Tag Archives: customer

A chat with Comcast… “This is a rare and complicated issue.”


Comcast Remote Mascot Rubber Suit 2011 Festiva...

Comcast Remote Mascot Rubber Suit 2011 Festival of the Arts June 04, 201124 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

We’ve all called the cable company, right?  We all know the steps in the process; The unplugging, the replugging, the test signals.  It descends into ridiculousness pretty quickly.  So does my chat with technical support.  This was after trying the unplugging/replugging solution, calling the line and getting the automates system to send a test signal to my cable box & tell me to wait a half an hour for it to take effect, and then talking to a real live person who sent the same signal, told me to wait 45 minutes for it to take effect, and managed to advertise their home phone and internet services… on a technical support call.   That’s more annoying that seeing catering advertisements everywhere in Panera & Boston Market.

chat id: a543eaef-97d5-4dbf-b2ad-9222056467f0
Problem: Not all channels are displaying on 2nd cable box s/n:############. Problem has been occurring all week. I have tried the unplug/replug trick, called the 800# 2x, automated sys & operator both sent reset signal to the box to no avail.
Eric > My Issue: Not all channels are displaying on 2nd cable box s/n:############. Problem has been occurring all week. I have tried the unplug/replug trick, called the 800# 2x, automated sys & operator both sent reset signal to the box to no avail.
Jerand > Hello Eric, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Jerand. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Jerand > Oh my, I can’t imagine myself having those equipment issues especially that cable TV is part of my daily routine, no worries, we’ll definitely work on a sure fix to resolve this one way or the other.
Jerand > I’m really sorry that you have experienced this issue.
Jerand > I am seeing here that you have problem in getting channels with your box, correct?
Eric > Thank you Jerand.
Eric > That is correct. Not all channels are displaying on my box.
Eric > For example, the History Channel. (#53 regular, 876 digital.)
Eric > I had a similar issue when I first installed these new HD boxes.
Jerand > Are you able to see history channel in channel 46?
Eric > s/n above was somehow replaced by an emoticon… actual s/n: ############
Jerand > How may boxes do you have, Eric?
Eric > No, I try to see channel 46, and it takes it to 47 (AMC), still no picture.
Eric > We have 2 boxes. The other one is working perfectly fine. Watching H2 right now in HD.
Jerand > So you have 2 HD boxes, correct?
Eric > Yes, that is correct.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > I am going to perform a diagnostic check of your services and equipment. This “Health Check” verifies the current status of your equipment and you services. It should only take a minute or two for the results. Would you mind staying on the chat?
Eric > No problem, Jerand. I would like this issue to be resolved tonight if possible.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > I appreciate your cooperation.
Jerand > Thank you.
Jerand > By the way, let me share with you a very entertaining Comcast feature. Did you know you can watch many of your favorite TV shows and movies online at no additional cost with Comcast. Check out http://www.xfinitytv.com to watch the latest TV shows, relive a favorite television moment, or just relax with a movie. All you need to do is to open a browser, type http://www.xfinitytv.com and you can start to witness thousands of fascinating titles and TV shows.
Eric > Thanks for your help, I look forward to the “Health Check” results.
Eric > That sounds interesting, but I don’t watch much TV on my computer.
Jerand > Thank you for patiently waiting. I apologize for it being longer than you expected.
Jerand > I don’t see anything on your account or any outage in your area that would be causing this issue.
Jerand > Can you please check on your box and see if there is any progress.
Eric > Thanks Jerand. Our working cable box did cut out & come back on…but the box that’s not working is still not working.
Jerand > Is that with the same box, correct?
Eric > Yes, that is correct. Box ############ is still not working correctly.
Jerand > Please bare with me.
Eric > No problem.
Jerand > Would you allow me 2-3 minutes to check on this again?
Eric > Yes, be my guest. Thank you!
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > While waiting I want to introduce to you comcast.com, Comcast.com has an extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that cover all of our products. Customers do not have to sign in to access the FAQs. Quick steps to do it. Open a web browser window and go to http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/HelpNFC.aspx?id=Comcast-Help-and-Support-Cable-TV On the home page, the navigation menus are on the left side of the window and click on Customers then Help and Support.
Jerand > Oh, by the way.
Jerand > Are you having skipping channel issues?
Eric > I’m trying chat because both of my phone calls to 1-800-XFINITY amount to being as helpful as asking my wall to fix the cable box. I’m not sure what you mean by skipping channels?
Jerand > Can you please tell me what channels are you trying to watch?
Eric > Thank you for informing me about the FAQ. You may want to tell your managers/superiors that it’s quite annoying to have Comcast features or other services advertised to you while you’re on chat (or on a phone line) trying to resolve a technical issue. I understand that you’re just doing your job… so I can’t get mad at you. It’s a goofy idea.
Eric > I am trying to watch the History Channel. Either 53 regular definition or 875 HD.
Eric > Actually, the box that WAS working fine… now has “To Be Announced” in every time slot in the guide menu.
Jerand > Sorry about the the advertisement.
Jerand > When you access channel 53 and 758, TCM and HISTORY HD, what can you see on the screen?
Eric > Again, I understand it’s not your fault or decision, Jerand. You are trying your best to help me out.
Eric > I see a black screen (with a temporary blue info box at the bottom) when I try 53 & 758. Those aren’t the correct channels for my area.
Eric > 53 is the History Channel here.
Eric > The menu shows that American Pickers should be on right now, but it’s a black screen.
Eric > No sound.
Jerand > Thanks for clarifying that.
