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Telewest has started refunding its SurfUnlimited customers because the service is so poor.

A Register reader was offered a £10 refund on his monthly subscription as a "gesture of goodwill" because he was so enraged by the poor quality of the service.

Others are understood to have demanded a refund, according to sources.

A spokesman for Telewest said the company would "review each case on its individual merits".

Either way, Telewest is facing mounting criticism about the quality of its new unmetered Net access service.

Criticisms include users being faced with a battery of engaged tones when trying to log on to the Net.

Others have complained that it took more than two hours to get online and that once hooked up, the service was slow and unworkable.

Some of those lucky enough to log on reported that they were disconnected shortly afterwards.

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Apart from their supplied software making a right royal mess of my PC settings when I tried it I have managed to make a few connections and found it a hell of a lot slower than other ISP's I've used.

"Recently I've been getting engaged tones, if you do manage to get past that and connect then you're chucked off in a matter of minutes," he said.

Anyone trying to phone the service's helpdesk has been held in queues of up to 50 minutes.

A spokesman for Yorkshire Cable, which is part of Telewest, insisted the service was a success and very popular, but conceded there had been problems.

"We are adding new capacity throughout our telephone and Internet network to cope with the surge in demand that SurfUnlimited has created. This will help to ensure that Cable Internet customers connect to the Net at the first attempt," he said.

"We apologise to any customers who may have had problems connecting to Cable Internet or who have had difficulty reaching us to register for SurfUnlimited.

"We have also put in extra resources here to deal with the unprecedented demand that we are currently experiencing," he said. ®

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