Tag Archives: phone

A letter to Sprint, HTC, and Android…


This is my letter to anyone within the Sprint, HTC, and Android organizations who will listen to my plea for an actual quick and final solution to my phone problem…

Hello,

I’m writing to inform you of a problem that I’ve had with Sprint customer service, HTC‘s hardware, and Android‘s operating system.  I’m not sure what kind of answer or resolution I’m looking for.  I just feel the need to tell someone or everyone how unacceptable Sprint’s service (or lack thereof) has been lately as related to multiple HTC or Android errors.

It started about two weeks ago, shortly after I applied the latest update as prompted by the phone.  My original HTC EVO 4G LTE purchased only in September started going crazy.  The screen would freeze, become slow or completely unresponsive.  It would eventually load a screen that looked like TV static… only not moving.  Naturally, I took it to the Sprint store.  They also tried to blame the problem on various apps and settings. They did a soft rest, a hard reset, and even apparently looked up the problem on the internet.  I had to leave my phone overnight and pick it up the next day.  Well, the next day I was given a new or refurbished phone.  The store employee said he couldn’t tell if it was new or refurbished.  He said it might be new because the phone itself was rather new and they might not have refurbs yet.  I find it hard to believe he couldn’t tell a new phone from a refurbished one.

So, after updating the new phone, reinstalling some apps, and setting everything up the way I had it on the old one…  I started to notice a minor annoyance.  If I opened a browser link through Facebook, email, or Twitter it would immediately close after it fully loaded.  I took it to the Sprint store that Saturday morning.  Again, they did the soft & hard resets, and tried to blame it on an App.  They changed some settings in the phone that were telling the phone to look for a 4G network.  When I went back in after leaving the store & running into the browser-closing problem again…  The next guy changed that setting back and told me that I shouldn’t have changed it… and wouldn’t listen when I told him the last guy had just changed it.  Oddly enough, I was told that the 4G network would be in the area by January when I purchased the 4G phone.  When I told the person helping me at the Sprint store that I was told that… he says they were never given a timeline.  Is lying part of your training as a Sprint customer service representative or sales person?  What about intimidation and making someone feel like they’re not using their phone properly?

I was persuaded out of getting a 2nd replacement phone.  I was told to delete all of my apps, add them back one by one to see which was causing the problem.  The browser-closing problem was happening even without any added apps.  Now it was shutting the phone off each time the browser crashed.  I can assure you that I’m not an idiot when it comes to technology.  I was told I was part of a percentage of HTC users that were having a similar problem, and that a replacement phone could potentially have the same issues… and to wait for HTC to make the next update.  So, the solution was to wait?

My phone has taken to shutting itself off all week at random intervals.  I can be talking on the phone, using Facebook, or not even be near the phone.  It just shuts itself off.  It comes back on, and I send HTC an error report.  Where do these error reports go?  Do they do any good?  Is anyone working on the problem?  Is this an HTC problem, or an Android problem?

Well, I waited a week.  This Saturday I went back to the Sprint store, looking for a replacement phone.  I work on the road & I have a pregnant wife.  I need my phone to be functioning properly all the time.  Again, we went through the hard reset option, and my apps were blamed. “Unfortunately Android is an open system” they said.  “It must be a bug.”  What about this mysterious problem that a certain percentage of HTC users had encountered?  (I wish I could remember the percentage, I was told 10% or 20%, I believe.) A week has gone by with an apparently large bug issue, and nothing has been done about it?

Lookout

All clean!

I was advised to install the Lookout app.  I guess that app’s OK.  I was told it would hunt out any apps that were messing up my phone.  So, another thing to add to my monthly bill…  Of course it’s not free or a one-time fee.  As I tried to download & install Lookout, my phone shut itself off.  I handed it to the woman assisting me, and it shut off for her again.  She took it back to the technician.  Again.  Their advice was to run this app, and hope for the best.

Upon walking out of the store, I ran the app & it found no problems with any of my installed apps.  I went back into the store, and this time they decided to put in a “ticket” for a replacement phone.  I really have to wait again?  A phone may be in by Tuesday.  Again, I will have to re-download my apps, re-import my contacts, put all of my settings back.  This will be the 5th time within the span of three weeks.

I left the store hoping to go on about my day, & my phone went into some “HD media link” video after hanging up on my wife in the middle of a conversation where I was expressing to her my exasperation with the entire situation.  I went back to the store asking for the next level of solution.  An entirely new phone?  I’m not eligible for anything other than the ridiculously outrageous full prices because I’m not eligible for a new phone, or wouldn’t be singing up for a new line.  I have been a Sprint customer for over 10 years.  You would think that would carry some sort of weight.  You would think I could “split the difference” in purchasing a new phone with some kind of discount.  You would think a quick affordable solution would be offered instead of feigned apologies & being told to wait.  I feel like I might as well have been talking to the brick wall in front of the store.  It would have offered the same resolutions & peace of mind.

