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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Post# 291 - Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad - 5/27/12

Dear Chili's,

Last week I was at one of your restaurants with an important business client.  Drinks were going down nicely.  Agreements were coming together.  Handshakes and optimism were in the air.  We then decided to order some dinner.

As I glanced your menu, I decided to go with your fajitas, as they are my favorite.  I took a quick call as the others ordered their meals.  When our food came, our server asked, "Who ordered the Quesadilla Explosion Salad?"  I flipped out.  I dove under the table.  As I cowered, I heard the others call me "squirrelly" and a "real nut job."

A real nut job.

I take great offense to the name that you have given this salad.  You see, I am the sole survivor of a quesadilla explosion.  The incident took place in El Paso in 1983, in the kitchen of a tiny Mexican restaurant where I worked with several of my friends.  We were college students, prepping for a Cinco De Mayo holiday party for a bunch of kids.  Kids love quesadillas--they're Mexican grilled cheeses, after all.

We had this large tray of quesadillas for all of these kids.  With all of the fresh avocado and cilantro, we couldn't smell the gas leak.  Our boss, Hector, lit his cigar.  BOOM!  The headline the next day read, "Quesadilla Explosion Kills Four."  Those four were Reggie, Timmy, Alex, and our head honcho, Hector. 

For years, the very thought of a quesadillla made me sick.  I eventually got over it--time heals wounds. Asking me to remain calm when I hear about a Quesadilla Explosion is asking a lot though. 

Companies love naming things after natural disasters, after unfortunate incidents, and after famous killers.  I don't get it.  For every nine people who don't really care what you name it (as long as it tastes good), there's the tenth person.

I'm the tenth person, and I have spoken.

Sincerely,

Jerry
-------------------------
Their response, sent 5/30/12:


Dear Jerry, 

Thank you for sharing your story with us at Chili’s.  The Quesadilla Explosion salad has been a very popular item on our Chili’s menu since its debut in January of 2004.  It is our hope that this salad with grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes, corn relish, cilantro, tortilla strips, cheese quesadillas, and citrus-balsamic dressing will give you a new memory when you hear the words “Quesadilla Explosion.”  If you would like to further discuss, please contact our Guest Relations Manager, Julee, directly at 972-770-3254.



Sincerely,
Guest Relations

Reference Number: 670695
-----------------------------------


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Post# 290 - Dunkin' Donuts and the Missing Quarter Back

I sent this on February 12, 2012.

Dear Dunkin' Donuts,

Today, in your drive through, I ordered a large coffee with cream and no sugar.  The bill came to $1.75. 
I pulled around.  I paid the gentleman.  I didn't have change, so I gave him $2.00 in paper bills.  He handed me my large coffee with cream and no sugar, said "Thank You!" and closed the window. 

I sat there for a minute.  My daughter, in the back seat said, "Mom--he's looking at you!"  He never opened the window.  He never gave me my quarter.  No sign of a receipt, either.  I would've pulled around and confronted him, but a) I was in a hurry and b) it would've seemed like I was arguing over a lousy quarter.  In reality, it isn't the quarter that I care about.  It's the principle.

Normally in the gratuity world of ballgame hot dog vendors, greedy servers at overpriced restaurants, I'm used to, "Are we good?" or, "Do you need change?"  Buddy, we all need change.  The best is the server who elects to bring you a $5 back in your $6 change so you're forced to either tip way, way over 20%, or leave a measly buck.  But I digress.

Do your cashiers and drive-through folk make less than minimum wage, like a server at a restaurant?  Am I wrong for thinking a tip isn't implied?  Should I be tipping flight attendants too?  The Avon Lady?  Girl Scouts with those sinful Samoan cookies that I fancy?

Look--if a tip is implied, I've been living a lie at Dunkin' Donuts for years.   I probably owe $150 in quarters.   I'll settle up now.   Seriously.  I'm a notoriously generous tipper.  If I'm at a table with another couple, and we split the bill, I'll always over tip to make us look totally awesome in the eyes of the server.

What are the social mores of a Dunkin' Donuts Drive Through?  I left thinking that "the donut holes aren't the only holes in that store!"  Was it him, or me.  If it was him, I don't want him fired.  Maybe just make him run a couple laps around the perimeter of the store.  If it was me, send me the bill for 20% on top of every doggoned coffee I've ever enjoyed in my 29-ish years on this big blue marble.  They've all been Dunkin' Donuts.

It makes me sad because I feel like in order to enjoy my Dunkin' Donuts Coffee, I need to have exact change, and we JUST don't live in an "Exact Change Society."  I'll be taking my business to Timmy Horton.

Just thought you should know why.

Sincerely,

Jerry
------------------------------
Their response, sent 2/13/12:

Hello Jerry,

First of all I want to say thank you for the feedback.  I hear you loud and clear.  After reading your entire email, I understand the situation completely and I promise you it will be resolved.  

