Damn you, Davis Market!

When I first moved to Murfreesboro for college in 1997, I heard that Davis Market, a fabulously ghetto market on the corner of E. Main St. and Tennessee (now Middle Tennessee) Blvd., was the “center of the cosmos.” Rumor has it that once you entered Davis Market, you would never leave Murfreesboro. Even if you were to move away, you eventually would return. And die here.

Obviously, I thought this was bullshit. But I kept the rumor in the back of my mind when I frequented the market for snacks (my freshman year I lived on campus in a dorm right across the street from the mart) and later for the coldest beer in town. They also sell crack pipes there (you know, the kind where you buy the rose in the little glass pipe), but don’t worry, I never had any use for that. Crack is whack.

Anyhoo, when I started working in Nashville a little more than two years ago, my mind immediately turned to moving to Nashville. Ian recently finished grad school and is now also working in Nashville. We have sought out advice from tons of people–friends and coworkers–in regards to where to move in Nashville. We were kind of bummed about how expensive it is to live there (i.e. not in cracktown), but a few months ago discovered the quiet and convenience of Bellevue, and were close to looking at two homes. But we started thinking, and since we don’t want to just give away our condo, we decided we’d wait. One more year. We’d make some updates in here—new livingroom furniture, paint some rooms, put hardwood downstairs, etc.—and be ready to list next spring. We would be ready for Nashville.

But then, something happened. I started looking around me, and saw the center of the cosmos. Well, my cosmos. I saw all of my friends. I saw my family (ok, Ian’s family, but they adopted me as their own a long time ago). I saw my old hangouts. I saw my new hangouts. I saw growth. I saw a town that held so many memories for me, and a town that is expanding so rapidly. I saw a town that took me in and helped me find my way. A town that grew with me.

And suddenly I wasn’t so sure I was ready to leave Murfreesboro.

I don’t really get it.

Mere months ago I was bitching to anyone who would listen about how I couldn’t wait to move. I was certain I would just die if I had to commute much longer. I was having panic attacks driving home. Seriously. I have had to pull off the road into a parking lot and calm my ass down before. But since Ian’s been working in Nashville we’ve been carpooling as much as possible, and it’s not as bad. Actually, it’s kind of nice. Someone to talk to, and we get to use the HOV lane legally.

And today, we found ourselves near the center of the cosmos again. We were downtown. LOOKING AT HOUSES. In Murfreesboro. Go ahead, people I work with who might be reading this. Take a moment and clean the beverage you just spit all over the keyboard. And don’t worry, we didn’t go in any.

But here’s the thing. Where we live now is about the farthest from Nashville that you can get and still be in M’boro. Sure, we’re about three miles from the interstate, but the traffic is so bad on our main road (Hwy 231 South, Church Street, which we can see back up from our bedroom window) that sometimes it can take 30 minutes just to get to I-24. There’s a colleague of mine who also lives in Murfreesboro, but whose commute is probably 10-15 minutes shorter than mine because he lives near the center/north end of town. If I were to try to drive to his house in the morning, even with just regular traffic, it would take at least 30 minutes.

So the houses we looked at today were mainly on the north end of town. I mean, shit, if we’re going to stay here I want to shave at least 15 minutes off my commute. I’m guessing we’d be looking at about a 20-30 minute commute from Bellevue. If we can save $15,000-$30,000 on a house here and have a commute that’s only about 10-20 mins. longer, that might be something to consider, especially when we take into account the other factors (friends, family, town that for some reason I feel attached to). Ok, and, if we have babies one day, wouldn’t it be so much easier if we have friends/family in town to help out? [Go ahead, clean up your keyboard again. You just heard Megan mention babies. It’s a bit surreal.]

I know, I know, this is crazy talk. I can’t believe, of all people, I am even writing this down. Ian says he doesn’t mind if we move or stay, although I know he doesn’t want to live in several parts of Nashville (well, I don’t either, and there are several areas we just can’t afford. God damn Nashville is overpriced. Seriously), but I know he is more intrenched in Murfreesboro than I am. I mean, it’s his family that’s here. And he’s been here since he was in 8th grade, giving Davis Market and it’s crack-fueled cosmos much more time to get its hooks into him.