The early termination fees are the moral equivalent of extortion.  I am tempted to move all five lines in our plan to another carrier.  For what we pay for 5 lines total per month, you’d think Sprint would like to keep us happy.  Once all the 2 year limits are up (and they’ll all be happening around the same time), we will be moving to another carrier.  I know that Verizon has better signal/coverage in our area anyway.

I think that HTC and Android may find it interesting that Sprint employees routinely verbally (pardon the expression) shit all over the hardware, firmware, software & apps before any diagnosis is even made.  Perhaps you ought to review your arrangements with how Sprint “supports” your products.

HTC ought to be a little more transparent as to where the error reports go…  and maybe perhaps respond to them?  Let someone know that you’re working on the issue.  Maybe let Sprint or other carriers know if you’re having a major issue or if you get 10+ error reports from the same phone in one day.

If anyone can offer a solution or explanation that doesn’t throw another entity under the proverbial bus, I’d love to hear it.  I just wanted to let everyone involved see how poorly their products & services are being represented.  Writing this & eventually blogging it will hopefully be therapeutic.  It’s an added bonus if it helps bring to light a seemingly never-ending careless customer service loop, and even better if it gets something resolved.

Thank you for your time in reading of my misadventures, I hope to hear your thoughts.

Disgruntled & disgusted,
-Eric

Some more phone info if you need it:

Sprint Fail

Sprint Fail (Photo credit: evo_terra)

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.

Seriously; I’m not McDonald’s, but I will try to help.


It’s happening again.  Someone thinks I’m McDonald’s and that my website is printed on McDonald’s receipts.  This is the message that was in my inbox on Friday night:

From: Jay Culp <culp915@comcast.net>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 8:45 PM
Subject: W(aL)D Feedback

Name: Jay Culp
Email: culp915@comcast.net
Website: http://google
Message / Comment: I was up mcdonalds on walnut street in mckeesport bout 2 months ago they messed up my whole order i called up there took my name address was suppose to seed me coupons bout never got them order 2 big mac got big macs w tomatoes and order 4 mcchichens w kep only they had everything on them was just wondering how long i got to wait for my coupons.
How’d you find my blog?: on recreipt

Time: Friday July 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm
IP Address: ##.##.###.###
Contact Form URL: http://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com/contact/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

I wrote back with this:

From: Waldo Lunar world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Jul 30, 2012
Subject: Re: W(aL)D Feedback
To: culp915@comcast.net

Hello Jay,

Sadly… I am not McDonald’s.  Well, sadly for you & many others… not so sadly for me.  Although, I would perhaps enjoy the salary of a sole McDonald’s executive let alone the company as a whole. Although, if you own Google like the website field suggests, you know what I mean, my friend.  You could by and sell my economically-challenged ass.

I guess though, that you apparently used Google to find my website.  Thisperplexes me though, and has on multiple occasions:

How’d you find my blog?: on recreipt”

I’m pretty sure that no area McDonald’s locations print my website address on their receipts.  If they do, they need to pay me for customer service services rendered.  After all, I do reply until the situation is resolved (on my end anyway).

I’m guessing that a manager’s email address (not a website) was printed on your receipt.  I’m guessing you Googled that email address and it brought you to my site because that address or a similar one appears on my blog.

As a general rule of thumb… if it contains the “@” symbol, it’s an email address.  A lot of websites are preceded by “http://&#8221; or “www.” but not always.  A website would end in “.com”, “.net”, .”org”, or something similar & would not contain any “@” symbols.

Entering either a website or an email address into Google will search for that website or email address.  If you’d like to go directly to the website, enter that into the address bar of your favorite web browswer.  If you’d like to email someone, enter their address in the “To:” filed of Outlook, other mail client, or in your webmail… however you choose to access email.

If you can reply to me with the exact text written on your receipt, I will be glad to write to McDonald’s on your behalf.  I have experienced some success in dealing with fast food companies & getting coupons or other free stuff.  We, the little people, must band together against such mega-corporations who want nothing more than to take our money and treat us like the cattle they serve.

Certainly two months is a reasonable time in which to receive coupons as an apology to poor service.  Your order seems reasonable… although correct me if I’m wrong but McChicken sandwiches don’t normally have ketchup and Big Macs don’t normally have tomatoes.  It’s an interesting flavor palette you bring forth.  I may have to try it.  Ever have a McChicken with the sweet & sour nugget sauce?  That is fantastic.  It’s even better at Wendy’s with their chicken sandwich & sweet & sour sauce.  And, if you’re not swept up in the current Chick-fil-A controversy, I’d go for their sandwich with the honey mustard sauce.  Some older crazy lady always tries to push the Chick-fil-A Sauce on me, but she’s nuts… the Honey Mustard is far superior.  Also, I still miss the Arch Deluxe… especially when it had round bacon… not Canadian bacon, but round normal American bacon… with black pepper.  That sandwich was the work of a genius.