It is not your fault at all it is my employee's fault.  I would like for you to let me know what time of the day you visited the store.  This give me a better understanding of which employee do I need to talk to.  
Our employees are paid the minimum wage and above and no tip is not considered to be part of the wages.  So our guests don't need to give tips at all but some do.   

We will address the issue and I promise you it will not happen again.  I know it's not about the quarter and it's about the principle.  We do not train out staff to "keep the change".  I understand this kind of act as stealing from guests such as yourself.  

Please give us a chance to correct our mistake, I would like to send you gift certificates that you can use at any Dunkin donuts store.  

Please reply back with your mailing address and the time/date of your visit to the Trenton location.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you

-Chandresh

------------------------------
Their follow-up response, sent 2/26/12:


Hi Jerry,
I apologize for the delay in responding.
I have mailed you the gift certificates to the address provided.
Please use at any Dunkin Donuts of your choice.

It would be really helpful to us that you provide the time/date of your visit to the trenton location.
Please understand that I'm not planning to fire the employee involved for this mistake, but I wanted
to make this situation into a learning oppurtunity and also to make sure this kind of act does not happen
to any of our guests in our network.  We value your business and hope you have a pleasant day.

Thank You
Chandresh 
--------------------------------
They sent two gift cards!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Post# 289 - Saltworks Sea Salt: Do I Taste Fish Poo? 7-15-12

Dear Saltworks,

As a kid, I once ate a goldfish on a dare. Well, I put Sparky in my mouth, but spit him into my cup of water when no one was watching. When I did, I noticed that he had one of those really long fish poos dangling from his rear end.  Long story short, some ended up in my mouth.  I freaked.  Emergency Room Doctor said I'd be okay, and to quit being a jackass.  To this day, I have a real aversion to fish poo.

I recently tried your sea salt.  I was raised on the iodized stuff.  At the time, there was a lot of propaganda from the People Against Goiters and Nosehair (PAGAN).  Suddenly, sea salt became hip.

I tried your sea salt. At first, I liked it.  Then, my senses became so much more "sensitized." Maybe this is a direct result of iodine deficiencies.  Soon, with my heightened senses, I tasted fish poo.

Are you 100% certain that you aren't selling us fish poo along with the salt?  What do you do to get rid of it?  Do you have elaborate fish poo filtration?  I'm serious guys--I don't like it.

Sincerely,

Jerry

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Post# 287 - Bubba Keg Round Two: Bubba Keg Leaks - 7/15/2011

Back in 2008, I wrote a letter to Bubba Keg about my big leaky coffee mug, which has a design flaw that they fixed more recently.  I wasn't happy with their response, and may have stirred up a hornet's nest with somne Bubba Slappees by posting my letter on the Bubba Keg Facebook Fan Page.

I wondered if presenting the same problem 3 years later would net a different result.  Maybe the lady I dealt with jumped ship.  Maybe corporate policies have changed.  I used an alias and cut out all of the iditarod stuff (even though that really happened).
------------------------------
Dear Bubba Keg,

I have a 33 ounce mug that has a design flaw.  The gasket on the lid, over time, slips out of the groove.  The very act of screwing the cap onto the mug gradually unseats the gasket.

Eventually, if I forget to check the gasket, I get a coffee leak, and coffee on my shirt and pants.  This is annoying, and shouldn't be this way.

I see with the new mugs, you've totally redesigned this.  It's almost like you realized it was problematic, and did something about it.   Unfortunately, I'm stuck with the old one.  The one that leaks.

I'm very unhappy with my mug.  It's one more thing that as a father of 11 girls (still trying for a boy), I don't have time for.  I just wanted to let you know how dissatisfied I am with my Bubba Keg Mug.

Sincerely,

Stephan Mariendo
------------------------
Subject: Re: Leaky Mug
Date: Saturday, July 16, 2011, 1:28 AM
Stephan,

Thank you for contacting bubba brands.  We do not  have replacement parts available.  We would be happy to replace the entire bubba keg for you.  Please send the defective bubba to:

Bubba Brand Replacement Department
202 South 1st Street
Knoxville, PA 16928
.

Please include a note explaining the problem.  Upon receipt of the bubba keg we will request a replacement be sent to you.

Thank you
-- 
InZone Brands
Gerry
Customer Service Department
http://us.mc1617.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=Info@In-Zone.com
-----------------------
From: Stephanie Marie <stephmarie1974@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Leaky Mug
To: Info@In-Zone.com
Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 11:43 PM

Gerry,
Thanks for the info.  I'm trying to figure out how much it's going to cost me to package and ship a design-defective mug to your shop in Pennsylvania.  Won't the cost of packaging and shipping cost almost as much as a new mug?
Can I photograph the problem, or are you planning on running some tests on it?  Are you worried that it might not be damaged, and that I'm after a second 33 ounce mug?
I'd be willing to photograph the problem and email it to you, along with a video of me destroying the mug.  No funny business.
Please advise. 
Thanks Again for Responding!
Stephan
---------------------------------
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Post# 286 - Speedway Tornado Breakfast Item - 7/15/12

Dear Speedway,

I take offense to one of your food items.  Your Tornado breakfast item.  I'm told it's eggs and cheese, formed into a hot dog shape, and cooked on those hot dog rollers.  Yum.

