Subway | Eat Death™


I’ve recently renewed my dialog with Subway, sparked by the news of them rolling out a gluten-free menu.  Here’s how it’s going down:

From:

ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:16 AM
Subject: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: Paula Gomez <gomez_p@subway.com>, Rob Searfus <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>, Mack Bridenbaker <m.bridenbaker@sfaft.org>, Christine Sumecki <c.sumecki@sfaft.org>, Subway Customer Care Team <asksubway@subway.com>, “B. Pingarron” <b.pingarron@sfaft.org>, “M. Luby” <m.luby@sfaft.org>, “Anna Marie Seeley (Customer Care Representative)” <seeley_a@subway.com>, Kevin Kane <kane_k@subway.com>

Hello Friends at Subway,

I write to you today because we have had a dialogue going in the past about food allergies and cross-contamination that I would like to continue.  I have recently read a few articles online informing the masses that Subway plans to roll-out some gluten-free menu options in the Dallas & Tyler Texas markets soon.  If you would like to read the articles in question, here are some links:

While I would like to be able to applaud this effort, I also find it quite frustrating.

I am quite proud of Subway as an organization when I read such responsible things like “The baked goods will arrive pre-packaged and individually wrapped. Employees will be educated on how to cut the bread using a pre-wrapped knife to avoid cross contamination.”  I mean, really… this is a novel idea and a stellar effort as well as great news for Celiac afflicted potential Subway customers.  Certainly lines like “Also, to further avoid cross-contamination, that same Sandwich Artist will prepare the order from beginning to end, ensuring a 100-percent gluten-free meal” offer a level of comfort to those who must dine gluten-free.  While other restaurants have offered gluten-free menus, you seem to understand that a knife that cuts a regular bun cannot also cut the bun of a gluten-free selection.  This would, I imagine, be quite a worry for a wheat-allergic or Celiac person.  I can imagine this scenario quite well, actually.  You may remember my past missives expressing my allergy to shellfish (and more specifically to your “seafood” sub offering).

This is where my frustration sets in.  I have written to you on multiple occasions expressing the frustration for not only my shellfish allergy, but all of the “top 8”; Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  Why have you picked this opportunity to only concentrate on the wheat?  There are others too… I know of people with tomato and pepper allergies that would be thrown into the same anaphylactic shock that I would given I were to take a bite of unknowingly deathfish-laiden lunchmeat.  While you seem to understand the importance of a gluten-free knife… what about a cheese-free, tomato-free, and shellfish-free knife?  Perhaps you have forgotten my previous letter with a few colorful illustrations of the contaminated knife issue.  I will repost here for your convenience:

Then we have the community knife.  If one were to cut someone’s seafood sub with that knife, wipe it off, then cut my sub, there are STILL allergens on that knife, enough allergens to kill me.  Do you want me to be thrown in to an Anaphylactic fit?  I doubt it.  Well, at least, I hope not.

Think about this – do you share your toothbrush with everyone in your household?  Would you with everyone in your office?  Would you share it with everyone that you pass on the way to work in the morning or with everyone who’s eating lunch with you at the same place where you’re choosing to dine?

Yes, it sounds gross, but those potential germs that you’re no doubt currently horrified of are the same as the very real allergens that will most certainly throw me into instant death.

If that didn’t do it for you, imagine I put a giant dried dog turd on the sandwich board, cut it in half, wrapped it, wiped off the knife [with a re-used dishrag type cloth], and then cut your sandwich.  By Subway’s current logic, that knife is clean and contamination free.  This is most certainly not a pretty picture to you, my friend.  Is it?

Does any of this ring a bell?

Also, I have received conflicting reports on how such issues are currently handled or have been handled in the past.  One reply states…

The Company policy directs our independent restaurant owners / operators to take all necessary precautions to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. This includes the policy of washing all utensils and containers after each use. Each restaurant is independently owned and operated and is the responsibility of the franchise owner to implement and enforce the policy.

Which seems to conflict with yet another reply…

I have gone ahead and copied our Training Department so that further lessons can be addressed with owners and their employees on proper handling.

And, the latest information according to the QSRWeb.com article is that “Sandwich Artists in those two markets will be trained on how to cut the roll with a pre-wrapped knife for one use only.”  So, have they been trained in allergies in cross-contamination already, or not?  Color me confused, my friends.

I’d feel safer if the seafood concoction wasn’t anywhere near the meat & cheese where it currently sits.  I’d also feel safer if the same knife wasn’t used to cut all of the sandwiches, and the same dishrag-type towel wasn’t used to wipe off the knife in random intervals between sandwich slicing.  I’d feel safer if all the sandwich artists, managers, and owners were trained on allergens, cross-contamination, and the seriousness of anaphylactic shock.  I’d feel safer if all stores contained a first aid kit complete with an epi pen and clear instructions for its use.

Why should the Celiac-afflicted feel safer, but the rest of us with deadly food allergies should not?  I look forward to your response, your insights, and how you plan to move forward regarding all potentially deadly allergens and how they are to be handled in your stores.  Thank you once again for your time, I hope to hear from you soon.

Inquisitively,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

P.S. – I was wondering, when you work in an office for Subway, do you have an in-office Subway in which the employees receive (or make) their own lunch?  Or, is there a Subway nearby where you get free or discounted food?  Or, are you all too sick of Subway to eat there?

