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Students Complain of Disconnected Phone Lines

By Thalia S. Field, Crimson Staff Writer

Several Harvard students have recently complained that their phone lines were unexpectedly cut because their bills were never delivered.

"It's been very frustrating," said Priyanka Malhotra '03, who said her room did not receive a bill in February. "My parents came to visit on the day that my phone was disconnected. They couldn't reach me and we had trouble with their hotel reservations as a result."

Despite the recent rash of complaints, the Harvard Student Telephone Office [HSTO] said that a small number of unreceived bills is not out of the ordinary.

"We send out approximately 10,000 bills each month," said Nancy Kinchla, director of telecommunications services.

"If 100 people suddenly came in complaining that they hadn't received their bills and their phone had been cut off, we'd look in to it," she added. "But 10, 20 people not receiving their bills each month is no big deal."

Kinchla did not say how many phones had been disconnected this month, but said the number was not uncommon for the spring term.

Matthew B. Sussman '03 said that this was not the first time he had problems with phone bill delivery. He said that his bill had not been received since February.

"They were supposed to send the phone bills to my parents, but no one received anything, and my phone's been cut off twice without any warning," added Sussman, who is also a Crimson editor.

Because of confusion that arises between roommates sharing a phone line, students who have not been delivered a monthly bill often don't notice until their phone service has been disconnected.

"I assumed that the February bill had been taken care of," Malhotra said. "Instead, it never arrived. Then our phone was cut off, and we weren't even told."

While students whose phones were disconnected say they received no advance warning, Kinchla said that notices are typically sent two weeks in advance of a line being cut.

"The [notice] tells them what their balance is, how many days late their payment is," Kinchla said. "It arrives two weeks in advance."

But Zachary R. Mider '01 says his room also never received notice that its line was being disconnected.

"No one could remember if we'd paid our February bill or not; it seemed like [we had]," said Mider, who is also a Crimson editor. "It turned out that we hadn't gotten bills for February or March. Then they cut our line with no warning."

Kinchla said that the HSTO has experienced bill delivery problems in the past.

"Although deliveries in the Yard are pretty reliable, there are some trouble spots," she said. "The Soldier's Field Park area has had some missed deliveries, and there was a problem in Currier House a while ago."

Students who have questions or concerns about their phone bills can e-mail the HSTO at hsto@harvard.edu.

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