Death Taco


Death Taco. No, that’s not the coolest new metal or grindcore band, although maybe it should be.  It’s what I’m (of course) calling the newest Taco Bell menu item.  I have had some inquires as to why I hadn’t mentioned it yet.

Well, I did make a faint mention via Facebook or Twitter a while ago, but had declined to rant here as I’ve been relentlessly trying to contact Taco Bell.  You know how successful webforms are, so of course I got no answer from that, then I fished around for email addresses to send a full email, bugged them via Twitter for an address, and even posted an Ask Yahoo! question.  Out of nowhere, I finally received a reply, and I have no idea if it was in reply to the webform, my emails to random Yum! Brands and Taco Bell email addresses, or some other forum.

I’d like to share my original messages with you.  First the one via webform:

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco! Firstly, this isn’t about an incident at a specific Taco Bell, but the form didn’t allow room for general inquiries. I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.  I don’t think I can express my thoughts in a box with a mere 500-character limit. Do you have an actual email address where I can contact someone?

…And this was to some email addresses that I found after some Googling.

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM
Subject: Taco Fail
To: webmaster@tacobell.com (and a bunch of other addresses)

Hola, mis amigos de Titan Taco!

I’d like to express my disappointment with a commercial that I saw advertising new shrimp tacos. Well, I guess my disappointment is not with the commercial, but with the product… and the main ingredient.

I have a severe shellfish allergy, and Taco Bell has been a shellfish-free dining safe haven for me for years.  It’s one of the few places where I never had to worry about shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, etc. ending up in my food, or worse yet… crossing paths in the kitchen somewhere.

I will sadly have to cross Taco Bell off of my list of places to dine… but I’d like you to know that there are many of us out here with severe shellfish allergies who have an increasingly difficult time finding safe places to dine out.  Fast food joints have long been a safe-haven for those of us with a shellfish allergy… as most fine dining and now even chain family style restaurants have several shellfish dishes prepared on multiple kitchen surfaces.  Formerly, as long as I stayed away from Long John Silver’s, I was OK.  Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, …were all safe places.

I guess I’ll now have to get my quick Mexican fix at Qdoba or Chipotle.

If you’d like to know what it’s like to dine out with a shellfish allergy, please read this blog post.

Here’s an excerpt…

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

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

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

Well, getting me in to a place with shellfish is an issue in itself.  Why?  Well in with the aforementioned cooking surface issue…

I hope that this helps explain what people like me go through, and I hope that you re-consider selling death-filled tacos!

Running from the border,

-Eric

And, this is the reply, although I’m not sure if it’s the reply to one of the above messages, or in poking around on Twitter:

From: Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations) <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Subject: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com” <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Dear Eric,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about Shellfish allergens concerning our new Pacific Shrimp Tacos.  We want you to know that we take these matters very seriously and that the business of our customers is our top priority.  We value loyal customers such as yourself and would like to take the opportunity to win your business back.

To ,  to our customers who might have Shellfish allergens, we have displayed information at multiple locations in our fish.  These include Shrimp allergen signs that are placed on our window and door clings as well as in our ads where orders are taken.  While the Pacific Shrimp Tacos are offered for a limited time only, all Taco Bell employees have been trained and certified to not have any food products come in contact with Fish and Shellfish during cooking and/or serving.

We would like to send you some Taco Bell Bucks as a token of our thanks, so please email me back with your mailing address.  We hope you will continue to “Think Outside the Bun” at Taco Bell, and appreciate you taking the time to write to us.

Sincerely,
Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Public Relations

Rob Poetsch
Taco Bell Corp.
One Glen Bell Way
Irvine, CA 92618
O: 949-863-3915
F: 949-863-2252
rob.poetsch@tacobell.com

Of course, I needed to reply:

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Re: Pacific Shrimp Taco Inquiry
To: “Poetsch, Rob (Public Relations)” <Rob.Poetsch@yum.com>
Cc: “Hunsaker, Brittany (Contractor)” <Brittany.Hunsaker@yum.com>

Hello Rob,

Thank you for the reply!  I was beginning to wonder if Taco Bell has a stand on the issue.  While I am pleased to hear about the allergen warning signs along with the employee training and certification, I must say that I still have some reservations about safety.  I am relieved to hear that the shrimp tacos are available for a limited time only.

