C&P offers new 30-cent connection service from 411

April 23, 1991|By Leslie Cauley

Because of an editing error, an article in yesterday's Busines section incorrectly said that calls to the 411 directory service from pay phones cost 25 cents. In fact, the calls are free.

The Sun regrets the errors.

C&P Telephone Co. introduced to Baltimore yesterday a new service that lets callers take a shortcut from the 411 directory to ,, the place you wanted to call in the first place.

There's just one catch: Taking advantage of that convenience will push up the cost of a local call by 30 cents -- in most cases more than the call itself.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The new service, dubbed "Connect Request," works like this: People who call 411 are automatically connected to a directory ++ service representative, as usual. But before the number is given out, a brief recording now says C&P will connect you for 30 cents. For an immediate connection -- you don't even have to wait for the number to be divulged -- callers press "1" on their touch-tone phone or Bell Atlantic pay phone.

If the call is made from a pay phone, C&P retains the 25-cent deposit for the 411 call, then asks for an additional 30 cents to complete the call to the requested number.

Connect Request only works with local calls that do not incur toll charges.

That means Connect Request can't be used to reach 900 lines that feature pre-recorded news and information that can cost $1 a minute or more. So-called "adult" and chat lines also are excluded. It also cannot be used from cellular phones or from phones located in hotels or hospital rooms.

C&P is touting the new service as a boon for callers who frequently find themselves without a pen that works when they call directory assistance.

"We feel customers will appreciate how hassle-free this new service is," Al Burman, a C&P spokesman, said.

The service is being offered on a limited basis in Maryland, said Mr. Burman.

Connect Request, which made its debut in Baltimore yesterday, was introduced in Montgomery and Prince George's counties earlier this month. It will be expanded to other parts of the Baltimore metropolitan area -- including Essex, Pikesville, Owings Mills, Sykesville, Edgewood and parts of Towson -- in May or June. The service will be available statewide by the end of next year, Mr. Burman said.

In Maryland, C&P subscribers currently receive a dozen free 411 calls a month. Each additional call is 25 cents. According to C&P, most customers make an average of three calls a month to 411.

Mr. Burman noted that subscribers who are exempt from 411 charges because of visual impairments will also be exempt from the 30-cent Connect Request charge.

Connect Request is one of a growing family of enhanced services sold by Bell Atlantic Corp., the parent company of C&P. Other enhanced services sold by Bell Atlantic include call-waiting, call-forwarding and Caller ID.

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