City’s new bill-paying kiosk is confusing and hard to use, officials say

Jordan Meier
Morning Sun
City officials say they've been getting complaints about the city's new bill payment kiosk.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — No one likes paying bills. But with COVID-19 still keeping most city buildings closed, those that prefer to pay them in person have faced an increased logistical struggle over the last year.  

The City of Pittsburg tried to curb those logistical nightmares by introducing an easy-to-use kiosk to meet citizens’ bill paying needs, but members of the City Commission revealed Tuesday that the machine may have caused more problems than it’s solved.  

“I’m not the most high-tech savvy guy there is,” Commissioner Larry Fields said. “It can be a bit difficult, and you do need to follow the prompts. I think there has been some changes made in it — I think, I’m not positive — but it is being used heavily.”  

The kiosk, which has been operational for roughly two and half weeks and is located outside City Hall on 4th Street, is a 24/7 system that allows residents to pay their utility bills using cash, check or credit card. Its aim was to give patrons a way to pay their pills in a fast, easy-to-use fashion, but between glitching machinery and confusing prompts, all it seems to do is frustrate people.  

“There’s a lot of frustration on our side and for anybody that’s using it,” said City Manager Daron Hall. “We’ve had people say they’re leaving town because they were so frustrated.” 

Mayor Chuck Munsell and Fields both said they had received calls about troubles with the kiosk, and jokingly said they agreed it was hard to use, but that could just be because of their age.  

“I know it's going to be a good thing once everyone understands how to work it,” Munsell said. “But I’m old and I would probably have a hard time walking through the prompts. I understand from Daron that after three times if something is messed up, you’re not doing it right, it times out.”  

Munsell suggested reopening the drop box that was previously in place for a few months while people make the transition.  

“I would personally like to see the drop box reopened, maybe for a couple months,” Munsell said. “Many people use the drop box, and they have for many years. It’s a convenient customer service.”   

Hall said the city was probably going to reopen the drop box for the time being and agreed that the machinery and software definitely needed some work.  

“We’re going to look at it  this week and make some adjustments,” Hall said. “In the short term, we’re probably going to have to open the drop box. It may be permanent, it may not.”  

Hall also said that hopefully by June, when the city pool is planned to reopen, City Hall will open along with it.  

“I think it would be very hard to have the swimming pool open and not have City Hall be open,” he said.  

However, in the meantime, residents can expect the drop box to be reopened and updates coming to the kiosk’s software.  

“They’re up there shaking,” Hall said, “and when you’re having somebody have to pay a bill and they have to go through that to pay a bill then we know we have a lot of work to do on our side.”  

Jordan Meier is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be reached at jmeier@morningsun.net