Carphone fights back with free calls

Charles Dunstone, the chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, yesterday claimed BT was a "sinking ship" as he unveiled plans to launch free local, national and international phone calls between customers of his group's TalkTalk fixed-line service.

Charles Dunstone, the chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, yesterday claimed BT was a "sinking ship" as he unveiled plans to launch free local, national and international phone calls between customers of his group's TalkTalk fixed-line service.

Mr Dunstone said he would pay any customer signing up to TalkTalk £1,000 if their phone bills were higher than with BT Group. He said BT faced losing up to £1.9bn of revenue because of people switching to TalkTalk.

At a launch hosted by the television presenter Jonathan Ross that was reminiscent of the telecoms boom in the late 1990s, Carphone Warehouse hit back at Wednesday's move by BT to abolish its standard-rate calling charge and move 9 million residential customers to its BT Together discount rate.

Mr Dunstone said TalkTalk was still cheaper and its free calls would make it the best known and most established competitor to BT. "All they've done is react to what we were doing a year ago. Now we are going to move even further away from them. All BT is doing is shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than saving the sinking ship.

"It's very true in life that people get the competition they deserve. The scheduled airlines deserved easyJet and Ryanair, the clearing banks deserved First Direct and I certainly think BT deserves TalkTalk.

"I am deadly serious about this marketplace. It offends me that you have a market where for so long people have had no choice, where it is dominated by one player which has confused people and which has clearly overcharged them."

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