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Monday, August 30, 2010

Post # 141 - Bell Helmets and the Giraffe Man- 4/11/2010

Dear Bell Helmets,

I am an enormous human being. At eight feet tall, my friends call me the “Giraffe”. At Christmas, folks pay me $5 to put the star atop their tree. In the fall, people pay me to clean out their gutters.

Well guess what? Giraffe needs to get around town too. Cars aren’t designed for the giant. SUV’s aren’t either. Eventually, you resort to a neck hole in the roof of your car.

I live in a small town, and am quite friendly with the entire police force (consisting of eight gentlemen, and my fiancée, Collette.

Let me cut to the point. I plan on taking a road trip. This trip will take me through multiple municipalities. Different law enforcement officials may interpret safety laws differently. I would like to abide by all of the safety laws in all of the cities, counties, and states that I visit.

I’m looking for a helmet—not just any helmet. I am looking for a helmet that will permit me to safely travel in my modified ’67 Ford Custom 500.

What do you have?


No Response.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Post # 140 - Doubletree Hotels - Seriously--a Cookie? - 4/11/2010

Once while on business in St. Louis, I stayed at Doubletree when the other hotels that boast free happy hours and breakfasts were booked.  I had always heard about the almighty cookie.  It was really good.  But on the second night, nobody comes by with another cookie.  Or the third.  By day three, the cookie was a source of annoyance.
Dear Doubletree,

What’s the deal with the cookie? Is it supposed to make me feel welcome?

Here’s my beef. Other hotels “make me feel at home” with free breakfast. Some even throw in a little perk called “Meet the Manager Happy Hour”. Free booze and appetizers.

You give me a cookie. It’s a delicious cookie. I checked on the web—people try to duplicate your recipe, so you should be proud about that. But seriously--a cookie?

If I stay in your hotel for five nights in Dallas for my model train conventions, I get the same as Joe Blow who spends one night. One lousy cookie. Not one per night. Just one per visit.

It makes me want to book my hotel stay in Dallas, one night at a time. Check in for Night one, collect Cookie #1. Check out of the hotel after Night One, Check Back in for Night Two, collect Cookie#2. Repeat these steps until I’ve collected all five cookies, or until I become a diabetic.

I get the whole faux home sweet home sentiment. But I don’t see the incentive to stay more than one night, since that’s the only incentive you’re known for.

Maybe you can enlighten me. Seriously—a cookie?




Friday, August 20, 2010

Post # 139 - West Bend Popcorn Popper Crack - 4/7/2010

Dear West Bend,

Martha and I love popcorn, and not that nonsense that comes in the bag that you stick in your radar range. No sir. Popcorn in a popper. Popcorn in YOUR West Bend 82306X Stir Crazy 6-Quart Electric Popcorn Popper. Life has been a dream—one popperful of corn at a time. Different flavors of popcorn salt on different days. And on Saturday…CARAMEL CORN!

Here’s the deal. I design components, just like the crack staff at West Bend. We all sat in the same classes, with the same barely-speaking-English professors, learning basic design concepts. Among those: avoid stress risers. Stress risers are sharp corners in components, where cracks are likely to begin, and quickly propagate. I explain this to you as though you don’t know what I’m talking about.

I’m accusing West Bend of intentionally designing an Achilles heel into their popper globe. My globe is hanging on by a thread, and you know it. You planned it. You’re giggling about it.

Why else would you design such a sharp corner, where the handle meets the globe. That globe is so flimsy and flexible, leaving that area so vulnerable to cracking. In fact, to slow the crack propagation down, I’ve ceased washing the oily popcorn aftermath from the inside of the globe.

You know darn well that there should be a nice rounded, gradual transition, with reinforcing ribs. I’m sure that saving several cents, plus creating a reason for folks to buy a new West Bend 82306X Stir Crazy 6-Quart Electric Popcorn Popper.

Well I say no. I’m really angry. I’m going to climb the highest mountain and shout it at the top of my lungs.

I’m a dissatisfied customer. I’d appreciate a written explanation.


Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 08:20:13 -0600

Subject: Focus Customer Service Request B10-04-0182

Please email back the four digit date code beginning with zero or nine from the base of the machine. Also, include the date and store of purchase. With this information we can assist you further.


Subject: RE: Focus Customer Service Request B10-04-0182
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2010 23:49:16 -0400

Hi Alyssa,

It's 0044. Is this the 44th day of 2000? Keep in mind, it had an eight year hiatus on a shelf, when I had discovered potato chips.


Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 06:37:33 -0600

Subject: Focus Customer Service Request B10-04-0182

Unfortunately, your unit was manufactured by the original West Bend company in 2000, and discontinued before Focus Electrics acquired the company about 5 years ago. Because you unit is 10 years old the only option we can give at this time is to purchase a new lid, or we can give you a discount on a new popper. The lid is part P347-2D for $22.94, which includes shipping and handling. You can order online at, or with customer service at 866-290-1851.

We are willing to offer you a new unit at a discounted price. Please log onto our website at to view our current product offerings. If you choose to receive the discount of 30% off (coupon code 30AK) of the regular listed price please contact customer service at 866-290-1851. Please contact us back if you require further assistance/




If you reply to this message, please be sure that the request id B10-04-0182 is contained in the subject line of your email.

Subject: RE: Focus Customer Service Request B10-04-0182
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2010 22:39:47 -0400


I think I figured it out. I paid $29.99 for a popper back in 2000. I can buy basically the same popper in 2010 at Target for $29.99. Or, I can buy the poorly designed lid for $22.94.

My other option is to go on your website and pay $44.93 for the same 6 quart Stir Crazy popper that I can get at Target for $29.99. With your 30% off coupon, that's $31.45 plus shipping.

Plus, I don't see that the lid handle on the new model is really improved at all. Why not fix the lid once and for all?

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Post # 138 - Simply Potatoes, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium Pyrophosphate and Sodium Bisulfite 4-7-2010

Dear Simply Potatoes Folk,

I am a simple man. I sing a simple song. That song is “I shall eat nothing that I can’t pronounce”.

I love potatoes, but quite frankly, they’re a lot of work. Cooking. Peeling. Dicing. Seasoning. I have commitments to keep. Clients, partners, justices of the peace, they care little about my little potato fetish.

I was at the local grocery store, picking up my organic meats, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. I walked right past the bread isle—too many chemicals in a loaf of factory bread. I walked past the cereals—after wheat, there are about 86 ingredients that I’ve never heard of.

Then I saw “Simply Potatoes”. Finally—someone gets it. A product that is what it says. Potatoes. Simply that.

My girlfriend Trina is a label-reader. One snowy Saturday evening, I was cooking her a lovely Cornish hen supper. As I was preparing the potatoes, she looked at the package and pointed out the additives: potassium sorbate, disodium pyrophosphate and sodium bisulfite. I’ve never heard of any of these.

I’m sure they have a purpose. I’m sure they do something. But don’t they go against the “Simply Potatoes” label? Aren’t you selling a big potato fib? For all I know, I served Trina Mr. Potato heads, chopped in little bits.

Trina suggested that I sprinkle the left over potatoes on the freshly fallen blanket of snow. Would they melt it? You tell me.

I think the label should read “Simply Potatoes, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium Pyrophosphate and Sodium Bisulfite”.


No response
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Post # 137 - Dasani Purified, Mineralized Rouge River Water - 4/4/2010

Dear Dasani,

I run marathons. Sometimes distance training involves temps well into the 90’s. When I’m hydrating, I’d like to know in my heart of hearts that I’m not drinking something that could in fact further dehydrate me. I’d like something that doesn’t have additives which may swell my hands, tongue, and face.

What gives? What’s with adding table salt, potassium chloride, and magnesium sulfate to your water? I’ve read where your additives can cause dehydration and kidney failure in harsh conditions.

