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Friday, July 30, 2010

Post # 133 - My Letter to Dart To Fix Their Horrible Spill-Prone Styrofoam Cup Design - 3/27/2010

It's happened to all of us.  Styofoam cup, shaky folding table, inevitable spill.  The story below happened today at my daughter's First Communion Retreat.  My son's is a year from now.  Wouldn't it be cool if I had a spill-proof cup of coffee?

Cups need to be top heavy for packaging reasons.  Or do they?

I spent a half hour on this.  It can surely be improved.  It may not even be practical.  If it gets them thinking about it, then I'm happy.
Dear Dart,

I have about had it with your cups. They are everywhere. Courtrooms, picnics, office settings, church basements. Your cups are top heavy and very prone to spills. Toss in a flimsy card table and some eight year olds, and you have spills waiting to happen.

Today I was at a retreat for my daughter’s First Communion. I had a manila folder on a folding table in the church recreation room. I left a cup of coffee in an 8 ounce non-biodegradable, non-recyclable Dart Styrofoam cup. I was gone 30 seconds to snag a doughnut. Upon my return, your cup was sideways. My coffee and my manila folder met. Jessica’s baptism certificate, picture application, and two photos were destroyed.

Why were they destroyed? Because your cups need to be top-heavy in order to store them. Think of all of the days that have been ruined by your design. Photos, legal documents, Jonesville attendees, contracts, dresses, ties, trousers, rugs, power strips. All because we collectively decided to settle.

We need to redesign this thing ASAP. I have two ideas. One practical, and one less-than-practical. The first is adding a kickstand to the side of your cup. It would clip on the side and add stability. It’s a dumb idea. I’m only throwing it out there so you’ll look at the second idea and say “wow—that’s much better!”

The second idea is based off of the paper bag design. This design would use a sturdier material though—either cardboard stock or thin (recyclable) plastic. The plastic that I’m thinking of is used for some gift bags. You unfold the bag, and on the side with the bend, there would be a channel, through which the user would slide the attached “rod”. The rod is nothing more than a small section of toothpick, plastic, or sucker stick. This reinforcement could be on one or two sides. I have an illustration for you (attached).

I have a diagram that illustrates it better. My idea may cost a little more per cup, and require an additional step by Joe Public. However, the benefits are customer satisfaction (a lot less spills), better packaging (ship more product in less space), and recyclable.

Regardless of whether my idea is feasible, sensible, or practical for you, I’m a layman in the single use container industry. I just redesigned your cup in like 25 minutes. You should be able to put together some proposals to solve this problem in no time.

What say you?



P.S. – I see you’re based in Michigan. Me too.
Subject: Dart 8 oz Foam Cups

Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2010 14:58:17 -0400

Dear Jerry:

Thank you for your March 28 email providing us with your comments and feedback on our 8 oz foam cups. We appreciate your interest in the design of foam cups.

For those customers who require a higher level of vertical stability, we do offer a more squat cup configuration in our foam cup models 6J8,10J12, and 12J16. For more information on these squat-configured foam cups visit our web site at Click on the products tab, click on the US map,
and then click on foodservice foam cups, containers, and lids.

To submit any new product ideas to Dart, please note the following:

In order for Dart to review any product idea, we require the submitter to sign the attached Disclosure Policy Form. Please review this form, and if you are willing to comply with the terms,  and return it to us. You should also include any drawings, descriptions, or related materials that you would like us to review.

(See attached file: Disclosure Policy Form 2010.pdf)

Please send the completed disclosure form to the following address:

Dart Container Corporation
Attn: Marcus Braman, Marketing Department
500 Hogsback Road
Mason, MI 48854
Additionally, in your email, you mentioned that Dart foam cups are "non-recyclable". We would like you to know that Dart foam cups are recyclable. To learn more about the recycling of foam cups, please visit our web-site and click on "Information About Recycling Foam Cups". You will find a number of drop-off locatons in our Michigan County Recycling program. We trust there is one near you.


Bob W.