Tornados are deadly natural disasters that rip apart homes, tear apart families, and require federal aid and raise insurance premiums in the process.  Why would anyone name their breakfast food after this?

I just don't get it.



-----------------------
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post# 285 - Jennie-O and the Case of the Giblet Switcheroo

I sent this to Jennie -O on 11/28/11.

Dear Jennie-O,

Back in the late 1960's, in my hometown of Topeka, Kansas, there were a rash of hate crimes against turkeys.  In an impulsive move to remain competitive, our local university offered a Turkey Coroner degree.

After two years, local police determined that these killings were performed by neighboring chicken farmers who were trying to eliminate the competition.  The program was soon cancelled, with only one graduate, me.

Aside from a few isolated cases, I've remained unemployed as a Turkey Coroner for the better part of four decades.  I work in a Hallmark Gift Shop.  Nonetheless, my instincts are pure, and I jump into action at the slightest sign of foul play.

My senses were triggered yesterday (Thanksgiving) when I noticed something very peculiar.  First, it was obvious that the cause of death on our turkey was blunt trauma force.  The oddity was, the giblets in our 18 pound bird could not possibly be the original giblets.  These giblets are obviously from a 15-17 pound bird.

Something isn't adding up here.  Why would the giblets be that drastically different in size ratio?  I suspect foul play.  I spent the entire Thanksgiving Dinner trying to determine what would cause this.  Then, I pictured a heaping pile of bird carcasses and a heaping pile of giblets. and a man in coveralls placing the giblets into the carcasses as they pass by on a conveyor.

I wasn't able to finish.  I was sick to my stomach.   Tell me I'm off base.  Tell me that each Turkey comes with its original giblets!

Sincerely,

Jerry
---------------------
From: cresponse@hormel.com <cresponse@hormel.com>
Subject: Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales, LLC Ref #:2128504
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 10:24 AM


Jerry,

Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate hearing from you.
YES, the giblets inside your Prime Young Turkey are from another turkey. 

Angelita

Consumer Response Specialist

Ref # 2128504
---------------------
Dear Angelita,

Thank you for responding.  First, I'm a little disappointed that the giblets that I receive are not those of the original turkey.  Please allow me to explain.

My grandfather was a hard worker.  He worked for 50 years with his hands, to provide for his family.  When his time came, the mortician asked if we would like to "mask" the scars on his hands.  My uncle spoke up abruptly and said "no."  When I asked him why he was against this, he stated that, "those scars are part of what made Grandpa Grandpa."

Are you allowed to elaborate on why the giblets are different?  Could you barcode them along with the carcass?

That giblet is part of what made that turkey that turkey.  Swapping the giblets with those of another turkey dilutes the experience.  "I say, one turkey, one set of giblets!"

Sincerely,

Jerry

PS - Last Thanksgiving, it tasted like the giblets came from the same turkey.  Is this possible, say in a one in a 1000 case?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post# 284 - Ocean Spray and the Upside Down Cans - 12/11/11

Dear Ocean Spray,

What gives?  Last year, for Thanksgiving, we purchased your canned berry blend.  I found it odd that the label was upside down, and a tiny 6 point arial font message read "open other end."  I figured, they're too focused on making what's on the inside of the can to notice they messed up the outside."  I ignored it and enjoyed my berries.

This year, I go to open the can, and I see the same message.  Open at other end.  What gives? 

If you lack the attention to detail to get the label "right," what possible assurance do I have that you're focused on what's inside?

Your commercials always depict two modern day Bartyls and James in a marsh, wearing waders?  What guarantee do I have that I'm not going to find a cigarette butt or a bobby pin in the can?

I can bet it wasn't like this at the first Thanksgiving!

A Little Concerned,

Jerry
------------------------------
December 12, 2011

Hello Jerry,

Thanks for contacting us over here at Ocean Spray, where we pride ourselves for more than 80 years of taking great care in harvesting and manufacturing our products.  It’s nice to hear from people who are as into cranberries as much as we are.

We were concerned to hear that you had difficulty reading the label, believing it is on upside down.  Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. Ocean Spray intentionally put the label on so the rounded end of the can is on the top.  The reason for this is to assist in getting the sauce out in the shape of a log.  By storing it with the label correctly displayed a small air pocket will form at the top of the can which makes the sauce come out more easily upon inverting and opening.  Consumer input is important to us and we have forwarded your comments to our Marketing Department.

Thanks for choosing Ocean Spray.  Be sure to visit us again sometime at

Tastes Good.  Good For You.
Ebony
And Your Friends at Ocean Spray
# 8,295,083
--------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Reply from Ocean Spray # 8,295,083
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Dear Ebony,


I really appreciate your note, your efforts to clear this whole mess up. Now, I understand that the purpose of the upside down label is to encourage upside down storage, which is actually right side up. In addition, I appreciate the folksy flavor of your note.


