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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post # 171 - Sargento and the Swiss Cheese Lie

Dear Sargento,

We live in 2010. I can check my email on the other side of the world, climbing a mountain. Using my cell phone. I can download a movie and watch it without even getting up. They’re making Sequeways that operate using eyeball movements.

Why does Swiss cheese still have the holes in it? I’m sure when they first started, the holes came from gasses released during the aging, or whatever, and to stifle the bubbles, was to stifle the flavor.

Are you telling me in 2010, where we disinfect our hands while driving down the street, you can’t make the same great Swiss cheese we’ve all come to know and love, without the holes?

Are the holes still there to appease us? To make us feel secure? Is there fear in the dairy industry, that a Hole-less Swiss would freak people out?

Are the holes in fact a cost saving measure? By selling holes with the cheese, the cheese actually looks larger than it is. Like an 80’s rock star packin' a roll of Necco’s.  Pretty slick.

I guess I’m wondering when you’re going to end the great big lie, which is Swiss Cheese with holes.



PS – I’d ask to tour your facility, but I bet it smells like sweet death when that cheese is aging.

PPS –Do people from Sargento and people from Kraft call each other names?
Subject: RE: Sargento Contact Us
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 09:09:10 -0500

Dear Mr. Herman --

Thank you for your e-mail. Holes in Swiss cheese (also called "eyes") are a very desirable characteristic. They form while curing when one of the starter cultures produces carbon dioxide that is trapped in the cheese and forms pockets. They are an important part of the making of Swiss cheese.

Sargento Consumer Affairs Department
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Post # 170 - Family Watchdog Pervert - 3/25/11

As a parent and husband, I love this site.   If you're not currently checking it, I recommend it. 
Dear Family Watchdog,

I really appreciate your site.  As a Father-of-the-Year candidate, year in, year-out, I stay on top of this stuff.  Your colorful maps keep me informed of all of the pervs in my neighborhood, by my kids’ schools, the local parks, their friends’ neighborhoods, and the local Chuck E. Cheese.  The colors make the maps both beautiful and frightening.

Here’s the deal.  While the maps are colorful, they’re a bit overwhelming.   As I pull up profile of perv after perv to map my kids’ trick or treat routes, each perv looks like they’re wired wrong.  Who knows—maybe I’d look pretty creepy in a “caught with my hand in the jar” moment too.  Regardless, I think you need to narrow it down a little.

I’m sure if I had a law degree, I’d be able to sift through the creep-o’s better.    Your maps looks like funfetti cake, with shades of yellow, red, white, green and blue.  Orlando’s map looks like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.  Go figure.

There are undoubtedly some who got a little carried away back in high school with their 16-year-old-girlfriend after too much Boones Farm and Eddie Money in Dad’s workshop.

There are undoubtedly some who got a little carried away handing out nudie books to fifteen year-olds.  They were going to see it sooner or later.

Maybe one even got a little handsy with a waitress at Razzles, the local grill and bar hangout.  Who among us, I ask, hasn’t had these urges.

I’m not really worried about any of these. 

I’m worried about “I-Carry-A-Big-Bird-Costume-In-My-Trunk-And-Have-Kids-Sit-On-My-Lap.”  I’m worried about the guy in the stands at my kids’ swim lesson who doesn’t know any of the kids in the pool.  I’m worried about the dude with the ski mask who follows my wife out of the store, to her car.  I’m worried about the guy who’s stealing old ladies underpants at the laundromat.  

Is there an easy way of filtering your map to highlight these? 


Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 12:15:18 -0700
Subject: Re: [#95662] Family Watchdog Feedback

Thank you for the email. So often we receive emails that are less than pleasant. Emails like this are empowering and help us see why we are doing what we're doing.
And about your question... We have contiplated being able to search by categories, but currently do not have plans to implement. Maybe in the future we will.

Thank You
Customer Service
Subject: FW: [#95662] Family Watchdog Feedback
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 19:03:42 -0400

Dear Customer Service,

You just keep doing what you're doing.  Don't worry about less than pleasant folks.  If they're complaining to you, they've probably raised a pedifile or gotten caught redhanded at Razzles.

Know in your heart of hearts though that sifting the women and children targeting pervs would be a good thing.




Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post # 169 - Getting a Little Nook - 1/17/2011

The exchange below happened after my wife bought a Nook.  The events in the first note are accurate.  I wrote my letter two days after the flippant service punk's promised email didn't arrive in my wife's inbox (he promised a few hours).  She had done a stellar job working him over, asking for managers, etc.
Dear Barnes and Noble,

I am extremely dissatisfied with your customer service.  Extremely. 

