Countywide : General Phone Levies Charge for Information

Beginning this week, residential customers of General Telephone Co. who make more than five calls to directory assistance a month must pay 25 cents per call.

According to Tom Leweck, public affairs director for the company, about 80% of customers in the area will not be affected because they do not usually make more than five directory assistance--or 411--calls a month. The new charges will also be applied to business lines that make more than two directory-assisted calls per line.

But Leweck says the charge will not be levied on pay-phone users or to blind customers using their home telephones.

Leweck said the new rate system is designed to charge those customers who use directory assistance the most. "It has been thought by all that (the service) has been free, but it cost $25 million this year and the cost was passed on through other services," Leweck said.

He added that the new rates would save the company about $10 million because of the reduced number of directory-assisted calls and the new income from the charges.

General's 714 area is the last one to charge extra for the service. Leweck said that Pacific Bell instituted a rate system for directory-assistance calls two years ago and that his company had been slowly switching over to the new rates since July, 1984.

Another change that also went into effect Tuesday for General Telephone customers is the elimination of dialing "1" for toll calls within the 714 area.

Linda Krendel, spokesman for the company's southern regional office, said customers who dial the "1" will receive a message telling them that they have dialed incorrectly.

The new system affects 175,00 customers in Huntington Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Cypress, Garden Grove, Midway City, Stanton and Laguna Beach.

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