Tampa, Fla. - Fund companies that have sought to encourage customers to do business online in order to cut down on the cost of telephone reps and other more expensive service may find that the Internet is not necessarily a cost-saver, at least in the short run.

While direct distribution, and to a lesser degree broker-sold fund companies, have developed alluring websites that offer varying degrees of inter-activity, the general public has not mastered the technology. Many would-be Internet customers are Web novices and need time and guidance to learn how to use it.

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