It is great that you take responsibility in posting signs about allergy warnings.  Your fellow Yum! Brands organization, Pizza Hut, ought to take note.  They display allergen information on their website, noting that the pizza sauce may come into contact with shellfish… but there’s no shellfish on the menu.  When I asked where the contamination may occur (e.g. in the processing/canning facility?) they were unable (or I sadly suspect unwilling) to provide a detailed response.

Back to the subject of Taco Bell… the giant window-clings showing what I’m sure to many is a succulent appetizing piece of shrimp spilling out of a lovely soft taco shell looks to me like a giant Mr. Yuck sticker or the old-time skull & cross-bones “poison” logo that you’d see in cartoons.  They serve as an effective if not spine-chilling reminder as to the presence of shellfish allergens on the premises.  They would also kick my survival instincts into gear, not even letting me enter the presence.  Seriously.  I would wager that right now, it would be pretty difficult to physically get me into a Taco Bell restaurant. My Eustachian tubes are starting to itch just thinking about it.  I realize that this is also a highly personal mental health issue, but one that ought not be taken lightly, as it’s grounded in a very real fear.

Recently I read the blog of a man who almost died when he ordered a vegetarian Indian potato curry dish that he was assured was safe.  Apparently the dish was flavored with a shrimp brine… which ought to be disturbing to vegetarians, vegans, kosher folks, and people with shellfish allergies.  This is alarming to say the least.  I realize that simple cross-contamination may not seem as serious as flavoring an entire dish with shrimp-juice, but I can assure you that it is indeed just as deadly.  Our friends with wheat/gluten and peanut allergies seem to get a lot of attention lately, hopefully it will spill over to the rest of us with the “big 8” and those who aren’t even covered by that umbrella.

Have you taken the allergen training, or do you know what’s involved?  I am finding it hard to tactfully express my concerns about the way that the message was conveyed to Taco Bell employees and the actual willingness of the employees to understand and comply.  We’ve all watched training videos on various subjects and rolled our eyes, promptly taken pamphlets and placed them in the trash, or been angered when someone who doesn’t do our job gives us a new or added process that we must adhere to when we’re sure that the person suggesting the changes has never been in our shoes.

While I mean no disrespect to Taco Bell or any fast food restaurant, have you been to a Taco Bell lately?  Sometimes I am concerned about the personal hygiene and motivation of the employees let alone the cleanliness and efficiency of the kitchen.  Sadly, the low quality and poor service of fast food establishments has become a passively accepted facet of 21st Century life in the United States.  For evidence, I give you the term “McJob“.

I have a theory that for so long now, it has been expressed to kids everywhere to get higher education so you don’t end up as a laborer, janitor, or fast food employee… that fast food jobs have garnered such a negative connotation, the only people left willing to take the jobs are the highly unmotivated individuals, people with no other options, or people using the part time jobs for extra cash with no real pride in their work since there’s no real fear of losing the job or striving to move up the chain of command.

I would invite you to imagine that in the Taco Bell kitchen where you are about to dine there are the standard (and innovative!) sour cream and cheese caulking-gun looking dispensers all loaded on the food preparation area… along side a caulking-gun-looking dispenser filled with a highly toxic pest-control chemical that looks interestingly enough like cheese or sour cream.  Would you still feel safe in eating there?  Sure.  The employees can read.  Sure, they know the difference.  Are they ever rushed in a fast food kitchen?  Do mistakes ever happen?  Of course.  I’m guessing you would at least think twice or watch closely before you dine.

I understand that this scenario is preposterous because I would hope that some sort of federal regulations would forbid any toxic chemicals from being stored in a food preparation area.  No such federal regulations exist for people like me, although Massachusetts is moving forward with this type of thing.

While I trust that your training an certification was put forth with the best of intentions, you must understand that I question its implementation, practicality, and how it’s received and practiced by what amounts to be the first line of contact with your customers… the Taco Bell team member.  What exactly does the certification say?  Does each employee have it, or does a certification apply to an entire restaurant or shift?