I haven’t been to McKeesport in quite a while.  I was at a recording studio there years ago and someone’s car got broken into while we were all inside rocking out.  I had a drink or two at the Elbow Room that was across the street.  Funny name… although inside it had a nautical theme… which didn’t seem to fit the name.  I guess elbows everywhere would have been creepy.

I’m sorry, I seem to get off track easily.  I’m guessing you didn’t take the tiem to read my blog when you landed there after your Google search.  Instead, you went directly to the “Contact” page.  I like that.  I see you’re all business.  The title World (and Lunar) Domination at the top didn’t even deter you.

You might want to check out these blog posts though…

I can’t really offer up anything else as proof that ⓐ I’m not Mcdonald’s and ⓑ My website isn’t on the receipt.

I seriously would like to help out though, if I can.  If you could reply with a photo or scan of the receipt, or simply just type the address/phone/email address in the reply, I’ll write to them on your behalf… Cc:ing you and keeping you in the loop.  I tried to help Jane, but never heard if that situation was resolved.  Some people are just ungrateful for assistance, I guess.

I hope this message finds you well, and that you have a good day, my friend.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Excelsior!

Waldo Lunar
Professional Customer Service Liaison, Esq.
W(aL)D

P.S. – Ever want to “Crop-Dust” at a restaurant when people are being exceptionally rude?

A McDonald's McChicken sandwich.

A McDonald’s McChicken sandwich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder if I’ll get a reply?  I’d love it if this guy actually wants my help and provides a valid email address to someone at the McKessport McDonald’s.  How do you think they’d respond to a 3rd party?  They never did thank me for helping to get that one fryer-cleaner company paid.

Looks like you can actually contact the McKeesport McDonald’s via Webform: http://www.mcpennsylvania.com/2842/contact/manager/

But, how fun is that?  None at all, I say.

Really though, “I was up McDonald’s…” How Yinzer is that?  Fantastic.  Let’s hope that this isn’t another fake message, and that Mr. Culp writes back.

The Arch Deluxe composition from an advertisement

The Arch Deluxe composition from an advertisement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I need something to put my junk in.


So, recently I’ve been thinking about getting some sort of messenger bag to keep some stuff in.  Let the jokes begin.  I know I have made fun of the vaunted murse before.  Hipsters everywhere would have admonished my belittling of their manbags.

Jim Dunlop Tortex Fin Pick 1.14mm (Purple)I just have too much stuff in my pockets.  Here’s an inventory for you right now…

I’ve also been carrying around my leather coat that’s like my own personal medicine cabinet.  It’s too hot to be carrying around a leather jacket, and the stuff is too bulky for hoodie pockets.  (It’ll be too hot to wear those soon, too.)  It usually has…

  • Daily stomach medicine
  • “Calm down if I need it” medicine

And right now some…

This is clearly getting out of hand.  I’m not sure what to do, but I need to do something.  There’s an old Dennis the Menace cartoon (or the TV show or a movie) where he empties his pockets and it’s a never-ending pile of stuff.  I feel like that, without the slingshot or overalls.

I joked with my wife one night that I needed a purse to keep all my stuff in.  Then I kept thinking that it might not be a bad idea to get a bookbag or something.  I have a nice backpack for the laptop… but I don’t have the need to carry the laptop anywhere daily.

I did take the discussion to Twitter, and gained encouragement from @allergicgirl, @VickysMama & @kyledine.

I feel like if I had a backpack, I’d be obligated to fill it with stuff.  I could fill a messenger bag with a bunch of stuff easily.  A multi-tool, an mp3 player, maybe a tablet & more pens.

I could get a small one, like Indiana Jones.  I fear I’d look more like Alan from The Hangover.  Big?  Small?  Leather?  Suede?  Canvas?  Nylon?  Patches?  No Patches?  (I could go the safety-pin, 1″ button, patch route.)  So many decisions.

Perception vs. Reality?

Perception vs. Reality?

My wife, Bethany, seems to think I won’t carry it, might lose it, or that the infatuation would quickly wear off.  Maybe she just doesn’t want  a husband that carries a purse?

I don’t see the fanny pack or those epi pen belt holders as an option.  Maybe a leg one?  And maybe a small pill box?

What do you think?

Inspiration from Hoke·E·Geez (My new ‘New York Pro’ Strat copy)


So, I bought a guitar this past Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for a guitar.  This guitar was looking for me.

Hoke·E·Geez | INDOOR FLEA MARKET · CRAFTS

...and SO MUCH MORE.

Some of my extended family had rented out the lodge at our church camp for the weekend.  My cousin & I were out killing time and exploring while the ladies stayed in for their main objective; scrapbooking.  When in the area with time on my hands, a trip to Hoke·E·Geez is an absolute must.  It’s located right on Route 30 in Bedford PA by the Sheetz(Sheetz is a good bright red & yellow landmark, right?)

In what was once (perhaps obviously for people my age and older) an Ames department store, rests the one of the craziest/coolest places I have ever been.  My first trip there was in search of antiques… I collect old Coca~Cola & other glass bottles.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Hoke·E·Geez is full of …Everything. 

