Sunday, April 3, 2011

“Ol’ Blue” Dies Of Digital Dementia At Age 7

Ol’ Blue,” who was born on December 3, 2003 and made his way to the United States from Mexico, officially died April 3, 2011 at his home in Dallas, Texas. He was preceded in death by a Macintosh SE, his owner’s very first computing device dating back to the 1980s. Ol’ Blue is survived by “PK,” his sole owner, his 2Wire WIFI wireless card “WIFEY,” considered by some to be his better half, and his AC Adaptor Cord “Boxhead,” credited with energizing Ol’ Blue with years of inspiration and powering thoughts. Ol’ Blue suffered from digital dementia of his Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz Processor since January of 2011 and ultimately lost the ability to “power-up,” causing a complete and total loss of hard drive data.

Ol’ Blue was a Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop that people considered to pioneer many “firsts” in the world of computing. He was a computer born in the days of 56K dial-up connections in a time when “geo-location” meant riding around on the family’s computer cart, not too far from a telephone outlet. His physical limits didn’t stop Ol’ Blue from living life large. He rode the virtual power of the DSL wave, which brought him amazing speed and unprecedented performance. In 2004, Ol’ Blue broke the standards of physical connectivity when he went on a liberating, unbridled transformation together with WIFEY, when they “cut the cord” by going completely wireless. Perhaps Ol’ Blue’s most surprising accomplishment was that he was uniquely responsible for connecting his owner to true love, on the online dating site

Services will be held this afternoon at the blue bin behind Ol’ Blue’s Dallas home. The Ol’ Blue Memorial Fund has been established by his owner “PK” to help underwrite “New Blue 2.0.” “He would have wanted it that way,” said PK, book-ended by sniffles. Fund donations can be forwarded to

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year In Review

The Baddest Of The Bad : The Golden Baddy Award

In a first ever, I bid a heart-felt adieu to 2010 with the single worst catastrophe of the year.

While the list of contenders was fairly short, they all heinously deserve a roundhouse kick to the face (and a threepeat) for the torture and terror they bestowed me.

For painful reasons I've shared near and dear, I could only afford to create 1 award, so magically 1 contender garnered top props for 3 key reasons:

1) It devoured my soul.
2) It financially drained me (and my HELOC).
3) It lives, and I cannot stop it.

So hats off, sleeves rolled-up and some raging flaring nostrils go to "Stairway To Hell" for winning the first ever Consumer Victim Golden Baddy Award! Stairway To Hell, please take a well-deserved bow! [ insert virtual bow here ].

Yes, my very own
stairway has won this attractive award (pictured at right). This highly coveted, treasured award has been metaphorically and delightfully cast of solid plastic, integrating the sensational and stunning shape of a huge screw then enveloped in golden tinted spray-paint. The Golden Baddy serves as a simple and symbolic delight that proves that sometimes screwing others scores you fame, recognition and a huge gold screw. Well, theoretically.

So we're off to a new year together ~ 2011! In unmistakable Consumer Victim fashion, 2011 will undoubtedly be filled with my personal delights of shockudrama, disappointment and above all else... rage. And unlike all books that have an ending, the new year will unveil unending updates to my beloved Stairway to Hell project, which is still fueling issues and sucking away money as I type my life away. It's simply amazing!

Adieu to you, 2010, and cheers to you, 2011 ~ and the chuckholes you'll ring-in!

~ p k

The World's Original Consumer Victim

Psssst! Feeling a little lonely? No worries. While I'm pausing my blog-writing for the rest of the winter break, you can keep up-to-speed with all things depressing at my new Facebook Page. I've amassed 12 followers (including me), so you'll really stand out from the crowd!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hertz Hurtz

Diving Bell Hell

It was a
special day complete with by best childhood friend, plenty of summer sun and my swim trunks. The locusts were buzzing up a storm that day. I was 10 years young and we were going swimming. But not in a regular ol' pool — an outdoor man-made canal turned fishing hole turned swimming pool for us. This was going to be special fun!

The water was naturally murky, so I had to shake myself into being brave enough to enter it as I have a huge fear of snakes — especially water moccasins — that are as frequent in these here parts of Texas as margaritas and big hair. Even posting this snake pic from the safety of my chair creeps me out... clicking on it gives me the shivvers.