My response, dated 4/1/2010:
Dear Bob,

Thank you for the invitation to submit my idea. I will do so. Thanks also for the information about your squatter cups.

You mentioned that foam cups can be recycled. I was not aware of this. Thank you for enlightening me. Everything I have ever read focuses on the carcinogens, the ozone melting, and the oil required to produce polystyrene. It’s all about bound-up otters in the Pacific Northwest, and Tommy’s polluted drinking water in Dallas, Texas.

You caused me to do more research. I read where about twelve percent of all polystyrene is indeed recycled. They shred it, soak it in acetone, and mold the shredded material into items like trays and cups.

This still means that about 88 percent of the polystyrene that you’re producing is ending up in a landfill, an otter’s lower tract, or Tommy’s drinking water. I know from reading your legal forms, you can’t comment on pending ideas. I’m hoping one of these is “let’s get out of pumping this crap into the environment”.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Post # 132 - War on Spam: Spammy Sarah and the Faith Healer - 11/30/2009

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 2009 03:55:03 -0500

My response, dated 11/30/2009


I'm a faith healer with 100% success rate. I've actually used the positive energies to bring a deceased person back from the dead. I had a wildly entertaining show at Atlantic City, until the government shut me down. Bringing back seven people in one day creates a lot of paperwork when inheritences have been taxed and arrangements have been made.

Here is what I've need:
-a brief description of your illness.
-how long you have to live.
-email addresses of seven loved ones, preferably positive spirited. I've done this with as few as five, but seven seems to be the magic number.

Once I've healed you, all I ask is that you pay it forward by doing random acts of kindness for three strangers.

Please respond ASAP, as you are saying you don't have long.


Jacob T. Dreemcote
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2009 11:03:09 -0500

My husband deposited the 7.5 Million Pounds. I'm dying, collect the Funds to finance Charity organizations. reply to:

My response on 12/13/2009


Let me ease your worried mind. You were delinquent about getting back to me with the details about your ailment. You must be the most selfish person I know--turning your back on more years with your husband and your kids. You insensitive woman--does the world revolve around you?

In any case, I spoke with your husband and his mistress. They shared with me, the details of your ailment. I processed the necessary forms, purchased some candles and incense, and had a little ceremony. I had asked for five to seven email addresses, but you never came through, so I filled out more paperwork and overrrode that requirement.

You're healed. Nice job. Therefore, you don't need me as a beneficiary. I don't need 7.5 Million Pounds. All I need is 43 pounds to cover all of the candles, incense, paperwork, and a nominal processing fee. But really, who could put a price on life? I think once you sit down and discuss this with your husband and his mistress, it will make sense.


Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 14:44:35 +0800

Dear Beloved,

Please I want you to henceforth contact me through this email address, I changed my email address due to circumstances and for the success of my intentions. I am most grateful for your mail,and I seize this opportunity to thank you for coming to my rescue.However,I crave your indulgence to kindly attend to this in good faith as everything is Legal and the funds belongs to my Late husband whom before his death was always helping Charitable organisations and NGO in the world. My husband was a business merchant in Russia before he died in the year 2003. We were married for ten years without a child. He deposited this sum of 7.5 Million Pounds in a bank in Europe before his death.. So I want you to Stand-in as the beneficiary and collect the Funds from the Bank to finance Charity organisations and NGOs.

I hope you were not too embarrassed by my first email to you since you do not know me. I had no option since the family of my husband in and outside Russia refused to distribute my husband funds because they wanted to keep it to themselves. I don't really know how to move the funds out and dispatched it to charity organizations, so I resulted to putting fate to test and making a random contact. I got your email address from a private search which i did on the internet. I am communicating with only you at this moment with regards to this transaction. And I would not have any cause to do otherwise, except you state your intention to withdraw your assistance. Just like I stated earlier, this fund is presently with a bank in united kingdom (UK) and they would be able to tranfer the funds to you immediately if you adhere strictly to their directive.