And I got this back…

From: Searfus, Rob <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM
Subject: RE: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hello Eric,

My apologies for not replying earlier, I was traveling and in meetings most of the week, (as well as attending to some family business).  But enough of the excuses.

Forgive me for not having more product answers, but I’m simply a field marketing representative out here on the west coast.  I have inquired with our R&D department to try and get the answers to your questions.  No replies yet, but this week has been tough for me to get a hold of anyone on the east coast due to the severe winter storms that they have been having (offices closed for at least a couple of days.)

I’ll follow up by e-mail when I get any answers for you.

Thanks, and BTW, what part of the US to you hail from?

Rob Searfus
Field Marketing Manager
Subway® Franchise World Headquarters
16337 SW Leeding Ln
Tigard, OR 97223
Cell: 503-954-5479
Toll Free: 1-800-888-4848 x 4089
Fax 503-579-6715
e-mail: searfus_r@subway.com

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION CHANGE:  PLEASE NOTE MY EMAIL ADDRESS HAS CHANGED TO searfus_r@subway.com.  Please update your address book to reflect this change.  We are undergoing a technology transition.  During this transition, you may still receive emails from the “sfaft.org” address.  This is not an error, but please enter my new subway.com email address when sending emails.

So I wrote this…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jan 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM
Subject: Re: Gluten-Free Menu Options in Texas?
To: “Searfus, Rob” <R.Searfus@sfaft.org>

Thank you Rob,

I had actually wondered if anyone would reply.  I had an email chain going before with a Ms. Paula Gomez & Ms. Ana Seely… but they have been short replies and my main questions have gone unsanswered.

I’m in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  Thanks for your time, I hope to hear from your colleagues soon!

-Eric

But in the mean time, I made some pretty pictures.  I can’t decide which one I like the most.

Which one do you like best?

Dog Turds and Toothbrushes


Amused & annoyed by the lack of formal response from Subway, I decided to reboot (again with editing help from Dave).  I sent a new message via the webform (luckily this time it fell within their character limit), and also via snail mail:

Hello Friends!

This message is less about a specific Subway location, and more about Subway practices in general.

I hear from recent news reports that Subway has their cheese tessellation issues under control and will assert a more correct cheese placement this July.  Independence for dairy goodness!

Although I was worried about the cheese triangle issue, I am still more concerned about food allergen and cross-contamination awareness in Subway Employees and Sandwich Artists.

Are you aware of how many people out there suffer from some sort of food allergy?  I believe it’s 11% of the population.  Myself, I’m affected with a severe allergy to shellfish.  I can’t eat in your fine stores unless they’re the small ones in places like Wal-Mart that don’t serve the deadly dreaded seafood death sub.

Not only does the creamy death-inducing concoction reside right beside the other meat, the cheeses, and toppings; it often spews all over the open containers when it’s scooped out with that poor miserable ice-cream scoop.

Then we have the community knife.  If one were to cut someone’s seafood sub with that knife, wipe it off, then cut my sub, there are STILL allergens on that knife, enough allergens to kill me.  Do you want me to be thrown in to an Anaphylactic fit?  I doubt it.  Well, at least, I hope not.

Think about this – do you share your toothbrush with everyone in your household?  Would you with everyone in your office?  Would you share it with everyone that you pass on the way to work in the morning or with everyone who’s eating lunch with you at the same place where you’re choosing to dine?

Yes, it sounds gross, but those potential germs that you’re no doubt currently horrified of are the same as the very real allergens that will most certainly throw me into instant death.

If that didn’t do it for you, imagine I put a giant dried dog turd on the sandwich board, cut it in half, wrapped it, wiped off the knife, and then cut your sandwich.  By Subway’s current logic, that knife is clean and contamination free.  This is most certainly not a pretty picture to you, my friend.  Is it?

I really am looking forward to your thoughts on this issue.  I hope to have a continued dialog until the issue is brought to the attention of those in charge of such things.

I thank you in advance for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Blowing your mind,
-Eric

P.S. – I was wondering, when you work in an office for Subway, do you have an in-office Subway in which the employees receive (or make) their own lunch?  Or, is there a Subway nearby where you get free or discounted food?  Or, are you all too sick of Subway to eat there?

Letters to Subway

Letters to Subway

I had to resort to snail mail to see if I get a better response.  Emails are sadly all too easy to ignore.  Unless you’re persistent, I guess.  I did get a response from Paula Gomez again, this time in direct response to the above message sent via direct email, not the webform:

From: Paula Gomez gomez_p@subway.com
Date: Thu, Jun 24, 2010
Subject: Subway & Allergen Cross-Contamination
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr Aixelsyd:

Thank you again for your time and sharing your comments. We value the input of our customers and take this as an opportunity to improve our business and satisfy our guests.

The Company policy directs our independent restaurant owners / operators to take all necessary precautions to prevent the possibility of cross contamination. This includes the policy of washing all utensils and containers after each use. Each restaurant is independently owned and operated and is the responsibility of the franchise owner to implement and enforce the policy.

We will ensure that this important message is reiterated with each restaurant to ensure that proper procedures are followed.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to contact us. SUBWAY® looks forward to your continued visits.