After swimming a few minutes, we encountered a small bridge that sat above the water a few inches and decided it would be fun to swim under it to the other side. Barron suggested I go first, so I did, with my eyes closed (that's how I "roll" in murky waters).

After taking a big breath of life, I went under and started pawing ahead and kicking with all my might to reach my final destination on the other side. But a series of underwater pipes stopped me full force.

I panicked.

What were water pipes doing under water? And why were they blocking me from leading the way? I was disoriented, having lost my magnetic north and my remaining breath. Pretty much out of options, I was trapped. I desperately needed air yet was still afraid to open my eyes under the murky water.

This could have been the end of days as I knew them if not for Barron, who was about 15 seconds behind me. He grabbed my arm and safely pulled me back to our origins.

Gasping for air, I knew this was a unique moment in life when I was really, really lucky. It remains as one of my most scariest moments in life*.

Greetings, Gravitas

The scariest moments in life are when I have no control. Control can take many forms whether it be control over finances, health, unrequited love or even things we take for granted, like oxygen.

Often times, in service situations, I've been powerless for the service dealt by others. They know it, and we do, too. Someone has the upper hand in life, and it's not always the customer. So whether I'm on the giving or receiving side of "it" in life, I'm careful of my expectations... because looming around the corner is control. Or the lack thereof.

A Scream Within A Dream

Just before being skyjacked in Italy, (that post here), we were searching the town of Pisa, Italy in hopes of finding the famed tower power that bears its name. What seemed like something that would be easy to find was indeed not. The tower was nowhere to be found.

So with the experience of 2 semesters of Italian and 4 trips to Italy, I was convinced the Tower of Pisa was either in another Pisa, or it had fallen. We couldn't see it visually or find mention of it via street signs, so after 30 minutes so aimless driving I resorted to my international data plan and Google Maps to help us find it.

We had about 45 minutes to lean this way and that way like the other annoying tourists and we then headed to the airport. Outside of the counter debacle, it was another perfect dismount back to the states... until...

One *Fine* Day

It's always nice when I get to relive my experiences to Italy. I travel blog about it and find it a great way to share the greatest with others. So when I received a letter from Italy I was excited... until I realized it was from my rental car company, Hertz, whom I paid a very large sum of money for the privilege of renting a car for 2 weeks.

The letter was written in
100% Italian and aside from my name and address I had to put on my choppy Italian translation skills to try and figure out what the heck the letter was for. One word I didn't need to click to for was "URGENTE," which, set in all caps, serves as the universal written equivalent of a double open-handed face slap (click for a close-up at right).

I could make out obvious things like dates and times and the bell started to ring clear. This was an invoice for some kind of car violations. But interestingly, the dates and times shown were for dates before and after we were even in Italy and there were about 30 items listed so I freaked, worried that this mistake was about to snowball out of control.

Taking "Not It" To A New Low

I called Hertz customer service and explained the situation. The Hertz rep told me that yes, the Commune of Modena had placed in inquiry on my rental car so Hertz auto-charged my credit card 30 Euro to match-back the dates and times to find ones when I was in possession of the car.

I told "Lady Hurtz" that there was some mistake because dates and times where when we weren't even in the country and she was quick to say that I needed to "call Italy" to deal with it. They had their $30 administration fee and were done with me. Finuto.

I was dumb-

This is the kind of service that you get from a well-known supposedly trustworthy brand? I was amazed at how she performed the perfect 10.0 "Not It" for taking my money while in a simultaneous snap reverting the issue back to me and the country of Italy. That seems fair! Next caller?

Sleeping Giant

As I currently don't have a European based litigator, I was powerless in this situation. I found myself without control, much like the water incident from my childhood years. I wound up calling the villa rental company who I booked the rental through and they amazingly took action on behalf of deadbeat Hertz. They had me fax over my Hertz invoice and asked me to give them about a week to look into things.

I heard back it indeed looks like I'm in the process of receiving some kind of ticket for something. Time will tell as in Italy, like the Land of Molasses, things do not move as fast as they do at Hertz HQ, where they invoice fast and shuffle you along faster.

