qualify.

Furthermore, they are unforgiving, with nearly two out of five simply opting to go elsewhere. It also emerged that poor sentiment sticks, with a similar number (29%) avoiding the provider completely in the future.

Over-55s are particularly prone to this behaviour with more than one in three (36%) saying they would avoid providers permanently after a bad experience online.

Ian Cunningham, Managing Director of ID & Fraud at Experian, says: “People want the convenience and flexibility of being able to apply for essential services online – particularly when time is an issue.  For those who get turned down, it’s not necessarily due a bad credit history.  Our research shows that for one in eight (12%) it was because further proof of identification was needed, while for one in nine (11%) there just wasn’t enough information about them.  

“However, more and more people are just giving up on an online provider if they find the experience is too difficult and protracted.  Regardless of the desire to avoid talking to someone, online shoppers still – quite rightly - expect a great customer experience.  With less than one in five (19%) likely to contact the provider to address the issue, it is clear that the rest are ready to go elsewhere if they have the choice. User experience is quickly becoming one of the most important considerations for businesses that have an online offering, but this also has to be balanced with robust security and fraud prevention systems.”

Top five negative aspects of online applications for UK adults

Answering all questions only to be rejected


The risk to personal security


The amount of personal information that needs to be provided and filled in manually


Not being able to discuss with someone face to face


Answering all the questions but still having to post in ID documents


The survey also revealed that despite preferring online interaction, concerns about the safety of their information online is still high on the list. More than one in four (27%) of those surveyed believe their personal security may be at risk when handing over so many of their details online.

Car insurance and utilities rank as the top products that UK adults prefer to apply for online whilst utilities and current accounts are the preferred products for consumers to manage accounts online.

Financial product

% Prefer to apply online

% Prefer to manage accounts online

Car Insurance



Utilities(gas, water, electricity)



House Insurance



Public sector services e.g driving license, tax returns



Mobile Phone



Credit Card



Current Account



Benefits e.g. jobseekers allowance, working tax credit



Personal loan



Ian advises: “Even the savviest ‘internet only’ customers are worried about the security of the online process, so there is some work still to be done in putting their minds at rest.

“A few things people should look for when entering sensitive personal information on a web page include the ‘lock’ icon to the left of the site’s URL in the address bar.  You should also check the URL for ‘https’ rather than ‘http’ – this means that the site uses ‘Secure Sockets Layer’, which enables data to be shared securely.  Ultimately, if you are not sure, don’t enter your details. Contact the service provider instead to verify the address.”


Survey conducted by Opinium Research between 23 and 25 September 2015 amongst 2002 respondents to a nationally representative sample.

*Respondents were asked whether they prefer to apply for the following products online or in person:

  • Utilities (gas, water, electricity)
  • Current account
  • Public sector services e.g. driving license, tax returns
  • Mobile phone
  • Credit card
  • Claim on house insurance
  • Claim on car insurance
  • Benefits e.g. jobseekers allowance, working tax credit
  • Personal loan


Eddie Keough / Sarah Muir

020 7490 8828

About Experian

We are the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to our clients around the world. We help businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making.

We also help people to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.  In 2015, we were named by Forbes magazine as one of the ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’.

We employ approximately 17,000 people in 38 countries and our corporate headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2015, was US$4.8 billion.

To find out more about our company, please visit or watch our documentary, ‘Inside Experian’.