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Orange County Focus

Countywide : Pacific Bell Offers Updated Phone Bills

April 27, 1993|TERRY SPENCER

One of the state's most common pieces of mail got a little easier to read Monday.

Pacific Bell, which delivers telephone service to 11.1 million customers statewide and has 1.4 million lines in Orange County, is updating its bills by replacing acronyms with plain English, using bigger type and highlighting totals and subtotals so they will stand out on the page.

Pacific Bell serves most of Orange County, except Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach and small portions of some other cities.

"We've been working on this project for four years," said Lewie Ford, a Pacific Bell production manager, as he stood on the floor of the company's Southern California billing center in Anaheim.

"We poll our customers monthly about our bill, and over the past several years we have received numerous complaints about our billing format because it was difficult to determine what all of the charges were."

Ford said format changes were requested by residents, who receive bills that weigh about two ounces, and by large corporations and municipal governments, which receive bills that weigh up to 25 pounds.

"Residents who spend five or 10 minutes a month looking at their bill and large businesses that have entire staffs devoted just to billing . . . want a format they can read easily," Ford said.

Some of the changes include:

* Using easily understood phrases such as direct day , person-to-person evening and collect day rather than acronyms.

* Highlighting totals and subtotals in gray.

* Listing calling charges by type rather than chronologically. For example, credit card calls are listed together, as are collect calls.

"There is no way the bill will ever get smaller, but we hope this will make it more readable," spokeswoman Linda Bonniksen said.

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