Program makes bills easier between roommates

Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

A program that could help alleviate monthly bill payment stress between roommates living off-campus is being introduced at campus area apartments.

SimpleBills is a company developed in 2008 by Baylor University students Colin Heller and Kevin Jones. It allows students to pay their utilities more easily by acting as a liaison between utility providers and students and combining all utility payments into one bill that is equally split between roommates. Each roommate in an apartment must agree to sign up for SimpleBills, which receives a service fee during each bill payment.

Sally Polk, communication studies junior and UT representative for SimpleBills, said the program is designed to allow roommates to maintain positive relationships without the stress of negotiating monthly bill payments.

“Collecting from roommates in order to pay bills on time can be stressful,” Polk said. “Usually, one person takes the household lead, pays all of the bills and then collects from the roommates. SimpleBills not only simplifies life by reducing the amount of time and thought that goes into paying bills, but it can help alleviate roommate stress and the loss of friendships.”

Polk said the company saw immediate success within months of its introduction, and only sees the idea becoming even bigger in coming months.

“It was known in Waco as BearBills and within eight months had over 2,000 people sign up,” Polk said. “Kevin and Colin saw the need for a simplified billing system that would alleviate stress among roommates and the loss of friendships.”

Angela Reyes, leasing agent for The Quarters student housing, said leasing agents often have to deal with roommate disputes over bills, and a program like SimpleBills would particularly help with potluck roommate situations.

“When people don’t know each other, that’s the biggest thing,” Reyes said. “We get that issue a lot. A program like this would alleviate a lot of pressure of students having to ask each other what happened with this or that bill.”

International students who don’t have the time or ability to set up utilities would especially benefit from a program like SimpleBills, Reyes said.

“We often get these international students who don’t have cars or can’t get to the electric company or what have you,” Reyes said. “This would make things way easier for them.”

Radio-Television-Film senior Katherine Doocy said she currently splits utilities with her roommate and is often frustrated by the amount of time taken to work out the details.

“Right now the utilities are under my name and the cable is under my roommate’s name,” Doocy said. “It’s kind of confusing because I have to give her a check and she gives me a check right back, when we could just subtract it from each other’s dues. It’s just kind of waste of time.”

Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: Payment program could help avoid bill disputes