Jerand > Hold on a minute please.
Jerand > This is a rare and complicated issue.
Jerand > This could be a box problem.
Eric > No problem.
Eric > Is there a way that I can get a new box to install?
Jerand > May I know the type of connector that you are using to connect the cable box to your TV? i,e. RCA(yellow, white, red), Component(blue, green, red), Coax(the same wire used to connect the box to the wall).
Jerand > Correct! It is really possible. You can swap your box at your nearest local office.
Eric > Component.
Jerand > Do you have an HDMI wire?
Eric > The TV that I’m connecting to doesn’t have an HDMI input. It’s an older flat screen with only DVI, component, & coax inputs.
Eric > I am able to see some channels with no issues. 802 (local KDKA channel 2 for example) is displaying properly.
Jerand > Can we follow these steps please:
Jerand > 1. Locate one of the following buttons on your TV remote- Input, TV/VCR, Source. Press whichever is available. 2. Select the correct input. Please take note of the following. ***If you are using HDMI cable wire to connect the box to the TV, make sure your TV is on HDMI input. *** If coax cable, it should be on channel 3 or 4. *** If component cables (colored wires), on Video or Aux.
Eric > Yes, I have the component cable connected, and the TV is on the input setting for the correct connection.
Eric > Jerand, I’m really really not an idiot. I’m actually quite technically savvy.
Jerand > I’ve reviewed our systems and we’ve performed the necessary troubleshooting. Obviously there is still an issue so I feel the best method is to open a ticket to report this to our technician team.
Jerand > I believe this is a defective box.
Jerand > You can swap this box at your nearest local office, Eric.
Eric > That would be awesome, but I work on the road & don’t have time to wait at home during the day for a cable technician to visit. Can I get a box in the mail & send one back? That’s how I got the HD boxes before.
Jerand > Sure! I would be glad to do that for you.
Eric > I have no idea where the local Comcast office is, or if I can even get there during their operating hours.
Eric > Jerand, you are a saint. Thank you for your time and persistence.
Jerand > Please give me a minute to process your request.
Eric > When you tell your manager/supervisor that the advertisements are annoying to customers, tell them that you need a raise.
Jerand > Acknowledge, Eric. I am sorry.
Eric > I think we may have a bit of a language barrier here. English isn’t your first language, is it? No matter. We’re arriving at an agreeable solution, my friend.
Jerand > Acknowledged*
Jerand > I am sorry for the typo, I am handling 4 customers now.
Jerand > But you are my first priority.
Eric > Wow, that’s a lot to handle! Thank you for your time.
Jerand > There would be a $9.95 fee for shipping the box, I will do credit this amount for an inconvenience.
Jerand > In order for me to validate this shipping transaction, I need to verify the account completely. For verification purposes, may I please have your account number?
Eric > Thank you, sounds like a plan.
Eric > Sure: ______________
Jerand > I am almost done, please give me 1 more minute.
Eric > Anything for you, my friend.
Jerand > Thank you for patiently waiting. I apologize for it being longer than you expected.
Eric > This is the best customer service I have ever received from Comcast.
Jerand > Here is your order # ______________.
Jerand > You will be receiving the HD box within 3-5 business days.
Eric > The people I talked to on the phone might has well have been robots.
Eric > Thank you, Jerand. Good luck with your other 3 customers! Don’t forget to tell your boss that you deserve a raise. (…and that in-support advertisements are more annoying than nails on a chalkboard.)
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > Just a quick recap, we have check the input on your box, connections, and since we have detected that this a problem with the box we prefer to change to box. We shipped and I already credited the $9.95 shipping fee.
Jerand > Just to let you know, at the end of this chat there will be a short survey. I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to complete it so we can continue to improve the service we provide to you.
Jerand > Is there anything else I can help you with? I am glad to assist you further.
Eric > Nope, that’s all tonight. I understand that a box is coming to my house, I will be credited the shipping charge, and that I know how to connect the box to my TV and select the correct input with the remote control. I also understand that there will be a survey. Will I get a credit on my cable bill for all the TV that I will miss in the next 3 to 5 business days while I wait for this box?
Jerand > Sure, I will also make sure you will not be billed for the interval where you had no service, so no worries, this is as good as fixed.
Jerand > Yes, you will be receiving that with 3-5 business days.
Eric > Dude, that RULES.
Eric > Thank you for your time & assistance.
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > Thank you for your patience and understanding as well.
Jerand > Is there anything else I can help you with? I am glad to assist you further.
Eric > Nope that’s all this evening, sir.
Jerand > I would greatly appreciate it if you can spare a few seconds to take the survey. Your favorable answer will inspire us to continue improving our service. Once you click on “EXIT CHAT” it is located on the upper-right corner of the chat box, you can now “TAKE SURVEY” highlighted in red. I am glad that I was able to Resolved your issue, there is no additional steps needed. Your feedback would mean alot to me.
Eric > Rock n’ roll! \m/ I’ll give you high scores on the feedback.
Jerand > You are most welcome.
Jerand > I appreciate your cooperation.
Jerand > Take care of yourself for me.
Jerand > Don’t forget the survey!
Jerand > Thank you for contacting Comcast! We appreciate your business and value you as a customer! If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7days a week). Comcast also offers great FAQ and Help forums located at http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/ to help you solve many issues on your own. You can also reach us through our Hotline 1-800-9346489 or 1-800-XFINITY. To close the chat, please click the exit chat or end session button now. You take good care always and have a wonderful night!
Eric > You too, my friend, you too!
Outsourced (film)

