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Free Directory Assistance for Asians Goes Into Service

From United Press International

A free telephone directory assistance for Asians began full-scale operation Tuesday in Southern California.

Sponsored by Asian-owned companies, the service--called the 777-CLUB--is expected to attract 2,000 calls each month, said Marty Shih, president of the club.

Callers seeking business, community group or government services numbers can receive information in Chinese--Cantonese and Mandarin, and, by the end of the year, Korean and Japanese should be added, Shih said. Residential numbers are not available.

Callers also can get more than just phone numbers. “If people with a language barrier or translation problem have an emergency, they can call us and we’ll do the translating,” said Shih, who gave the example of someone being robbed.

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The service was developed by Los Angeles-based Asian Business Connection, a long-distance carrier that also offers a credit card network, travel services and a telephone network shopping service. Its partners in the 411-type service include the Chinese Daily News, which is doing the marketing, and the Chinese Yellow Pages, which will provide updated directory information for 10 years, Shih said.

The service has been tested since April, and so far response has been strong, attracting 400 calls a day, Shih said. The service, which is available nationwide by calling 1-800-777-CLUB, is expected to draw about 2,000 calls per day now that it is in full service, he said.

With the added calls, Shih estimated the cost of operating the directory line at $42,000 each month. That will be paid by Asian Business Connection as an advertising expense, he said. “It’s a win-win situation,” Shih said. “Hopefully, people will use the . . . line, then think about us when they order airline tickets.”

While callers from anywhere can use the service, the data base lists numbers from Los Angeles to San Francisco, as well as Houston, Dallas, Chicago, New York and Boston.

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“We can manually check numbers in other cities,” Shih said. “But people will have to be patient--we don’t have everything yet, so we don’t guarantee.”


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