So 6 months later while I wonder what we did or didn't do, Hertz has their administrative fee safely tucked away under their 2010 earnings belt, while I have a distinct and utter distaste for how I was treated.

I will never rent from you, Hertz, unless it's renting some empathy and some above shitty service skills on behalf of your customer service experts. And thanks for proving why customer service is on such slippery slopes these days by the great helping of customer service crap you craft.

That's really Hurtz.

Victim's Notables:

I find myself wondering why I didn't do things differently after receiving a big dose of Hertz Hoo Haw. I should have reversed-taped the conversation for my digital memoires and Hertz's quality control training hall of shame. And had I been quick enough to capture "Lady's" real name, I would gladly nominate her apathy and efficiency skills to her management chain.

But extreme props to the folks at Parker Villas who picked-up the Hertz-Poop and took responsibility to help a customer out... even if it wasn't their job to do so. Your conviction and follow-though to do the right thing makes me want to get out of bed most mornings.

* My Top Scariest Life Moments? In Order:

1. Snake bite by, yup, a water moccasin.
2. My 5th grade teacher who shook my arm so hard I wet my pants.
3. Jaws, the movie.
4. My recurring childhood dream involving a station wagon, Coke, and a mummy, who tried to "get me."
5. The dead rat, hooker and razor-infested weekend on my first — and almost last — weekend to NYC. Swear it.
6. Um, this post!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The sun shined bright that day.

And the air never smelled sweeter.

It was probably the beautiful sweet broom that grew wild on the rolling Italian hills both near and far.

Since my first visit to Italy in 2006, I've spent countless hours trying to devise a plan for how to live in my beloved Italy, but to no avail. Without a large wallet, a winning LOTTO ticket or Italian blood in my mother or father (none of which I have), I'm forced to sit state side and admire my love from afar.

So it's nice when I can spank my credit card in what has become my annual travel ritual back to Italy. Kinda like my own conjugal visit of sorts.

It was 2010 and I was lucky to have my feet on Italian land. This special year, however, there was a terror brewing. And it wanted me. Specifically, my money.

Gimme This... AND That!

Over the course of my two week stay in Italy, I consumed. And consumed I did. Ironically, as The World's Genuine Consumer Victim, the people and places of Italy have treated me well... excluding the two separate times I was short-changed on the Isle of Capri, but I don't like to remember that. Oh, then there's the time I was fined 25 € on the train for not knowing I needed to validate my ticket for the 1 kilometer long ride. Yeah, that robocop saw me coming a mile away.

So this being my fourth trip to Italy in four years, I considered myself pretty well-
seasoned on the joys of traveling. The lines. The Euro con-
version. The language barriers.

But this year, an unsuspecting terror loomed. A terror cleverly disguised as my friendly airline. Delta Airlines, to be precise.

Delta Dealt It

After a 2-week whirlwind dismount from a wonderful stay in Tuscany and Liguria, we were in our departure city of Pisa. And as all good tourists do, we flocked in search of the leaning tower of Pisa. We were lost for almost an hour when we realized there were no signs pointing this way or that.

Because of the time suck of being lost, we found ourselves pinched for time and bolted from a brief view of the tower power straight for the Aeroporto Internazionale Galileo Galilei. Apparently we bolted too fast, as I'm currently in a painstakingly slow process of receiving my first international ticket for a moving violation of an Italian something-or-other. And like a scream within a dream, auto rental giant Hertz was there to push me down ~ that docudrama arriving here soon.

At the airport check-in counter, a suave Italian (let's call him "Giuseppe") was quick to inform me that my luggage bag holding loot bought near and far was too heavy and I would be required to pay a supplemental "heavy bag fee" of 150 € (about $200 USD).

Really? This was the same bag I had stuffed every year on my travels and while I didn't think I had packed it any fuller than years prior, I accepted my Giuseppe smackdown, who was quick to charge my credit card the extra fine. Giuseppe would sleep well that night.

Maybe what tipped me over the weight limit was the 3 bottles of wine I couldn't bring onto the plane... or the 3 pair of CK skivvies. Ahhh, then there's the Italian children's book "La Cacca," a delightfully smelly read. Whatever the item, I was jacked.