Outsourced (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently being a smartass can save you a couple of bucks off of your cable bill.  It never hurts to ask, right?  I could break down so many of those responses & analyze them… but I thought it was a fun conversation as a whole.

I took a survey afterwards, & left this in the comment box:

I had to call 1-800-XFINITY twice, then do a chat to get a resolution.  Jerand who was the last to chat with me was an exemplary employee… despite what I perceived as a slight language barrier.  Your tech support shouldn’t pretend they’re in the US when they’re not.  Jerand is the man.  Give him a raise.

Also…  STOP WITH THE ADVERTISEMENTS WHILE I’M TRYING TO GET A TECHNICAL ISSUE RESOLVED.  It’s annoying, insulting, and aggravating.  Why would I want to order more services form a company that can’t provide me with ONE service that works properly?

Hope that dude gets some recognition.  Ha ha.

Go ahead, push the button… I dare you.


You know I hate public restrooms.  This sign may be a wave of the future.  Think it’s a good idea?  Think it will work?  Is it too easy to abuse?

Cleanliness is important to all of us...

Intimidating button…

I saw a full garbage can, & thought about pressing the button…but thought it may only be for emergencies not maintenance.  I didn’t want to be the guy that whined about the garbage can being full.  Then again, I’d rather empty a trash bag than pick it up off of the floor if I were an employee there.

Is a button the way to solve all of your bathroom problems? This reminded me of the pull-strings in hospital bathrooms.  Ha ha.  If you find one of these buttons, I dare you to push it & yell “I need someone to wipe!”

The Car Sales Handbook


USED CAR SALESMAN KITTY

Looks like a good deal...

From recent experiences, I believe that I’ve come up with the set of rules by which all car sales people are directed to operate.

It may seem simple, but I believe it’s a highly complicated dance designed to wear you down mentally.  I’m sure this isn’t their handbook word for ludicrous word, but I’m also sure that it’s pretty close.  If you can get your hands on a copy, let me know.  I’d like to see it.

  1. When someone emails you, uses your website, or uses a 3rd party website like Yahoo! Autos, don’t reply.  Call them.
  2. Call repeatedly thereafter.
  3. Send out form-letterish very spam-like emails.  Repeatedly.  Don’t reply to any replies.  Call.
  4. Call again.  Leave a message every other time.
  5. If you must send an email reply, include your office number, extension, and cell phone number… and ask the potential customer to call you.  Perhaps express that you’ve been trying to call.
  6. Don’t answer any questions about price or inventory via email or over the phone.  Get the customer to the dealer.
  7. If they ask about used cars, show them new cars.  If they ask about new cars, show them used cars.
  8. When the customer discusses comfortable monthly payments, always shoot $50-$75 higher than that number.
  9. After they express disinterest, call them again.
  10. Send emails with customer satisfaction survey links that lead to broken pages.
  11. Call again.  Leave a message.  Be sure to say “buddy” or “friend”.
  12. Call, once more.  Don’t leave a message.
  13. Call again, ask why potential customer didn’t like car/deal.
  14. Send a plethora of from emails from the dealer, manager, and sales person asking customer to call the dealer to discuss auto purchase options.
  15. Call & leave a message stating that you reached out via email, ask them to call you back.
  16. Wait 2 months, call again.  Leave message asking for a call back.
  17. Have you tried calling the customer?
Antique telephones

Tele-what?

I’m starting to wonder if perhaps payment is no longer based on commission, but on time spent on the phone.  Holy cow.  The barrage is instant and never-ending if you use a site that spits out emails to several dealers at once.  It creates absolute telephone chaos.  It’s 2011.  Can we conduct business/ask questions via email… especially if I take the time to note “via email” as my contact preference?

If you know me, you know I’m not a big fan of telephone conversations.  I like email.  Texting is OK.  I’ve had friends who have been my friends for many years, and our total phone-talk time probably amounts to a few hours.  Even if you don’t know me… it would be safe to assume that if I was using the internet to research/reach out to you, I might be more comfortable with an email.  (Otherwise, I would have called you… or just stopped by.)

Do you feel that I’ve missed any auto sales rules?  Please, add to the list in the comments section!

Turner Dairy products at Giant Eagle stores?


Turner'sGiant Eagle

I’m sure you remember my last post about Turner’s with the pretty picture.  I decided to ask Giant Eagle why all of their stores don’t carry Turner’s products…

From: Eric Carroll [mailto:me@my.email.address]
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 1:46 PM
Subject: Turner’s Dairy | Charie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Hello Friends at the Big Bird,

I’m writing to you today to request that all of your Giant Eagle and Market District Stores carry products from Turner Dairy Farms, Inc.  I know that some locations do already carry Turner’s products, because I’ve written to them trying to track down some of Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk… and they clued me in to the Giant Eagle in Brentwood.  I know that the Giant Eagle in Murrysville also carries Turner’s Iced Tea.

I’d love it if the Cochran Road, Bridgeville, and Parkway Center locations had Turner’s buttermilk, chip dip, and tea varieties readily available.  I’d add them to my order virtually every time we shop there… much like I do now with the tea when I find myself in Rite Aid on Banksville Road.

I also find it hard to believe that with the myriad of products and name brands available at the new Market District in Robinson… Turner’s is nowhere to be found!  Have you tried the chip dip?  It’s incredible.  It puts the Kraft and B L brands to shame.

You’ll find in the attached photo all of the Turner’s bounty that my wife & I picked up this weekend while just passing by the Brentwood Giant Eagle.  I can assure you, these products would be on every grocery order if available at the Giant Eagle locations where we typically do most of our shopping.  Not only these products, but the raspberry & lime tea… and just about everything that Turner’s offers!  (Sorry, I don’t do diet drinks.)

Thank you for taking the time to read my email, and I hope that you give Turner’s products serious consideration for inclusion in your fine establishments.

Sincerely,
-Eric
me@my.email.address

And, they responded…

From: “Frey, Brian” Brian.Frey@gianteagle.com
To: “me@my.email.address” me@my.email.address
Sent: Tue, February 2, 2010 10:39:21 AM
Subject: RE: Turner’s Dairy | Charie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Eric,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding Turner Dairy Farms and some of the items that you obviously like as detailed below.

I can understand your frustration related to these items that you feel passionately about not being readily available and convenient to purchase.  However, I must honestly inform you that we don’t have any upcoming plans to carry additional Turner Dairy Farms items at any of our corporately owned Giant Eagle and Market District locations.

We get contacted by customers on a daily/weekly basis requesting us to carry a variety of items from local dairies, and we just cannot support all of these local dairy item requests in our limited dairy cooler space in our stores.  To manage the limited space we have in stores, we try to partner with dairies and vendors that can provide us item programs that accommodate the needs of the majority of our customers.  If we were to carry a representative sample of all the local dairy items that we get contacted about, we would have to eliminate a large portion of our current item mix that a significantly larger customer base demands us to carry and also asks us daily/weekly to expand upon but we cannot as a result of the same limited space challenge.

