If you forgot, amid all the shaking of the area's strongest earthquake in three decades, that this past Jan. 17 was a holiday--Martin Luther King Day, to be exact--don't fret. GTE forgot that it wasn't.
In what has turned out to be a public relations embarrassment--and a billing headache of migraine proportions--the telephone company has twice backtracked on how it has charged customers for calls made the day of the 6.8-magnitude Northridge earthquake.
The upshot is that GTE's million or so California customers will only have to pay holiday rates--60% of normal--for calls made on that date, even though the phone company's tariff agreements do not recognize King Day as a holiday for purposes of rate discounts.
GTE discovered its error, it said, when a customer--of uncommon integrity, it seems--reported having been undercharged. Because of the extraordinarily high number of calls after the quake, the error cost GTE $1.5 million.