Stuffed Squirrel on display (& for sale!) at Hoke·E·Geez (Bedford, PA)

"Help! I'm not dead! Some redneck just stapled my nuts to this driftwood!"

It’s got crafts, antiques (from old pop bottles to the machines), furniture, a weird leather biker-jacket section, a hardware section like someone emptied a Harbor Freight in 1978 and dumped it there, of records, new stuff made to look old (think the store in Cracker Barrel), toys, tools, books, records, a section chock full of cassette tapes (mostly hair metal), musical instruments of all varieties, a stuffed squirrel that my cousin photographed with his phone, nunchucks, swords, toilets, knives, flooring, gun parts, cabinetry, pistol crossbows, stuff you’d see in a thrift store or at a garage sale, a Weinermobile pedal car, … and other scattered oddities/treasures.

Yeah, I said musical instruments.  Of course, I flock nearly immediately to the old guitars.  Hoke-E-Geez also serves as an aged acoustic graveyard.  They have several dried out yet beautiful acoustics ravaged by time & strings that pull the neck past the point of no return. They would be great as decorations, or for this…

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

In fact, if I ever find one for the right price, it might make a cool antique bottle shelf… with some glass shelves & a light or 2.

Back to the story at hand though…  There we are strolling through the wonderland that is Hoke·E·Geez, like a bee doing its “tell the others where the honey is” dance. We were exclaiming “Woah!”, “Look at that!”, or “What is that?” with each erratic hop to the next section.

Toy Accordion (or Button Box?)

I can already play "Iron Man" and "Happy Birthday" (very poorly).

The first beauty I spied was this toy accordion for $12 and change.  It seems ridiculous and awesome.  Maybe I’ve seen The Bloody Seamen one too many times lately.  Looking online, it seems to be a fair price… and not difficult to master. I’m not sure of the name brand.  I have no idea if it’s a Hohner, Schylling, Barcelona, First Act, or something else.  I have found a bunch online that look similar.  This doesn’t match the colors of any others exactly, and of course it has no brand/name/logo in it.  Also, it appears that I have been shorted a book.  Also, is this really an accordion, or is it just a button box?  What’s the difference?  Are the butterfly-like designs up top too girly?

The next thing of interest that I saw was this beautiful New York Pro Strat knockoff…

New York Pro - Natural Finish Strat Copy
“Psst… you, yeah you… buy me. Yeah. I know I’m not a goofy guitar, but you need me. Look at my woodgrain. It’s not fancy or elegant, it’s just ‘there’. Buy me. I probably have really crappy electronics and hardware. Buy me. I bet no one has ever heard of ‘New York Pro’ or knows where we’re made. Buy me!
New York Pro - Strat Copy

New York Pro - Strat Copy

Well, the photo to the left is the photo that I sent to my wife along with the price, asking (only half kidding) if I should buy it.  There was some other black no-name Strat copy behind it.  The body on that black POS wasn’t nearly as solid, hefty,  or well-cut.

My cousin pointed it out I believe, & remarked on the natural finish.  I was stuck drooling over the $95 price tag since the neck was straight, there were no cracks, and it was nice solid body.  This was about the time we got into a conversation with a local cat who was into weird guitars and punk rock… and actually in a punk rock band up that way.  I can’t remember the name of the band.  I need to pop stuff like that into my phone.  The guy stopped & asked if I really had an accordion in the box marked “Accordion”.  I showed it to him & he’s the one that remarked that it was a button box & not an accordion.  After talking forever about weird guitars, rocking out, and goofy venues… we moved on.  He mentioned that there were other guitars “over there” pointing to a little music store-like area within the hallowed walls of Hoke·E·Geez.

This is where we happened upon some beast, made by a local cat that goes by Merle Kegg or Merle R. Kegg.  One of his custom-built axes had the letters “M R K” on the headstock.  The first one I spotted was a doubleneck… one 6 string guitar & one mandolin neck.  Yeah.  You read that right.

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

I apologize for the horrible quality cell phone photos, but I’m sure you get the point.  I find it an odd placement for the pickups… but then again some people like that neck pickup sound.  I generally stick as close to the bridge as possible.  The custom cases are pretty cool.  Then I came upon this one…

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

It caught my eye, and I believe the price was only $64 or $65… but I didn’t even take it out of the case once I got a closer look.  If there was a Regretsy-like site for homemade guitars, this may top them all.  I mean, I love the shape… and I respect the intent and the labor that went into this beast, but… wow.  The placement of the bridge directly up the neck’s ass is crazy.  The pickguard looks like flooring or wall tile.  I’m hoping this cat is Amish or 97 years old or has 7 fingers total or something.  I hate to be so harsh, but when I think a guitar is ugly, we have a problem on our hands.  There was no attempt to smooth out the edges or anything… the paint is applied like it’s the side of an outdoor shed… not a guitar.  Wow.  I’d like to see more of his work, maybe these were the odd ones out.  If you know anything more about his work, please post in the comments!  There were some other cool guitars (not made by Merle), ukuleles, mandolins & other stuff in that section.

