NTL Lets UK Respond Directly to Avis

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European interactive television provider NTL, Berkshire, England, went live this week with a program that allows viewers in the United Kingdom to order an Avis rental car anywhere in the world.

NTL works much like U.S. I-TV company WorldGate, in that it runs through digital cable boxes supplied to customers by the cable company. NTL also has begun offering a set-top box equipped with a modem for interactivity directly to consumers at retail.

With the new Avis service, customers can click a button on their remote control, and an Avis operator will instantly contact them by telephone.

"It's a fantastic addition to our direct services," said Liz Wakefield, Travel Channel manager at NTL. "In the future, we will be able to store two separate credit cards in the system, so an order such as this one would be taken and processed immediately. For now, though, we think that having an operator call our customers within minutes of their television interaction is quite exciting."

More than 3 million homes in the United Kingdom receive the NTL service, which comes on eight different channels -- covering everything from sports to weather -- including the Travel Channel, on which the Avis service will be available.

"If a customer in London is traveling to Africa, they can just switch on their TV and order the service, confirm on the phone, and the car will be waiting for them," Wakefield said.

In addition to renting a car, the service also makes it possible to buy and find additional information about Avis.

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