Some Pacific Bell telephone customers may be mildly surprised when they open this month's mail and find a higher phone bill. The reason is that some local telephone calls that once were free for many residents now carry pay-per-minute rates.
The rate change, which went into effect March 1, was made to lower rates for San Clemente area customers, said Steve Gould, Pacific Bell spokesman.
"Some customers in the San Clemente area were paying toll rates for calls made to only El Toro or Irvine. They were being penalized for their geographic location," Gould said. "So we reshaped local zones to even things out."
Gould said the company increased the size of San Clemente's local calling area, and created three zones, which extend concentrically outward from the middle of each calling area. Besides the San Clemente area, there are 13 other calling areas in Orange County.