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Runaway girl in phone bill row gets unmetered access

An Internet-obsessed schoolgirl who ran away from home after a row with her parents over an £873 phone bill has returned to her family following the offer of free, 24 hour Internet Access from European ISP, World Online.
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Written by Will Knight on

Karen Church, 16, from County Durham disappeared on May 4 after an argument with her parents about the cost of her Web surfing habit.

Her parents feared that she might have run away with someone she met online, describing her obsession with online chat and her hundreds of Internet friends. Karen was, however, located by her mother Wednesday following a tip-off from a friend.

"We're just relieved to have Karen home safe and well," her mother says.

This is not the end of the tale, however. In an inspired marketing move, European ISP World Online has agreed to pay the £873 phone bill run up by Church and thrown in a years free Internet access for the family with its Freedom 24 package.

World Online does not believe it is fuelling the girl's obsession with the Internet, explains Managing Director of Consumer Services at World Online, Laurence Alexander.

"With Freedom 24 we can hope that no-one ever again has to face the situation that Karen and her family found themselves in," he says.

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