Skyjackedin Pisa.

Time's A Tickin'

With only 45 minutes until my plane left, I felt helpless at the counter. Without time to sort my bag in hope to get it under the weight limit, I went ahead and paid the hefty fee, as did my partner, totaling $400 in extra fees for the same bags flown from the US.

When I got back on US soil, I did some math and realized that not only was I jacked, I was rolled in flour and olive oil then flash-fried and deep-fried skyjacked.

I later found out that had I just flown an extra bag all together, the Delta fee would have been just 50 €, but because my bag was deemed heavy, I had to pay three times that price for the privilege to fly my crap and keep it, too.

So adieu to you, Giuseppe. And "fork you," friendly Delta!... you do "love to fly, and it shows!"

So the next time I travel, I'll think thrice about flying your pricey skies. And I'll certainly think about it come the fine day I uncork the Italian wine that wound-up costing $400 USD.

Now that's tasty!

Victim's Notable: During this experience, I coined the term "skyjacked," which is now a published word on Urban Dictionary. So while not the luckiest of flyers, my bruises made me socially relevant.

Yeah, I know!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stairway To Hell

Most entrances to hell lead down. This one leads up.

This entrance was the byproduct of a cheesy 1980s home renno that converted a 1920s Tudor from a one story charmer, into a two story monster.

The beautiful oak stairway invitingly sits a few feet from the front door and graces everyone with its presence...

“Hello,” it says. “Care to take a stroll up to Heaven?”

“Wait!,” I say. "I need you to sign a small release form... if you really want to go up there.”

“Release form? For what?”

“To ensure that you will not repeat a word of this to anyone!”

"What’s wrong?"

You’ll see.

Meet And Greet Hell

It was 2005 and I was making the second largest decision of my life. I had yearned to live in the much sought-after part of town flanked by tree covered streets. Old architecture from the 20s and 30s. A time that was lost, but found in Dallas, Texas – the Capital of concrete highways, byways and strip malls galore.

My Realtor said “if you can get past the upstairs, you’ll love the house.” Ready for a challenge, I was eager to meet my potential match. I did. And I fell in crazy, stupid love.

Somehow I was able to look past all the unfortunate neglect that two back-to-back foreclosures can bestow on a soul (read more here and here). I was able to see something beyond the here and now. Worst off, I could see potential.

After a brief bidding war with an investor who had already drawn-up floor plans to scrape off the upstairs hack-job and rebuild a full, "real" second story, the home was surprisingly mine. I beat him by no more than a $7,000 spread. While I was excited, little did I realize at the time, but I had just purchased a three-headed baby devil. "Oh, Shit!" is an understatement.

Angle Angel

The upstairs is wildly wacky. It is the original attic for the home and has what I call a “modified bump-out” home improvement that extended the back of the roof line out, oh, maybe 5 feet. Why bother, right?

The result? Angled ceilings perfect for a child-sized person, but a little uncomfortable for humans over 4 feet tall (picture scraping your head on the sloped ceiling as you run for your life to escape). It’s impossible to hang a picture on the wall, unless you have a lot of nails and Super Glue. I’m not sure what the inventors of the upstairs abode had in mind, but from where I tried to stand, if they were shooting for the gateway to hell, they score perfect marks.

Hello, Hot Box

As days turned weeks turned summer, it came time to power-up the AC. It didn’t take long to realize that when outside temperatures started to rise, so too did the hell-like conditions upstairs. The poor AC system was just too weak to keep the 1,500 square foot pleasure palace cool.

By August when the electric bill hit $500, I knew I had to try and convert Satan’s easy bake oven into livable space. Little did I know how it would involve thousands of dollars, over 5 years of trial and error and consume my soul in the process.

Try Hard. Fall Harder.

Aside from setting the house on fire and starting over, I've tried everything I can afford at the recommendation of "the experts"

~ Install a new outside condensor – No impact.
~ Install a second thermostat and damper system to better
regulate the upstairs/downstairs – I lose again.
~ How about new $12,000 double-paned windows – Nuh uh!