Sincerely

Paula Gomez

***DISCLAIMER***

The information contained in this e-mail and attachments, if any, is confidential and may be subject to legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not use, copy, distribute or disclose the e-mail and its attachment, or any part of its content or take any action in reliance of it. If you have received this e-mail in error please e-mail the message back to the sender by replying and then deleting it. We cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage arising from the use of this e-mail or attachments and recommend that you subject these to your virus checking procedures prior to use. Thank you.

Well, at least she remembers that I contacted them before… but I don’t think she remembers her previous responses.  I think I was assured that they all go through training.  I asked about the training, and didn’t get any solid replies.  Now, it seems to be all on the responsibility of each individual owner/operator.

Sadly but not surprisingly, my postscript about the in-office Subway situation went unanswered.  I’m guessing that’s what puts it over the top… even though I had previously mentioned the thought of a community toothbrush and a dog turd in a food prep area.

I’ll wait for some other responses (if I get any), and try to ratchet this up a notch or two.

Pandora’s Lunchbox


Heh.  Twitter is fun.  So, you may know that I have my W(aL)D Twitter account, and I use it to be goofy.  I think I re-opened the Subway door here.  Mayhaps this time I’ll get some sort of resolution?

Today, Subway Freshbuzz tweeted the following…

Does anybody else out there try to save half of their $5 Footlong for a 2nd meal, only to be called back by its delicious siren song?

So, I posted this in response…

@subwayfreshbuzz Nope. Not when 1 bite is a potential trip to the E.R. thanks to cross-contamination in the food-prep area.

Tonight, I have this in my Direct Message box…

subwayfreshbuzz Thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you could let us know more about this incident on our cust. service page  http://bit.ly/bhSAn

Well, at least I have someone paying attention!  I sent them a link to my original complaint to Subway, but I’d like to list the whole saga here… in case I need them to refer back to the message trail at some point…

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.

• October 28, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

Subway Customer ID: 1918316

• October 29, 2009 • 7 Comments (Edit)

Quiznos writes back before Subway!

• November 12, 2009 • 8 Comments (Edit)

So, we have a response from Subway! – Not really a response, if you ask me…

• November 13, 2009 • 2 Comments (Edit)

The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the diminutive hand model…

• November 17, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

“You never told me you spoke my language, Doctor Jones.”

• November 18, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½. – No doubt.

• November 20, 2009 • 3 Comments (Edit)

Subway®: “First, allow me to apologize.” – Again, this really wasn’t a nice response, or a response at all…

• November 24, 2009 • 4 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.
– I had to take it somewhere else.

• November 25, 2009 • 6 Comments (Edit)

Allergies, Annoyance, Alliteration, & Acceptance

• December 21, 2009 • 1 Comment (Edit)

Subway®: “First, allow me to apologize.”


So, I fired off two more emails…  One to Subway, and one to my new friend Mr. Jones at Quiznos.  No response from Mr. Jones yet, but we do have one from Subway.  I’ll share it all below!

OK, so email one, to Subway:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
To: “Bridenbaker, Mack” m.bridenbaker@sfaft.org
Cc: Paula Gomez gomez_p@subway.com; Kevin Kane kane_k@subway.com; Anna Marie Seeley seeley_a@subway.com
Sent: Mon, November 23, 2009 10:24:20 AM
Subject: Re: Subway [
Customer ID: 1918316]

Hello Mr. Bridenbaker,

It’s been over a week since your email to me saying that Ms. Gomez would address my concerns and I’ve yet to see any sort of response.  I still haven’t had a reply to my initial message to Ms. Seely, or  from anyone on your team.  I’m disappointed in the lack of comment overall, my first message which was sent on Oct. 28th has still gone unanswered.

I now understand why the employees in your stores have an “I don’t care” attitude.  It trickles down from the top, and certainly must be passed on in franchise owners, hiring, & training.

I’m amazed at your total lack of concern for the decline of your once championing establishment.  I should perhaps pass on my shellfish allergen and cross-contamination concerns to some allergy awareness groups.  Perhaps allergy awareness lobbyists will warrant some attention.  Everyone I know already hates Jared and the $5 footlong commercials, so I don’t need to push the issue on that one.  The concept of cheese tessellation will obviously elude the average sandwich artist from now until the end of time, so we have no hope there.

Perhaps in copying Quiznos’ idea of toasting subs, you should also adopt their business model in using better quality ingredients and customer service policies.  I have had a continued dialog with them regarding your lack of customer service and their seemingly misleading Toasty Torpedo ads with the very tiny hands.  They proudly stand behind their ads (however creepy), their innovation, and their customer service.

Not signed.  On purpose.  Notice all the Cc’s, everyone hates that… I don’t care who you are.   I tried to poke at every issue and make empty useless claims about allergy awareness groups, and I brought up that Quiznos is the trend-setter while noting that they’re also not perfect.

And, on a friendlier note to Quiznos, I decided to reveal my intentions to an amicable Mr. Jones:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Re: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?
To: “Jones, Tony” TJones2@quiznos.com

Thanks Tony,

I must confess, I do have a blog and I have been chronicling my email escapades there.  I like to play them as part consumer advocacy, part humor and all goofy.  I used to write snail mail letters, but email has made it so much easier & faster.  Some friends have encouraged me to keep writing, so I have.  I really enjoy the open & honest dialogue that we have going on, and appreciate that you stand behind the product & integrity of your company… and take the time to respond to emails such as mine.  Also, you obviously have a sense of humor, which has to be a “must” for any kind of customer interaction.  I’m sure you get goofier emails and phone calls from actual crazy people.