I still hadn’t received a reply from the wife.  I got the accordion, my cousin picked up a few things, and off we went.

When we got back to camp, I asked my wife if she had seen the text with the photo.  She hadn’t.  She checked it out & liked it.  She asked that if I got it I could place it on the stand in the living room instead of my Batman Logo guitar.  She liked the wood (which I have since come to learn is mahogany).  We talked it over and she suggested that I go get it.  I told her it would need new guts, but she was still behind the idea.  After lunch, my cousin went to a nearby farm to hunt coyotes, and I went back to Hoke·E·Geez to hunt that guitar.

I came back with my prize:

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

I also managed to stop by the Bedford Banjo Shop.  It was small but very cool and reasonably priced in there.  They had banjos, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, & more.  They were also very friendly and quite busy.  I tried to stop by another store nearby, but they were closed as it was after 2:00pm.

I have plans for this guitar… GFS Lil Killer rail pickups, some wooden knobs, a leopard-print pickguard, black hardware (& bridge & tuners), and I guess a leopard-print strap.  As soon as I put away some money, I hope to get all this stuff & have it all set up nice & pretty.  My go-to guitar guy has been Aaron at Lawrence Music lately.  He helped set up the Batman Logo guitar… and dropped in my Seymour Duncans.

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

You didn’t think I’d leave it alone did you?  It needs something in order to fit in with my other guitars.

I’m still at a loss with any concrete information about the New York Pro brand.  I’m not sure if it’s pumped out of a Chinese factory that puts many different brands on the same guitars?  They do have an odd cut in the top of the headstock that seems to be on every NY Pro guitar I’ve seen online.  I’ve seen them as kit guitars, for $99, for $149.99 and for $279.95.  Maybe they’re made by Galaxy Guitars and the same as their Starfire line?  It looks like they might call it the “Galaxy New York Pro Star Gazer”.  They may be distributed by Lou Capece.  I may have to write to them for more information.

If you have any comments/stories about Hoke·E·Geez, any information about the accordion/button box, any info on that other guitar store in Bedford, any information about the New York Pro brand, or any comments/suggestions about my plans for the guitar… I’d love to hear ‘em!  Please share in the comments below!

Bob Evans Follow-Up Bob Evans Follow-Up Bob Evans Follow-Up


Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!

Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!

You read about the Bob Evans fallout and follow-up, right?  In the interest of fully full disclosure, we went back, got a free meal, and had a nice normal dining out experience.  It went well.  LeAnn from Bob Evans wrote to check on me, and I thought I’d share the dialogue.

From: “Purdy, Leann D”
To: [Me]
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Subject: RE: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520 / Blog post about Bob Evans

Hi Eric!

 I wanted to follow up with you to see if you had been back, if not I understand.  I do hope that you do at least use your gift certificates to get some of our amazing Wildfire BBQ sauce!

I know you had concerns with what action was taken after your call/email, I can assure you that all of your feedback is used for training purposes, we did forward your comments to the area coach and general manager so that we can ensure that we are providing excellent service.

Have a great day!

Jelly Jelly Jelly!

bef.gif

LeAnn Purdy
Representative, Guest and Consumer Relations

Supporting Bob Evans Restaurants, Bob Evans Food Products & Mimi’s Café Restaurants
3776 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43207
Bob Evans Guest and Consumer Relations: (800) 939-2338
Mimi’s Café Guest Relations: (866) 616-6464
Fax: (614) 492-4971
Bobevans.com

And, my response:

From: [-mE.]
To: “Purdy, Leann D” ; Riggs A.
Cc: [The Wife]
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Subject: Re: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520 / Blog post about Bob Evans

Hello LeAnn,

Thank you very much for the follow up!  We actually did get the opportunity to take advantage of a free meal last Thursday night, at the same Bridgeville location.  It was a wonderful experience.  It wasn’t too busy when we arrived… and we seemed to get there right at a shift change, but the service was smooth nonetheless, and we only had to ask once for jelly!

Asking once for jelly & receiving it struck me as a possible bad omen.  Upon arrival, the first thing we heard as we were seated was the waitress at the table next to us (oddly not our waitress) telling her customers that something had been comped or removed from their bill… and the customer was spouting off about something unintelligible.

We had an excellent waitress then waiter, there was no shouting from the kitchen, the food was prepared well.  Some of the carrots with my turkey dinner were dry/cracked, but you’ll get that anywhere.  I didn’t see a manager on duty or patrolling the dining room, but things were running quite smoothly without their presence.

If you talk to the area coach/general manager/managers/team there again, please pass on our thanks for another great meal that was back to what we would call a normal Bob Evans experience.  I didn’t present my BE gift money until the end of the meal, but it didn’t produce any speed bumps and we still have one left!

Thank you for the gift, and both you & Nate for your time, and sincere follow-up!  (Follow-ups?  Follows-up?)

“Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!” may be a good ad campaign.  “Pizza! Pizza!” worked for Little Caesar’s.

Thanks again,
-Eric

Bob Evans Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bob Evans’ Follow Up


A Bob Evans Restaurant

random BOB EVANS image from the web

Bob Evans Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After posting my recent tale of insanity during a Bob Evans visit, I received some almost immediate follow-up from Nate Riggs via Twitter DM:

nateriggs
– Eric – I work with Bob Evans. Saw your blog post. Would you shoot me your email so I can help make this right? :)

nateriggs
Thanks. Ill email you in a few and make sure we make this right By the way – love your blog and your writing style. :)

Twitter is awesome.  Instant responses.  These were followed up with another quick flurry of emails:

From: “Riggs, Nathaniel A.” <Nate_Riggs@BobEvans.Com>
To: <me@my.email.addre.ss>
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 1:52 PM
Subject: Blog post about Bob Evans

Eric,

Thanks so much for your email address and for your post. We always try to deliver the best guest experience that we can, but sometimes we mess up. We’re truly sorry for the wait time and hassle that you and your wife experienced in our restaurant.

On a personal note, I dig your blog and was just in Pittsburgh yesterday. This is week 3 for me at Bob Evans leading digital and social so I’m working through some on boarding before I can really work on tightening up our digital presence.  I’m a blogger as well – http://nateriggs.com – and I always appreciate when bloggers are so respectful, even when we messed up. J

The next email from me will refer you to Leeann Purdy in our guest relations department. She will email you and take it from there.

Again, thank you!

BEFarmslogoemal

Nate Riggs
@nateriggs
Digital Marketing Strategist, Restaurant Marketing
3700 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43207
Phone: (614) 497-7447
Droid: (614) 348-2646
www.bobevans.com
We like you. Like us on Facebook!

and…

From: “Riggs, Nathaniel A.” <Nate_Riggs@BobEvans.Com>
To: “Purdy, Leann D”
Cc: <me@my.email.addre.ss>
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 1:55 PM
Subject: Contact information for Eric Carroll – Pittsburgh Blogger from this morning

Leann,

Hi there.

I’ve copied Eric Carroll on this message. He is the Pittsburgh blogger who posted on our Facebook page this morning as we discussed. Would you please reach out to him when you have a moment?

Thank you!

BEFarmslogoemal

Nate Riggs
@nateriggs
Digital Marketing Strategist, Restaurant Marketing
3700 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43207
Phone: (614) 497-7447
Droid: (614) 348-2646
www.bobevans.com
We like you. Like us on Facebook!

and…

From: “Purdy, Leann D”
To: <me@my.email.addre.ss>
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 2:32 PM
Subject: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520

Mr. Carroll,

I would like to first, thank you for taking the time to share your experience regarding your visit to our Bridgeville location, and also sincerely apologize for the overall unacceptable food and service you received.  I also appreciate that you were so candid as most people will not complain, the will just not go back, and we would not have the opportunity to try to make it up to you.

Our company places great emphasis on training our employees to satisfy our guests, so we appreciate that you have brought this to our attention.  We expect our servers to be attentive, timely, and attend to all of our guests needs, and I am very sorry that we let you down.

I would like the opportunity follow up with you by mail to invite you back to our restaurant, and if you are willing, I would like your address so that I can formally apologize to you by mail.  I also have shared your comments with the general manager and area coach of this location also so they can ensure that any necessary action is taken.

Again, Mr. Carroll, we appreciate your comments.  We value your patronage and appreciate your interest in Bob Evans Farms Inc.

LeAnn Purdy
Guest Relations
Bob Evans Farms, Inc.

and…

From: “Purdy, Leann D”
To: <me@my.email.addre.ss>
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 3:24 PM
Subject: RE: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520

Mr. Carroll,

I wanted to send a follow up because I researched our records and did find where you had sent us these comments on our website with your mailing address included.

I have updated our records and a letter will be going out to you tomorrow.

Have a great day!

bef.gif

LeAnn Purdy
Representative, Guest and Consumer Relations
Supporting Bob Evans Restaurants, Bob Evans Food Products & Mimi’s Café Restaurants
3776 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43207
Bob Evans Guest and Consumer Relations: (800) 939-2338
Mimi’s Café Guest Relations: (866) 616-6464
Fax: (614) 492-4971
Bobevans.com

Then a week or so later, I got this in the mail…

Bob Evans Letter

Bob Evans Letter

Bob Evans Coupons

Bob Evans Coupons

How cool is that?  That’s enough for a meal & a half for the wife & I.  I have to say, I applaud their quick followup, perceived excitement, blatant flattery, and sincerity.  I do have to say, I’m a little afraid of returning to the Bridgeville location if someone was reamed by a regional manager as slyly implied by the emails and letter.  I mean “I also have shared your comments with the general manager and area coach of this location also so they can ensure that any necessary action is taken” seems pretty serious.  I don’t want to go back with Bob Evans bucks in hand and have them be all like “Oh, this is that butthole who wrote a blog and got me a lecture while I was just having a really bad day…”  Or do you think it was calmly presented as “OK, we obviously have some sort of breakdown, what can we as a management team do to help”?  I mean, that’s how it should have gone… right?

