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New-look LibertySurf makes fresh start

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LibertySurf kicks off a major TV ad campaign today in a bid to rebrand itself as a caring, sharing ISP with just one goal in mind - to please its customers.

From now until the middle of January expect to see the heart-warming ads on British TV featuring kids innocently demonstrating the meaning of "unmetered Net access" in the only way children know how.

The part unmetered, part pay-as-you-go service, which has reportedly proved popular in France, (see details below) is designed to appeal to first-time users, specifically, families with kids.

It's a homely image that also speaks of simplicity - another tenet of LibertySurf's new approach.

It's all a far cry from the summer when LibertySurf was forced to suspend sales of its unmetered Net access software and canned its nationwide ad campaign after the service was hit by major problems.

Back then, customers complained about everything - the service, the network, the lack of help...

LibertySurf blamed excess demand for its problems. But this left some punters distinctly unhappy and helped fuel a witch-hunt in the press.

That, of course, was then. And this is now. And the thing about re-launches is that you can start afresh and put your past behind you - if people will let you.

Paul Shalet, UK MD of born-again LibertySurf, says the company has undergone a cultural shift that has turned the business on its head.

He said the company has changed from an outfit that had a distinctly techie bias to one that is now firmly focused on the consumer. Of course, you'd expect that when one of your major shareholders is Kingfisher plc - one of Europe's top retailers which boasts a "clear focus on the home and family".

So LibertySurf has remoulded itself to fit in with the more consumer-friendly Kingfisher approach. And about time too.

Looking at the broader picture, over the last year British Net users have been treated abysmally by the very people that claim to serve them. The fiasco of unmetered Net access - which has still yet to be truly resolved - made some ISPs lose all sense of sanity, offering promises they were simply unable to keep.

The industry was wrapped in madness - let's hope it was just a temporary affliction and not a more long-term illness.

So, LibertySurf 's re-launch is to be welcomed. And if consumers in Britain are to get the service they deserve, it deserves a second chance. However, this time, it has to deliver and cannot afford the slip-ups that hounded it in the past. We shall watch with interest.

LibertySurf latest Net access offering

Available from Comet stores, punters pay a one-off payment of £10 for the LibertySurf pack and receive four hours of Net access (available anytime of the day) a month. After that, any further usage is charge at 1p a minute. For an extra £4 a month, customers can buy an additional eight hours and 20 minutes online each month with no call charges. This package isn't for everyone and won't appeal to heavy users. But if the service is reliable, then there's no reason why it shouldn't appeal to LibertySurf's target audience. ®

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