I’m intrigued at your suggestion that I get into consulting or franchise journalism.  Do you know how I would even go about this?  Would I need to obtain a degree in something?  I hope to grab followers to my blog just for amusement, but am unaware as to how to make it a profitable venture, ha ha ha.

Thank you once again for your time, I’m actually waiting to hear from some of your Quiznos colleagues, and Subway has still not given me a response beyond “someone will respond”… not that I’m at all surprised by that at this point.

Rock on!
-Eric

Hopefully he writes back in a positive light, and still finds all of this amusing.  Still waiting for further comment from his other colleagues, none of which have really delivered so far.

And, now, the fun part… Subway’s response (or lack thereof):

From: asksubway@subway.com
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM
Subject: Subway
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Mr Aixelsyd:

First, allow me to apologize. Secondly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us and share your comments.

At each SUBWAY® restaurant, it is the goal of every owner; manager and employee to produce each sandwich and salad properly made to order.

Our customers provide us with valuable input, which we use to improve our operations. Your comments were shared with the regional office in your area as well as the owner of the SUBWAY® restaurant that you have visited.  Since all restaurants are individually owned and operated it is the owner who would be the person to contact you in response to your concern.

I have gone ahead and copied our Training Department so that further lessons can be addressed with owners and their employees on proper handling.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to contact us. SUBWAY® looks forward to your continued visits.

Sincerely,

Paula Gomez

Heh.  “First, allow me to apologize” not followed by an apology is extremely profound, and hopefully intentional.  Then, she thanks me for writing, probably through gritted teeth.

This line reeks of copy & paste:  “At each SUBWAY® restaurant, it is the goal of every owner; manager and employee to produce each sandwich and salad properly made to order.”

And, I love the long winded “it wasn’t me”/”it’s not my fault”/”it’s not my problem”:  “Your comments were shared with the regional office in your area as well as the owner of the SUBWAY® restaurant that you have visited.  Since all restaurants are individually owned and operated it is the owner who would be the person to contact you in response to your concern.”  Basically, she’s telling me that I’m being ignored by a lower level.

“I have gone ahead and copied our Training Department so that further lessons can be addressed with owners and their employees on proper handling.”  With what?  Cross-contamination?  Cleanliness?  Cheese tessellation? How to reply to customer emails?

SUBWAY® looks forward to your continued visits” …so we can spit in your food?  Did she read my emails?  Perhaps this whole thing is just a reading comprehension issue.  I find it amusing that the e Subway spokesperson declined to comment.  Perhaps now is the time to move into old-school W(aL)D mode, and reply that Subway will not be allowed on the moon when I’m emperor.

Are there any psychologists or psychiatrists out there reading this?  I’d love to get your take (…if you can tell me without telling me what my own problems are, ha ha ha).

If you haven’t been following,you may want to check out the back-story rundown here:  If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½. That should explain the last email, and at the bottom there’s a rundown of all the ones that came before it (with links) if you’re interested.

Also… lots of people have been telling me they’re following… by word of mouth, or Facebook, or Twitter, and even via text message… but I beg you, if you’re reading… post a comment here, and others may have a comment about your comment.  I see by the stats that people are reading.  Don’t be shy.  We’re all friends here.  Except for you, people at Subway… Except for you.

Customer ID: 1918316

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½.


Wow, amazingly… Quiznos is still on the job, and Subway is still not.

The W(aL)D inbox was empty today, save for this…

From: HelpDesk <HelpDesk@quiznos.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM
Subject: FW: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?
To: FO Marketing <FOmarketing@quiznos.com>
Cc: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for your response back. Greg is currently out of the office so I will forward your comments on to our marketing team for you.

Rebecca Chamberlain

Help Desk Associate

QUIZNOS®

Subs • Soups • Salads

Our friends at Subway have still not written back… even though I was told by Mack Bridenbaker that Paula Gomez from Customer Care would address my concerns.

We also have another Quiznos email address to add to the collection.

If you need to catch up, here’s a time-line on this one:

  • I write to Subway about allergens, cross-contamination, hygiene, the $5 footlong campaign and Jared:  $5 Foot Up Your Ass. [Oct. 28, 2009]
  • Subway (Anna Seely, Customer Care) sends back a form letter that I in turn reply to: Customer ID: 1918316 [Oct. 29, 2009]
  • I send it to Quiznos to get a comment, and they (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region & Gregory Boudreaux, Help Desk Lead) do:  Quiznos writes back before Subway – To put this in perspective I also tried to get comments from Sheetz, Jimmy John’s, & Jersey Mike’s – w/o so much as even a form letter generic response (wtf? seriously.) …and re-sent the concerns to Subway noting that it had been a while since they’d received my mail with no reply. [Nov. 1o & 11, 2009]
  • Response from Subway (Mack Bridenbaker, Subway Spokesperson) saying someone (Paula Gomez, Customer Care) will address my concerns:  Sort of a response from Subway [Nov. 13, 2009]
  • Since I have a good already open dialogue, I write to Quiznos about the little hands in the Toasty Torpedo Ads:  Are those midget hands? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Quiznos (Tony Jones, Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region) writes back, amused:  Have you ever thought of getting into an independent consulting capacity… or maybe franchise news journaling? [Nov. 17, 2009]
  • Today, Quiznos (Rebecca Chamberlain, Help Desk Associate) writes back, to tell me that she’s passing on my email, and that someone else from the marketing team will get back to me.  Awesome.

