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‘Free’ Internet claims exposed

This is an offer you can refuse, Tim Richardson reports

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Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

A premium rate phone line that promised "unlimited 'free' UK calls to the Internet!" has been exposed as little more than a crude marketing ploy for Euphony Communications Ltd. Free-Link, based in Leeds, claimed it would spill the beans on toll-free access to the Internet if Net users called the premium-rate line and paid a £25 registration fee. But The Register has discovered that Free-Link it nothing more than multi-level marketing reseller for Reading-based Euphony. And by deliberately withholding the fact that it was an an agent for Euphony it has breached the company's guidelines and could face being "suspended or terminated". "If our people are not operating in a business-like or ethical way I will suspend or terminate them," said Jeanne Jones, Brand Manager at Euphony. "We have a very strict policy," she said. "Our consultants are not allowed to engage in blind advertising, they cannot advertise on Web sites, they cannot use unsolicited mail and they have to use our approved adverts," she said. In all these cases it appears Free-Link breached Euphony's guidelines. John Usher, one of the men behind Free-Link, said that the offer was "completely legal" before conceding that he knew nothing about computers. "I don't even have one," he said. "The whole idea was to sell Euphony—I now realise the error of some of our ways," he said. Euphony, which claims to be the "fastest growing telecommunications company in the UK" was created last year. It relies on an ever-expanding team of consultants to recruit new subscribers to its services. One condition-laden service gives Net users limited toll-free access to the Net. ®

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