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The creative boutique at 3 has been working overtime developing a cunning plan to get people to stay with the 3G phone outfit.

Its "revolutionary concept" - their words, not ours - is to pay punters for receiving calls and texts.

The new pay-as-you-go price service from 3 - called "WePay" - sees punters rack up cash credits each time someone calls or texts them, which can then be redeemed each time they buy a new top-up voucher.

According to the blurb, when a punter receives a five-minute call, they earn enough credit to send two texts, or send a picture message, or watch the highlights from two episodes of Corrie.

However, the firm rejected any suggestion that those making the inbound calls were effectively subsidising the offer. Instead, 3 insisted WePay is all about rewarding customer loyalty going on to explain that WePay is "the next development in 3's mission to bring better value to UK mobile users" describing the pre-pay market as "notoriously complicated with a plethora of tariffs and special offers".

Said Graeme Oxby, 3's marketing director: "It pays to be popular. Anyone who regularly receives calls and texts could end up much better off by moving to 3. You pick up, we pay up; it's as simple as that." The WePay service from 3 - which is owned by Hutchison Whampoa and has 3.2m punters in the UK - becomes available from February 1.

Earlier this week El Reg reported how iMovo is in the final stages of testing a service that offers mobile phone users the chance to send text messages for free in return for viewing ads on their phones.

The service is due to be unveiled later this month although exactly how many free texts people will receive depends entirely on how many advertisers are prepared to give away. ®

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