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Tesco jumps on free Web access bandwagon

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Supermarket supremo Tesco has joined Dixons and Toys R Us to become the latest retailer to offer its customers free Internet access. Anyone with a Tesco's loyalty card will be able to access the service for free, although calls to the help line will cost 50 pence a minute. The move is designed to drive more people to Tesco's Web site as the supermarket steps up its online retail activity. It has confirmed that it will soon be marketing a range of children's clothes from the mail order company Grattans on its site and other "lifestyle" goods will be available in the near future. Plans to develop online banking services through its personal finance division are also well advanced, a spokesperson for the company said. Tim Mason, Tesco marketing director, stressed the growing importance of the Internet to the supermarket group. "We already have an e-commerce business, half of our home shopping order comes from customers who choose to use the Net, but we want to do more on the Tesco site by making more products available to more Net users. Free access is an important next step in doing this," he said. Tesco has been selling groceries over the Net since 1995. Last year it became the first retailer in the UK to provide Internet access. ®

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