I challenge you to quiz the workers at Taco Bells in various locations… inner city, suburbs, malls, and the combo units, and see how much the workers really know about cross-contamination and allergy issues and how they’re observed in a Taco Bell kitchen.  (Hopefully, they fare better than Subway employees.)

All that said, I appreciate and applaud the considerable thought and effort that has already gone into allergen awareness.  Spreading knowledge is the first step.  Did you know that May 9th-15th 2002 is the thirteenth annual Food Allergy Awareness Week?  Now is the time to act and inform, my friend!

I would certainly appreciate some Taco Bell Bucks, if you’ll understand that I may hold on to them until well after the current Pacific Shrimp Taco promotion is over. (Pending reviews, it may not last all that long, eh?) Taco Bell had previously been a shellfish-free Mexican-ish fast food haven for me for many many years.  I can’t tell you how many tacos I ate at the mall nearby to where I grew up when I was a teenager.  A dollar went much further at Taco Bell than it did at McDonald’s, Burger King or anywhere else in the food court.

My address is…

Eric Aixelsyd
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA  XXXXX-XXXX

I would like to thank you once again for your time and the thoughtful informative reply.  I look forward to perhaps what may be a continued dialog about allergy awareness issues in the fast food industry, and more specifically relating to Taco Bell and other Yum! Brands.

-Eric

Wow, do I hope they write back.

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)

Aller-G’s


…Saw some more cool tweets about allergies today, again from pnutfreeworld.  They all caught my eye, and put me in a slightly better mood.  I’m not allergic to peanuts, but a lot of other people out there are.  I’m allergic to shellfish, and all of us that suffer from severe allergies need to stick together… so I’ve been following allergy issues on the web more & more.  I thought I might share with the hopes that if you’re out there suffering form allergies, and you happen to stumble upon this blog… you’ll know that there’s a bunch of us out here… or if you have a friend or family member that suffers form allergies, this may offer you some insight into their world.

The first one that jumped out at me today, was this one…

Law Makes Allergies a Restaurant’s Responsibility, Too – A Massachusetts Regulation Requires Restaurants to Get Food Allergy Training

If you saw my blog the other day about the two thrilling tweets, this would be the conclusion.  Apparently it passed! I know… this is odd for me to celebrate.  Normally, I’m anti- anything that has to do with making more rules & regulations or expanding government.  But, this just hits too close for me on a personal level to not be behind it.  I just hope they go about it efficiently.

Basically, the law says that if you’re a customer, you need to speak up and inform the restaurant of your allergy, and if you’re a restaurant, it’s your responsibility to have all of your employees trained and certified on allergy safety and cross contamination issues.  I realize that this is not a fool-proof system, and that I don’t even live near Massachusetts, but it gives me hope that other states may one day follow suit.  I now have something concrete to write about to my local politicians… and say “hey, look… they’re doing something that makes sense”.

Sadly, the legislation doesn’t seem to point to chain restaurants… like Subway, where cross-contamination with the seafood sub is a major issue.  It does, however, give me hope that I will someday be able to dine in an upscale restaurant with no abnormal concern for my safety.

If you’ve read my trifecta of tirades on the food industry & cleanliness & allergy issues, (That’s 1, 2, & 3) then you know that there are others out there who think that implementing such training would not only be impractical, but it would be just not done at all or treated like a joke from all concerned parties.  I really, really hope that’s not the case once this is put into effect.  I would hope that this would be an issue that’s handled quite seriously… it is, after all, a life-or-death issue.

The second article’s title made me think, “damn right”…

Food on the road can be a minefield – Taking steps to minimize the risks from allergies

Now, this is from a Canadian publication, and they seem to have a lot more government regulation already… but I don’t really support banning things like they seem to want to do.  Education and training is what we need. This article is a nice list of websites and literature that you can look to for support in dining out while traveling abroad.

I’m going to have to look into these sites a little more, and see if there’s anything worth noting or sharing.

There are two not mentioned in the article that look promising… but they really need their databases updated if they’re going to be useful at all:  Can I Eat There? & Shellfish Free

I’m also hoping UrbanSpoon.com one day makes note of more than just gluten-allergy friendly restaurants… and picks up on the big 8.