~ The obvious new insulation and new air ducts? – Not even that.

I've had countless air companies out to access the situation and actually had three who refused the work... and my money.

One guy believed th
e air handler was installed into the house and then the wall was conveniently built just 1 foot from the system. He likened trying to service the air handler like to trying to work on your car engine while only being able to raise the hood 3 inches. Not possible.

Totally Baked

So there I was – and still am – sweating. Sweating over what to do. Sweating over where to go next (a hotel?). Sweating as I open each new electric bill and dreadfully find the amount due.
And sweating when I force myself to finally write each check to my smiling electric company.

Some days I sit in my hot box and wonder why I’m being punished for loving this house. I question how I was able to look past all the neglect and shoddy home improvements. I wonder why my inspector didn’t catch any of this but then again, he missed the active termite colony in the detached garage, which resulted in a $40,000 tear-down and rebuild.

I watch the thermostat top-out at 99 degrees, like it did today, and wonder w
hat the “true” temperature is since I don’t have a triple-digit thermostat. I wonder what thrives in this kind of heat besides cacti and popcorn.

My greatest fear?

Not being able to
sell this soul sucker* before Satan, victor, adds me to his list of greatest accomplishments as I finally combust in the heat of my personal hell on Earth...

...Consumer Victim Style!

* To quote Angela Arden: "I hate this house! I hate these walls... I hate that sofa! The only part of this dump that doesn't make me puke is that door ~ because that's the way I'm gettin' out!"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Overdraft Sack

Turn on the TV these days and it’s likely you’ll hear a story about a poor soul who was forced out of their house by their bank. At first blush, I think “wow – those people really screwed-up!”

But after what Bank of America did to me, I find it totally believable how a bank can turn rogue and actually inflict pain and suffering on the very customers they are there to safeguard. In fact, it’s a ScrewFest™ amounting to 38+ billion dollars, according to a recent CNN Money article.

Flashback 1997

Like most first-time homeowners, I was house poor. While my loan was slam-dunk approved for my 1950s charmer, I found it really easy to hand over my paycheck to my local home improvement center for all the odds and ends needed to spruce-up my home. Bushes. Tools. Paint. You name it, the house ate it up.

One thing I was – and still am – protective of is my credit rating. I don’t know why, but in this rat race world, I want to optimize my loan rates since winning the LOTTO® is unlikely at this point in life. So I set-up overdraft protection at my local Bank of America in the event something ever went wrong.

Any boy, did it!

Christmastime Crunch

Sleigh bells rang. I scurried out the door to head to my birthing grounds for the holidays with the nuclear fam. It would be a week-long trip and I had just scored a $750 expense check reimbursement that I needed to deposit. I was running behind schedule, so I decided I would deposit the check at my destination down south since Bank of America had locations pretty much everywhere.

I landed on Christmas Eve and needed to do some last minute frustration shopping.

Pushy people abound.

Mall zombies. A sea of bouncing bobbleheads. Why, the "holiday spirit" was so thick, Emily Post was undoubtedly rolling in her grave. I made my way through it all and got home in time to place my wrapped treasures under the artificial tree.

Two days later and after visions of sugarplums had vaporized, I realized during the holiday hustle I hadn’t deposited my expense check, so I two-wheeled it to the bank drive-thru.

Five days later I returned home to Dallas. As I pulled into my driveway, I was blanketed with a really errie feeling I’ll never forget… sticking out the top of my mailbox like a middle finger were little white envelopes. I could see they were all alike. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 of them, in total. And what were the letters saying to me? "Yoo-Hoo!... Hey, loser! Get ready to be screwed!"

As fast as I dropped my suitcase on the floor, I was tearing open the envelopes. The letters were overdraft notices from Bank of America. Too much holiday gift-giving, apparently. My eyes scanned the letters and there played out for me were recognizable dollar amounts from my holiday shopping hustle. Some as small as $3 for a cup of coffee from "Fourbucks" (yeah, coffee was about 3 bucks back then.) And each and every transaction had an additional $30 charge conveniently and instantly applied.

“This must be a mistake,” I said out loud, as I shook my head back and forth in disbelief. I had a headache brewing. And the pain was just beginning.