I have been a loyal Barnes and Noble customer for over twenty years.  Your books helped me through the toughest college courses.  They helped me plan my wedding.  They offered me comfort when I lost a friend.  They put my children to bed, and taught them to read.

On January 2nd, after much deliberation, I purchased a Nook.  All of my friends tried to steer me to the Kindle.  They cited your recent bankruptcy.  I cited brand loyalty.

I neglected to purchase the $60 protection plan.  The Nook itself put me back quite a bit.   I couldn’t afford it.  Besides, I take care of my things--I’ve had the same cellular phone for eight years.

On January 14th, in the bleachers at my daughter’s swim practice, a woman walked by and her long coat brushed my precious Nook off of the bleacher.  It fell 18 inches.  The protective cover flopped open and it landed face down.   The screen cracked.

On January 15th, I called your customer service, asking if there was a way the screen could be replaced, on my dime.  Your representative stated that “due to the fact that the accident occurred within 14 days of purchase, the Barnes and Noble store at which it was purchased had to take it back.”  He went on to state that had I purchased it online, he could have completed the transaction via mail.  This seemed awfully courteous. 

I, with two bundled up children, hopped into my car, and made the hour round trip to Barnes and Noble.  Alex, who I deal with all of the time, and is the nicest associate ever, wasn’t able to help.  He couldn’t repair it.  He couldn’t replace it.  I wasted a trip.

I called your customer service back.  I dealt with a fellow named Aras.  Our discussion went like this:
    -I explained my situation. 
    -He said, essentially, that “this whole thing was my fault.”  

I really didn’t need to hear that—I know.  I really didn’t appreciate having insult added to injury.  I let him know that I was dissatisfied with his customer service.  I asked to talk to a manager.  He put me on hold.  He came back and offered me the following: 

      1) I purchase the service plan.
      2) He sends a confirmation.
      3) I was to call back after five days and order a replacement.

I gave him my credit card, my email, my phone number.  Before we hung up, I requested a confirmation number.  Aras refused.  He said “check your email in a few hours.”  The confirmation never came.  The $60 was never charged to my credit card.  I feel that I was brushed aside by a bad customer service rep that had better things to do in India.

These people on your customer service line are the face of your company.  They are an embarrassment.  One of the people, when I asked “if I can charge my payment,” said “Yes.  You plug the unit into the wall.”

So there it is.   What do you have to say for yourselves?   You need to get your people on the same page.  Make them accountable.  Tell them to quit giving loyal customers the runaround.  Companies live and die by loyal customers, and those people are turning people away.  Am I done as a Barnes and Noble customer?  I’m pretty sure I am if it ends like this.


From: service
Sent: Wed, January 19, 2011 6:37:11 PM
Subject: Your Recent Inquiry to Barnes & Noble (KMM29051905V80024L0KM)Dear Valued Customer,

We received your recent email and apologize that we have not responded.  We are experiencing unusually high email volume, and want to assure you that your concerns are always very important to us.

We invite you to have a look at our Help Desk by clicking on this link:

We've worked hard to include answers to many of our customer's questions right here, so the solution you are looking for may be right there.

If you have a question about the status of your order, please check the information we provide on your online account.  If you placed an order without an online account, just click on the drop down menu under My Account in the upper right corner of our website.  Complete the information on the left side of the screen and click on View Order.  As always, you can rely on the information sent to you in your shipping confirmation email, which also includes a link to track delivery.

If you still need our help, we are available by phone from to
Monday-Friday and on Saturdays and Sundays,
EST.  Call us at 1-800-THE-BOOK (843-2665), international customers can
reach us at 201-559-3882.  Please note that due to high call volume,
you may experience a delay in reaching a Customer Service

Thanks again for your patience and loyalty during this busy time.


Barnes & Noble
They had sent this note to my wife forty minutes prior....
 From:Barnes & Noble
Sent: Mon, January 17, 2011
Subject: Your Barnes & Noble Order 1181043753 Has Been Shipped  
Dear Jerry's Wife,

Congratulations on your purchase of the Barnes & Noble Protection Plan for your NOOK! Enjoy years of reading with confidence knowing we've got you covered.

Your Barnes & Noble Protection Plan is active as of the date of this message and is linked to your NOOK with serial #2005XXXXXX.

Please take a moment to review the details of your warranty coverage and keep this email for your records.