Here's the problem. I'm not a label reader. I see your two tone label and grab. As I grab cans from my grocery bag, I feel the rounded bottom and store them with that end facing down. I assume the
stockboy at the store does as well because that's how they were stored - label upside down. Wouldn't this negate the air pocket?

Why are folks so hung up on the log shape anyway? My strategy, no offense, is to hide the log shape and claim that "I made this all by myself" try o which my judgmental Uncle Willie said, "He sure did, Marge. Look it isn't shaped like the can." Uncle Willie pauses Murder She Wrote episodes at the 45 minute mark and tries to solve the mystery before Angela Lansbury gets a shot.


Either way, my sauce came look out log shape even stored incorrectly. Just thought you should know.

Thanks,

Jerry

--------------------------------------

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post# 283 - Nerds: Why did I find a Grape Nerd in My Strawberry Nerds

I sent this on 12/11/2011:

Dear Wonka,

I've got a bone to pick with you.  My kids received several boxes of your "Nerds" candy while Trick or Treating on Halloween.  They resemble fish tank gravel, and come in tiny boxes. 

In one box, during one of our random "candy audits," my wife noticed a peculiarity--one that has thrown your entire candy operation into question.

In a box of Strawberry Nerds, we found a Grape Nerd.  Why was it there?  Do the nerds fill the box, or is the box somehow formed around the Nerds? 

I thought the point of the box was to  keep one color of nerds isolated and protected from bad stuff on the outside.  I picture an enormous conveyor belt with a rainbow of Nerds approaching a fellow in a haz-mat suit and moon boots who, with tweezers, separates the Nerds into the correct boxes.

How did a Grape Nerd find its way into my Strawberry Nerds?  Computer glitch?  Operator error?  Practical joke?  I have the nerd isolated in a pill bottle, and can share it if necessary.  Is there is cause for concern? Will this trigger a recall?

I just wanted you to know about my problem, and why I'm flipping out over here.

Sincerely,


Jerry
----------------------------------
 
Subject: Re: Response from Willy
Wonka
Case ID: 19620416Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 11:13 AM
Dear Becky,

Thank you for your response.  Thank you for the coupons. I wish I could provide tracking info. This was Halloween candy that my wife stole from my kids while they were sleeping, and she threw away the box to avoid any blame.

In your note, you reference "high speed automated production lines."  What does this even mean
Robots?  I think this incident is a clear indication that technology has gone too far.  Slow down!
A robot doesn't care because a robot can't care.  A robot has no heart.  Know who has heart? My grandma.  My grandma could do a better job filling and sorting guy our confections because she cares.  She has a heart.  Plus, a robot doesn't bring in homemade oatmeal  butterscotch cookies on Fridays like my grandma  would.  Plus,  she has every
fella in her nursing home chasing her around on Pinochle Night. Find me a robot that has that!
Let this incident serve as a line in the sand.  Ditch the robots.  Replace them with air breathing red blooded Americans
!
Sincerely
,
Jerry

----------------------------------
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Post# 282 - GE Light Bulbs and the One That Wouldn't Light

Dear General Electric,

What's the deal with your light bulbs.  I bought your candle-shaped bulbs to brighten our dining room for our Thanksgiving feast.  This was my big chance to impress my future in-laws.

With the turkey in the oven, I replaced the old, non-GE bulbs with these new, awesome General Electric Bulbs. When I flipped the switch, one didn't light.

I hopped in my car.  The store where I purchased them was closed.  The next store was out of bulbs.  The next one too!  I came home bulbless, and worse, my turkey was burnt.

My in-laws found fault with my turkey and my lighting.  Now everybody's talking about me behind my back.  I think I'm going to be next on the chopping block.  In fact, yes--as I type this, I'm receiving a "we owe it to ourselves to see other people" text.  Thanks.

You let me down.  You owe me a new bulb.  You owe me a new girlfriend!  This is very, very bad.

Sincerely,

Jerry

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Post# 281 - Pam Cooking Spray: Your Spray Took The Lettering Off of My Waffle Iron

Dear Pam,

Holy Crap!  So I'm making waffles on Sunday morning. I spray a little of your delightful Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray in my waffle iron, just to make waffle removal hinder-free.  The cap was loose, and it shout out the bottom.   Your spray found its way onto the fromt of my waffle iron.  When I wiped it off, the lettering disappeared.

The lettering was important.  It told me which little light was which.  One light is for "on" whie the other is for "done."  I keep guessing wrong.  Sunday mornings haven't been the same since.

Secondly, what the heck am I eating?  What does something that eats industrial paint do to my insides? 

My recent experience with Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray was a real eye-opener.  Can you give me any reassurance that I'm not singlehandedly eating away at my insides?

Sincerely,

Jerry
----------------------------------
Subject: Consumer Affairs Email Response (Case#: 60609019)
Date: Monday, December 12, 2011, 7:27 AM

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your email concerning our PAM Cooking Spray.
We sincerely apologize for your experience. We stand by the quality of our products, and want you to know that this matter has been taken seriously. Our products are safe to consume when used as directed. Our products are fully approved by the FDA.
We always strive to produce the finest quality products possible. If you would like to speak to someone regarding your experience, please call us at 1-877-CONAGRA (1-877-266-2472) between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. Central, Monday through Friday, and we will be happy to assist you further.