I cannot distribute these funds myself due of the following reasons:

(1) I'm in an hospital in Russia undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer, I have since lost my ability to talk and It has defiled all forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts diagnosis.

(2) I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give help to charity organizations and NGO, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth before my death. It is for this reasons I am seeking for your assistance to stand as the beneficiary to the fund and retrieve it on my behalf and dispatched it to charity organizations. However, before I proceed further in giving you the Bank contact, I want you to give me your words that you will be very honest and straight forward with me when the money gets to you and also,that you will be able to execute this Project successfully and help me dispatched it to charity organizations.

Thus,I would want you to get back to me on the following issues if you are ready to assist me:

(1) That you are in a position to be trusted as a God fearing person with such a large amount of fund been entrusted to you. Also, that you will dispatched it to charity organization as I wanted it.
(2) That you are willing to contact the Bank to discuss the terms of releasing the funds. As soon as I receive your reply that you are ready to proceed under these terms, then I will furnish you with all details including the company.

Remain bless.
Mrs. Sarah Grant
Reply, sent 12/21/2009

Dear Sarah,

A couple of things:

1) Quit complaining about your health. You’re cured. What you’re experiencing right now is a little sore throat as part of the recovery. Offer it up—get out of that bed and pay it forward. You’re welcome.

2) I don’t feel embarrassed about your correspondence. I feel alive. I’m doing a happy dance. Sorry for the loss of your husband, but that old tool was holding you back. Now you’re free. Free to explore. We should go on a date. Unless it’s too soon.

3) Yeah yeah – you keep jabbering about the money. Let me know what you need me to do.

Merry Christmas!

Sent 12/24/2009


Get over yourself—you’re as fit as an ox now. Maybe your throat’s a little sore after the faith healing. You should suck on a Fisherman’s Friend.

There isn’t any bold task. There isn’t any need to be going to any charity. You’re fit as a fiddle. It’s all in your head. Your dead husband’s family can’t touch your cash. He isn’t even dead—he and his mistress opened a Red Lobster in Tahiti.

You keep jabbering about these funds, so here’s my info. Maybe it’ll make you stop.

NAME IN FULL: Jacob Teknaculler Dreemcote

CONTACT ADDRESS: 29 Ultimate-In-Good-Design Way, Thiswhycaughteye, Wisconson, 10111

AGE: 46


TEL: (314)586-2300

FAX: No Faxes Please

OCCUPATION: Faith Healer, and Blizzard Artist at DQ.

Let’s go!

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 2009 15:16:01 +0800


Dear Beloved

Thank you for your details and email, I needed to becareful due to the money involved, but now that you have proven to me that you are a remarkable, honest and trustworthy of your words. I am very happy about this, you have earned my full respect and trust, and I hope you will live up to the respect I have for you. I am very confident doing this transaction with you and please do not let me down.

In this light, I have sent you the Name of the bank and the name of the person in-charge that you will contact and make enquiries on your funds. Please find below the bank details:

Officer's Name: Mr. Kelvin Kessinger
Tel: +44 70457 46335, +44 70457 12201, +44-701-113-9811
Fax: +447006085205

I advice you to contact the bank because I have sent a LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION to them that you are now the sole beneficiary to this funds so that once the funds are released, it will be transferred into your designated account in your country. I also attached to this email, the CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT. Please do make contact with the bank immediately so that the transfer can be effected to you.

However, I advice you always get back to me with any mail you received from bank so that I can know when they will be transfering the funds to you and please, I want this transaction to be kept secret for I am doing this to the glory of the Lord. Do not allow anyone to discourage you, in carrying out the will of the Lord because this is the Lord doing.

God Bless you.

Mrs. Sarah Grant
Dear Kelvin,

What’s happening? Sarah is feeling better. It’s all for attention at this point.

Based on a few back and forth notes, Sarah trusts me with millions of British Pounds. Whatever. Here I am to collect my money.

Are you sick too? I can heal you.

Let me know what I need to do.