Serial Number        Warranty 
005XXXXXXX         Barnes & Noble Protection Plan

For further assistance, please email us at

We're glad we could be of service and look forward to your next visit.
 Barnes & Noble

A few days later, a new nook showed up with the retroactive service plan. 

We sent the old one back for durability testing.  The guy at the Barnes and Noble Store tried his best on his end, to no avail.  He was very interested in our story, when my wife told him she was successful. 

The lesson here is, always always always get the service plan on anything handheld that can break.  Or read a book--they don't shatter.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Post # 168 - Whataburger: Whataboutaresponse - 7/2/2010

Pam, the Group Director, Communications, replied in the comment section on one of my Whataburger posts.  Her note is below, followed by our dialogue, which followed. ---------------------------
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Post # 124 - Whataburger Experiment: Whataboutanic...":

Stephan (Jerry),

I hope this note gets to you. I work for Whataburger and tried to respond to the previous post back in May, but apparently it did not post to your blog. Please e-mail me at ________or call me at 210-___-____. I will make sure you get an answer to any questions you may have. I apologize for the delayed response you have received so far.

Sent: Friday, July 02, 2010 7:45 PM

To: Pam C.
Subject: Whataburger Response


Thanks for responding. I'm a realist. I understand that when company hire teens to deal with customers, they also hire all of the baggage that comes with being a teen. I'm not sure if that's what we experienced or not.

All I know is, that's what I think of now, when I think of Whataburger. We stopped at the same restaurant twice--once on the way down to Florida, and once on the way back. Very positive experience on the first stop--we had also been to one in Phoenix, so it wasn't our first time. Loved the way the menu was set up. The burger was very good. Restrooms were clean, tables were clean.

The second time was a different story--seeing her do that really rubbed us the wrong way and sent a bad message to my kids.

On top of all of that, no one ever responded, which made me feel that no one cares. Obviously you found my blog (or someone looking out for Whataburger found it). That actually impresses me. If the people reading and responding to email were only so engaged...

If it was a server thing where messages weren't being received, I can understand that, I guess. But each time, I received a confirmation, like the one attached. Otherwise, I really don't see an excuse for not responding.

I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive about this.


From: Pam C.
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 08:22:34 -0500
Subject: RE: Whataburger Response


Thank you for giving us another chance to respond to your concern. Again, I apologize for the lack of response to your website inquiry. I will be looking into this and find out where the break-down occurred and correct it as soon as possible. We truly do want to hear from our customers and actually try to respond to inquiries that we receive within 48 hours of their submission.

To address the original question that you submitted in May, the team member who threw the French fries away should have simply let you and your family keep the fries and the salads. Our policy regarding a situation where an incorrect order is served, is to offer the food to the customer as well as the correct order. Due to food safety reasons, it cannot be served again. I’m sorry that the team members decision to throw the food away put into question the values you have taught your children. I can certainly understand how that would be frustrating.

I hope that you will give us another try and that we can work to earn your business and make up for any past mistakes. We appreciate you writing and letting us know about your experience. Our customer feedback is critical to us improving our operations.

If you have any additional questions, please just let me know.


Pam C.
Pam C.
Group Director, Communications
Whataburger Restaurants LP
300 Concord Plaza
San Antonio, Texas 78216
To: Pam C.

Subject: RE: Whataburger Response
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 20:39:45 -0400


Thanks for your explanation. What you said makes sense for our situation, where the food was actually on our table.

In the case of a tray on the counter, I always assumed that a carton of fries is technically still not in "customer zone" and could therefore be placed back in purgatory for another customer. I've seen that happen at other establishments and thought nothing of it. I don't really know why I'm bringing that up. I pay attention to those kinds of things.

I see Whataburger does its share of Humanitarian work. That's good to see--it hits close to home in Michigan, where food banks are running out of food. As for what you can do to help me, there isn't much right now, since there are no Whataburgers in Michigan. I'll pass along your feedback though--it's only fair.

Thanks again!


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Monday, March 7, 2011

Post # 167 - Post Foods Shoots Down My Cereal Idea - 2/22/2011

 Dear  Post,

As a kid, my parents gave me Alphabits.  I remember pulling soggy letters from my bowl with my stubby little kid fingers, and creating words.  This daily ritual put me on a course  which landed me as spelling bee champ in grade school, and avid reader today.

I can’t help but think that Alphabits helped me.  They lit the fire that propelled me through school, through scholarship dollars, into college.  For that, I thank Post.