I just don’t know. We just don’t know if we should rule staying in Murfreesboro out quite yet. I know I don’t want to live where we are much longer (the location isn’t great for a Nashville commuter, and honestly, we’re outgrowing the condo). I would love to have an easy breezy commute to and from work, but I just don’t know that I’m ready to leave what feels like my hometown yet. Is that really all that nuts?

Sigh. Can’t someone just pick up the ‘boro and swap its location with Antioch or LaVergne?

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Putting my money where my mouth is

So if you couldn’t tell by the previous post, I’ve decided to leave Sprint for AT&T. Tonight on my way home, I called Sprint to cancel the service. It went something like this:

Me: “Hi, I’d like to cancel my service, please.”

Customer service rep: “Oh, I’m sorry, why?”

Me, what I said in my head: “BECAUSE I’M SICK OF YOUR BULLSHIT!!!!”

Me, what I really said: “Ever since I resigned my contract two years ago, I have had nothing but trouble with your billing. If I’m not getting charged for international messaging, I’m getting charged for ringers or other services I didn’t use. The straw that broke the camel’s back was not being able to log in to my account to view and pay my bill, and nobody seemed to be able to help me. So this month I just had to pay my bill blind—I have no idea if you guys charged me erroneously again or not.”

CSR: “Oh, well let me pull up the last two bills and see what the problem is.”

Me: “No. You don’t understand. It’s not just this month or last month. It’s been pretty much EVERY SINGLE MONTH for the last two years. Believe me. I don’t want you to resolve anything. I’m pretty sure that if no one could get it right in the last two years, you’re not going to be able to. Just cancel my account. Please.”

CSR: “Oh, wow, that’s horrible. Let me pull up your… Oh, wait, I can’t view your account… Oh, ok here we go… Hmm well I see your $39.99 plan, your $15 PowerVision…”

Me: “Yes, that’s all fine…”

CSR: “I see they were charging you for PictureMail when they shouldn’t have been, that should have been included in your Vision package…”

Me: “Ummm ok…”

CSR: “And I see you were getting nights starting at 6 p.m. for free, but they have taken that off for some weird reason, that’s odd…”

Me, not surprised, but not wanting to argue: “…”

CSR: “Well, and I see they charged you for two ringers that you must have downloaded, so that’s all fine…”

Me, what I wanted to say: “FUCK THAT SHIT! It’s not all fine!! I did NOT download two ringers you fucktard!! You see what I mean?? That’s the bullshit I was talking about!!!”

Me, what I really said: “…” (I think I just mumbled something under my breath. I can’t believe I actually didn’t yell at her here. I just wanted out. I was tired of arguing.)

CSR: “Oh, well if there’s anything we can do—”

Me: “NO! No. There is not. Please, just cancel my service. For the love of whatever is holy, just cancel my Sprint service.”

CSR: “Ok, then, well I’m really sorry for all the trouble you’ve had, please hold for about eleventy billion hours while I get another useless rep on the phone to help you with that.”

Me: “…”

About five minutes later…

New customer service rep named Tim: “Hi, blah blah, sorry about your trouble, blah blah, let me see if we can add anything to your plan to keep you from incurring any overage charges.”

Me, exasperated: “NO. I have not had any problems with OVERAGES. I have had problems with you charging me for shit I didn’t use, like text messaging Australia and downloading ringtones (seriously, does anyone actually download ringtones anymore?? You can make your own FOR FREE) or PictureMail when it’s supposed to be included… and then most recently I had to spend almost a fucking week trying to view and pay my bill, which I wasn’t ever able to, and I just found out a few minutes ago that you charged me for MORE shit I didn’t use!!!”

Tim: “Um, ok then… soooo…”

Me: “Yeah. Just cancel my service. Seriously.”

Tim: “You do realize that this is a great pricing plan you’re on.”