Sorry I could not give you better news here.  There are a lot of items that I am personally fond of that I have decided to not carry as well due to our limited space and need to satisfy the largest amount of our customers.  In the meantime, some of our independently owned and operated stores such as Brentwood are allowed to carry the Turners Dairy Farms items as you note below.  We allow those owners to have some flexibility in their item mix, and some stores have elected to carry Turners items based on customer demand or geographic proximity to the dairy.

Sincerely,
Brian Frey

Category Buyer
Giant Eagle, Inc.
101 Kappa Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
412.963.2592
Fax: 412.968.1706
E-mail: brian.frey@gianteagle.com

D’oh!  Well, it doesn’t hurt to try, does it?  Apparently Giant Eagle has no intentions of widely carrying Turner’s products, but at least they’re honest about it.  It’s just annoying that I can’t do all of my grocery shopping in one store (or even at one chain), especially with the vicious circle of fuelperks and foodperks and whatever other kind of perks they come up with next.

Interestingly enough, I just sent an email to all those with whom I’ve shared communication with in the past at Giant Eagle, but the “To” address was cut out of the original inline reply… so I have no idea which one actually got through.

I’m assuming they’d have to have an onslaught of messages in order to even consider carrying the Turner’s products.  If you’re so inclined, you can…

Not that many of you are that adamant about the Turner’s brand… but if you are, or you know someone who is… please feel free to direct them here.

McReadverspamtismentply


You may remember, a while ago I wrote to McDonald’s about the sandwich-which-can-not-be-named.  I got an envelope in the mail the other day from my McFriends, and I thought “Sweet! A reply about the McGang-Bang!  A real letter!”

Well, I was wrong.  It was some sort of reply/advertisement/spam all rolled into one.  I was very disappointed.  Then, I noticed that the letter wasn’t to Mr. AiXeLsyD, it was to Mr. Carroll… it must have been about the McDonald’s on West Liberty Avenue’s disgusting restroom?  They never did follow up on a local level like they said they would.  Instead, I get this advertisement for the Mac Snack Wrap and the breakfast dollar menu?  Seriously?

At least now I have a contact name.  I’m going to have to resort to snail mail to get a response for a real live person, I believe… anything other than the stupid “we can’t take unsolicited ideas” form letter would be awesome.

Oh well, the advertisement letter & a scan of the two coupons is below… I popped a “void” on them in hopes that Photobucket doesn’t delete the damn things.  They’ve removed old coupons on me before… I usually always blur out any numbers or barcodes that might make them usable.

McDonald's Letter from Salena M. Scardina

McDonald's - Mac Snack Wrap Coupons

Wow, I’m so honored to be contacted with such an auspicious reply!  I’m glad that my contact in 2009 gave them an opportunity to better understand my needs and expectations!  …that were never properly addressed.  I’ve already seen the Mac Snack Wrap commercials and billboards, so I’m now sure how this letter makes me among the first to know… perhaps there are some people in Appalachia and in Alaska that aren’t familiar with the concept of snacking on “a whole new level”.  I’d like to see some sort of chart on the levels of snacking.  Are they the opposite of Dante’s levels of hell?  Or, perhaps… one in the same?  [Insert your own joke about gluttony here.]  I”ll perhaps have to address this in future missives.

In the mean time, I’m making a call to all of my readers… if you can make me a chart of the levels of snacking, it would be greatly appreciated! I’d love to share it with everyone.

Maybe next time, I’ll go with the angle that I find the proliferation of “Mc” to be disturbing to those of us with Celtic heritage…

A close to all the food rants… maybe.


I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on the subject, but this is just to close out my recent rants about the bad habits of restaurant employees out there everywhere.

If you need a recap, here’s how it panned out on my end…

Admittedly, I was just “going off” in reaction to the mentioned articles, but it doesn’t excuse any of the deplorable actions described within.  I really appreciate the blog hits, feedback, & discussion on the issue… whether it was here on this blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, Pittsburgh Beat, or whatever venue a link was pimped upon.

In the last blog, I was tagged and deemed it by an entertaining blogger  named Charity that sits on the server side of the fence, and some things were explained to me.  She was one of the ones quoted in my rants, although she wasn’t confessing to disgusting behavior, just complaining about customers (which she has every right to do).  Apparently I’m adorable in a “oh my, isn’t he so naive” kind of way.  I commented there, really saying all I have to say on the subject for now.  I even saw a few encouraging words from another commenter, teleburst, who provided some cool links to his blog on being more accommodating to customers with special dietary needs.  Let’s hope he does eventually blog about allergies!

I love the blogs about how to be a better customer that are out there… I wouldn’t imagine that people would actually do some things like share drinks with free refills or leave a mess after their kid makes one…  But I guess it’s happening out there everywhere.

I know I mentioned discussing tips, but the mood has passed for now… I’m sure I’ll dive into it someday.  I need to do another goofy W(aL)D post soon.  Hits have been skyrocketing for my Sprint Short Codes post, there’s apparently still a problem that Sprint refuses to admit!  Oh well, until next time… Remember to tip your servers at least 20% for good service, unless they slip you some regular instead of decaf or beef stock when they tell you it’s vegetable stock.

Don’t ever eat anything anywhere anytime.


So, I admittedly went mental with my last blog post, and it ended up being more of it’s own entity than a tangent or aside… but I think it may give you a little background of what’s going through my head in addition to the regular shock & horror that’s surely intended by the writers/submitters/vloggers of the matters that I’d like to discuss here.  Maybe it’s a part in a series.  I never know exactly where this will go.  Now that you know about my allergy and how it affects me mentally, we can get on with the rest of the issues at hand.

