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Travel Agent Angry Over Phone Book Typo

June 17, 1988 GMT

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) _ Gloria Quinan claims a typographical error in a telephone directory scared off most of her elderly clientele when the word erotic appeared instead of exotic to describe her travel agency.

″We offer exotic travel, like tours up the Amazon, but nothing erotic,″ she said. ″I’ve worked a long time to build my professional reputation, and now I’m getting a lot of crank calls and heavy breathers,″ said Quinan, owner of Banner Travel agency.

″Since the listing has appeared, this reserved, not exceptionally outgoing person has gotten obscene calls and requests like someone with four naked ladies wanting to know where to go″ on vacation, said attorney George Altenberg.

Although California law generally restricts damage judgments in such cases to the cost of the original advertisement, which in this case Pacific Bell has refunded to Quinan, Altenberg filed a $10 million suit against the utility on Tuesday.

Altenberg believes he can win the case in Sonoma County Superior Court if he proves gross negligence on the part of the telephone company.

A spokeswoman for Pacific Bell said the company’s ″Yellow Pages″ have a 98 percent accuracy rate.

″But obviously we’re going to have errors from time to time,″ added consumer affairs manager Marilyn Evans.

The suit claims Quinan has suffered mental anguish and physical distress and has suffered the loss of her reputation over the word, which appeared in red ink emblazoned across her ad.

Altenberg said the telephone company refused to issue stickers with the correct ″exotic travel″ description on them to the holders of the county directories, which were distributed in April.

″Her older clients, which was most of her business, want to avoid her now,″ said Altenberg, who claimed Quinan has lost 80 percent of her business as a result of the mistake.

″The only calls she’s getting are from people wanting erotic travel services, which she just doesn’t offer,″ Altenberg said.