This last one is cool on a geek front as well as an allergy front…

Peanut Allergy Blocker On The Way

The concept just blows my mind.  I’ve said before… even if I was given a cure tomorrow, I doubt I’d ever even want shellfish at this point… but at least I’d be able to eat food off of the same grill or out of the same fryer without hesitation or anaphylactic repercussions.

I’ve read a lot about the causes of allergies… and asked a lot of questions of doctors.  It’s amazing how much they don’t know… but this article is very enlightening, and it’s all broken down so it’s easy to understand:

Dr Suphioglu said that the work being done by his team also has potential benefits for all allergy sufferers. “Taking a step further back in how an allergic reaction occurs, we are also carrying out research into how we can prevent the allergen specific antibodies from being produced at all.

“In an allergic reaction, the body produces cell signalling molecules called cytokines to trigger the production of antibodies. If we can neutralise the cytokines involved with the allergic reaction, we can potentially block or reduce the production of the antibodies. In recent preliminary results we have successfully identified a substance that interacts with one of the key cytokines involved in the allergic reaction. We are now assessing the capacity of this substance to block or reduce antibody production in the allergic reaction.”

Dr Suphioglu is confident that his team’s allergy research work will result in better treatments for allergy sufferers. “I believe our research into understanding the molecular and allergenic properties of major peanut allergens together with our work on how to prevent or inhibit allergic reactions will contribute to the development of safer and more effective methods for peanut allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment as well as benefit sufferers of other allergies.”

I’ve read a bunch of articles pertaining to the links between asthma and dust mite allergies and their relation to the severe shellfish allergies.  It’s really interesting stuff.  I hope all of these studies merge in the near future, and perhaps there will be an end to all my allergy-related rants!

The FAAN editing department?


Remember my Allergies, Alliteration, & Annoyance post?  Well, it took me a while to get the first response… and I recently received another response.  I have no idea what it means… but I’ll share it here…

from FAAN Member Services faan@foodallergy.org
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM
subject RE: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants?
mailed-by foodallergy.org

Dear Eric

Thank you for your e-mail.  I have forwarded this to the editing department.

Sincerely

CC Schnabel

Member Communications Correspondent

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

11781 Lee Jackson Highway, Suite 160

Fairfax, VA 22033

Phone: 800-929-4040

Fax: 703-691-2713

www.foodallergy.org

e-mail: faan@foodallergy.org

Nominations are now being accepted for the Mariel C. Furlong Awards for Making a Difference and the FAAN Grandparent Awards. Submit a nomination before Jan. 14 to recognize outstanding contributions to the food allergy community. www.foodallergy.org/section/awards

Raise money for FAAN just by searching the Internet with GoodSearch, www.goodsearch.com, powered by Yahoo!

Editing department?  Are they going to publish it on the web?  Very odd.  Very exciting.  Very interesting.

Allergies, Annoyance, Alliteration, & Acceptance


Well, I (finally) received a response from my Allergies, Annoyance, and Alliteration email. Out of all the places that  I emailed… only one response.  How sad.  They must have all deemed me a little too crazy…   Even Helene below just passed me on to Charlotte.

While I do this all for amusement, it’s cool to see some cities & organizations tackling this issue.  It seems like they’re a lot more tough on these sorts of things in Canada than they are down here.   Perhaps I should again bug the government… It’s not like they have anything better to do.  Right?

From: Charlotte Collins Charlotte@aafa.org
Date: Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 12:39 PM
Subject: RE: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants?
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Cc: Info Info@aafa.org

Dear Eric,

Thank you for sharing your experiences with Subway. They are but a microcosm of the retail restaurant world. Your query about training “in the ways of sanitary work stations, cross contamination, allergens, and general good hygiene” has not been lost on policy makers in some localities. New York City and St. Paul, Minnesota have enacted laws to promote food allergy awareness and ingredient transparency this year. Both laws require an awareness poster to be displayed in the employee area of restaurants and a flier displaying photos of the 8 major allergens in the US and common items that can cause cross contamination (see below). These laws are not perfect, but they are a start brought about by advocates like you who voice their outrage. Keep it up and be sure to let your local and state lawmakers know of your concerns.

