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'NEW AMERICANS' BROCHURE TARGETS CONFUSION ABOUT TELEPHONE OPERATOR SERVICES AMONG RECENT IMMIGRANTS

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 22, 1993 -- A national survey of recent Asian and Latino immigrants found that 28 percent are paying too much for international calls because they are unaware that operator-assisted calls cost more than direct-dialed calls. In addition, 20 percent could not identify 9-1-1 as a number to call in the case of an emergency and 50 percent did not know to call 4-1-1 for directory assistance.
 To improve recent immigrants' knowledge about the American telephone system, Consumer Action (CA), Sprint, and the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs (USOCA) today released a free new educational brochure available nationally in five languages.
 "Using the Services of Operators: What to Know Before Dialing '0'" is the second in a series of brochures commissioned by the "New Americans" program, an educational project of Sprint and USOCA designed to teach recent immigrants about the American telephone system.
 CA will distribute the brochure through community groups in major American cities including Chicago, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Texas. It will be available in Chinese, English, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. The New Americans program was launched after a 1992 survey of 408 recent immigrants discovered that many were paying much more than necessary for telephone services.
 CA Executive Director Ken McEldowney said too many people are needlessly relying on operators when they could be dialing calls themselves for less money. The brochure points out that calling collect can cost an additional $1.05 for in-state calls and $1.88 for out-of- state calls, while person-to-person calls can add a whopping $3.50.
 "Whenever an operator participates in completing a call, there is an additional surcharge. Consumers should direct-dial calls whenever possible," McEldowney said.
 At the same time, people should be aware that operators provide a wealth of free information, such as how to dial direct and the cheapest times to call. "Operators provide an important service and can make calling easy," said Dave Schmieg, president of Sprint's Consumer Services Group. "However, knowing when it's best to use operators and when to dial direct can save money and time."
 Using the Services of Operators reminds non-English-speaking callers that most local and long distance phone companies can connect them with operators who speak their language.
 For a copy of "Using the Services of Operators" send a self- addressed, stamped (29 cents) envelope to: Operator Services Brochure, Consumer Action, 116 New Montgomery St., Suite 233, San Francisco, CA 94105. Copies are available in bulk at no charge to non-profit organizations and government agencies. Indicate the languages desired.
 The New Americans program has commissioned CA to produce and distribute four brochures, including the new operator services brochure and "Protecting Yourself Against Phone Fraud," released in the summer of 1992. Future fact sheets will address making international calls and using 9-1-1 services.
 Consumer Action is a 22-year-old non-profit education and advocacy organization based in San Francisco which distributes more than a million fact sheets each year through its national network of 1,200 community-based organizations.
 Sprint (NYSE: FON) is a diversified international telecommunications company with $10.4 billion in annual revenues.
 The U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs is a federal office which promotes information and education on key issues directly affecting consumers.
 -0- 7/22/93
 /NOTE: Media wishing to provide a phone number, please print 415-777-9635./
 /CONTACT: Ken McEldowney or Michael Heffer of Consumer Action, 415- 777-9648 (Chinese/Spanish speakers available)/
 (FON)


CO: Consumer Action; Sprint ST: California IN: TLS SU: PDT

MH-IH -- DC029 -- 4791 07/22/93 16:59 EDT
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Date:Jul 22, 1993
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