Me: “You do realize that I DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK!!!”
Just kidding, I really said something like, “Yes, but at this point I don’t care. I’ll gladly pay an extra $20 a month or so to not have to spend one week every month making sure I am not paying for things I should not be.”

Tim: “And you are getting a corporate discount, so you realize that you won’t get that anymore…”

Me, to myself: “Haha, suckers! I haven’t worked for that company since 2005!”
Me, to Tim: “Yes, I realize that.”
Me, what I wish I’d said: “You realize Sprint isn’t the only company to offer corporate discounts, right?”

Tim: “And you realize that once you leave Sprint, you will no longer be able to take advantage of the Sprint services you’ve been enjoying…”

Me: “Uhhhh yeah, that’s normally how it works. That’s fine. Just please cancel the service.”

Tim: “And you realize…”

Me, cutting him off: “Yes! I get it! When I cancel Sprint I can’t use Sprint services! I get it! All I want to do is cancel my service. CANCELCANCELCANCELCANCEL!!!” <—Ok I didn’t say that last part but I did start to feel like I had ingested some kind of crazy drug that put me in a world where people kept speaking in non sequiturs.

Tim, after about 10 minutes of typing: “Ok, well I’ve put in for your cancellation. Now, it won’t take effect until your next billing cycle, which is May 4, but your number may or may not stop working before then. And you also can’t cancel PowerVision or anything else we might feel like charging you for, so you’re pretty much fucked for the next month. Thanks for calling!!!”

Me: “…”

Honestly, I wasn’t even surprised to hear they had charged me for more shit on my recent bill. A bill I couldn’t even see, but had to pay because it was overdue and no one would help me.

I was really torn about whether I should stay with them a bit longer. Until now. After tonight, I am 100 percent convinced I made the right decision.

Good riddance.

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My letter to Sprint executives about why I am canceling my service

After four years with Sprint—the last two proving very frustrating—I am canceling my service. The following is a letter I sent to these Sprint executives: Jerry Adriano, customer experience executive; Bryan Digiorgio, senior vice president of Customer Care; Gary Forsee, CEO; and Megan Land, Office of the CEO.

Dear Sprint executives,

I am writing to let you know how extremely frustrated and unhappy I am with my customer service experiences with Sprint. Earlier in the week I logged on to your Web site to view and pay my bill (I do not receive paper bills anymore), but was told that due to the merger with Nextel, I would need to re-register. I went through all of the steps, but at the end of the process after hitting submit I received an error page telling me that My Sprint was not available at the time. It was a page I would become accustomed to seeing, as I tried to complete my re-registration several times a day–for several days on different browsers and computer operating systems–all unsuccessfully. I have attached a copy of the error page to this e-mail for your reference.

I e-mailed customer support about my inability to create a new account, and their response was, “Create a new account.” Obviously they did not read my e-mail, so I e-mailed back that THAT was my problem–I could not create a new account. I received the error page each and every time. They e-mailed me back a second time with approximately four pages of instructions on how to create a Nextel account, which I got about halfway through before I received an error. When I e-mailed customer service back to let them know those directions, too, did not work, I received an e-mail that they sent me the wrong instructions, and, in fact, I needed to… CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT.

You see the pattern here.

So this morning I called customer service and explained the problem. The rep was friendly, and explained that it was a technical support issue, so she could not help me. After waiting about 10 minutes on hold, a technical support rep came on the line. I explained my problem to him, and was told that he, also, couldn’t help me. He said it was in fact a customer support issue, and all he could do was transfer me to someone who could take my payment over the phone. When I explained that because I don’t receive paper bills, I like to actually SEE what I am being charged for before I pay, he told me that basically there was no one who could help me. I needed to just pay my bill over the phone. Which, because my bill was then past due because I had not been able to access my account for so long, I did.

But, you see, that is not customer service. It’s not the fact that your Web site was having issues that bothered me. I know things happen. Stuff breaks. Transitions are difficult. It’s the fact that no one–NOT ONE CUSTOMER SERVICE REP–acknowledged my problem. No one said, Hey, you know, our Web site might be broken. Or, hey, Ms. Goodchild, I’m so sorry you are experiencing difficulty PAYING YOUR BILL online, but let me get to the bottom of it to fix it.

