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Telewest broadband punters are spitting feathers after discovering that the cableco is to start charging for customer support.

Until now Telewest broadband users have been able to phone tech support using a freephone number. From March, the cableco will introduce local-rate call charges for the service.

Punters have criticised the move, arguing that the free customer support was one of the points that attracted them to the Telewest service.

Telewest says the introduction of charges is essential to help it maintain the 24/7 service it currently provides. In a statement the company said: "The cost of a few pence per call still represents one of the lowest technical support rates amongst our competitors and we have already made many improvements to the range of additional support services available to our customers, such as the recent introduction of a free instant support tool."

Telewest is expected to explain all its new pricing and product changes in a letter to customers later this month. ®

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