If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 and Quiznos 3½(The responses saying you’ll get a response are only worth ½ in my point system, OK?)

So there you have it.  Quiznos is awesome.  Subway is not.

What is “FO Marketing” though?

At any rate, please let me know what you think of the insanity… and where I should go from here.

 

 

 

So, we have a response from Subway!


And the plot thickens…

On Nov 13, 2009, at 4:31 PM, “ERiC AiXeLsyD” <world.and.lunar.domination> wrote:

Hello Mr. Bridenbaker,

I had recently submitted some concerns via webform to your team at Subway, and it’s been over two weeks since I’ve has a response to my last message that asked for details regarding my experiences with Subway.

Since I hadn’t heard from you (or anyone at Subway) this past week, I decided to re-send my original message, and to ask if it’s been passed on to the appropriate parties?

Please find my original message at the bottom, the initial response from Subway, and my unanswered reply below.

I hope this can be directed to the correct person (or persons) for comment. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

Sincerely,
-Eric

…and attached my previous message.  Heh.

So, I (finally) got a response…

Forwarded message
From: Bridenbaker, Mack <m.bridenbaker@sfaft.org>
Date: Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Cc: Paula Gomez <gomez_p@subway.com>, Kevin Kane <kane_k@subway.com>

Eric,
Paula Gomez from Subway Customer Care will be able to help you with your concerns.

Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

Mack Bridenbaker

Mr. Bridenbaker is the Subway Spokesperson mentioned in the recent artticle about the $5 footlong.  Google FTW.

I guess there’s more to come!

I also submitted the comments from my new friends at Quiznos to Ms. Seely for her review, to see if that will solicit a response.

Quiznos writes back before Subway!


So, for this to make any sense, you may have to read my past two blog posts, or at least just the last one(I think that recaps everything, or at least links to the beginning.) It started when I began an email exchange with Subway that I thought was going somewhere… but, it’s been over a week since they’ve written back to me.

My short attention span got to wondering on Facebook the other day, and a friend suggested that I call Quiznos.  Well, I’m not one for phone calls, but why not write to them, right?  I decided to forward my comments to Sheetz, Quiznos, and Jersey Mike’s since I mentioned them all.  So far, I’ve gotten two responses from Quiznos, and nothing from anyone else.  Score one for them, even if the torpedoes are just bread sticks trying to be sandwiches.

I’ll even post ’em in “how you should read it” order so you don’t have to go from the bottom up like last time.

I started with…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD [mailto:world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 11:52 AM
To: CreativeRequests@quiznos.com
Subject: Fwd: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]

Hello friends at Quiznos!

I hope this message finds you well.  I recently wrote to someone who is a competitor of yours and mentioned your name.

You my friends, are true contenders in the sub business, and I thought you deserved to know how some of the other sub places in the area are faring against you… specifically Subway.

Never forget that you, my friends, were the first to toast the sub!

Please review my original message to Subway (at the bottom of the chain) at your convenience.

As you can see, my latest message to them as gone unanswered.  Perhaps they’re too ashamed to reply.

Warmest Regards,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

And, I got this…

From: HelpDesk <HelpDesk@quiznos.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM
Subject: RE: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Mr. Aixelsyd,

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.  I found it to be a great read and with your permission I would like to share it with our marketing folks.

Thank you,
Gregory Boudreaux

Help Desk Lead

QUIZNOS®
Subs • Soups • Salads

I wrote back, but I’ll hold that until I get a response.  (If I get one.)

As you know, I hate webforms, so I submitted through the Quiznos webform asking for the email address of a real live person.  Well, it worked:

From: “Jones, Tony” <TJones2@Quiznos.com>
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, November 11, 2009 8:16:52 AM
Subject: Quiznos Brand

Greetings Eric,
I am Tony Jones, the Vice President for Quiznos representing the Ohio/Indiana/Pennsylvania/Illinois region; Your Customer Comment was forwarded to my office, and I wanted to get back with you.
My Contact Info:
Tony Jones
Quiznos Corp
6429 Crofton Court
Burlington, KY 41005
cell: 859-806-1730
e-mail: tjones@quiznos.com

So, of course, I wrote back…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 12:43 PM
Subject: Fwd: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: TJones2@quiznos.com

Hello Mr. Jones,

May I call you Indiana?  My original message is below.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


-Eric

Well, he ignored the goofy part…

From: Jones, Tony <TJones2@quiznos.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 1:03 PM
Subject: RE: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Hi Eric,