(Faint J sound)
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 03:07:58 -0800

Tel: +44 70457 46335, +44 70457 12201, +44-701-113-9811
Fax: +447006085205
24th December, 2009


Good Day, you are welcome to Lloyds Tsb Bank, Lloyds Tsb Bank Plc is a bank established to create a pathway in the world's financial institute, we take care of customer's funds without fear of fraudulent attack because we have worked out secured modalities to protect and preserve customers funds to their greatest expectation.

We hereby inform you that we have received a LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION from Mrs. Sarah Grant, stating that you are her beneficiary to her funds in our bank and that you will be contacting us to officially discuss the terms of this transaction and thereafter make transfer of the said fund on her behalf to your designated bank account.

Prior to this effect, we want you to provide the below listed personal informations:
*SCANNED COPY OF A PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION (i.e. Driver's license or International passport)

The moment we receive above informations from you, we shall start up with the immediate processing on how the fund is to be transferred to your bank account.

We also want to use this medium to inform you that there are so many fraudulent emails looming internet in recent times and we thus, want you to be very careful. Some of these emails can inform you of winning a lottery OR asking you to procure a loan and many more. In case you recieve such emails, please let us know so we can verify the authentcity of such email notice.

Best Regards

Mr. Kelvin Kessinger

This message and any included attachments are from LLOYDS TSB. and are intended only for the addressee. The information contained in this message is confidential and may constitute inside or non-public information under international, federal, or state securities laws.

Unauthorized forwarding, printing, copying, distribution, or use of such information is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the addressee, please promptly delete this message and notify the sender of the delivery error by e-mail.
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 2009 11:34:16 -0500


Merry Christmas.

I don't have a bank account. We faith healers don't believe in those things, as they distract our healing abilities.

If it's all the same, I'll just take a certified check.

I gave the info that you requested to Sara the Faker. But here it is again. Can you put it in my file this time?

NAME IN FULL: Jacob Teknaculler Dreemcote
CONTACT ADDRESS: 29 Ultimate-In-Good-Design Way, Thiswhycaughteye, Wisconson, 10111
AGE: 46
TEL: (314)586-2300
FAX: No Faxes Please
OCCUPATION: Faith Healer, and Blizzard Artist at DQ.

By the way, my phone number is a cellular phone, and that phone is currently in the bottom of a large punch bowl filled with Egg Nog. I'm drinking as quickly as I can to rescue it. Email is going to have to work for now. Sorry Kelvin!




Thursday, July 22, 2010

Post # 131 - Blackberry and the Adventures of Jacqueline and the Apostrophe - 3/25/2010

Dear Blackberry,

I love my girlfriend. She’s way, way out of my league. For our six month anniversary, I bought us matching Blackberry Storm 2’s. I love the features—the WIFI connectivity, the great reception, and the 3.2 mega-pixel camera. Furthermore, it feels “good” in my hands. When I touch it, it feels so sleek. I feel like I’m cheating on Jacqueline.

Sometimes I have a feeling she’s cheating on me. Her work friends hate me. The one guy, Todd, calls me the Apostrophe. Not even sure what that means. He’s a cheese ball.

Our day begins with Jacqueline and me both leaving for work at 7:30 AM. We stop at Starbucks, where she gets her latte. No coffee for me, thank you. I wait in the car and make sure Barry the Barista doesn’t ask her out. Then, she goes to the potato chip factory, and I go to the shoe store, after I make sure she’s arrived safe and sound

I arrive at work at 8:00 AM and immediately call her. I keep her on the phone as long as our batteries last. Jacqueline’s battery always seems to cut out right before lunch. From my car in her parking lot, I see her and Todd leave for lunch in her car.

Do you produce a longer-life battery? Ideally, we need eight hour batteries. Then, I can call her at 8:00 AM and only worry about 4:00 on.

I’d better go—it’s been a half hour since I talked to her. Can you let me know about the longer life battery? Also, is there a call block function for that cheese ball Todd?

