300 Student Phones Disconnected As HSTO Attempts to Collect Bills

About 300 student phone lines were disconnected this week by the Harvard Student Telephone Office in an effort to collect unpaid bills.

Students who tried to make long distance calls were met only with a fast busy signal. And some lines were disconnected, leaving callers to many rooms to be greeted with only a recording informing them, "You have reached a non-working or disconnected number at Harvard University..."

"Lots of outstanding accounts" forced the telephone office to deactivate service, according to Joanne Sioras, head of the financial section of the telephone office.

Any balance over 60 days overdue resulted in the termination of the personal access code a student uses to make long distance calls. For delinquent students who pay for telephone lines, both the code and the line were disconnected.

"Any amount over five dollars over sixty days is the amount we're concerned with," said Sioras. "No exceptions were made...unless there was a payment discrepancy."

A $24 fee will be charged to students to restore both lines and their access codes. Non line-owners who need to reactivate their codes will pay ten dollars.

Those who make their payment by 3 p.m. will have their lines reconnected by the following morning, Sioras said.

"Hopefully, [students] will realize that they need to pay their bills," Sioras said.

She said the telephone office notified students of impending disconnections by "putting enclosures in student bills to remind them."

Some students, however, complained they received no prior warning or notification. "I thought it was pretty distasteful of them to cut us off with no notification," said David E. Lederman '94 of Dunster House.

"I paid [the bill] the same day [the line] was turned off," said Scott R. Levy '94, Lederman's roommate. "They didn't take long to hook it back up," he added, observing that by 3 a.m. that night the line was working again.

The Wednesday their phone line was disconnected was "a miserable experience," Lederman and Levy said. They also complained of other problems they have encountered with the telephone office.

"I didn't receive my first bill until January, the second came in February, and the third in March, Lederman said.

"From the date we got our first bill...it wasn't [60 days]," Levy said.