Over the past few months I've made and eaten dinner while watching TV several times. It's a hectic experience. Tonight I am making and eating dinner while watching a TV show on DVD, and something occurred to me that maybe was obvious to everyone else. Time shifting technology brings with it speed shifting, which is so much more valuable.

The best feature of a Tivo (which I don't own, though almost everyone else I know does) is not the much-discussed ability to skip commercials, but the simple pause button which allows you to stop the show and do other things without worrying about getting back to the TV in time to continue the show. I don't even need to eat dinner in front of the TV now, though I will because eating alone at the table is less activity than I can handle. But having a TV show with time shifting at least makes it easier to slow down, which I think will be increasingly valuable as life becomes more hurried. I, at least, find it much easier to tune out commercials than to tune out the voice in my head saying "hurry up or you'll miss the show."

I think Tivo should release a commercial touting the pause button of the Tivo and using Simon and Garfunkel's "Feeling Groovy" as a soundtrack.


A few weeks ago, my company announced a new corporate discount for Sprint. I have a Sprint account, so I called up to get a free discount, nor realizing how much time it would cost me. The actual discount line only took a few minutes, and I thought I was all good. Just before hanging up, the Sprint representative said something about how I would get two bills - one under my old rate, and one with my discount applied.

In retrospect, I should have just said "no, never mind, I don't want the discount" right then. This was a clear notice that the discount program was new, and the billing system wasn't made to handle discounts. I might have guessed that nothing at Sprint was made to handle the discounts, especially given my previous experience trying to get an overcharge refunded by Sprint. But I was young and foolish then.

Several months ago I signed up for online billing through Sprint. I get notified by email whenever I have a new bill, and I go to the website and pay the bill. No need to pay postage or kill trees. So last week I got my email telling me I had a new bill, only when I went to the website, there was no bill. The website informed me that the service was "temporarily unavailable." After a few days of seeing the same "temporary" problem, I contacted customer service. I still have (I assume) a good three weeks before my bill is due, but I can already see the late fee I will no doubt receive for not paying the bill Sprint has made it impossible for me to pay.

Customer service responded that I don't have online bills because I switched accounts. They even gave me my old and new account numbers, which were two numbers I had never seen before, always referring to my account by the phone number. I wrote back that I was not informed I would lose online billing when I applied the corporate discount, and if they can't bring it back, I'm canceling my account altogether.

I got this account when Jessica and I both lived in Bloomington, but now I have a local Des Moines phone, so I'm only holding on to the Sprint account until Jessica moves here in December anyway. I figured Jessica could just get new phone a few months early if Sprint gave me reason to follow through on my threat to cancel service.

It turns out, I was told, I could pay online. A "specialist" would be calling me within 24 hours. Apparently the specialist doesn't specialize in calling people on time, as that was about 36 hours ago and no one has called me.

So I'm documenting this here for two reasons. First, so I have a record of what went wrong, as I have a suspicion it will go even more wrong in the future. And second, to warn others about Sprint's craptacular service. I'll be sure to post an update when I get that late notice for the bill Sprint won't allow me to pay.