We will also be sending you coupons via regular mail that will be valid for ninety days. Please allow 1-2 weeks for receipt.
Thanks again for your feedback. We're listening!
Sincerely,

Michelle
Consumer Affairs Representative
ConAgra Foods
Case: 60609019

1-877-CONAGRA (1-877-266-2472)
http://www.conagrafoods.com/
----------------------------------
Subject: Re: Consumer Affairs Email Response (Case#: 60609019)
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Dear Michelle,

Thank you for the note, and for the reassurance that everything is going to be okay.  One question: what in the food-safe cooking spray caused the paint on my waffle iron to vanish? 

Sincerely,

Jerry
----------------------------
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Post# 280 - Trident - Your New Packaging Stinks - 12/11/12

I sent this on 12/11/2012:

Dear Trident,  

For years and years, I enjoyed chewing your gum.  Your package allowed me to remove one piece at a time.  I was wheeling and dealing all day long with minty fresh breath.  Life was grand.

Then, one day, you went and broke it.  You introduced a new package.  A gum "box" with a tab that does nothing.  The box opens in my pocket, allowing individual pieces of Trident to scatter themselves among my car keys, change, comb, Chap Stick and other assessories that help to "get me through the day."
Why?
Why did you break what wasn't broken?  Was it a marketing ploy?  I have this image of the chewing gum game being "cut throat."  Was the idea to come up with a "sexy" package?  Is the new package cheaper?

Because the counter argument about the new package is that it doesn't work.  It works great when it's full, and all of the peaces are stacked neatly.  As gum pieces are removed, the remaining pieces are free to shuffle and shift, weakening the cardboard package, and jeopardizing the engagement of the tab on the package.  Next thing you know, I'm smelling peppermint from my pants because your gum has escaped and nestled itself among my car keys, lip balm and money clip.

If your gum package were a prison warden, he'd be the warden that inmates like.  The whole state would be peppered with orange jumpsuit escapees.  Packages are supposed to do just that.  Package.  Containers are supposed to contain. 
If your gum package were a shepherd, he'd be the one who falls asleep all the time and lets his sheep scatter.  If you're going to keep your existing packaging, make the tab effective, so that the slightest contact or friction within my pocket doesn't cause the tab to disengage, the lid to open, and the gum to escape.

Your gum package is that one substitute teacher in middle school that let all the kids play euchre instead of learning about Roosevelt's New Deal.
If you're taking a survey, mark me down as unhappy.
Sincerely,
Jerry
----------------------------------

Subject: Re: Your Comment/Question Case ID: 22967045
To: cadburyus@casupport.com
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kim,

It doesn't really feel like you read my note.  It feels like a software interface scanned my note and picked out some keywords. 

1) This wasn't a safety issue.  Just some loose gum in my pocket instead of my pocket.

2) This wasn't a defective package.  This is every package.  This is a design issue.  It meets your quality standards because, again, this is every package of gum that you make, all day long, 24/7, 365.

3) You mentioned that you've taken steps to minimize this from happening again.  This is the best news I have heard.  What exemplary customer service!  You've fixed the design issue with the package?

I'm curious. What did you do?  Stiffen the packaging?  Lengthen the tab?  Eliminate that foil that seems to get in the way of everything?  Do tell.  I can't wait to buy my next package!

Thanks again,

Jerry
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post# 279 - War on Spam: Gontrand and His Reassurance

From: gontrandst.julian68057175@hotmail.com
Subject: Fwd: jerry
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 15:37:36 -0400


We were sent this a some day's ago jerry and now we are passing this to everyone in our contacts as Im sure it will be of use to many of you all.

http://digg.com/u1VC4Mztr

Gontrand St.Julian
--------------------------
To: gontrandst.julian68057175@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: jerry
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 18:40:30 -0400


Thanks Gontrand.  I  was worried about it!

By the way, what kind of name is Gontrand?  It sounds like a space age fabric or possibly an STD.

Jerry

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Post# 278 - Wendy's Hot N' Juicy: The Tomato Isn't Centered

I sent this on 11/6/2011:

Dear Wendy's,

As my orchestra's conductor, I seek perfection.  The perfect balance of woodwinds, percussion, strings, and brass.  Anything less is a disservice to my audience.  Anything more is a musical journey to be cherished forever!  

The same goes for food.  The ebb and flow of interwoven flavors and textures in a well-composed recipe or culinary happenstance create a concert for our palate and taste buds.  This is truly an art, forgotten by most cookie-cutter quasi-bar chains and fast food joints.  That is, except for Wendy's.

Wendys has been my "game changing fuel" for years.  I chose to change cities at one point, because the orchestra hall in "Town B" was within walking distance from a Wendy's.

