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Waitrose donates free ISP revenues to charity

Posh grocer won't charge tech support, either

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Posh supermarket chain Waitrose has joined Tesco and Iceland in the race to attract shoppers online. Launching its subscription-free ISP today the food division of John Lewis plc claimed that Waitrose.com marked "a radical departure from the recent mould of ISP packages". Part of that "radical departure" is to offer a "quality broadsheet format, in keeping with the Waitrose/John Lewis customer profile", the company said today. Which means it's happy to target its wealthy snobby shoppers and leave the rest to fend for themselves at some other Cheap-O-Save pile-'em-high-sell-'em-cheap supermarket. Waitrose also said it did not intend to charge its posh shoppers for tech support and pledged that any profit it makes from the interconnect charge will be donated to charity. Waitrose's marketing director, Mark Price, said: "Our customers would expect Waitrose to take a fresh approach to the Internet by offering authoritative content, excellent service and technical capability. "We do not charge our customers to look in our shop windows or enter our shops. Giving away the net revenue from our share of telephone call charges is what I hope customers would expect from the John Lewis Partnership." With a company the size of the John Lewis Partnership backing the scheme there's little incentive for Waitrose.com to make any money in the early phases of its development. However the site will be offering limited e-commerce opportunities including the home delivery of wines, gifts, flowers and organic fruit and vegetables. No doubt this range will increase once the e-commerce operation hits critical mass. Waitrose announced Internet Technology Group (ITG) is providing the technology for the service. Yesterday ITG announced it had agreed a £146 million cash and share offer for the company from Californian ISP Concentric Networks. ® Tune into Cash Register And turn on to our daily Net Finance News

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