The Shit Just Never Ends

Allentown, Pennsylvania


Your blog is turning into a bitch fest, MacGyver told me last night, while we were paying $109 for an unscheduled night in the Hilton Homewood Suites rather than pulling a load for pay.


The room is bigger than our New York City apartment. I could stay a week. King-size bed, fluffy pillows, thirsty towels, flat-screen TV, full-size fridge, microwave and a dishwasher, which I didn’t have in our apartment, best of all, someone else cleans the toilet and picks up after me. But the circumstances killed the experience.

It all started when we retrieved Black Beauty from the Allentown Volvo dealership. She had minor work, new shocks on the tractor cab, we were starting to feel like bobbleheads, and they found an oil filter wasn’t screwed on properly either it was loosened by truck vibration or wasn’t tightened from the last time she was in the shop.

MacGyver turned the engine over, after paying the $1,167.51 bill, he heard hissing. It wasn’t me. It was an air leak. The same part that we spent almost $500 on last October was leaking air. Parts warranties are one-year. We were out by seven days!  Of course, it’s a consumer rule.

As he is looking for the source of the air leak, air operates our brakes, he notices the windshield. A one-foot horizontal crack across the middle of the window in front of the passenger seat, the windshield was last replaced last Christmas. The crack stems from a chip in the window. It seems, because there was no chip and no crack when we dropped the truck off at the shop, the mechanic’s test drive is to blame. Volvo fixes the air leak without charge and MacGyver departs.

We do have windshield coverage on our physical damage policy however, we need to be someplace for 24 hours to order the glass and sit and wait for the glass and someplace to have it installed.

The only thing that kept MacGyver from cracking up during this trying day was the story our friends Ed and Salena told us the night before that a misapplied axle spacer a few years ago had cost them $30,000 in repairs before they found the problem.

The fun just never stops. Memo to Dan, our friend in Tennessee, it’s not always a glamourous life.

But the tractor is a wealth-generating asset, we make money from it, so problems like this are annoying and an inconvenience and cost money but they are expected. The big problem was waiting at the hotel.

We received an email from Sprint, where for $61.58 per month, recently increased to $62.17 who knows why, we have unlimited 4G broadband service. This is how we get our loads from Landstar, we need Internet access to read the load board, except in Wyoming and Montana where there is no Sprint service. Our life depends on this access. It’s how we see weather radar, look at Google maps, because no one in this industry is capable of providing usable directions, download software, movies, and IRS forms to pay, for example, the $550 Highway Heavy Use Tax.

This isn’t just us, it’s everyones new life. The IRS doesn’t want to send you a form they want you to download it, companies want to email everything to save money or when they don’t want you to see something — and for us email is usually better than snail mail — software doesn’t go on a CD or DVD anymore, software is downloaded, some updates can now be over a gig. Netflix doesn’t want to deliver a DVD they want you to watch everything on line. We are all bandwidth beggars.

This is fine for people in big cities who have access to inexpensive broadband, but even they are being limited. In California Comcast limits it, it’s happening in Canada too, although there was a revolt earlier this year. Companies say that heavy users of broadband are few and far between but it has to be a lie if they are offering plans and then canceling them. Companies advertise their service to attract customers but when it comes to providing it, they cut you off.

We signed the contract on March 2 this year in Dallas, Texas, six months ago.The email said that we are over our limit. How can we be over the limit on service when we pay for an unlimited package. In three days we had used more than five gigs of broadband. Say what?!?

On further investigation, the mouse print at the bottom of the last Sprint bill — with this insulting type size — changed our carefully designed Internet world. An email that we view as confirmation that the automatic bill pay to our credit card was received, eliminating worries of late payments, contained, hidden, the news.

Mobile Broadband Data Allowance Change
Eff. on your next bill, Mobile Broadband Data Plan 4G usage will be combined with your current 3G monthly data allowance and no longer be unlimited. On-network data overage rate for 3G/4G is $.05/MB. Monitor combined data usage at sprint.com. Please visit sprint.com/servicechange for details.

This was the ONLY notice that we received. On our online service contract yesterday, it said our package was unlimited 4G, which means Sprint’s own systems have not caught up with their bean counters.

Sprint Unlimited 4G users be warned, you are being screwed by The Man. In contrast, Capital One sent out a notice announcing it is increasing the minimum payment due. The notice on the top of the bill was at least a 30-point BOLD font.

Sprint’s action is just another rung in the escalation of corporate attitudes to customers, which they can treat customers badly because it is difficult to move.

We are no longer Sprint customers, and we have $100 brick, the now useless Sprint Card as a souvenir. Where in America is it valid to cancel a legally executed contract attached to onerous penalties for the customer? At the TelCos, that’s where.

The final insult of the day was provided by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the EZ Pass toll system. The system did not read our transponder at a toll booth so I need to figure out how to pay the bill. Our EZ Pass is from New York, we had a rental car from Hertz in Pennsylvania. Ed at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission cheerily told me that all I needed to do was call Hertz have them send me the bill, when I receive it call them back and the administration fees will likely be waived if I haven’t had any other violations. Ba da boom ba da bing.

This is a violation because Pennsylvania did not read the transponder, not because I did not have a transponder or I was trying to skip the toll. It was the same transponder that was read at every other toll booth in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

MacGyver laughed at me for actually thinking that this might be easily rectified.

The violation notice, he said, is going to some outsource company because Hertz does not deal with it themselves. The outsource company will charge a fee, Hertz will charge a fee, the turnpike will charge the toll and probably a fee and we will get one, maybe two, who knows, could be three bills. There is NOTHING we can do but pay whatever it is, whenever it arrives.

MacGyver sat down on the sofa, put his feet up on the coffee table, took a long drink of his glass of red wine, laid his head back and closed his eyes.

The shit just never ends.

3 thoughts on “The Shit Just Never Ends

  1. Loved your entry! Thanks for writing it. Sorry to hear of the daily woes. I'm sure tomorrow will run more smoothly. Hope you're both well, Barb

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  2. Great to here from you. We are all deal with the frustrations, the results of hormone hyped technology. I am starting to feel that every day I have to wake up with my dukes up to defend myself against The Man. I just want peace, familiarity, but no it is me against the computers and the evil MBAs who work their spreadsheets like a weapon, so somehow I always end up on the losing end against The Man.

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