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

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
To: “Bridenbaker, Mack”
Cc: Paula Gomez; Kevin Kane; Anna Marie Seeley
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
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Re: The Quiznos Toasty TorpedoT ads?
To: “Jones, Tony”

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!

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):

Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM
Subject: Subway

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.


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

The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ and the diminutive hand model…

So, I recently wrote back to Quiznos at the suggestion of Jon on Twitter, and with the editing help of Dave once again. Jon has apparently been following the Subway saga along with a handful of other people… and thought that it may be an appropriate next step. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’ve had this thought myself, and if I remember correctly Jon had posted about it previously on Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or some social media site. Memory and my Googling skills fail me in finding that now, though.

I have high hopes on getting a well thought out response or two. I sent the message below to Mr. Jones, the same message to Mr. Bordeaux, and a slightly modified one to a few other email addresses that I managed to dig up. I enjoyed the candid reply from Mr. Jones before, although I was unable to get any further comment from Mr. Bordeaux or his team with whom he was going to share my email.

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <>
Date: Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM
Subject: The Quiznos Toasty Torpedo™ ads?
To: “Jones, Tony” <>

Hello Mr. Jones,

I would like to thank you again for the response to my email last week regarding Subway’s lack of allergy awareness, cheese tessellation, appropriate responses to customer feedback, and poor decisions in general. I understand and have learned first hand that good communication is a key component to the Quiznos way of doing business. I also appreciate your expedited replies, and hope that you can gain something knowing how cavalier your competitor’s attitude is toward genuine customer concerns. I am glad to be a gauge of what you do at Quiznos, and I would like to hope that my feedback is valuable.

In sharing my recent adventures in email with some friends, I have noticed a theme that has come up in suggested queries for your fine establishment… and I must say that I have indeed wondered the same thing myself.

Are you using “little people” models for the toasty torpedoes ads, perhaps children or pygmies? I did get a turkey torpedo a while ago, and I did make a mental note that it seemed to be nothing more than a bread stick made into a sandwich. I thought that the toasty torpedo looked bigger in the ads… but I didn’t quite connect why until recently.

A quick Google image search led me to this photo, perfect for a reference for our purposes…


I’m sure you can also see it now that I’ve pointed it out. I, my friend, cannot un-see it. There is no way that the hand in the above graphic is correctly proportioned to the Toasty TORPEDO™. I’m actually tempted to go get another one in an attempt to re-create this photo to see how accurate it may be. I can guarantee though, that if I did in fact hold a toasty torpedo like that, that it would most certainly fall apart. Mine lasted for about a bite and a half before it fell apart.

In Googling, I found multiple odd references to this ad campaign. Does Quiznos make any official statements to counter these goofy bloggers? I found one guy that thinks it looks like a cigarette ad. One guy seems to have a Freudian problem and these people seem to think that one commercial purposely compares your torpedos to a cup of human excrement. Okay, I have to give them that one. I mean… you did hear of 2 Girls, 1 Cup right? I’d find it and link to it, but some may find that offensive/distasteful and I’m sure you know how to use search engines. These people even seem to come to the same conclusion as I have toward the end of their blog… as well as a commenter on this blog.

I understand that all advertising is not one hundred percent factual, and that things tend to be exaggerated, but I really find this image rather misleading. While I understand that I’m not going to walk into a Quiznos any time soon and find a HAL 9000’s creepy sexually suggestive oven cousin, two gorgeous scantily clad women eating a sub rather suggestively, two naked rednecks in a tub of water over a campfire, a baby with the voice of a grown man, anyone suckling on any wolf teats, or even genetic mutations with Latino accents and tiny guitars floating in the air singing praise of your sandwiches… I feel that you owe some level of honesty to the customer.

While the other ads are easily discernible as attention grabbing goofiness, this one seems rather straight forward at first — yet dishonest upon further inspection.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter as well as the thoughts of any other marketing people or regional managers in the Quiznos family.

If I didn’t feel that I was already taking up too much of your time, I wouldn’t mind getting into a discussion on the violent phallic imagery that the shape and name of these subs not-so-subliminally suggest. I mean, really? Torpedo? Bullet? How many feminists have already written to discuss this? I feel that this topic is a less pressing issue though, to be saved for another day.

Torpedoes away!

If you feel the need for a background to any of this, this is where it all started, and how it played out:

That’s my initial message, Subway’s official non-response response, me sending it to Quiznos for comment and getting one, and finally a response from Subway telling me that someone else will respond… which as of yet, has not happened.

…All of which leads us to this posting.

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 []
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 11:52 AM
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 <>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM
Subject: RE: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]

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

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” <>
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

So, of course, I wrote back…

From: ERiC AiXeLsyD <>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 12:43 PM
Subject: Fwd: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]

Hello Mr. Jones,

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


Well, he ignored the goofy part…

From: Jones, Tony <>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 1:03 PM
Subject: RE: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: ERiC AiXeLsyD <>

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,


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 <>
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Subway [Customer ID: 1918316]
To: “Jones, Tony” <>

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!

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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