Dialing Nationally, Ordering Locally

You see a TV ad for the new two-door Snazzo. You call the toll-free number on the screen, but all they can do is mail a brochure and give you the phone number of a local dealer. The impulse fades: no sale. But what if you could call an 800 number and be patched through to the nearest Snazzo dealer on the spot? You might hustle over for a test drive--with your checkbook. That's the concept behind the InstaLink service of Applied Telematics Inc. The startup first began offering its setup in 1988 and its customers now include Nutri/System, Minolta, BMW, and Panasonic.

Now, ATI, based in Wayne, Pa., is getting some competition from American Telephone & Telegraph Co., which is helping Domino's Pizza Inc. set up a nationwide pizza-ordering number: 950-1430. The big advantage is that it takes fewer digits to dial. So far, the Domino's number is available only in Lansing, Mich., and Jacksonville, Fla. But once special equipment is installed at more than 200 AT&T switching centers, it should be available nationwide. ATI President Ian Michel is hoping the "hoopla" over the Domino's system will get more customers interested in his company's here-and-now approach.

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