Retail rivals Time and Tiny are squaring up to each other over their free PC offers, as both claimed their deal is better than the other's.
The two companies have introduced competing free PC initiatives. The Time deal requires consumers to join its ISP and pay a subscription of £9 per month for three years, while the Tiny deal requires customers to join the company's telco reseller and guarantees call charges of £25 per month for one year (PC Dealer, 21 July).
Time took the first swipe at Tiny by ammending its press campaign that first appeared on 22 July. The Time stop press advert read: "Beware of offers that require a minimum telephone charge of over £29 per month to another telephone company in addition to standard line payments to BT."
A spokesman for Time said: "We were just pointing out that people should be aware of what a phone bill based option means - it's about £90 a quarter excluding line rental. We want consumers to be fully aware of the deals and to make an informed decision."
But a spokesman for Tiny responded: "Time is clearly having a dig at us. It's a knee-jerk reaction, but we expected this. Time is not offering anything new, it's just a subscription-based internet package and a hire-purchase agreement combined. Ours is a free subscription ISP, and £25 - which people spend with BT on calls anyway - goes to us and the customers receive a PC."
He added that the Tiny call centre had received 20,000 enquiries since the launch. He also claimed sales and enquiries had trebled in Tiny showrooms.
One industry analyst said: "It's going to be a very aggressive sector as it is opening up a niche area. I don't think these companies will make a lot from the machines, but they will from people upgrading."
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