Put down the phone!

By Jeanne Reynolds

I’m pulling out of Ricky’s on Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia with a brand-new set of tires, heading back to work at the tail-end of the Thursday lunch hour. I’ve driven maybe 100 yards when whoosh! The red SUV next to me swerves suddenly into my lane.

I slam on brakes and jerk the steering wheel hard right, narrowly avoiding a collision. Really glad for those new tires right now.

My heart is beating hard, my hands are shaking and I can barely breathe. I look over to see if the other driver is acknowledging she nearly caused a wreck. An apologetic wave? A sheepish smile? No, because her right hand is raised to face level, holding what looks like … a phone.

Now, just before her ill-timed move, I noticed the car in front of her appeared to move into the left turn lane abruptly without signaling. Ms. SUV was following too closely to start with and I’d guess wasn’t paying enough attention to brake in time, thanks to her irresistible mobile device.

With one hand now pressed to my forehead as I try to calm down, I make it safely back to the office. And here’s the really ironic part: The National Public Radio news program I’m listening to as I navigate those last few miles is running a story on the dangers of technology and distracted driving. Yeah, tell me about it.

Friends, this time of year more than any, please put down the phone while you’re driving. Between all the extra errands we’re trying to cram into our lunch hours, the million things racing through our mental to-do lists and the scheduling squeeze of kids’ activities and holiday social events, most of us are distracted enough. Add in the now-early nightfall, and we really need to have two hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

If you don’t care about me in the next lane, think about how a cast on your leg will ruin your special holiday party outfit, or how a big bill from the body shop coupled with a hefty ticket will put a crimp in your gift-giving budget.

And it could be much worse than that: 9 people die every day because of car crashes involving distracted drivers.

Think it can’t happen to you? If you’d been riding shotgun with me on Sunset last week, you might reconsider.


Mobile Madness

By: Katie Austin

Like so many people, I own a smartphone and find that I am becoming more attached with each passing day.  I love being able to read emails, interact with Facebook, catch up on my favorite blogs (Every Woman Blog is at the top of my list!) and browse the Internet for information at the time I need it.  But, as I have discovered, instant access to this technology comes at a cost that is climbing upward with no end in sight.

Excuse this brief interruption while I pull out and step onto my soapbox…. Feel free to take a bathroom break, grab something to drink or eat, or stretch if you want to take a turn on the soapbox 🙂

Is it common practice now for the mobile giants to have incredible phone offers available and then once they have you locked into a contract, increase their fees and/or make plan changes with little to no communication?!  Have they forgotten who it is that has helped them to achieve their success?? I will share with you our recent upgrade fiasco which you may be able to relate to.  For some, it will give you the information you need to ask questions of your own mobile provider to prevent the same happening to you.

Recently, my husband was eligible to upgrade his phone and what better time as we were going on vacation. He went online, placed an order for his new smartphone (aka toy), purchased the needed accessories, and then eagerly awaited the UPS truck to stop by our house.  He was like a kid on Christmas as he checked the front porch daily hoping Big Brown had stopped by!  Haha!  The accessories arrived a few days later with the phone to arrive soon after that.  Then it happened – a phone call telling him that due to a change with the cellular company policy, he would have to upgrade his plan to something new or pay retail for his new smartphone.

You see, we were told a few months earlier by the same company that as long as we upgraded to new/kept our existing smartphones, that we would be grandfathered into the unlimited data plan.  Obviously, the company quickly realized that this would not be good for their bottom line!  So, they changed their policy that you could keep the unlimited data plan, but that we would have to pay full retail for the phone.  I needed a bag to breathe into when I heard the retail price – which is approximately $799!!  Plus, we found out that the policy change occurred the day before the was upgrade eligible.  We did not receive any form of communication from our mobile provider explaining these changes and spent hours on the phone trying to understand our options.  In the end, he kept the old phone and now has accessories for a phone he didn’t receive.  It’s like getting the keys to a new car, but you have to wait for the car to be delivered and you don’t know when it will get there 😦

When did good customer service and keeping customers happy become a thing of the past?  We have been with the same company since phones became smart.  For the first time in several years, we are thinking about switching. If we do switch, I think I will write them a letter explaining why we left and ask “Can you hear me now?” 🙂

Have you had a similar experience?  What do you like/dislike about your mobile provider?  Feel free to share and if we get enough posts, we can send them a link to show them what their customers are thinking.