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 23:43:40 -0400

Subject: Re: Battery Question ; RQST00009005955

Hello Jerry,

Thank you for contacting BlackBerry Customer Support.

For accessories for your BlackBerry smartphone, such as extended life batteries, please contact your BlackBerry service provider. If your provider does not carry the accessories you require, you may purchase BlackBerry accessories from our BlackBerry Accessories Store:

To explore possibly blocking some callers from a BlackBerry smartphone we suggest the following support options:

You may have the option to receive fee-based support directly from Research In Motion, the manufacturer and experts for the BlackBerry solution. If you would like to learn more about this option, please dial the appropriate telephone number below and enter option 3 in the phone menu to be routed to BlackBerry Customer Care.

If your organization has subscribed to BlackBerry Technical Support Services, please contact your IT department and have one of your named callers contact BlackBerry Technical Support.

Note: BlackBerry Technical Support Services is an annual subscription program providing software maintenance and technical support services for your BlackBerry solution. Named callers are personnel within your organization who are authorized to contact our support staff. For more information on BlackBerry Technical Support Services, please visit:

All BlackBerry smartphone users have free access to the BlackBerry Technical Solution Center. The BlackBerry Technical Solution Center provides a repository of support information, documentation and frequently asked questions, with enhanced search capabilities so you can easily search for and find the BlackBerry support information you need. Please visit:

If the options above do not suit your needs you may also contact your service provider who may have other options available.

Thank you again for contacting us Jerry. Have a great day!


BlackBerry Customer Support
Research In Motion Limited
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Post# 130 - Hormel and Their Jacked Up Snack

This was a car trip snack when we drove to Florida.  I found the math both tricky and difficult as I ate and drove.  I sent this letter on 2/17/2010.

Dear Hormel,

I am an avid snacker. It’s a passion. As a short order cook at a truck stop, I never have time for a big meal. I often enjoy quick snacks between omelet platters, patty melts, and biscuits with gravy. Last week, I happened upon your Hormel Ham, Cheddar and Cracker Snack Tray.

Your nutrition information shows one serving consisting of: 16 hams, 7 cheddars, 5 crackers. I counted--the package contains: 40 cheeses, 40 hams, 24 crackers. I’m assuming the ham and cheeses are measured by weight.

I’m a sandwich man. Always have been. Since you’re saying 5 crackers = one serving, this determines that in order to maintain your ratios, I need to have 10 crackers, 32 hams, and 14 cheeses. However, the math never adds up—you always end up with a ham-less cracker sandwich, or a not enough crackers.

I threw away the rulebook. The package contains 24 crackers, or 12 sandwiches. Each sandwich gets 3 and 1/3 cheeses and 3 and 1/3 hams. It becomes pretty cumbersome. The cracker sandwich height exceeds my mouth-hole diameter. Therefore, I have to hastily disassemble my creations, and make them mouth-sized. In the process, the ratios of cracker, cheese and ham get distorted.

Why do you torment us with mixed fractions and remainders? Why can’t you make your snack component quantities more snack-sandwich friendly? I’m not asking you to pre-assemble anything. Just for once, have the same people who do the nutrition information talk to the bean counters who determine the quantities of cheese, ham, and crackers.

And for Gosh Sakes, make the serving size include an even number of crackers for those of us in the Sandwich Club.



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Friday, July 16, 2010

Post # 129 - Meijer and Their Yogurt Downsizing - 2/5/2010

A friend of a friend brought this to my attention.  I understand why companies do this, but it really bugs me.  Thanks Stacey!

Dear Meijer,

You’re not fooling anyone. One week, you’re selling me 8 ounce yogurt for 49 cents. The next week, you’re charging the same 49 cents. But you’ve downsized me by 2 ounces. That’s a 25 percent reduction. If the tables were turned, and I tried shorting you by 5 percent (12 cents), your hired guns behind those checkout counters would tell me to get lost. Why do you hold the power?

I find it funny that suddenly it’s healthier. It says so right on the container. I’m betting a serving has 25 percent less calories.

