The Region

About 200 calls per week have been coming into special toll-free lines set up to aid Asian customers of Southern California Gas Co. who speak limited or no English, says Al Russell, company manager of customer service. Special toll-free lines were opened throughout Southern California a few weeks ago for customers who speak Korean, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and Vietnamese. The gas company, which introduced Spanish-language services more than a decade ago, is the first utility in the nation to have a multilanguage service bureau, according to Russell. "We're trying to overcome the language barriers faced by a sizable minority of our customers," Russell said.

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