Very interesting how other folks in the Sandwich segment of the restaurant business respond to customer input.  As you probably already know, our niche in this business field is usually a more ‘personal’ one.  That factor alone, is one of the distinguishing marks of the SUB businesses vs. other QSR’s burger, pizza, Mexican … Our customer base is one that is accustomed to being serviced with a much more personal touch.  The interaction is more detailed as sandwiches are personalized, and often, we get to know our repeat customers by first name, and even their favorite sandwich as they will come in the door to order…  With e-mail, and technology today, for multiple areas of customer feed-back, it really is a mistake for any business to not utilize all of these methods to get to know their clientele and service their needs.  Obviously, you’re discovering some poor choices that other competitors have made with respect to customer accountability issues.   In a world, that continues to become more and more demanding of peoples time, we should never lose sight of the importance of ‘good communication’.  I think it’s very interesting on what your finding out about how effective communication is being ‘lost’ from the customer/service provider relationship;  I find it extremely poor taste to use a ‘generic’ letter to address these areas of concern.  Before I hurl the ‘judgmental javelin’ at Subway or other competitors, I do know that much of this customer response decision making is left up to area developers, DA’s, and local manager’s choice.  Before Quiznos, I was a VP for the Kentucky region of Subway, and I always tried to personally respond to customer feedback.  So, some of this is probably a time-management issue for a local representative of the larger entity.

With respect to my territory (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky), I wouldn’t ever want to lose touch with my customer base.  They are a crucial ‘gage’ to what we do at Quiznos;

Thanks for sharing this,

Tony

I’m still amazed that I can push a little, and still get articulate and thoughtful answers to these kinds of emails.  I decided to write one final good note…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: “Jones, Tony” <TJones2@quiznos.com>

Thank you for the quick reply, Mr. Jones!

I appreciate that you take a more personal approach from the ground up!  Technology can make things more personal if a company allows.  Thank you for the opportunity to provide some feedback.

I can assure you that Quiznos restaurants are far superior to their direct competitors in the area surrounding Pittsburgh, PA.  I have noticed that they have been scaled back in the recent years, but they’re still available where needed.

Keep up the good work!
-Eric

P.S. – The “We like the subs!” thing was a million times more awesome than the Jared or $5 Footlong campaigns.

I found it amusing that Yahoo! news linked to this article today calling it “Subway’s $5 recession buster“:  The Accidental Hero

Perhaps Yahoo! and Subway are in a world domination plot of their own?

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Subway Customer ID: 1918316


Gonna try this forwarding-an-email-to-my-blog thing out again.

My original message, the first non-automated reply from Subway, and my 1st response, all below. This is the follow up to my blog post entitled Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass. Please see that if you need more of a back-story.

-E.
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
To: Anna Marie Seeley <seeley_a@subway.com>
Sent: Thu, October 29, 2009 10:40:28 AM
Subject: Re: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]

Hello Ms. Seeley,

Thank you for your swift reply! I am glad to see this is not an automated response. As I’m sure you’re aware, the bulk of my message was directed at the culmination of Subway’s identity as a corporate entity, its choice in advertising, and visits in general to restaurants in the Southwestern PA area over a number of years. My comments were meant for the eyes of someone on a higher corporate level. I feel that this is the level that needs to be made aware of who and what exactly is representing the Subway brand surrounding Pittsburgh.

I have included the full text of my original message below your reply for reference, as it was cut in half by the 3000 character limit, and not included in this message chain.

Below are the addresses of Subway restaurants (obtained form your store locator) that I can remember visiting over the years…

3147 Banksville Rd
Pittsburgh PA 15216

412-344-1345

4613 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15213
412-687-0701

4516 William Penn Hwy
Murrysville PA 15668
724-327-9255

4145 William Penn Hwy
Monroeville PA 15146
412-380-0380

195 A Sheffield Drive
Delmont PA 15626
724-468-1018

302 N Center Ave
New Stanton PA 15672
724-925-1898

1200 Corporate Dr
Canonsburg PA 15317
724-743-3200

2200 Washington Pike
(Located in Wal-Mart)
Carnegie PA 15106

412-279-2782

Eastgate Plaza
5126 Route 30, Ste 320
Greensburg PA 15601
724-836-2311

As for the specific location of the deathfish-flinging incident, that would be the Subway located in the Banksville Shopping Center on Banksville Road. The limited-menu location that I discovered in Wal-Mart is the Washington Pike address in Carnegie, PA.

I hope that you get a chance to review my first message in full, and are able to pass it on to the appropriate parties for a reply.

Thank you for your time, and care in directing this to the appropriate people. I hope to get another response as quickly as yours!

Sincerely,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 5:25 PM, Anna Marie Seeley <seeley_a> wrote:

Dear Mr. Aixelsyd:

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us. Our customers
provide us with valuable input, which we use to improve our operations. As
part of that commitment, we know that we have to continuously seek
improvement and monitor our performance.

All restaurants are individually owned and operated. In order for our local
regional office to investigate this properly, we need to know the exact
location of the SUBWAYR restaurant that you have visited. Can you please
reply by e-mail or by calling me at 1-800-888-4848 to provide me with a
complete address of the location you visited? Please refer to the Customer
ID listed below when replying.