It’s a practice known industry-wide as “Frito-Laying” the customer. Those fine folks have been doing this for years. Here’s how it works:
-Year one: 16 ounce bag for $1.99.
-Year two: 14.5 ounce bag for $1.99
-Year three: 13 ounce bag for $1.99 (funny—the bag looks the same)
-Year four: 11.5 ounce bag for $1.99, plus new One Pound Bag for $2.99
-Year five: 14.5 ounce bag for $2.99
-and on and on and on.

Look—I get it. As raw materials, work forces, utilities, and overhead increase in price, companies need to be creative. You’re trying to avoid consumer sticker shock by pulling the wool over our eyes. Why not look into less expensive packaging, like the Go-Gurt folks did? Or stick it to the farmers. Maybe they could streamline their processes.

We’re all used to seeing it from giant, out of touch companies like Frito Lay. It’s a little disappointing seeing it from a nice, community friendly store like Meijer.

The same store that:
-Once replaced a bag of groceries, free of charge, on the honor system when accidentally left it in the cart.
-I’ve personally seen donate gift cards for turkeys for needy folks at Thanksgiving.
From that store, I expect better.


No response


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Post # 128 - War on Spam: Heriberto Phelps is An Idiot Who Shouldn't Have Access To Hamburger Helper Drugs - 3/20/2010

Subject: RE: hi
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:03:29 +0000

Cialis $2 Viagra $1 Levitra BONUS Free Pills

My companions nodded without interrupting the flow of food and drin

Hotmail: Trusted email with powerful SPAM protection. Sign up now.
Sent: Sat 3/20/10 8:52 AM


What the hell are you talking about? Do you look over what you type before hitting "Send"?

Your note, unless it's some deep metaphor, makes absolutely no sense. If you're being literal (and but the way, I don't think you could pull a good metaphor off), your acquaintances are nodding because you're an idiot. Also, they're acquaintances and not friends because...wait for're an idiot.

Why don't you take this note back to Santa's workshop for some elf-tinkering.

1) Figure out what you're trying to say.

2) Write it down.

3) Read it out loud. Does it make sense? If yes, proceed. If not, go back to Step 1.

4) Spell check it. If you don't have Spell Check, have a parent or guardian look it over.

5) Once 1 through 4 are complete, you may click "Send".

I'd like for you to re-send your corrected note, because I'm very curious what you were trying to say.

Best of luck to you.



Friday, July 9, 2010

Post # 127 - Keebler: Where Little Girls' Dreams Go to Die - 6/21/2010

For the record, none of my Girl Scout Cookie Pushers are little brats.  That part was for effect.  Keep the order forms coming!
Dear Keebler,

You should be ashamed of yourselves. What goes on in that tree, needs to stay in that tree! You have set your sights on a non-profit organization whose very goal is preparing girls for a grueling, kick-you-in-the-crotch world, in a loving, nurturing environment.

Girl Scout Cookie knock-offs? Seriously? Just how much padding do Ernie’s pockets need? Those dollars are tainted. Tainted with the precious dreams of little girls, still na├»ve to the cruel ways of a world run by rich old men with blue pills and mistresses.

At first, many years back, I remember seeing your Grass Hopper cookies. I thought “those look an awful lot like a Thin Mint”. They taste equally remarkable.

Then, I saw that damned Fudge Shoppe at it again. This time, cranking out Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies. I thought “these taste an awful lot like a Tag-A-Long”. They taste equally remarkable.

Then, recently, I saw the Fudge Shoppe cranking out the Coconut Dreams cookies. I thought “these taste an awful lot like a Samoa, the holy grail of all Girl Scout Cookies”. They taste equally remarkable.

Here’s the deal. I’ve strayed from my local Girl Scout on more than one occasion. I feel just awful when I do. In the past, I “made up” by purchasing boxes and boxes of Samoas. Frankly, the kid’s a little brat. She annoys me. I’d just as soon avoid her until she ages out and the next kid comes along.