Every Friday, before my weekly performance, I order a #1 combo (Quarter Pound, no cheese).  I enjoy a small vanilla Frosty as my grand finale.  For over forty years, this has served as my inspirational "springboard" into an awesome performance.  Perfect ratios of beef, onion, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup translate into perfect ratios of woodwind, percussion, strings and brass.

When I heard  that my favorite restaurant was re-inventing the hamburger, I was a little concerned.  Would Orff re-tool Carmina Burana?  Would Lennon and McCartney tweak Sargent Pepper?  Would Bach ask for a do-over on Toccata and Fugue in D minor?  I think not.  You can't tweak perfection.


This past Thursday, curiosity got the best of me, and I veered off of my normal plan.  I ordered your new Hot 'N' Juicy.  I was expecting that perfect concert in my mouth.  I envisioned a bigger patty, buttery toasted bun, red onion, crinkle cut pickles, whole fat mayo, ketchup, and melty cheese performing the culinary equivalent of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, I was slightly disappointed.

The burger comes in a box, vertically stacked, and wrapped in paper.  This makes for a striking visual presentation, much like a polished violin or tuba.  However, while in transit, gravity imposes its will on the sandwich toppings.  Red onion, pickle and tomato, riding a vertical wave of mayo, slide down, creating a flavor imbalance on the top side.  As I bit the bottom end, I experienced a whirlwind of taste.  As I bit the top end, there was no balance.  The toppings were not centered.

That night, my performance stunk.  Musical imbalance was the overwhelming comment.  The two elder critics in the area, the equivalent of Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, screamed for my head.  I was told by our board of directors that I'd better "shape up or ship out."

Those old codgers blame me.  I blame Wendy's.  The flavor imbalance of sandwich toppings that were not centered through me off of my game.  I recommend serving those bad boys horizontal to keep things in place.  This isn't an incident that you can address at one location.  I would expect this to be a policy change.

Sincerely,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Post# 277 - Little Caesar's Sign Holder Guy

I sent this on 11/6/11:

Dear Little Caesar's,

I saw something the other day that made me very sad.  Picture, if you will, a driveway to a very busy shopping complex.  On the north side of the driveway, a man stands with a sign in his hand.  His sign reads "Halloween USA Now Open."  On the south side of the driveway, a man stands with a sign in his hand.  His sign reads "Homeless.  Need Food.  God Bless."  You have Corporate America competing against our nation's downtrodden. 

I took my son to the grocery store.  We bought two boxes of breakfast bars.  One for the hungry man with the sign.  The other, I stashed under my seat for the next hungry fellow with a sign.  I see more and more people like this.  As I did this, I wondered what else I could do.

Some folks will tell you that these are rich men getting richer off of hand-outs.  Others will say, "you're not helping them by giving them hand-outs."  Here's what I know.  1) If I were the one with the sign, I'd be pretty grateful for any help.  2)  If I've been tricked by the 1 in 1000 who lives in a nice house, he's going hto be eating breakfast bars in his nice kitchen, but that doesn't take away from a good deed.

If there were something more permanent that I could do, besides eight cereal bars, I would like to help.

I contact Little Caesars because 1) I happen to have a great deal of respect for the owner, Mr. Ilitch.  2) I see young fellows out in front of your restaurants every day, with a sign, waving folks in. 

Doesn't it seem like an easy and natural transition to pay the guy on the south side of the driveway to wave a sign like the guy on the north side of the driveway?  Let hungry guy wave a Little Caesar's sign.  He can stand there for eight, ten, twelve hours a day with a sign--he's already doing this!

I'm not trying to be a smarty pants.  I'm talking about an outreach program for someone who desperately needs it.  I'm talking about minimum wage, leftover pizza, and a uniform.  Maybe hook them up with a shelter where they can stay.  Publicize the heck out of what you're doing.  People would love to support such a caring business.  I'm talking about a new beginning.

In the meantime, give folks like me a stack of applications, maybe with a nice letter to encourage them to stop by and apply.  Think about it!

Sincerely,

Jerry
---------------------

-----------------
Follow-up note sent 11/21/11.

Dear Little Caesar's,

On November 6th, I sent you a note suggesting an outreach program to homeless people.  Start hiring them to hold up your festive signs.  Give them an honest day's wage, some leftover pizza, and maybe access to the various networks of shelters.  What could it hurt?

I received a confirmation that you received my note.  And then silence.  Did you not take my idea seriously?  Did you think I was joking?  Or are your folks seriously considering my idea?

I"m not saying fire the guys doing those jobs now.  I'm saying, as one leaves, hires a homeless person.  It seems to be a high turnover position.  All I'm saying is, help somebody out who is down on their luck.

Look, I've invested a lot in your place.  Frankly, as a father of two, I'm growing tired of Hot N' Readies.  If I knew you were making a concerted effort to hire homeless people and point them in the right direction, those $5 pizzas might start tasting pretty good again.

Sincerely,

Jerry
-----------------------


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Post# 276 - Frito Lay - Bring Back the WoW! Chips!

