Pay telephone users will find themselves being interrupted less often by operators asking for money under a new rate structure announced by Pacific Bell and General Telephone.
As of last Saturday, rates for toll calls from pay telephones were to be based on the traditional three-minute charge period rather than the one-minute period that came into use in 1984, spokesmen for the two companies said.
As a result, callers will be asked to deposit more money every three minutes instead of every minute. Charges will still accumulate in one-minute increments after the first three minutes, however.
In addition, a 25-cent surcharge for calls made in an 8- to 25-mile area, and a 50-cent surcharge for calls farther than 25 miles, have been cut to 20 cents for all toll calls from pay phones.
The rate-structure change was sparked by numerous customer complaints about interruptions, a General Telephone spokesman said.
"We think customers will find it more pleasant to use a pay phone and less expensive if the call is three minutes or more in duration," he said. The average toll coin call is 2 1/2 minutes long and 59% lasted longer than one minute, he said.
Pacific Bell has 170,000 pay phones in California and General Telephone has 38,000.