Friday, May 07, 2010


I was listening to103.5 The Arrow on the radio on the way in.  The song Eye of the Tiger by Survivor came on.  The DJs, John Carter and the Coach, talked over the beginning of the song as they are want to do, but the intro on Eye of the Tiger is arguably the best part of the song.

I usually expect them to talk about stuff they are promoting and for a couple of second to multi-task, but this felt like they were just intentionally drowning out the song.  They were saying nothing and it was like they were running out of things to say and kept extending it.  Eye of the Tiger has a pretty long intro and they talked over every second of it.

I talked to a coworker about it and they said this is an old DJ trick.  I realize that, but I wasn't sure in this case what they were accomplishing with the trick.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I got a promotional email from offering FREE business cards.  My first mistake was responding to a junk mail message.  My second mistake was not following my gut and passing on the principle that marketing something as free and then charging their credit card for fees like shipping is misleading.  I had been down this road before and knew to expect the gouge on shipping at the end, but I thought I would do it anyway, thinking I could get some business cards and a card holder for cheap.

I clicked through to their site and found where I could enter my information and see a preview of the card and several different customizations.  I went through the process and found at the end that I was being charged for the cards.  After a moment I figured out that they had put all the customizations out there as bait, but until the end it was not obvious that I had left the free cards behind.

I started the order over and got the free cards and the free card holder into the order.  I enter credit card information and clicked to order.  After that I received a page stating that I could receive free shipping if I added some more cards to the order.  The cards were less than the shipping, so I thought that was great.  I clicked to add them to the order.  They were added to the order, but I was giving no confirmation to review the order before processing.  It added it to the order I had already approved with no way to back it out.  It turned out it gave me free shipping on the non free cards, but left the shipping charge on the rest.  The order was already being "processed" they said and I had no way to remove those items I just added.

I looked around the site for a way to contact someone to remove the item.  I found a link to cancel the order, so I did that.  Afterward the site tells me that it has issues me not a refund, but store credit.  That is not what I wanted, especially since at this point I was likely not doing business with this company that appears to be based on marketing bait  and tricks.  After taking up more of my time searching for a way to either get a refund through the site or interact with a person I found a chat link.

The customer service person resolved the issue quickly by giving me a refund, but why was it necessary to get a person involved?  They had to pay that person to fix my problem and in the end got no money from me, not even the money for shipping that I was going to pay in the first place, since I was so offended by the process and games.  Unless there are some unforeseen circumstances, I will not consider doing business with them again.  If I see there is a promotion of some kind and I see it is, I will likely assume it is a trick and walk away.

I will reiterate that even though getting a customer service person involved should've been unnecessary, they were efficient and resolved the issue.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Olive Garden Mandatory Optional Gratuity

I at one time enjoyed going to the Olive Garden Unlimited for their Soup, Salad, and Bread Sticks.  The price was about a buck above being a great value, but I enjoyed it and would go about weekly for lunch.  One night my wife and I went out about a year and a half ago or so to Olive Garden.  When we got the bill it was a couple of dollars more than I anticipated.  I asked the waitress and she indicated that the price did indeed go up a dollar.  It was border line worth it at the price it was.  At a dollar more it was not worth it.

That was the last time I had been to Olive Garden until today.  Remember that I previously went to Olive Garden almost once a week before that price increase.

Today was a coworkers last day and we went out to eat to celebrate.  Someone chose Olive Garden and I figured to pay respects to my friend I would cave and pay the extra dollar.  I was browsing the menu just out of curiosity since I knew I was getting my usual Soup, Salad, and Bread Sticks.  I noticed at the bottom of the menu it said that for large groups there was an optional 18% gratuity.  18% is ridiculous, but I was pleased to see that it was optional and not mandatory as I have seen at other places.  When I got the bill I noticed that there was a line for gratuity and there had included a value there as a part of my total.

What was I to do if I didn't want to pay that much gratuity, tell the waitress and tell her I did not want to give her that much and make her change it?

What I didn't think of at the time was that since there was a line for additional gratuity and a line for total I could've entered a negative number for the amount of the tip and a new total.  I also could've scratched out the gratuity and wrote a new total.

I will not be back to Olive Garden if I have a choice in the matter.

Update 4 Oct 2012
Since there has been good discussion on this post about gratuities, I thought I would put something that came to my mind today.  I am diverging from Olive Garden, but I the spirit of the post was to discuss how a culture of mandatory gratuities is keeping me from spending any of my money at places that have wait staff that expect a gratuity as part of their normal pay.

I was thinking about maybe going out to eat for lunch today.  Some of the guys have talked every now and again about Red Robin and their unlimited steak fries.  It was a bit more than I want to pay for lunch and I don't like steak fries as much as other fires, but I kind of a craving for a lot of fries.  So I was figuring up the cost in my head and trying to convince myself to spend the extra.  I was all set to do it and then I remembered that Red Robin has waitresses and that will cost a buck or two more.

As I thought about that I thought more about how I was paying too much for Red Robin any how and I could get a boat load of fries that I like better for the extra $3 for the burger and fries and the extra $2 for delivery.  For the total cost, I could get two burgers and two orders of fries at a fast food place.  I also wouldn't have to sit around and wait for it to be delivered to my table.

Update 1 Feb 2013
I've heard the last couple of days about a pastor that wrote comments on the Applebee's receipt for his party of 19.  I think that his comments were out of line.

Nonetheless, I entirely agree with his protest of having an 18% gratuity added to the bill automatically.  I heard someone on the radio taking the position that the tip is not optional, but part of the waiter staff's wage. I entirely disagree.  A gratuity is given for service above their wage.

Yes the "pastor" was a jerk about it, but perpetuating the idea that someone deserves 18% just for showing up to my table is wrong.