NIU students troubled by delayed phone bill

By Kevin Lyons

Although NIU telecommunication officials said phone bills are on the way, some residence hall students said the situation has caused inconvenience.

Students living in NIU’s residence halls have not received a phone bill since the semester began, but NIU Telecommunications Director Walt Czerniak said, “They’re being stuffed in the mail right now.”

“We knew the initial bill was going to be late,” he added.

Czerniak said the conversion from GTE-Contel to NIU phone billing created a lot of work, which delayed the first bill. However, he said NIU expected the delay. The bills should be arriving Monday or Tuesday, he said.

NIU took over the phone billing system this fall, which was formerly run by GTE-Contel. The switch was made largely to save students money, according to NIU officials. GTE lost interest in doing the billing because it inherited the duty last year after buying out Contel.

The bills will cover August and September. From now on, bills will be sent on a monthly basis, around the middle of the month, Czerniak said.

Some residence hall students said they were a little confused by the late billing, while others said they felt the delay was inconvenient for their pocketbooks.

“I heard we were supposed to get them sometime in October, but I wasn’t sure. I think the bills are going to be too high because of the length of time,” said Gina Johanek, an NIU sophomore elementary education major.

“It’s really confusing. We kept thinking we were going to get a bill and we didn’t,” said Mindy Pietras, an NIU junior psychology major.

“This delay is ridiculous,” said senior marketing major Ken Michalak. “How are we supposed to plan our finances if we don’t know how much our phone bills will be?”

Michalak said freshmen might have problems with the delay. “Freshmen make more calls because they are away from home for the first time and don’t realize how the costs of long-distance calls can build up,” he said.

Under the new system, students will pay a flat 75 cent fee per month for local calls, which is 25 cents cheaper than last year’s monthly charge.

A $300 limit also was placed on long-distance calling. Once a student exceeds the $300 limit, his or her long distance calling privileges will be suspended.

“The new system will be cheaper for the students and more convenient,” Czerniak said.

Bills will be payable to the Bursar’s Office in Swen Parson Hall and the new office in Lincoln Hall, Czerniak said.