A while back, Frito Lay sold "healthy" potato chips made with olestra, a type of fat that basically "goes right through you, not getting absorbed into your system.  The chips were known to have side effects.  by the Eventually, they disappeared from our shelves.  I wondered...whose life would be affected by the loss of such a volatile product>  I sent this on 9/29/2011.

Dear Frito Lay, 

As a wrongfully accused victim of our Justice System, I've been rotting away in a prison cell for 30 years.  Don't let anyone kid you--prison IS as bad as people say it is.  You rot away, thinking about the thing you did to ruin your life.  In my case, it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  See, I was minding my own business, shopping for a Halloween costume in a local costume shop, when gunshots rang out and an alarm sounded.  As I left the store, Mother Theresa costume in hand, another person, dressed as Mother Theresa darted down an alleyway with pistol and a bagful of cash.  They never found the culprit, but I was brought in for questioning, picked from a line-up, and convicted of first degree  murder and armed robbery.

To put it bluntly, since the dawn of time, prison shower time is it its own caste system.   Musclebound men rule the roost, and the rest of us are their "subjects."  The average prisoner is victimized five times a week, depending on the Musclebound/Weakling ratio.  It's demeaning and dehumanizing.    My fortunes changed one day in 1998 when my nephew, Zeke, sent me a care package.  As I stood in the yard, eating these new "Wow!" chips, the "Shower Overlords" watched closely.  They seized the bag and flushed the chips.  I wondered why.

As it turns out, your Olestra chips, with their diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and "leakage" disclaimers, turned me into a wild card.  That day, I showered without interruption.  I started having my son send me bags and bags of your glorious Wow! Chips.  Diarrhea?  WOW! --Sometimes.  Abdominal discomfort?  WOW! Often.  Leakage?  Not as often.  Awesome showers?  Always.

I started having extra bags sent.  Ezekiel and I made a fortune, selling my fellow inmates their "insurance plan."  Many of the Shower Overlords hung themselves in their cells, using shoelaces, bedsheets--one fellow used the drawstring from his sweatpants.  We were living the dream, living in a Utopian prison society.  And then, sometime around 2003, the WOW! chips disappeared.  Ebay was catching on, and I bought every bag I could.  I kept the wrappers and filled them with regular chips.  The Shower Overlords caught on though, and my fun ended.

Warm, luxurious showers became a hurry-up operation.  No thanks.

What would it take to bring WOW! Chips back?  Would Frito Lay accept a significant bribe?  I need to know, ASAP.

Sincerely,

Jerry
-------------------------
No Reply

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Post# 275 - Delta - Peanuts on Flights?

A friend brought her bad experience on Delta to my attention.  I've had my own experiences with this fine airline.  I submitted this on 10/17/2011:

Dear Delta,

A friend of mine was telling me about a horrible Delta experience that she and her family recently experienced.  This was last summer, so if your policies have changed since then, I apologize, and kudos.

The "Jackson" family is comprised of four members.  The youngest, "Holly" has a very severe peanut allergy.  Well in advance of this flight, the maternal member, "Julie," called your team, forewarning them of this issue.  She asked for, maybe not a peanut-free flight, but a three row peanut-free "buffer."  She was assured that this would be handled, that the flight team would be alerted, and that the appropriate steps would be taken.

The flight took off, the seatbelt light was turned off, and out came the peanuts.  Holly started having trouble breathing.  This wasn't a puddle jumper flight, this was DTW to SFO.  Holly's parents gave her Benedryl, and luckily, the peanut dust and debris, your recirculated incubator airspace, did not seize her throat and lungs.

Had the outcome been different, maybe you wouldn't have apologized and handed them some frequent flyer miles (which have a heavy transfer fee that makes them almost worthless to anyone but the person who received them, as I know from personal experience).  Did this solve the problem?  No.  Actually, they've driven from Michigan to Florida twice now, just to avoid using Delta.

Look, I like peanuts just as much as the next guy or gal.  But on a flight, where they could kill or seriously hurt another passenger, I'll pass.  There are plenty of tasty, low cost (because I know that's important to you) options.  Pretzels, Goldfish, gluten free potato chips, those little soy rice crackers, raisins, just to name a few.  I'm sure some of those present other allergen risks, but isn't the peanut the "heavy hitter" in the allergen food chain?

In this instance, what failed?  Why did the crew "not get the message"?  What steps, if any, were taken to address the root cause?  Was there a lesson learned?  How do I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that little Holly Jackson can safely fly on your airline and not worry about her lungs stopping?

I recommend a policy change.  If you can't handle the simple task of not handing out peanuts because they might kill a passenger, you shouldn't be serving peanuts at all.  For the record, I'm not confident that you are capable of handling that task.

You've already simplified your meal prep by eliminating meals.  Now you need to simplify your snack operations.  Peanut and gluten-free potato chips or raisins for everyone!

Sincerely,

Jerry
-----------------------------

Their response, sent 10/21/11
Dear Jerry,

RE: Case Number 4677998

Thank you for writing about our peanut policy. On behalf of Delta Air
Lines, we sincerely apologize for your disappointment with our peanut
policy.