Fess up. I live in Michigan—the suburbs of Detroit. Where does Southeastern Michigan water come from? Does it come from some pure spring-fed water source? Is that spring the Rouge River? Is your water indeed tap water? Tap water that you’ve “reverse-osmosis-ized”, mineralized, poured into a bottle, and sealed?

Let’s cut to the facts. I pay $36 a month for more water than I can use. I can just as easily fill a reusable bottle with my tap water, as I can buy your tap water. What’s my motivation to buy your tap water? The label? The sensuously curved bottle?

Also, as bottled water becomes increasingly “uncool” to drink (plastic bottles), your competitors have started making their bottles with much less plastic. What are you doing? I see you’re going to a 30% plant-based material composition. Why not go 100% non-plastic? Because that’s what tap water is doing these days.

Lots of questions.


Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 14:00:33 -0400


Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company, Jerry. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

The water used to make DASANI brand bottled water is tested and approved water from municipal water systems. It undergoes further purification treatment in our plants.

To make DASANI water, we use reverse osmosis, which is a molecular-level filtration process. During this process, most minerals and impurities are removed from the bottling plant's incoming water supply. As a result of this treatment, the water used to make DASANI contains less than 10 parts per million of total dissolved solids. To improve the taste of our purified water, we add a small amount of mineral salts to it after completion of the purification treatment.

We made the decision to add minerals to DASANI based on consumer taste testing. Our research demonstrated that the addition of a very low level of minerals can improve the likeability of the water.

Please be assured that Coca-Cola brand soft drinks do not contain any harmful substances. DASANI and all Coca-Cola brand products are wholesome beverages manufactured in compliance with the federal law governing food safety and labeling, the laws of all the states, and the laws of over 200 countries throughout the world where they are sold.

Additionally, for future generations of the "PlantBottle™", we are looking at using other plants and plant wastes, such as wood chips, corn stover or wheat stalks. Our vision is to develop and commercialize PET plastic bottles that are made completely from renewable resources and are recyclable.

We hope this information is helpful and assures your confidence in our brands. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us again.


Industry and Consumer Affairs
The Coca-Cola Company

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Post # 136 - Morningstar Farms Follow-Up - 4/3/2010

I posted a negative letter about the Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon. A friend suggested that I try the sausage.  In fairness, I really liked it.  So here's my letter, which resulted in more coupons.  And 'round and 'round we go....

Dear Morningstar Farms,

A while back, I complained about your vegetarian bacon. You sent me a coupon to try another Morningstar product. I thought it only fair to try something different, and report back. I’m not a big veggie burger guy—I’d just as soon grill up a portabella mushroom.

I used that coupon to obtain a package of your vegetarian sausage. I must say, as I cooked it, I saw no pool of grease. This made me feel very uncomfortable. However, in that discomfort, I think you probably beat regular sausage in every nutrition category possible.

I must say, I tried your sausage, and….drum roll…I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. You added maple syrup flavor, which I love. I thought about your breakfast sausage at various points throughout the day.

I asked my wife to try it. Her review would not be quite as glowing. When you bite in, you have to get used to the less “rubbery” texture of a sausage or burger patty. She had a difficult time with the texture, which I would describe as “veggie-burger-ish”. While I was able to suspend my disbelief (this same skill works well for the Die Hard films), she was not.

So while my review is glowing, I see room for improvement—making the texture more sausage-like would help.

Lastly, I would keep an eye on your pricing point. This was almost $4 for six tiny patties. Why must people always pay more to support their healthy lifestyles? Cut the price by a buck, and I’d probably buy your sausage often. I don’t eat a lot of sausage, but I might start.

Thanks again for the opportunity!


Subject: Morningstar Farms® Consumer Affairs 020851245A
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2010 21:31:49 -0500


How thoughtful of you to take the time to let us know you enjoyed the taste of the Morningstar Farms® Veggie Maple Sausage Patties. We are very happy to We are always pleased to hear positive comments from our consumers. Thank you!

Everyone at our company devotes a great deal of effort to developing wholesome, appealing products, and it is good to know you think we have been successful.

