Cox, PacBell Settle Phone-Book Flap

San Diego-Cox Communications Inc. and Pacific Bell have resolved their differences and begun a telephone-book retrieval and reprint process of the east/south San Diego County telephone directory.

The utility printed the names of 11,400 Cox telephone consumers who had asked for their numbers to be unlisted. Cox accidentally provided the names, but PacBell continued to distribute the book after it was notified of the error.

PacBell had distributed 440,000 copies of the directory before the California Public Utilities Commission granted Cox's request for a temporary restraining order. Now the companies have agreed to contact the consumers who have received the books. Further, Cox will publicize the retrieval program by means of cross-channel public-service announcements.

The companies will donate 50 cents per retrieved directory to privacy organizations. Consumers will receive bags to aid in the pickup process.

All 1.3 million copies of the regional directory will be reprinted. The utility estimated that the new books will hit the streets in mid-August.

The two companies did not disclose the cost of the project. During the negotiations, though, PacBell sent a letter to Cox indicating that the reprint would cost $4.5 million.

That figure is on top of the cost Cox will bear to provide its customers with new unlisted numbers, as well as free caller-ID and other services to compensate them for the unintentional release of their data.