This is where you’re guilty. If the Fudge Shoppe elves weren’t packing all of that fudge goodness and disguising it as Girl Scouts Cookies, my annual hankering would outweigh my annoyance threshold for little Frangelica or whatever her name is.

Keebler has made it too easy to stop supporting Girl Scouts. I want to know what you’re going to do about it.

Girl Scouts Cookies generate a certain amount of funds per box. I think Keebler should donate the same.

Keebler has a chance here to do something great, or a chance to look like a big, out-of-touch corporation. Which path will you choose?


Follow-up on July 6th, 2010:
Dear Keebler,

On June 21st, I sent you a note, questioning your ethics. I challenged that by selling Girl Scout Cookie Clones, you're effectively stealing from the Girl Scouts. People who normally buy and freeze, no longer need to do so.

It's July 6th. Yes we had the big 4th of July. It's time to put the sparklers down and get back to work. Answer your mail.

I motion that any company with a conscience would "right" the wrong act by donating proceeds from those products (you've AT LEAST copied Thin Mints, Tag-A-Longs, and now Samoas. Not sure about the Trefoils, Lemonades or Do-Se-Do's. I'm sure your elves are working on those.

If you choose not to respond, I'll know in my heart of hearts, that you care little about the development of young girls into strong women. I'll know that you don't care about the future--just the present. I'll know that Whitney Houston was full of crap when she sang that the "the Children are the future", and that we should "show them all the beauty they possess inside".

Maybe you're upset that girl scouts wear the green better than Ernie. Maybe you're the crotchety old man down the street that shoos the kids off of your lawn when their frisbee lands on it. Whatever it is, you need to get over it. Own up to your mistake.



P.S. - Your website creeps me out--those wind chimes and Ernie waving from the enchanted tree. Very trippy.
No response.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Post # 126 - My Fisher Price Form Letter Experiment - 1/3/2010

This was an experiment. I had written a negative letter to Fisher Price/Mattel about Barbie (Post #66). The next day, they sent the most generic form letter containing all of the typical catch phrases. It could have applied to any complaint about any product.

I wrote back accusing Fisher Price of being too big and out-of-touch with their customers. I accused them of having a machine that spits out form letters, based on which button the operator presses: positive or negative. I then crafted  my version of the “positive” form letter.
Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts with us.

A great deal of time has gone into the design and manufacture of this item and are glad that you like it.

Consumer feedback is very important to us. We have forwarded your comments to the appropriate personnel here at Mattel for their interest.

We will continue to work hard to merit your future support of our products.


Mattel Consumer Relations

I then sent the letter below on 1/3/2010 to see if I was correct.
Dear Fisher Price,

Well done! Bravo!

I just wanted to send you some positive feedback regarding the Fisher Price Spin and Crash Raceway. My three-year-old, Zacchaeus, loves to play with this, when he isn’t pretending to “collect our taxes” with his cash register and pad of paper, or climb the tree in our backyard.

He spends hours crashing his little cars into one another, with seemingly no consequences. My husband thought it might be a fun idea to tape ketchup packets onto the cars. I thought this was “taking it a little too far”. Luckily, your toys are washable, and clean up nicely.

Give each other a pat on the back. Another fine product. Keep up the good work, as always.


Mrs. Barnowski
Their response is below.  I wasn't word for word, but I think I more or less answered my question.

Subject: In Reference to Case Number: 17774339

Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2010 15:36:57 -0500

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We're pleased to learn that your family enjoys our Fisher-Price Spin N Crash Raceway.

It's the kind of enthusiasm about our products that you expressed that keeps us challenged to manufacture toys that stimulate the imaginations of children, while at the same time maintaining our high standards of design, quality and safety. We will work hard in the future to merit your family's continued support of our products.


Mattel Consumer Relations


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Post # 125 - Mr. Coffee and Me Espresso-ing Myself - 3/14/2010

Buying an espresso machine is a lot like being a parent in that you leave yourself vulnerable to all of the highs and lows.  Kids can please, and they can dissappoint.  If you do any amount of research, the same is true for an espresso machine. 