However, I sucked at math.  As a nation, we suck at math.  Year after year, our nation’s standardized math scores dip lower and lower.  Kids in other countries are now winning those scholarships.  We’re too busy feeding our Appalachian toddlers Mountain Dew in their sippy cups as they wear through their first set of teeth.

I can’t help but think that our math scores would be better if kids had a tool.  Something in front of them early in the morning, during the most important meal of the day.  My gift of gratitude to you, and to our nation, is an idea.  A concept.  It’s a good idea, and one that Post could bring to fruition.

My idea is, a companion cereal for Alphabits.  Instead of letters, and words at the table, Hindu-Arabic numbers, and equations at the table.  My cereal idea is called “Number Crunch.”  Edible numbers, 0 through 9.  Make them whole grain so our kids don’t have to push so hard.  They can spend less time in the stall, and more time calculating the catenary curve factor, as it applies to cable sag effect.

What do you think?  The science is undeniable.  George Bush said “No Child Left Behind.”  What does Post say?



P.S. How about some gluten free cereal brands for my mom who has Celiac.  You know you’d do it for your mom.
Follow-up Letter, sent 2/28/2011
Dear Post,

I am re-attaching the letter that I sent you last week.  I proposed a cereal idea that was, frankly, brilliant.  An idea that could turn this country around, and it’s rivals, on their ears.

It’s all about Number Crunch.  Our great universities would fight for local kids, instead of kids from places like Russia, Japan, and India.

You should know that I have cereal manufacturers from China and Germany inquiring about my idea, so you’d better act fast.

You’ve already captivated our youth with the letters.  Kids pull out letters and make words.  Words become sentences.  Sentences become compositions.  Soon, young Timmy is simultaneously fighting legal battles against Kraft and their “Mayonization” of our society, and crafting poetry to inspire and titillate.

You’ve already fought and won half of the battle.  Now let’s finish it together.



Subject: Regarding Case #:19104239
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2011 11:49:55 -0500

March 01, 2011

Dear Jerry,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your inquiry.
Sandra Meeks
Consumer Response Representative


We have forwarded your suggestion to our Marketing Department. We are always looking at possible future products.
We appreciate your comments and thank you for your loyalty.
Subject: Regarding Case #:19104901
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2011 10:24:28 -0500

March 04, 2011

Dear Jerry,

We appreciate your interest in Post Foods, LLC (‘Post”). Although Post receives many requests and suggestions concerning new products, promotions, and other matters, Post’s policy is to not review unsolicited submissions. Post, like many companies, relies on its employees and contracted vendors for such matters, and over the years has considered numerous concepts covering a wide range of topics, possibly including something similar to your request/suggestion. Accordingly, we are not going to respond to your request/suggestion.
Again, thank you for your interest in Post.
Leslie Spaes
Consumer Response Representative


Subject: RE: Regarding Case #:19104901
Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2011 20:52:59 -0500

Dear Leslie,

With all due respect, both you and Sandra owe me a lap of shame, around the Post complex.
I took the time to submit what, in comparison to the rest of your cereal lineup, is a brilliant idea.  Sally responds, saying she’ll forward my idea to the marketing department.   She even stated that “We are always looking at possible future products.”    Then, you come back, saying that the marketing department doesn’t accept unsolicited submissions.

If Post Foods doesn’t accept unsolicited ideas, why, then, did Sally forward my idea to the marketing department?

Was it because
             a) You’re lying?

 b) Sally was blowing me off?

 c) Post Foods’ policies are not uniformly communicated and enforced, even when you and 
     Sally probably sit two cubicles away from one another? 

d) Despite the stringent policy, Sally saw my idea as somewhat superior, and well above the
    normal ideas, and well above the Post cereal lineup that graces my grocer’s shelves, and
    that as a Kraft Foods stockholder, she wants to see long term success of your employer?

Maybe you do accept unsolicited ideas when theyare, in your opinion, “Cupcake Crisp Good.”  Maybe you just didn’t have the heart to tell me that you thought my idea stunk.  Even though everyone I’ve described has been blown away and said “That’s a really good idea.”  Even people who made fun of my Halloween costume last year (a kid’s cowboy hat, kid’s cowboy vest, kid’s deputy badge, kid’s pistols).

Regardless, it sounds like my idea has been tossed in the heaping pile where good ideas die.  It sounds like from here on out, you’re going to rely on the same geniuses that keep reinventing Honey Bunches of Oats sequels (you can stop at any time—I think I counted 8), can’t decide on a name for Super Sugar Crisp, and pulled the plug on Oreo O’s.

Good luck with that.

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