Charlotte Collins

St. Paul Ordinance food allergy poster designed Hospitality Minnesota, St. Chamber of Commerce, and the Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA)


St. Paul Ordinance food allergy poster designed Hospitality Minnesota, St. Chamber of Commerce, and the Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA).

From: Info
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 9:34 AM
To: Charlotte Collins
Subject: FW: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants?

To Charlotte:

Do you want to respond to this?

Helene

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD [mailto:world.and.lunar.domination]
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 8:46 AM
To: canieatthere; info; foodallergyqueen; allergicgirl; vpetrancosta
Subject: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants?

Aloha Allergy Afflicted Amigos,

Please see my experience with Subway’s lack of concern for allergens and cross-contamination highlighted below, surrounded by their ensuing lack of customer service/respect. Their final unapologetic apology can be viewed on my blog.

I find their lack of concern quite disturbing. What can be done to make companies like this more aware of these issues that can be deadly for a certain percent of the population?

While shellfish is surely simple to sidestep, what about my peeps that are petrified by peanuts, terrans that are terrified by tree-nuts, friends that are fearful of fish, my mates that are mired by milk, my sidekicks that are scared of soy, or my well-wishers that are weary of wheat?

Thank you in advance for your time, and I hope you have a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Always Anti-Anaphylaxis,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

Stats


Heh.  Stats are amusing to me.  I love relatively useless information, and I love that they’re built in to WordPress.  I don’t even have to do anything.  They’re just… there.

First off, thanks to all the readers, posters, and all 3 or 4 people brave enough to comment here on the blog.  I really dig comments.

You can see over the weeks, the views have been up & down each day, generally according to whatever was posted that day… but steadily over the weeks, the number of views has climbed.  (That last drop is because it’s meed-week, I believe…)

W(aL)D,graph,World (and Lunar) Domination,views,readers,clicks,days

W(aL)D,graph,World (and Lunar) Domination,views,readers,clicks,weeks

Apparently, the goofy emails go over better than the other stuff.  I’ll have to try some more of that… but this is really my only outlet for anything, so it may stay a mixed bag for a while.

Not only are the graphs funny to look at, but I can tell what people have been reading…

Sprint,shortcode,short,code,short code,W(aL)D,World (and Lunar) Domination,Yuengling,Yeungling,Sauce,Kmart,Kmart Feedback,Store,manager,Mrs. Santa Claus,Quiznos,West Liberty

Apparently the shortcodes are still a problem with Sprint. Wonder why this isn’t a news story yet?  Others are wondering why they can’t get Yeungling Lager Sauce any more.  Me too.  People are still inquisitive about Quiznos, Kmart, Wendy’s, and apparently a naked Asian Mrs. Claus.  I hope any of you that landed here randomly were amused, apologies for the lack of naked Asian Santa’s wife.

This is what you’ve been reading recently…

C-3PO,Data,Star Wars,Star Trek,Mrs. Clause,Creepy,Quiznos,Toasty Torpedo,Stuffing

So, the Data vs. C-3PO thing was read (or at least clicked on) a lot… No real interest, or just nothing to say about it?  Subway is still apparently amusing.  Still haven’t heard anything further from Quiznos once I let them know that I had a blog, and the allergy amigos must not find alliteration amusing.

Here are the URL’s if you missed any of the stuff the 1st time and want to read it now…

Today

Title Views
Data vs. C-3PO? 6 More stats
Sprint, Shortcodes, SMS, Service, & 4 More stats
Wendy’s in Dormont (Pittsburgh, PA) – W. 2 More stats
Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance. 2 More stats
Think of the Kmart employees this holida 1 More stats
So, we have a response from Subway! 1 More stats
Stuffing Recipe – Thanksgiving 2009 1 More stats
The Yuengling Sauce and the LaChoy Teriy 1 More stats
If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 1 More stats
Mellon Arena – Customer Service WIN. 1 More stats

Yesterday

Title Views
Data vs. C-3PO? 40 More stats
The Creepy Mrs. Claus 3 More stats
The Yuengling Sauce and the LaChoy Teriy 2 More stats
If we’re keeping score, that’s Subway 1 2 More stats
Mellon Arena – Customer Service WIN. 1 More stats
The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the dimi 1 More stats
Stuffing Recipe – Thanksgiving 2009 1 More stats
Impressive. 1 More stats
Think of the Kmart employees this holida 1 More stats
Sprint, Shortcodes, SMS, Service, & 1 More stats

At any rate, thanks for reading!