I have had several discussions with friends who have worked in the food industry (as I have not) about kitchen cleanliness issues, server attitudes, and just service in general.  I have a site 90% or so ready to go called Fast Food Fail that I eventually hope to get up n’ running… to point out service issues that I seem to think should not be accepted.  I have been told it’s ridiculous because it’s “only fast food” and that “people working there don’t care” or “don’t make enough money to care.”  Fair enough.  But, I feel this is laziness.  It’s laziness on the part of the food preparer & servers, and laziness on the part of the consumer that just sits back & takes it.  I wanted to focus on fast food because it fits my price range, schedule, and it’s easy to avoid shellfish there… but these articles seem to go from fast food to diners to sit down chains all the way up to the high end places.

Before I go on, a bit of a disclaimer:  It’s been pointed out to me by a few that some of the statements I’m about to quote may be exaggerated for comedic effect shock  value, and what-not…. and that this “doesn’t really happen” anywhere.  Okay.  Opinions noted.  I’m sure my opinions will swing just as far the other way.  A few of my dining pet peeves may even jump out here.

Okay… as I was saying… Sunday night, I sit down to check my email and I get a link to a Yahoo!  news article from their home page that makes me wretch in disgust.  It’s called  20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You.  After reading, and clicking through several links around the various sites (you know how it goes), I found 30 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You — Which seems to be an earlier longer version of the same article by Michelle Crouch.  I’m just going to quote then rant.

Here, from a group that clears a median $8.01 an hour in wages and tips, a few revelations that aren’t on any menu.

Am I to feel sorry because these people make $8.01 per hour?  I have always done the job I was hired to do to the best of my ability no matter what the pay.  It’s the set rate accepted by you the minute you took the job for the services rendered.  If you feel that your time and effort deserve more compensation, then move on.  Don’t give me the “it’s the only job I ca get” crap either… because i it is, then suck it up, and do it to the best of your ability so you’ll be in that mode when something more worth of you comes along.  And, I haven’t worked food service… but I have done construction demolition & labor, cleaned offices for extra cash, and worked on an assembly line… all “menial” and labor-intensive tasks.

2. On Christmas Day, when people ask why I’m there, I might say, “My sister’s been in the hospital,” or, “My brother’s off to war, so we’re celebrating when he gets back.” Then I rake in the tips.
—Chris, a New York City waiter and the founder of bitterwaitress.com

Thanks, you just made me less inclined to believe any back story of any servery anywhere.  I’m sure they’ll all thank you for that.  (Just like the geniuses that say they have a food allergy when they really don’t… but I might get to those people later.)

4. If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, “Oh, we’re out. Sorry!” when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Annoying to make? How about you DO YOUR JOB?  I don’t go to work and lie to customers because they’re annoying or it’s annoying to do what they’re calling to ask me to do…  I DO IT, because it’s why I’m there.  You should pick up this attitude too.  If I’m at a restaurant, and it’s on the menu, I damn well better be able to order it.  (This is the standard with Milkshakes at McDonald’s I think.  I can’t remember the last time I had one.  The McDonald’s shake machine repair man must be more elusive than bigfoot riding a unicorn.)  If you’re out or it.s broken or something, there better be a preemptive note in the menu or a verbal notice when I sit down.

5. When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.
—Kathy Kniss

7. I’ve seen some horrible things done to people’s food: steaks dropped on the floor, butter dipped in the dishwater.
—Waiter at a casual restaurant in the Chicago area

I hope this is the shock value/comedic effect stuff that people are telling me is entirely fictional.  Where would this be acceptable?  Now, you see why I worry about cross contamination so much.

6. If you make a big fuss about sending your soup back because it’s not hot enough, we like to take your spoon and run it under really hot water, so when you put the hot spoon in your mouth, you’re going to get the impression—often the very painful impression—that your soup is indeed hot.
—Chris

Thanks for giving the idea to like minded individuals out there, Chris.  I’ll remember to hold on to my spoon if I ever have the need to send soup back.  I’m generally afraid to ever send anythign back… urban legends like this, and the movies Waiting… and Road Trip “French Toast” scene are why.

10. Oh, you needed more water so badly, you had to snap or tap or whistle? I’ll be right back … in ten minutes.
—Charity Ohlund

Good point, that’s just stupid behavior.  I have no idea why anyone anywhere would find this to be acceptable.

13. Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, “Give me a frozen margarita, and don’t put it in.” That totally gyps the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan

Used to get free soup at Eat ‘n Park this way when I worked night shift nearby.  I always tipped the value of the soup plus some.

19. Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you.
— Charity Ohlund

After reading all the rest of this stuff, I’m supposed to trust the waitress?

22. When you say, “I’ll have the pasta Alfredo,” it tells me two things: You aren’t interested in trying new things, and you don’t eat out much. Restaurants put this dish on their menus because it’s “safe,” it sells, and it’s cheap to make.
—JR

Or you’re me at an Olive Garden where the Pasta Alfredo is the only thing besides the salad, breadsticks, and pizza that isn’t a possible cross-contamination induced death by anaphylaxis.

28. If you’re worried about cleanliness, check out the bathroom. If the bathroom is gross, you can be sure the kitchen is much worse.
—Waitress at a well-known pizza chain

So, don’t eat at this McDonald’s?  I’ll have to make an exception for Gooski’s with this rule.  Some things, I just don’t need to know.

In a weekly blog called “In the Weeds” for frothygirlz.com, Kansas City waitress Charity Ohlund describes her favorite customer stereotypes:

6. If you have a food allergy, you will talk about it in great detail and then each time I set a new plate in front of you, you will ask me if I remembered your food allergy.

Offense taken.  I get, this list was to be cute & funny… but I make the waitress aware of my allergy once, or sometimes my wife even does it because she knows I’m already on edge, and we never feel the need to mention it a second time.  Sometimes the manager comes out, sometimes the waitress is very understanding and reassuring.  I hope they’re not pulling the wool over my eyes just to get a bigger tip.  And, if it could kill you, you might be a little on edge about it too!  And… even if you have an epi pen… it’s not a life saver, its’s a time buyer… it gives you a good 20 maybe 30 minutes for the EMT’s to arrive & give you another dose until they can get you to the hospital.

