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Fashion and lifestyle e-commerce portal, Zoom.co.uk, strutted down the catwalk today to offer its very own fetching design for 0800 toll-free access to the Net. Unlike a string of other offers which are based on a combined telephony/Internet model, Zoom is prepared to dig deep into its pockets to offset the cost of offering 0800 access. It claims that the revenue it makes from e-commerce and advertising is enough to cover the cost of running an 0800 service. The catch, is that users need to spend online at least £20 a quarter via the Zoom portal. A spokeswoman for Zoom wouldn't disclose how much cash people spent but she said it was a healthy amount -- sufficient enough, at least, to offset the cost of running an 0800 number. The service is due to be launched within the next six weeks. In a prepared statement Eva Pascoe, joint MD of Zoom.co.uk, said that the cost of Net access had been a major barrier to people shopping online. "It is fantastic that at the opening of the 21st Century, telecommunications are at the centre of the e-commerce revolution on consumer terms rather than under control of the telecoms companies. "Ultimately it is the online retailers, like Zoom.co.uk, that should be leading the charge and embracing this change. Pascoe claims Zoom is one of Britain's most successful e-commerce sites boasting partners including TopShop, TopMan, Racing Green, Dorothy Perkins, Beautique, Hawkshead, Principles and several other High Street brands. The portal earns revenue from e-commerce transactions, and advertising and sponsorship. The e-commerce outfit is "confident in its ability to cover the costs of offering free unlimited Internet access". Zoom launched its own ISP last year. In July 1999, Associated Newspapers, publisher of UK tabloid the Daily Mail and local paper the London Evening Standard, bought a half share in Zoom.co.uk. ® Related News Associated Newspapers takes 50% share in free ISP

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