Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is offering a 100 dollar credit to people who open online accounts by Sept. 5. But they must contact an MSDW broker to establish the account and receive the 100 dollars.
A minimum investment of 2,000 dollars is required.
The promotion hasn't exactly caught on with MSDW reps. One veteran rep in the Southwest simply balks at accommodating online discount customers.
"I'm aware of [the promotion], and I'm not going to do a thing about it," he says. "The firm has come around and told brokers, 'You haven't opened any online accounts,' and I tell them, 'And I'm not going to.'
"My plate is already full," the rep adds. "This is just one more thing that I don't get paid for." Service assistants in the branches are supposed to handle the discount clients, he says.
A MSDW rep on the West Coast tells clients that online investing is available through the firm. But most of the broker's customers are retired and don't even have computers. "We're aware of the 100 dollar offer, but it has not really brought us any business," the rep says. "I just want my clients to know that we have online capability with the best research."
Likewise, an MSDW broker on the East Coast scoffs at the idea of inducements. "We are getting to the party with this online thing very late," the rep says. Other discounters offer something similar, he notes. "We're trying to make up lost ground."
Discover card merchants and members of the Raging Bull investor Web site are being offered 75 dollars for opening a MSDW Online account. At press time in July, neither offer had an expiration date.
MSDW did not return calls seeking comment. Discover and Raging Bull confirmed the offers, but would not discuss details.
MSDW's Discover business services unit launched the promotion for Discover card merchants in June.
It's unclear when the Raging Bull offer started, but in its promotion, MSDW Online highlights access to the firm's research. Raging Bull members are told that research is available on a subscription basis, but that the fee is waived for accounts with 100,000 dollars or more.
Minimum account size for both offers is 2,000 dollars. There is no minimum for IRAs..