Allergies, Alliteration, and Annoyance.


I didn’t like Subway’s response, so the issue has been passed along to the allergy people. I forwarded the entire conversation along with this explanatory note…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:55 AM
Subject: Allergy Concerns & Subway Restaurants
To: Info@aafa.org, info@worldallergy.org, info@aaaai.org, t.wirth@sfaft.org, webmaster@foodallergy.org, help@allergysupport.org, help@foodallergyadvocate.com, niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov, jlieu@aanma.org, mszegedy@aanma.org, info@faiusa.org, lmitchell@kidswithfoodallergies.org, nicole@allergicchild.com

 

Aloha Allergy Afflicted Amigos,

Please see my experience with Subway’s lack of concern for allergens and cross-contamination highlighted below, surrounded by their ensuing lack of customer service/respect. Their final unapologetic apology can be viewed on my blog.

I find their lack of concern quite disturbing. What can be done to make companies like this more aware of these issues that can be deadly for a certain percent of the population?

While shellfish is surely simple to sidestep, what about my peeps that are petrified by peanuts, terrans that are terrified by tree-nuts, friends that are fearful of fish, my mates that are mired by milk, my sidekicks that are scared of soy, or my well-wishers that are weary of wheat?

Thank you in advance for your time, and I hope you have a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Always Anti-Anaphylaxis,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

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.

 

 

 

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


So, Mr. Jones writes back!  Apparently, he’s a fan.  Ha ha ha.

Writes back to what, you ask?  Well, a response to an email about the Toasty Torpedo ads… which stemmed from earlier emails about Subway’s lack of customer respect.

from Jones, Tony <tjones2@quiznos.com>
to ERiC AiXeLsyD <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
date Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 9:53 PM
subject RE: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?

 

Eric,

I enjoy your observations and yes, the Torpedo ads vs. the reality can seem diverse. Of course, with the type of bread that is used in this offering, heavier than most, I have found to be very filling and I speak from experience… I love the tuna torpedo, if properly made, and have a difficult time trying to eat more than one in one sitting. I have tried to order two and ended up about 1 ½ till being way-too-full; The heaviness of the bread, even though it looks like a breadstick, serves to be quite filling; Also, yes, the various forms of our past ads have been quite innovative and sometimes just plain ‘rebellious’. Our image has historically kind of gone down that road… with ‘baby bob’, etc. In fact, we have even had past campaigns of ‘being pioneers’…which is somewhat accurate…. First to toast, first with select breads, and first with gourmet sauces…etc… the Subways, and others competitors of the world, have graciously copied some of these endeavors. Etc…

On a side note though…. You are gifted and creative with the pen… with an edgy insight into ‘areas in need of improvement’ for various businesses; Have you ever thought of getting into an independent consulting capacity… or maybe franchise news journaling? Your giftedness at using humor along with wit, and poking fun at the various misuses, and abuses by brands could end up with a great following; Franchising and branding is such a HUGE industry, I’m sure there would be an equally HUGE following for this kind of venue. Just a thought man,

Have a great week,

Tony

Ah ha! Flattery will get you everywhere, I guess. Consulting? Me? So, people will pay me to do this stuff?  I wonder that the hell franchise news journaling is?  I may have to get to Googling that, or at least asking Mr. Jones where to start.  I still don’t think I can call him “Indiana”, though.

At any rate, I look forward to any comments.  I know you’re out there reading, and I’m getting feedback via Facebook & Twitter… but you can comment here too.  It’s all good, and it helps out my WordPress stats.  Ha ha ha.  You can even get your avatar to show up here if you use Gravatar or (I think) OpenID, or if you’re already logged into your own WordPress account.