First, please understand, in respect of our passengers I am unable to
address the comments you made regarding your friends experience. That
said, I am truly sorry for any discomfort any of our passengers felt
onboard our aircraft.

Please know I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns
regarding our policy for those passengers who have peanut/tree nut
allergies. We sympathize with these passengers and welcome them onboard
with the understanding that public transportation poses an inherent risk
to passengers with nut allergies.

We encourage passengers with a nut allergy to take the necessary medical
precautions to prepare for any possible exposure. Prior to their
flights, we also ask that they call one of our reservations sales agents
and have their Electronic Ticket Record (ETR) noted regarding their
allergy.

On the day of travel, it is important for them to notify our team member
at the gate of their peanut allergy. Upon notification, the flight
attendants on their flight will be advised to create a buffer zone (3
rows forward/3 rows aft/adjacent row) in which the flight attendants
will refrain from serving peanuts. Individual passengers seated in the
buffer zone will also be notified by the flight attendants of their
allergy.

Respectfully, we are not in a position to remove all nut products from
our flights. As such we must advise you of the following.

- We cannot guarantee a peanut/nut free environment. Peanuts, products
made from peanut oil, and other nuts may be brought onboard by any
passenger.
- Peanut or tree nut remnants, peanut dust or peanut oil may be on the
aircraft floor, seats, or tray tables from previous flights.
- We will serve peanuts/tree nuts and products processed or packaged in
peanut factories on our flights.

Again, I am sorry you are disappointed with our peanut policy. Please
know I will forward your comments and suggestions to the appropriate
leadership team for review.

As a SkyMiles member, you are an integral part of our customer base and
we are always interested in your feedback. Thank you for taking the
time to write regarding our peanut policy. We deeply value your
business and look forward to the pleasure of serving you in the months
and years ahead.

Sincerely,

Maura
Coordinator, Corporate Customer Care
Delta Air Lines
--------------------------
My response, sent 10/30/11:

Dear Maura,

Thank you for responding.  I appreciate your feedback.

Here's what I don't understand.  If I tell the Delta Representative on the phone, why would I also need to tell the team member at the gate?  What happened to the person on the phone?  Why, for each flight, wouldn't there be a list of things like allergies, kids traveling without a parent, elderly loved one who needs his oxygen tank.  These kinds of things.  For each flight, the team member at the gate would pull up this list of things, and then call us and all of the flight attendants over and explain the situation.  It seems less-than-efficient to have me needing to remind everyone, and this highlights the lack of communication that led to our situation.

I mentioned the Benadryl--what other medical precautions could I take, given the thought that we were counting on the three row buffer that didn't happen?

You spend a lot of time talking about other passengers bringing rogue PB and J's (because you no longer serve meals) and other peanut-laden foods.  Let's say 12% of the flight did this, and the PPM peanut allergen count in the recirculated air was "X."  Now, you're serving peanuts to 99% of the flight, and that particle count is now 1200X.  I guess what I'm saying is, by serving peanuts on your flights, you're certainly not helping matters.  In fact, you're the biggest cause.

I'm asking you to take a step back and put on your thinking caps.  Use common sense. 1) Better communication within your ranks.  2) Stop serving peanuts.

Thanks,

Jerry
------------------------
Delta's response, sent 10/30/11:
Dear Jerry,

RE: Case Number 4677998

Thank you for writing and allowing me the opportunity to further review
your concerns. On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I am genuinely sorry you
were dissatisfied with my response.

I understand you feel I did not adequately address your concerns. I was
happy to review your comments again to see if there was something I
missed. Respectfully, there is nothing more I can add. I am sorry to
disappoint you, as I understand this is not the answer you were
expecting.

Again, I regret your disappointment with our peanut policy. Your
support is important to us, and I thank you for your additional time and
effort. We look forward to the privilege of serving your air travel
needs again soon.

Sincerely,

Maura
Coordinator, Corporate Customer Care
Delta Air Lines
----------------------------
My response to Maura, sent 10/30/11:

Maura,

If you're unwilling to revisit or rethink your policies and intradepartmental communications, then there really is nothing more to discuss.

I find it to be a sad and unfortunate commentary on the state of the airlines.  With less competition, there's less incentive to bend.  I don't think my suggestions are unreasonable.  Your policy is your policy.  So be it.

Thanks for getting bck to me.

Jerry
-----------------------
Delta's response, sent 10/31/11:

Dear Jerry

RE: Case Number 4677998

Thank you for your most recent communication expressing your continued
dissatisfaction with my response. On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I
apologize that I have been unable to offer a satisfactory resolution.

Jerry, please be assured, I have forwarded all of your feedback to
the appropriate leadership teams for review.

Again, I am sorry you are dissatisfied with our peanut policy. I hope
in time you will provide us with another opportunity to restore your
confidence.

Sincerely,

Maura Coordinator, Corporate Customer Care
Delta Air Lines

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