The didn’t comment on the asking 3 times for jelly code, so I can only assume this is a real thing.  Next time you’re at Bob Evans and you want jelly, ask for it thrice and ye shall receive thereupon the third asking.

Where’s the balance?  I’m really looking for input here.  Was I right to complain?  Am I safe in returning?  Should I just go to the Bob Evans in Robinson?  Think they have the same area coach & general manager?  How good is their Wildfire BBQ sauce?

New AllergyEats App


So, I’ve blogged about Allergy Eats many times before.  You know I think it’s an awesome resource, but can only be useful if users rate restaurants.  Now, it’s easier than ever to do… with new iPhone and Android apps!

AllergyEats Apps!

AllergyEats Apps!

AllergyEats T-shirt

AllergyEats.com

You can read the word from Allergy Eats about the release here or get the app you need here.

Paul from AllergyEats is good people, he recently donated to FAAN for my Food Allergy Walk in Pittsburgh!

I encourage you to spread the word to anyone that you know with food allergies, so we can all take advantage of the awesome ever-expanding database now available anywhere that you can get cell phone service!

AllergyEats | Defining allergy-friendly restaurant survey results


So, a while ago I posted asking for you to help out Paul from Allergy Eats with defining “allergy-friendly” as it pertains to a restaurant.  I also took the time to post my own thoughts before I sent them on to be tabulated.

Well, now Paul has posted his summary & survey results to the still mysterious government body.  I enjoyed reading the results, so I thought I’d share:

AllergyEats | Blog Logo

AllergyEats Blog

The AllergyEats Blog | How do we define an allergy-friendly restaurant? A look at the survey results

It’s great to see the results, and I can’t wait to see where & how they’re put to use.  It’s also great that all of our comments were passed along with the report, so rest assured that your voice has been heard thanks to Paul.  Hopefully it lays groundwork for more gub’ment organizations to follow by example!  (Although, we need to push from a consumer level too.)

My take on the results… it looks like we’re all looking for everyone in the restaurant from kitchen to wait staff to managers to be trained in food allergies and cross-contamination and possibly even certified… which seems like a no-brainer.  Even if that’s all we get, it’s a great start.

Employee answering phone needs to be knowledgeable: 1

Apparently, I’m the only one who wants the person answering the phone to know what they’re talking about.  Ha ha.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to define shellfish on the phone, or ask if they have any only to get there after being told no… and they totally do.  Perhaps it’s shame on me for not asking to talk to a manager…  but the person answering the phone ought to be knowledgeable enough to hand-off such questions, so I stand by my statement.

Cross contamination: (42 responses)

Understands and avoids cross-contamination:  21

Separate and cleaned prep areas and cookware:  20

Should wash hands:  1

Who said they should wash their hands?  Seriously?  I hope they’re doing that anyway… and that they don’t really need those signs in the restroom as a reminder.

Treats ALL allergies the same, not just the Big 8: 1

Apparently I’m the lone theorist there.  Really?  Well, I’m in the Top 8 category, so I guess… yo hell with the rest of you!  Ha ha.

No nuts strewn about the restaurant: 1

This one agitates me.  If it’s part of the restaurant’s shtick/ambiance/personality… then just give it up.  I like being able to walk into Five Guys and grab a tray of peanuts.  I don’t expect (or want) to dine at Long John Silvers or Red Lobster any time soon.

Specific allergen menus available in-house (not just online): 13

Allergen symbol list on menus: 12

Online food allergy menu: 4

All excellent points.  I’ve blogged about the need for menu symbols before.  Let’s get this done, people!

Ability to print out all ingredients for customer / show labels to customer if necessary: 11

Great idea.  A representative from Bob Evans once emailed me a chart detailing where everything was cooked in the kitchen & what surfaces would be safe with my shellfish allergy while they has a seasonal Shrimp stir-fry dish.  How cool is that?

At any rate, read the Blog at AllergyEats, and leave some feedback whether you participated in the original survey or not… it’s still valuable.  I’d also appreciate any comments here.  I’m sure the peanut thing will get some people riled up.  Ha ha.

 

Defining Allergy-Friendly


AllergyEats.com

AllergyEats.com

So, quite a task has been put to the food allergy community by Allergy Eats:  Define what it means to for a restaurant to be “allergy-friendly”.

You may have seen it in a recent re-posting by me, or on your own.  I urge you to form your own response and send it to contact@allergyeats.com.  I figured that I’d use this blog to sort out my thoughts before I sent them on to Paul at Allergy Eats.  I don’t exactly how I’ve morphed in to a food allergy advocate of sorts, but I feel that it’s important to help out any way that I can, and encourage others to keep up work that moves us all in the right direction.  There are already some great comments on the blog, and I’m sure he’s got an inbox full of suggestions already… but it’s important to keep them coming so this can be looked at from multiple angles.