That aside, poking around that site more & more, it is entertaining and well written… and I don’t get a malicious feel behind any of the posts.  I guess everyone needs to vent, but in that spirit, I feel free to vent back.

Wow all that in response to just the one article.  I think this just because a series… because I have other pet peeves involved with dining out including tips and closing times… and I came accross many more disturbing revelations in some of the articles/links.  Maybe I’ll pop them all into the next one.

A little background on my shellfish allergy before I write my next rant of a blog…


Note: I started writing this the other day, and got to a point tonight where it’s so wordy that I’d like it to simply serve as a background to the next blog to show you where I’m coming from, or as the first part to a sort of “To be continued…”


So, Sunday night we had just come home from our 3rd day of Christmas celebration in a row.  Needless to say, we were in a great mood, but pretty tired.  I got online to check my email and see what was up in the world of Facebook, and Yahoo! pointed me to an interesting article from Reader’s Digest that made me wretch in horror and disgust.  This also pointed to several other articles and blogs around the web that divulge the disgusting inexcusable practices of the people who handle your food daily.

Granted, the actions & situations described are certainly not representative of the majority of your wait staff, servers, managers, cooks, chefs, etc. out there… but I find any number of this kind of attitude and described behaviors to be unacceptable.  I was so flustered, I decided to pop some things up on an old message board just so I could sort them out later.  I’m not even sure I’m at a point where they’re all sorted out, but I wanted to get writing while this was still somewhat of a fresh topic to me.  This was initially just an allergy issue to me, but several other side issues have popped up upon further review.  Please, bear with me if I jump form subject to subject before I try to reel it all in.

Generally, I’d like to think that my blogs are mostly amusing… any complaining is usually done within the context of humor, and only marginally serious.  I have used this & other platforms to comment on the state of customer service in the food industry before… generally at the “bottom rung” of fast food places as this is where I usually end up due to dietary needs (no shellfish) and budget issues.

This one, however, is serious to me… and I hope I don’t come off as just ranting, and that the seriousness of these issues is conveyed.

If you know me in person, have dined out with me, or have ready any of my lunacy online… you most likely know what I have a severe shellfish allergy.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, it means that I can’t eat any shellfish, or I go into anaphylactic shock.  Not only can I not eat the shellfish (that’s crustaceans & molluscs including but not limited to ,shrimp, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, octopi, squid, snails, and probably even scorpions and pill bugs), but I can’t eat any food that comes into contact with it.  That means, if you cook shrimp on the grill, take it off, and put my steak on  without washing the surface, it’s the same as me eating the shrimp.

I certainly can’t expect the restaurant to clean the grill in between every meal, as that’s certainly not productive on their end… I just usually try to see where the shellfish is prepared, and eat from another cooking surface.  That seems easy enough, right?

I get that it’s my responsibility.  Yes, I’ve had an epi pen.  But I’d really love to not ever have the need to use one.  I’ve even considered getting Allergy Cards, but they seem a little pretentious or something… like my verbal reminder isn’t enough.

Well, getting me in to a place with shellfish is an issue in itself.  Why?  Well in with the aforementioned cooking surface issue… there’s just all kinds of stuff that can run through one’s head.  Like not washing a knife when it cuts one thing then another, shares spaces in refrigerators where things may drip on to other things, places where you might grab pizza toppings like crab meat or shrimp without washing your hands before dipping into the next topping, a friend of mine has even told me he had a piece of shrimp show up in his scrambled eggs at an IHOP once… and I believe the same friend even told me that they had a long and heated argument with the servers at a Chinese place where the ‘vegetarian’ eggs rolls contained crab because “crab is not meat”.  Oops… Death!  (Usually I sadly avoid any Chinese places anyway because of the shared cooking surfaces & probably delicious sauces that can be made with oysters or ground brine shrimp.) This basically makes me never able to completely relax in a restaurant where I’m supposed to be out enjoying myself… it’s an odd paradox.

Generally I can find a safe dish if pressed, and especially if I call ahead… but I need to be in an adventurous mood.

Dining out is an important social activity… a very common social activity that brings with it high levels of anxiety for someone like myself.  Not only from the aforementioned game of Russian Roulette Kitchen Edition, but from explaining my allergy to people.  Yes, anxiety from explaining to friends, family, business associates, your server, and anyone else who may inquire as to why you don’t want to try a great new seafood place or even Red Lobster or Long John Silver’s.  Not only can it be embarrassing where it really shouldn’t be… but it inevitable goes down something like this…

Not me:  “Let’s go to T.G.I. Friday’s”

Me:  “Well, I can’t really eat much there besides a salad or a baked potato.”

Not me:  “Huh?” [Looking at me like I'm an alien.]

Me:  “Well, I have a severe shellfish allergy.  I can’t eat anything like shrimp or lobster, or any cooking surfaces that it touches”

Not me:  “Oh, well just don’t order any.”

Me:  “Well, that’s not enough.  I’ve had a trip to the hospital just from eating onion rings fried in the same fryer as shrimp.  If they have grilled shrimp, I can’t get anythign off of the grill… if they have fried shrimp, I can’t get anything out of the fryer.”

Not me:  “Well, can you get steak?”

Me:  “No, they probably make that on a grill.”

Not me:  “Well, can’t you get chicken?”

[Mind you, I have ad this conversation with seemingly intelligent reasonable people.]

Me:  “Well, no… if it’s grilled, well… we covered that, and if it’s fried… that’s a no go either.”

Not me:  “Well, that sucks.  What about … [Names 400 other restaurants, all with prominent shellfish dishes on the menu]… I don’t think they have any shellfish.”

Me: “No.  No.  No.  Nope.  Unh-uh.  No.  No. Nope.  No… ” ad nauseum.  I suggest somewhere else, usually less “classy” because let’s face it… those are the places with no shellfish.

Not me:   “Sigh, OK.”

[I look/feel like an idiot.]