I appreciate that you took the time and effort to contact us and am looking
forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Anna Seeley x8201
Customer Care Representative

Customer ID: 1918316

My original message in full:

Hello Sandwich Art Dealers,

I’d like to start out by saying I find that web submission comment forms are generally a letdown. As the submitter you’re usually sent a ‘form letter’ type of reply that doesn’t address any specific issues, and thanks you for the input. Less often, it’s followed up by a seemingly more caring missive that really doesn’t address anything specific, and sometimes attempts to placate the sender with some coupons, a T-shirt or something to that effect. It’s also generally a letdown, because I can’t cc myself a copy of what I sent, and it’s a 50/50 shot of whether my original comments are to be included in any future correspondence. Then there’s the issue of the dreaded “Your message exceeds XXXX characters” error message. When did someone’s opinion become relegated to a set limit of letters, numbers, and punctuation, my friends?

At any rate, I should move on to the point of my web form submission, as I’m sure you’ll agree by this point. I write to you today to express my general dissatisfaction with the state of Subway as it stands today.

At the top of the list: the inclusion of the seafood sub on your menu. This has plagued me for years. I have a severe shellfish allergy, and will go into anaphylactic shock if any food that I ingest were to come into contact with crab, lobster, shrimp, oyster, etc., or even the same food prep area. I have seen more than a few Subway employees who aren’t exactly sanitary in their sandwich artistry, flinging microscopic bits of crab (or imitation crab) meat all over the adjacent meats, cheeses, vegetables, and cutting board area. The last time I had this discussion with a slovenly employee at the Subway in the Kuhn’s Plaza on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh, PA… as I explained that my sandwich must not touch any shellfish or remnants of shellfish she touched the eternally-damned-to-the-wrong-function ice cream scoop that had been sitting in the red and white pile of mushy death and swung it all around spewing certain doom to the immediate food prep area and all the while exclaiming something to the effect of “Well, that’s OK, no one ever orders this stuff anyway.” I just stared blankly in disbelief as a reply. If she didn’t already know what her sandwich-baggied hands had just touched and distributed the contaminant that I had previously noted was a toxin to my system, then there was no way I was going to be able to impart this wisdom to her. I found myself having to exit on that occasion, to never return to that location.

Are sandwich artists trained in the ways of sanitary work stations, cross contamination, allergens, and general good hygiene? One would hope, but the question has been raised.

How can I complain about Subway if I never eat there, you ask?

I did discover that I could get my Subway fix due to the limited-menu Subway located inside the WAL-MART in Heidelberg, PA. After all, as I’m sure you know… the smell of your bread baking is intoxicating. Sadly my friends, that is where the romance ends. I used to applaud the meatball sub from Subway, and held it as the standard to which all meatball subs were to be measured. This was once upon a time when the bread was doughy, the triangle was removed from the top, and replaced… keeping the meatballs secure in a blanket of cheese to ensure safe delivery to my digestive system. I know, this was a lifetime ago, but it still burns, amigos. It still burns. (I even remember the waffle fries that went through their own tiny toaster oven which have sadly gone the way of the Dodo.)

Have you seen the Left-Handed Cartoon about Subway, cheese tessellation, and soul-crushing disappointment? A friend of mine posted the humorous drawing on a message board a while ago… and sadly it rings true of the current state of Subway. (It’s located at http://www.lefthandedtoons.com/77/ for your reference if needed.)

Lastly, I find the current crop of five-dollar foot long commercials to be among the most annoying in the world… especially the one with Jared and the football players. What advertising company actually took money for that? Hopefully it was an in house idea. If not, then you were played (as they say in the streets).

As noted in my opening paragraph, I understand that is customary to include a trite reply and coupons in apology for dissatisfaction. If so inclined… please make sure they’re for Jersey Mike’s, Quiznos, or Sheetz. (FYI, Sheetz touts a far superior foot-long sub for only $4… This reminds me of when you guys started toasting subs after Quiznos moved to town.) I would include W.G. Grinder’s, but they recently started serving a crab-cake sub, so they’re also on ‘the list’. Perhaps a Jimmy John’s coupon would work? They’re fairly new to the Pittsburgh area, and I’ve yet to go to one… I wouldn’t mind trying them out! Jersey Mike’s is by far my favorite though. They’re not the cheapest, but worth the price in quality! Being a national chain, you may not be familiar with local Pittsburgh area heavyweights Carhops or Uncle Sam’s. They would be sandwich makers to emulate!

If you’re not comfortable providing a coupon to a direct competitor, I understand completely. I would also appreciate any discounts from Qdoba, Chipotle, or the Pita Pit.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your personally tailored reply, and perhaps a continuing dialog on Subway’s sandwich artists, advertising, and overall quality of the name brand.

Best Regards,
-Eric AiXeLsyD

(I reviewed this Subway last year on Urbanspoon.)

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar… foot up your ass.


So last night, I snapped. I have finally seen and heard my fill of Subway commercials.

Granted, there are certainly more annoying ad campaigns out there right now, and there will be in the future. But this snap sparked the ignition of the realization that I used to love Subway, and now I hate it. There’s no one reason, or even a real reason. There’s nothing that a rational person can do to change any of it or for it to make any difference or have any significance.

That’s where World (and Lunar) Domination steps in.  You may have seen my letters to companies on past message boards or blogs… maybe not.  From time to time I get goofy, and take it out on corporate America.  Sometimes the responses are serious, boring, nonexistent, intentionally funny, or unintentionally funny.

