An ING Direct Online Retail Store? It's not a joke.

by Elizabeth Lang on 25 March 2009 13 comments
Photo: lrargerich

It was my birthday last week.  I was up early checking email and the first birthday email I received was from ING Direct.  I had received plenty of birthday emails from companies earlier in the week and they always contained some sort of coupon:  "Happy Birthday, come celebrate [by spending your money] with us."  No company ever just emailed to say "Happy Birthday!".

When I received an email from ING Direct, I assumed it would be just that, birthday wishes.  I use ING Direct for both savings and checking accounts and am a big fan of the company. Generally, they have good marketing and so I was especially curious to see what their birthday wishes looked like. 

I opened the email and to my astonishment guess what it contained?

A link to the ING Direct Store.  With a 15% off coupon. 

At first I thought it must be some sort of joke.  After all, ING Direct prides itself on encouraging savers.  So why would it encourage them to spend?

But, I clicked through to the link and discovered that the ING Direct Shop is no joke.  ING actually sells products like books, water bottle, messenger bags and flashlights.

At first I was annoyed and enraged. Why is my bank trying to sell me more stuff?

But, after looking around the store I was amused.  The products they sell are (for the most part) practical and trendy.
 
Some of the products are eco-friendly such as 100% recycled reusable shopping bags, biodegradable coffee tumblers, and BPA-free water bottles. 

Other products, like a safe, shredder, and home emergency kit, promote safety and security.  There are several books about financial literacy.

And, if you really want to show your ING love you can buy ING Direct bright orange apparel.

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The prices listed are generally competitive.  For instance, the ShredderShark is $20 cheaper on ING than Amazon.  And the Wrap-n-Mat (an awesome product I've reviewed on another blog) is about a dollar cheaper on ING than on Amazon.    But, the Honeywell Safe is over $30 more on ING than on Amazon

It appears that shipping is free.  No where on the site are shipping costs explicitly stated, but when I added items to my cart and started the checkout process ground shipping was free.  Sales tax is charged for products shipping to NY, PA, CA, and MN.

The biggest downside is they have a no returns policy (except for items that arrive damaged.)

It's an interesting online store to browse.  Although I'm still conflicted about whether a bank should be selling anything besides financial products/services.  If you do find something to buy you can use the 15% off coupon of "MARBD1509" which expires April 30.  (Coupons are also posted at Retail Me Not.) 

I wonder if the ING Store the beginning of a banking trend or will remain unique to ING.

(Disclosure Notice: I have no financial stake in ING other than the fact that I use them for checking/savings accounts.)

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Guest's picture

I'm officially scared. I really like ING and like your initial concerns, I'm wondering if this might be the beginning of the end. Look, I understand that trowing up a site like this with branded products probably too little real effort. However, I can't help but wonder if that time/energy would have been better doing what they already do best.

I'm not sure this type of thing helps keep their brand consistent with consumers. It certainly has me having second thoughts!

Guest's picture
Sean

At first I was annoyed and enraged.

Enraged?

Truly?

Enraged, about a company -- even if it is a bank, in these troubling times (insert eye roll here) -- selling branded goods to its customers? Or heck, even throwing in a few unbranded useful things at reasonable prices?

Why, I never... ;)

Guest's picture
Guest

This is not terribly surprising--for awhile now, downtown Chicago has been home to an ING Direct coffee shop that sells ING-branded goods (like the ones you describe above) while also providing a space for people to attend finance-related seminars, sign up for savings accounts, etc. This just looks like a transition to selling those goods to a broader audience (my favorite item they were selling was a fold-up bike that you could carry around the city).

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

It looks like they're just selling an overabundance of schwag that they would  usually give out to employees and people at conferences.  Maybe they're liquidating.  I definitely wouldn't buy these things since I rather get stuff with company logos for free. 

Guest's picture

This retail store is not a new thing for ING Direct. I have been saving with ING since 2003 and I think the store went up in 2005 or 2006. I have never purchased anything from them but I look longingly at their bright, cheery, orange stuff from time to time. When ING had better savings rates, there were pockets of fans who would giddily purchase their logo-products I'm sure... now that interest rates are so low everywhere, well...

Guest's picture
teresa

ING has been hawking stuff for a few years - in fact, they were the first bank I ever saw openly hawking stuff for sale. Since it seems so small - especially when they don't have a branch on every corner - I've never considered the implications.

Guest's picture
Guest

I got the same email in my inbox last november. I think this has been going on for awhile. I agree the stuff on the website is practical. Do I think that ING is going down like all the other banks? not really. A banks job is to get you to invest money into the bank. Spending money can only stimulate the economy and they probably re-invest any dividends back into products, services that can better serve us. So I say thumbs up to ING.

Guest's picture

I love ING Direct and use it for savings and checking. I really really really really wish they would work with mint.com but worse things have happened. My birthday was in January and I do not remember getting an e-mail from them, I probably just missed it.

I tried the coupon and I keep getting "The entered coupon is for ING DIRECT customers.Please enter your Customer Number below." even with my customer number entered below. Oh well, wishful thinking.

Cheers!

Guest's picture

They see you have some money saved and they decided to tempt the consumer in you to part with it! The American Way in action! Unbelievable!

Guest's picture
Michael Jones

As an ING customer for several years I really dont see that there is a big issue for them to sell ING branded products. It is what we do in capitalism , dont we. As a consumer you can browse but are not obligated to buy (although they do give you some sort of code which allows for a certain percentage off for people as a birthday wish if you are a ING customer)

Guest's picture
okgirl

...an exercise mat, that is. I've been looking for a durable, affordable one for ages, and I found it at ING. It cost 8 bucks with free shipping. C'mon!! What a deal. Yes, it says ING all over it, but it beats worrying about the staph infection I could be picking up from the communal yoga mats.
And some of their educational tools look very helpful, especially for teaching kids how to be financially responsible.

Guest's picture

Happy Birthday again Elizabeth!

The Shop@ING DIRECT has been serving savers since 2001 as an additional way for our Customers to experience what it means to save money with ING DIRECT. Just like our innovative ING DIRECT Cafes that encourage saving through financial literacy seminars, savings tips & tools and fantastic deals on Café items; the products we offer on the Shop promote saving, security and financial literacy; all at a great value to our Customers (our products are sold at or near cost with deep discounts on shipping).

We invite you to check out the Shop and Save your money.

PS: Note that the special birthday coupon will ONLY work for our birthday Customers.

Guest's picture
M Wright

I purchased a shredder from the ING direct shop. Enticed by a birthday coupon they lured me, a bank account holder, into purchasing a much need shredder. The shredder was poorly made and broke down immediately after. I had family that was terminal and was not able to make the 30 return policy they have. Well guess what the manufacturer of the product wants you to ship the item for repair yourself and then pay $10 for the return. That is OVER 40% of the purchase price. I would not recommend purchasing from ING direct shop. How dare they pray on their 'bread winners' aka bank account holders like this!