General Telephone Co. has refunded $16,680 in overcharges to 5,427 customers in the Downey and Covina phone exchanges for errors that were first noticed earlier this year by a Downey resident.
The overcharges were due to a computer programmer's error in transcribing rates for calls between the Downey exchange, which includes Norwalk, and the Covina exchange, which includes West Covina and Baldwin Park. Because of the error, customers were charged a long-distance rate of 23 cents for the first minute of what should have been a local 10-cents-a-minute call.
The error was brought to the telephone company's attention by Harvey Fiala of Downey, who also is a computer programmer. The company refunded $211 to Fiala last June and then agreed to make refunds to other customers. The refunds were made in September and October bills, GTE spokesman Hal Compton said.