AllergyEats T-shirtI like bulleted lists for some reason, so that’s how I’ll try to organize my thoughts:

  • The restaurant has to have a policy that reaches to ALL levels. Too many times restaurants claim to have god allergy practices, but it doesn’t trickle down to the wait staff, the cooks, or anyone past management.  Having a policy is great, but it needs to be understood and respected through all levels.  I feel comfort in a place when the waitress has the manager or even the chef come out to discuss allergy & cross-contamination issues with me.  Training, some sort of certification, and re-training annually or semi-annually would be excellent.
  • Changing current thinking. This is a good one…  Today at Boston Market, I noticed a sign on top of the cash register that read something to the effect of “If you have food allergies, please talk to the manager before placing your order.”  It’s great they’re recognizing the fact that there are food allergies out there, but… the cash register is at the end of the counter, and only reached well after you place your order.  Also, I’d hope that someone with food allergies would already have a heightened awareness when going anywhere to eat.  (If not, please read this.) More thought needs to be put into place, not just “CYA” measures.
  • They have to exude reassurance. A poster is great.  An “allergy-friendly” menu is great.  A sign at the cash register or on your table or on the salad bar is great… but not enough.  In with the training on all levels, the sever (or whoever answers the phone) must bee confident with the answers that you want to hear.  No “I don’t think” or “not really” or “I’m not sure so you’d just better not order that” will do.  Have the right answers.  Know why.  Understand the severity.  Knowledge of the kitchen and where everything is cooked should be a must for servers and managers.  Nuts can’t just be “picked off”.  There’s no such thing as “oh a little won’t hurt” with butter.  The fryer doesn’t “get hot enough to kill anything you’re allergic to”.  It’s unsettling fr someone with food allergies to dine out.  Making them feel safe is a must for “friendliness”.
    • On a related note… especially the person answering your phone.  When dining out of town, I try to call ahead (or get my wife to call ahead for me).  My favorite response ever was an Amish place in Ohio where I asked if they had shellfish (“like shrimp or crab or oysters” I said)… the girl went on to say “No, we have oysters, but they’re in soup, and there’s shrimp… but it’s not in a shell.”  Needless to say, we didn’t go there.
  • All allergies are equal. It’s great to see “nut free” options, or “gluten-free” menus, but let’s treat all allergies with the same respect to cross contamination.  The top 8 are; Milk, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  But, there are others too!  I know of people with severe allergies to peppers, and have heard of corn allergies.  These people need to feel safe too!  Current government regulations don’t regulate the labeling of any allergens other than the top 8, so that’s all that people seem to pay attention to.  Special attention needs to be given to all kinds of allergies, not just one allergen or group of singled-out allergens.
  • Know what you’re serving. Are their anchovies in the Italian dressing or Worcester sauce?  Is this fried in peanut oil?  The server shouldn’t necessarily need to know off hand, but this information should be able to be provided upon request. Having it in written form would be tremendous.  (We could go into other special dietary needs here too… not an allergy, but I have an aunt with Diverticulitus who needs to know if there are seeds or nuts that may be ground up and hidden in things like dressing or soups or bread.) Listing all this on a website would be excellent.
  • Separate locations & utensils for allergy-free meal preparation. Cross-contamination is huge.  I don’t worry about a mutant lobster crawling into my mouth by itself… but I do worry (immensely) that some scallop juice might be on the grill where my steak was cooked… or that someone who just made a shrimp cocktail didn’t wash their hands before making my salad.  I’d love to know that the place where I’m dining has a fish or shellfish only fryer, separate grill spaces for different kinds of meat (even a vegetarian/vegan section would be cool), even separate cutting boards, prep areas, knives, and other utensils.
    • Keep the nuts off the salad bar… near their own station.
    • Hey Subway, don’t put the “seafood” sub stuff right next to the other lunchmeat, and don’t cut those subs with the same knife you use for all the other subs!
  • Ability to accommodate the unusual. Say someone has an inhalation allergy to peanuts…  Can you seat them somewhere so that the people at the next table are able to order some peanut-encrusted dessert without throwing them into an anaphylactic fit?  Can you do this without rolling your eyes, sighing, and making it a big deal?
  • Special markers/identifiers. I saw a commenter note this in the comments on the Allergy Eats blog post, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Something ought to be a literal red flag… in the system, on an order ticket, on the check, on even the plate itself.  Everyone knows that orange-rimmed coffee pots mean decaf.  Why not red for allergies?  Or get crazy & assign a color to each of the top 8 & one for “other” allergies?  Did I read that Legal Sea Foods does double-plating or something to that effect?  It’s genius.  I’d like to extend the symbols idea to the menu too… why not have some sort of system with easily recognized food allergy icons?

That’s my take for now, but there are already many other great suggestions in the comments section over at Allergy EatsPlease, take the time to send yours to contact@allergyeats.com before Feb. 2nd!