Then sometimes, one of these gems gets tossed in…

Not me:  “Well, that’s just stupid.  I’ve never heard of that.” or “There’s no such thing as food allergies.”

Yes, because you have never heard of it, I must be wrong.  Off to Joe’s Crab Shack!

Not me:  “My uncle Jim’s wife’s neighbor’s cousin’s roomate’s gerbil’s vet’s dry cleaner’s podiatrist was allergic to jelly beans, and he ate a quarter of a jelly bean and swelled up and went to the hospital and stuff and just kept eating bigger pieces until he built up a tolerance”.

Not me:  “Have you tried it lately?  My mechanic’s wife’s niece’s ex-husband had a neighbor who outgrew his allergy to strawberries.”

First off, this type of behavior is stupid… even if the story is real.  It is possible to build up tolerances (allergy shots), and to outgrow allergies… I am well aware of my limitations and have been told by more than one allergy doctor that my allergy is to great to attempt allergy shots and that I’ll never outgrow it.

My favorite comes from family & old friends…

Not me:  “You used to eat at Long John Silver’s!  You can’t be that allergic.”

I know. It’s WEIRD. I get it. Believe me, I get it.  I ate shrimp like a madman when I was young, and each exposure to shellfish since I discovered the allergy kind of seems like the bee sting thing to me, each “attack” gets worse.  After the last one… I don’t want another one.  But science seems to lean toward this being more random and not a straight road to a deadly end.  I really don’t want to be the guy to solve/prove that one.

And, please… if I do go to a restaurant to eat out with you… don’t orders shrimp or lobster and ask me if it’s OK.  Every fiber of my being is screaming “No, it’s not OK.  What are you, a psychopathic masochist that’s into mental torture?” while I tell you it won’t bother me.  Again, clearly my own demon to wrestle with… but really, do you want to be that person?

Still, I feel pressure all the time to just go with the flow, deal with it, and order a salad.  Believe me, a salad more often may be a good idea in my case.  It’s still just not an enjoyable or relaxing thing for me at that point.  We may be conversing, but I’m obsessing over every unidentifiable piece of everything in the dressing and really not processing much of what you’re saying.  Imagine that I told you there’s a box of rat poison in the kitchen right on the shelf between the flour and the sugar, they’re all in identical unmarked jars and there’s only one scoop used in all of ‘em.  Do you wanna eat there?

This is really just to show you where I’m coming from.  I realize that it’s not your problem.  I realize that I have some real issues to deal with surrounding my problem.  I realize that this is not a terminal illness or anything that serious.  I’m not trying to get a pity party going for myself.  This is simply to let you know what’s bouncing around in my mind.

It hopefully won’t be long until my next not-unrelated blog… basically pulling quotes form the aforementioned articles and responding one by one.

I’d really like to hear everyone’s opinions of my rant here… am I out of line?  Over-dramatic?  Illustrative?  Insane?  Do you think like me?  Do you have an allergy?

The Mythical Magical McGangbang


You’ve heard of the McGangBang, right?  For the uninitiated, there’s a world out there of fast food items not listed on the menu that are available for your dining pleasure (and most likely for your digestive displeasure) if you’re in the know, and if the employees are in the know.  This list from McDonald’s alone is pretty impressive.  There are many others out there.  My friend Andy used to apparently get a “Volcano” from Taco Bell, which was described to me as a burrito with everything in it.  Now that they have volcano tacos & burritos that are something else entirely, that might be an ordering issue.  If you’ve got time to kill or your interest is piqued, it’s definitely worth Googling.

At any rate, while I have raised a legitimate issue with McDonald’s, and I have gotten one response so far… I decided to use my W(aL)D email address to address a ridiculous issue with them.  So, off to the McWebform I went!  Sadly, you’re forced to pick a category… none of which exactly fits my query.   I think I posted to “McDonald’s U.S. Marketing, Promotions, and Advertising“, but it seems like my answer was brought about by the “Unsolicited Idea Policy“.  Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.  On to the emails…

My original submission (via McWebform):

Hello Friends,

I was wondering if you are aware of the mythical magical McGang-Bang, and if at any time in the future, you man be adding it officially to your menu?

I believe it to be a McChicken sandwich stuffed inside a Double Cheeseburger, the new 99¢ McDouble, or even a Big Mac.  The exact specifics are a subject of hot debate, as this is a rare creature, like Bigfoot, el Chupacabra, or the Unicorn.  There is also debate on whether to discard an extra bun or down it whole.

If you do plan to offer this in the future, what would the proper spelling be?  McGangBang, McGangbang, McGang-Bang, or McGang-bang?  I could see how all options would be acceptable?

I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it sure is catchy.  (Much better than “Arch Deluxe”, no?)

I’d like to be able to go into a McDonald’s and order a McGang-Bang without being looked at like I’m crazy when it’s common knowledge among certain circles.

Thanks for your time, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the matter!

-E.

Their “we got it, we’ll get back to you” reply:

From: McDonald’s DoNotReply@mcdonalds.com
Date: Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 10:38 AM
Subject: McDonald’s Web Site Comment or Question
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for visiting McDonald’s website. Below is your email which has been submitted to McDonald’s Customer Response Center. While replies to this e-mail cannot be received, should you need to contact us again, please feel free to contact us through mcdonalds.com. Thank you.

Title: Mr.
First Name: ERiC
Last Name: AiXeLsyD
Mailing Address: ____ _______ _____ ____ __
City: Pittsburgh
State: PA
Zip: _____-____
Day Phone: 412-555-1212
Evening Phone: 412-555-1212
Contact Time: None.  Email please.
Your E-mail Address: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Comment: [What you just read above...]

Their “real” reply:

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
Date: Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 5:08 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Hello ERiC:

Thank you for contacting McDonald’s recently with your idea for a product or service that you believe would be of interest to us. We appreciate your interest in McDonald’s, but it is our company’s policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from outside the McDonald’s system. We have retained an electronic copy of your submission solely for our records.

