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but comes in from the cold
Unregulated service providers. lack of standards and unreliable service have made many European telephone users wary of buying remote-memory cards: they are fearful of entering a world which appears to be populated by sharks and cowboys. In a move to increase confidence amongst both consumers and retailers (whose reputations are tarnished if customers have problems with cards they have sold), seven of Britain's biggest remote-memory service providers have united to form the industry's first official trade association. The body (whose members include Esprit, First Telecom, Interglobe, TCS (UK), and World Telecom) has been given the provisional name of the Calling Card Suppliers' Association. The idea is that the new body will be able to provide its members with a stronger voice in the battle against the giant operators, su h as BT. It also hopes to provide representation in discussions with the regulator. OFTEL and a united voice for talking to the European Commission and other bodies about such issues as the changes in Value Added Tax (VAT) and the practice of some major telecommunications companies of blocking or surcharging other operators for freephone access into their networks. Other plans include the creation of a much-needed code of practice. Recent high-profile incidents. such as the British National Lottery operator's axing of the Anyphone card (following the problems it encountered with Cardcall) and the liquidation of EasyCall and Euro Tele-communications. both of whom supplied independent newsagents and other retailers. were instrumental in leading to the setting up of the CCSA. It is hoped that the organisation will eventually become pan-European.

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