We will also pass along your wife’s comments about the texture of the product. I cant promise you anything about having any changes, but we will definitely let our team know! :)

We will also pass along your comments about the final price of the products found in local stores. Please know, it is the grocer who sets the final price of our products. This price is typically based upon our wholesale price and the store's own operating costs. Because of this, prices may vary from store to store and also from state to state. You may be sure that we will continue to do all that is possible to manage the cost to produce our products so that we can provide them at an equitable price to our consumers.

In the meantime, I hope you and your wife continue to enjoy our Morningstar Farms products for years to come! In fact, we will be happy to send you both a coupon for your next time purchase. Allow about 7-10 business days to receive this.

Also, please feel free to visit our website, from time to time for coupons.

We appreciate your interest in our company and products.


Consumer Affairs Department



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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Post # 135 - Helping A Friend Win A Home Renovation - 4/2/2010

A friend asked for some creative assistance. Over the past two years, she and her fiancé' have encountered a string of unfortunate events, including their newly purchased home burning down.

She discovered a contest in This Old House Magazine - A Photoshop Re-Do. $10K to renovate your house. Our challenge was to condense her story down to 200 words or less.

This is the essay that was submitted:
A 1925 Arts and Crafts home built Ford tough that not even a fire could destroy!

In April 2009, my fiancé and I purchased a 1925 Craftsman bungalow in the Henry Ford Historical Home District in Dearborn, MI. We used all of our wedding funds for collateral in order to close on the house of our dreams and complete some renovations before moving in. On move-in day, May 30 2009, our house caught fire. Fortunately, the fire was swiftly contained and we thought the damage wasn’t bad at first. We spent the next six month dealing with legal fees, insurance adjusters, and city officials before restorations could begin - the second time. Unfortunately, the funds from the insurance settlement will not cover the cost of all the needed repairs. The last piece we need to polish is the home exterior.

Our dream is to have a simple, family-only wedding in the backyard of our newly refurbished home. We hope that the tears shed over the past year can be washed away with tears of joy on our wedding day. We still believe that we can make this house a home. Will you help us?


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Post # 134 - Family Tradition: Bugles 4/1/2010

Dear Buglefolk,

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, a very great man introduced me to all of my favorite snack foods. One of those was Bugles. I was able to stick them on my five-year-old fingers and pretend I was Edward Scissorhands.

Fast-forward 25 years. I’m no longer a carefree 11-year-old listening to Def Leppard, visiting Grandpa H in Toledo. He died from lung cancer in 1984, leaving Bugles, Doritos, Little Debbies, Snickers, and Coke products as reminders.

I am now the father of two. They still hold me in high esteem. When I introduce something like a new snack food, it’s because I know they’ll feel the same way I did when Grandpa H introduced it to me. That makes me feel good.

Snack foods can bridge several generations. My Grandfather (rest in peace) thought enough of Bugles to introduce them to me. I thought enough of Bugles, and my Grandfather, to introduce them to my kids. I thought enough of my Grandfather to show my son his photograph. I told a story about what a great man he was. I poured a bowl of bugles.

My son couldn’t fit them on his fingers.

When I was a kid, Andy Capp made Bugles. General Mills made Wheaties. Now, General Mills makes everything. Everything, that is, except Bugles that kids can fit on their fingers. When you put Andy out of work, you took all of his tools and secrets. All except the tools and secrets that make the Bugle end round.

When you look at a Bugle, do you see flattened openings? The music would be flat. No? Same for my son, trying to be Edward Scissorhands. Unacceptable.

When Andy Capp made these things, the comic strip on the bag was horrible. The snack in the bag was perfect. Round ends for kids to stick on their fingers. Now, the people who make my morning Wheaties, make my Bugles. And they fit my son’s fingertips much the same as the Wheaties.

It seams that somewhere in the transition from small company to Big Tobacco Conglomerate; you collectively lost sight of the customer. The child. Children fantasize about scissoring with their hands. Some grown-ups do as well. You’ve taken that dream and crushed it with your big boot like a cigarette. Oh wait—you’re Big Tobacco.

And that killed my Grandpa too.


No Response
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