It’s not that great ideas cannot come from people outside of McDonald’s. Each year, however, McDonald’s receives thousands of unsolicited ideas and proposals for products and services from individuals as well as companies. Because of the volume of unsolicited ideas and the difficulty of sorting out what is truly a “new” idea as opposed to a concept that has already been considered or developed by McDonald’s, we must adhere to a strict policy of not reviewing any unsolicited ideas that come from outside the McDonald’s family of employees, franchisees and approved suppliers. We realize that we may be missing out on a few good ideas, but we have had to adopt this policy for legal and business reasons.

As a result, we must decline your invitation to review your submission and hope you understand the reasons for this decision.

Again, thank you for thinking of McDonald’s.

Jessica
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6525973

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:
[You just read it above...]

Well, apparently my idea went to the wrong department, or someone that’s absolutely no fun.  I didn’t submit an idea!  I asked about a secret menu item…  Hopefully, as we’ve learned with most other web-forms, we submit again, and we get a different person responding.  Although, this looks curiously like a form letter.  Perhaps I should try again in a different category?  Should I ask for the email address of a real live person?  Perhaps I need to Google some names of high-up important McPeople and try to figure out the syntax of the company email addresses.  This worked with great success for me in the past with Boston Market.  Ha ha ha.

Also, I wondered on the Beat if putting a “Mc” in front of everything could be construed as racist?  As an American of Irish and Scottish descent, perhaps I should be taken aback by the flippant use of “Mc” in front of everything?  (By McDoanld’s, and even my own shockingly casual use.) It is after all, listed in the Racial Slur Database and in Wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs.  Perhaps this is an idea to addressed in the future.  Dave was quick to point out though, that nothing is more racist than 365Black.  Wow.  Just…  Wow.  (…or McWow?) Also… What about leap day?  Is that a day off?

Find any of this amusing?  What’s the next step?

(Another) Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666 & ref#:6521333]


I never got a reply from McDonald’s going any farther than the original “we’ll forward it to the appropriate party” email.  So, I decided to reply.  Nothing to lose, right?  Well, I couldn’t directly reply, because of the incredibly blunt “No ‘replies’ can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.compart of their email.  So, back to the McWebform I went!  I even included the fancy ref#:6502666.

Well, it apparently worked!

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 5:09:19 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:

Thank you for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center. I’m sorry you have not yet received a local response regarding your recent McDonald’s restaurant experience.

Please know we take your comments very seriously. I will immediately re-contact the franchise owner of the restaurant you visited and request that he or she follow-up with you as soon as possible.

Please be assured your complete satisfaction is our top priority. Thank you for your patience and for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center.

Jimelle
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6521333

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:

Hello,

Regarding my last message from Ashley at McDonald’s customer service… ref#:6502666

I was told not to reply to the email… hopefully that reference # can refer you to my earlier message.

I think it’s a very poor setup that you have… not being able to reply to emails.

Your message to me said “Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Was anyone at that McDonald’s contacted?

Will I get a reply?

And, then, it was followed up by this…

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 7:07:00 PM
Subject: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM
Subject: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant
To: [complete@misspelling.of.my.email.address]
Dear Eric

I am the Customer Service Representative of the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant. I unfortunately did not receive your first e-mail.  Please fill me in on the situation.   I am located in the Pittsburgh area and will address all issues to the supervisors of this restaurant.
Sincerely,
Sandra Jaeger

How cool is that?  Ha ha ha.  An actual response!  Funny that it “didn’t get through” the first time.  Very funny.  Also funny that it went to a complete misspelling of my email address, those of you who have it will find it amusing.  There was a “.” where a “_” should be as well, as a few incorrect letters.  (Not transposed, incorrect.)

So, of course, I had to write back…

From: me@my.email.address
To: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 10:00:58 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

Hello Sandra,

Thanks you for the reply!  I have always wondered if the emails that you get in reply to webforms at sites like the McDonald’s one are anything more than a standard form letter.  In reply to my first message, the response said “I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited.”  I had wondered if this really was the case…  Apparently not, until I took the time to reply with a second message asking if it had really gone any further.  I’m glad I took the time to follow up!

I  find it amusing that my original comments did not make it to you.  It makes me wonder how many emails remain unanswered daily when filtered through the McWebform.  This is not your problem though, as you are obviously concerned and addressing this issue now.

My original comments were regarding a visit that I had over a week ago now, in an evening stop at the McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. in Beechview or Dormont or whatever the neighborhood may be there.

My original message was…

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

That pointed to a review that I posted on UrbanSpoon.com, which you can read here…
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else. 1 person likes this review

…and these are the photos referenced:

Stall #1

Stall #2

I understand that the fact that at that time of night, there’s perhaps a smaller than usual crew, and that the West Liberty Ave. location is seemingly always busy.  I have been through the drive-thru at this time of night before, and it always seems slow, though it’s thankfully not as slow as the Wendy’s right down the street.  Those people have a whole different set of issues.  My friends and I call it “The Slow Wendy’s”.

I was just wondering what kind of cleaning & maintenance policies that you have in place?  Does management or ownership do any kind of inspection or follow-up?  Do inspections my the corporation ever occur?  I mean, surely you can’t think the photos above are an acceptable presentation of your restaurant chain?

I don’t know about you, but when I “gotta go”, it’s urgent!  The urinals looked filthy, si I opted for the stalls… one was stuffed, and one had a door that wouldn’t close.  I like to do my business in private, no interruptions.  Closing doors are a good thing!  Also… the lack of a TP dispenser, & the roll just being on the back of the thing…  I cannot imagine what would have happened had I needed to use that.  I mean, how uncomfortable would it be to reach behind yourself like that after…  Well, after doing your thing?

Thank you for your time, and the follow up.  I appreciate the fact that you took the time to inquire about the issue.

Sincerely,
-Eric

Maybe I should have included a link to the Wendy’s incident?  Not yet, my friends.  Not yet. I can’t wait to see what kind of response I get this time.  I love when it gets down to a real live person in charge of something.