I have been encouraged to keep these rants somewhere, hence this WordPress blog.

I submitted the following (with some editing help from my friend Dave) via webform at Subway.com:

Hello Sandwich Art Dealers,

I’d like to start out by saying I find that web submission comment forms are generally a letdown. As the submitter you’re usually sent a ‘form letter’ type of reply that doesn’t address any specific issues, and thanks you for the input. Less often, it’s followed up by a seemingly more caring missive that really doesn’t address anything specific, and sometimes attempts to placate the sender with some coupons, a T-shirt or something to that effect. It’s also generally a letdown, because I can’t cc myself a copy of what I sent, and it’s a 50/50 shot of whether my original comments are to be included in any future correspondence. Then there’s the issue of the dreaded “Your message exceeds XXXX characters” error message. When did someone’s opinion become relegated to a set limit of letters, numbers, and punctuation, my friends?

At any rate, I should move on to the point of my web form submission, as I’m sure you’ll agree by this point. I write to you today to express my general dissatisfaction with the state of Subway as it stands today.

At the top of the list: the inclusion of the seafood sub on your menu. This has plagued me for years. I have a severe shellfish allergy, and will go into anaphylactic shock if any food that I ingest were to come into contact with crab, lobster, shrimp, oyster, etc., or even the same food prep area. I have seen more than a few Subway employees who aren’t exactly sanitary in their sandwich artistry, flinging microscopic bits of crab (or imitation crab) meat all over the adjacent meats, cheeses, vegetables, and cutting board area. The last time I had this discussion with a slovenly employee at the Subway in the Kuhn’s Plaza on Banksville Road in Pittsburgh, PA… as I explained that my sandwich must not touch any shellfish or remnants of shellfish she touched the eternally-damned-to-the-wrong-function ice cream scoop that had been sitting in the red and white pile of mushy death and swung it all around spewing certain doom to the immediate food prep area and all the while exclaiming something to the effect of “Well, that’s OK, no one ever orders this stuff anyway.” I just stared blankly in disbelief as a reply. If she didn’t already know what her sandwich-baggied hands had just touched and distributed the contaminant that I had previously noted was a toxin to my system, then there was no way I was going to be able to impart this wisdom to her. I found myself having to exit on that occasion, to never return to that location.

Are sandwich artists trained in the ways of sanitary work stations, cross contamination, allergens, and general good hygiene? One would hope, but the question has been raised.

How can I complain about Subway if I never eat there, you ask?

— Message 1 of 2 — To be continued

Hilariously enough, their webform did only allow 3000 characters, so I had to split the message into two parts…

— Message 2 of 2 — Continued from previous message

I did discover that I could get my Subway fix due to the limited-menu Subway located inside the WAL-MART in Heidelberg, PA. After all, as I’m sure you know… the smell of your bread baking is intoxicating. Sadly my friends, that is where the romance ends. I used to applaud the meatball sub from Subway, and held it as the standard to which all meatball subs were to be measured. This was once upon a time when the bread was doughy, the triangle was removed from the top, and replaced… keeping the meatballs secure in a blanket of cheese to ensure safe delivery to my digestive system. I know, this was a lifetime ago, but it still burns, amigos. It still burns. (I even remember the waffle fries that went through their own tiny toaster oven which have sadly gone the way of the Dodo.)

Have you seen the Left-Handed Cartoon about Subway, cheese tessellation, and soul-crushing disappointment? A friend of mine posted the humorous drawing on a message board a while ago… and sadly it rings true of the current state of Subway. (It’s located at http://www.lefthandedtoons.com/77/ for your reference if needed.)

Lastly, I find the current crop of five-dollar foot long commercials to be among the most annoying in the world… especially the one with Jared and the football players. What advertising company actually took money for that? Hopefully it was an in house idea. If not, then you were played (as they say in the streets).

As noted in my opening paragraph, I understand that is customary to include a trite reply and coupons in apology for dissatisfaction. If so inclined… please make sure they’re for Jersey Mike’s, Quiznos, or Sheetz. (FYI, Sheetz touts a far superior foot-long sub for only $4… This reminds me of when you guys started toasting subs after Quiznos moved to town.) I would include W.G. Grinder’s, but they recently started serving a crab-cake sub, so they’re also on ‘the list’. Perhaps a Jimmy John’s coupon would work? They’re fairly new to the Pittsburgh area, and I’ve yet to go to one… I wouldn’t mind trying them out! Jersey Mike’s is by far my favorite though. They’re not the cheapest, but worth the price in quality! Being a national chain, you may not be familiar with local Pittsburgh area heavyweights Carhops or Uncle Sam’s. They would be sandwich makers to emulate!

If you’re not comfortable providing a coupon to a direct competitor, I understand completely. I would also appreciate any discounts from Qdoba, Chipotle, or the Pita Pit.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your personally tailored reply, and perhaps a continuing dialog on Subway’s sandwich artists, advertising, and overall quality of the name brand.

Best Regards,
-Eric AiXeLsyD
W(aL)D

I hope the emails go to the same person, and aren’t split across some you-take-this-one,-I’ll-get-the-next-one kind of automated system.

Thanks again to Dave for the editing and re-arranging help, the chaos needs reigned in every once in a while.

Can’t wait to see if we get a reply to this one!