I have friends who can tell you, high end units don't necessarily result in the manufacturer "standing by" their product when it stops working.

With this in mind, I decided to go toward the lower end: Mr. Coffee.  For under $100, I found a machine that received mostly positive reviews (they all get a lot of negative reviews).  This way, if it fails after the one-year warranty, as they often do, I'm only out $100.

The first several pulls were pretty good--nice layer of crema on top.  So far, I am happy, but I plan to work the machine hard within the warranty window.

I decided I should establish my relationship with Mr. Coffee up front.
Dear Mr. Coffee,

As a Hot Water Gasket Salesman, I travel quite a bit. As you can imagine, people don’t run right up to me and buy a gasket. It’s always a tough sell. But, when I find that customer who wants to buy, he’ll want 1000 of these things. I just need to find him.

Travel is, as you can imagine, exhausting. Smokey, Gladys, and Diana can only pump so much energy into one’s soul. At some point, drugs are required. I have chosen caffeine. Coffee and pop have caffeine, but they also contain water. Water is kryptonite to a traveling salesman. Espresso, however, has a lot of caffeine, and much less water.

I decided to take a chance. I have done a great deal of research on the internet. You can spend $2000 for a really nice machine, or $30 for a crappy steam-fed machine. Logic would say “you can by a $1000 unit that lasts 20 years, or ten $100 units that each last two years. However, I see big spenders are complaining after two and three years. They’re problematic. Pumps break. Seals fail. Steamers clog. Again, the complaints are the same on the high end as they are on the low end.

For me, the requirements are simple:

1) 15 bar pump.
2) Removable water reservoir.
3) Removable Drip Tray.

I chose the Mr. Coffee ECMP50. I’ve had it a week, and so far so good. With the right beans, and the right grind resolution, the espresso tastes as good as any that I have had.

So you’re aware, your machine gets praise and criticism.

Praises: 1) Removable trays. 2) Swinging froth wand. 3) Easy to use. 4) Nice layer of crema. 5) Warms up quickly.

Criticisms: 1) No service parts. 2) Leakage. 3) Temperamental. 4) Pump failures. 5) Smoking. Some people made it less than 6 months.

It seems I’m in a crap shoot. I intend to hold up my end of the user/buyer agreement. I’m following the cleaning and maintenance instructions very closely. You mention periodic de-scaling, not storing with the brew basket in place, using fresh water each time, etc. I’m even using distilled water.

Be advised--I intend to work my machine hard for the first year (during the warranty period). If I own an infant mortality unit, you and I will hopefully know within the warranty period.

Please don’t let me down.

They didn't respond.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post # 124 - Whataburger Experiment: Whataboutanicenote - 3/13/2010

I recently had an odd experience in an Alabama Whataburger.  The cashier gave us fries that we did not order.  She delivered our salads, and took the fries from our trays and threw them out.  I sent a note questioning their policies.  I sent a second note.  And a third.  They're not answering.

So what if I send a nice note about a great visit, sent under an alias, from a different email address.  Will they answer then?
I sent this on 3/13/2010

Dear Whataburger,

I just wanted to convey a great experience that I enjoyed at your restaurant in Phoenix, AZ. I was fresh-off the plane, and raring’ to go for the Annual Saints and Sinners Train Club Expo. I was hungry and out of town.

I walked in Whataburger, and ordered a Chicken Sandwich and some fries. The sandwich was perfect, and the fries were tasty. Your servers were friendly. One elderly worker (the others in my section, and I called her “Mom”) sat with me and comforted me. She was on her break, and told me about her son who is far away. That weekend, I was her “son”. I came back five more times in two days. I’m a little sick of your Chicken Sandwiches. But I’ll never forget how welcome I felt at your restaurant.

Thanks Again,

Stephan Mariendo
Conclusion: Not only does Whataburger throw out perfectly good fries, they don't read their customer feedback.