The only two things I heard in response to my problem of NOT BEING ABLE TO CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT were: “You must create a new account” (obviously not helpful and, honestly, a bit insulting) and “We cannot help you.” (Also not helpful, and a bit insulting. Nothing says “We don’t value you as a customer” like “I cannot help you.”)

If this were the first problem I’d had with Sprint, I would probably continue to seek out ways to remedy the situation. But ever since I resigned my contract in March 2006, I have had bill after bill of charges for things I did not incur (data charges even though I was paying for PowerVision, international text messaging even though your company KNEW it was a problem that customers were being charged incorrectly for international texting they did not utilize, etc.). In the last 24 months, I would say that I have received approximately 18 – 20 bills with erroneous charges. This recent issue is just the latest in a long string of problems that I have had to spend way more of my time fixing than should be required.

Using and paying for a cell phone is not rocket science. It should not be this hard to receive correct bills–and be able to actually pay those bills–without spending hours of my personal time. Unfortunately, Sprint does not agree with me on this. And after more than four years as a customer, I am canceling my service. I know you probably don’t care—I mean, I’m just one customer.

But, I’m a customer with a blog—and you can bet your ass I’ve been documenting my Sprint experience.

Megan Goodchild

See also:
Sprint must not want my money
Losing my patience
Sprint is the Evil Twin (as in my cat) of cell phone companies
Thinking of leaving Sprint for T-Mobile

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Sprint must not want my money

So I usually pay my Sprint bill online. That is, when they haven’t fucked up my bill or when their Web site isn’t down.

Sprint can suck my assWell, imagine my lack of surprise when last night I tried to log on to view and pay my bill and I was prompted to re-register (apparently they had made “upgrades” to their site, which for some reason required me picking a new user name and password). And, of course, I could not. I tried several times both last night and this morning, but each time received an error page that my registration could not be completed.

So I e-mailed customer service. And they e-mailed me back. Their fix?

“You must re-register for a new account.”

Ummm… yeah, that’s kind of why I freaking e-mailed you in the first place. So I e-mailed back, hey asswipes, that’s my problem. They e-mailed me back about four pages of instructions on how to register for a Nextel (the company they bought/merged with) account. Yeah, you know what? Not doing it. There is no reason I would have to go through 400 steps just to be able to view/pay my bill. For one thing, that’s not what their Web site told me to do. And if that’s really what was required, wouldn’t the site be telling people that? And lastly, if I have to go through 2 hours of registration shit, I’ll just cancel my fucking account.

So I tried to re-register again, with no luck. I emailed them back (along with my thoughts on the aforementioned Nextel advice), and received an e-mail with this nugget of goodness: “Oh, yeah, those directions were wrong. You need to (wait for it…) REGISTER FOR A NEW ACCOUNT!!!”

I’m so over Sprint.

So I got a wild hair up my ass tonight, and since I had my MacBook with Parallels on it with me, I decided I would try the oldest trick in the troubleshooting book: Use Internet Explorer 6 in Windows XP to register.

Guess what? Same error page! Oh, wait, but it gets better. Sprint’s Web site actually CRASHED INTERNET EXPLORER. I mean, I know it doesn’t take much to crash it. But I laughed my ass off when I got the “Yeah, hi, Internet Explorer here. There’s some fucked up shit going down with this Web site, so yeah, we’re going to go ahead and close up shop. Good luck, sucka!” message.

Sigh. I really didn’t want to switch to AT&T until the 3G iPhone came out. I know I can switch to them now (I’m out of a Sprint contract) and get a free phone and then just buy the iPhone later, but my bill will go up significantly, since I’m getting several discounts/free services from Sprint because they have fucked up my account so badly in the past. Well, it won’t be that much more expensive… I guess about $20 more a month. But still, for someone who doesn’t use their phone for talking too much (I’m a text/Internet junkie), the pain from the increase would be ameliorated much easier by a new iPhone.

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