Earth, Wind & Fire

The next day, I bolted to the bank and asked for the banking center manager. I presented the facts and said that while I understood I had accidentally dipped past my account balance, it was only by a bit – roughly $200 – but the bank had charged my account real-time, so the fire had spread to over $1,100! I said I would totally pay for my overdraft charges, but was there anything they could do to work with me? Payment plan? One free NSF rebate with the purchase of a loan? Anything?

And what did I hear? “This happens to all of us.”

"Really?," I said? $1,100?

A grown man can indeed be broken and I tried to hold back the tears of fright as I wondered how I would make my next mortgage payment. $1,100 to me was (and still is) a lot of money and not only was my paycheck swiped up by BoA to promptly pay themselves [ evil laugh ], my savings – and my overdraft protection – evaporated, too.

I told the manager I couldn’t understand why BoA was “putting fire out with gas.” I couldn't understand how my account wasn’t flagged or turned off if I was out of money, but therein lies the nasty nugget – Bank of America wasn’t stupid... or helpful. Most predators aren’t.

Bank of America took me for every hard-earned penny I had. And then some. And they weren’t even remorseful about it. No phone call to see how I was – or even if the charges were legit. No “Hey, dumb ass – did you learn something at your expense?” So that very day I swore “Skank of America” was dead to me. I would never bank with the evil doers ever again.

And I haven’t.

Even though this experience was one of the scariest life events I encountered, some good came out of it. My dear cousin swooped in on angel wings and saved the show – she mailed me a check without hesitation to get me back on my feet.

And I did.

Thank God I still owned my feet! I used them to run from Skank of America faster than Julia did in Sleeping with the Enemy.

That Was Then. This Is Now.

13 years later, and I’m never going back.

"F" you, Bank of America. Pa Ingalls would be ashamed of how your employees so soundly sleep at night based on what you do during the day (screwing well-intending worker bees).

And "F" you, heartless Hillside branch banking center manager. Your mom should stuff your mouth with the bags of pennies you yearn for then beat you with a 5 gauge wire hanger for being a cold, soul-less zombie.

“It happens to all of us.”

Flash Forward 2010:

In a recent New York Times article, Skank of America is finally caving in on their ludicrous NSF shenanigans. The change will go into effect for new customers in June and later in August for existing customers... serving as a great example of another dumb company who values new customer relationships more than existing ones.

It’s all in how they roll their dough, folks!

Rolled Like Dough Twice?

Absolutely! I am the World's *Genuine* Consumer Victim, after all. Read about my former Credit Union who promptly tried to ruin my twice-in-a-lifetime trip to glorious Italy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Cuisinart Shitstick

Innovation Station

There's a revolution going on in kitchens around the world.

Gone are the days of Nanna's potato masher (a fork) and hello are the days of pricey doodads to help the new culinary whizkid - the at-home chef - transform mere foodlike articles into delectable masterpieces almost too pretty to eat.

These kitchen innovation "essentials" take many forms:

  • Pot filler faucets
  • The combination steam oven
  • The vertical rotisserie
  • Stainless steel professional-sized ranges
  • Outside pizza ovens from Italy (complete with outdoor living area and kitchen prep sink)
  • Complete kitchen renovations more expensive than my first house
  • And ah, yes, the Immersion Blender, like the Cuisinart® "Smart Stick®," shown above.
Suck It, Buck Rogers

I thought the immersion blender made a lot of sense, so I purchased one as a gift for my household eatery.

I had visions of leap frogging from 2008 into the future. Like the year 2500 future. In only a few adventures with my new hand device, I'd be whipping out Frozen Coffee Frappes, Blueberry Banana Antioxidant Smoothies, Sweet Red Pepper Coulis - even Parsnip & Sweet Potato Puree.

I might even be able to open my side kitchen window and start selling my new stick creations to the plethora of hungry people who would surely swarm my new kitchen holyland.

Easy Living

While Cuisinart touts the Smart Stick as a device that would "make life in the kitchen easier than ever," I could barely remember the the lengthy names of some of the recipes (above) included with my stick. Yeah, try saying "Blueberry Banana Antioxidant Smoothies" thrice while clicking your heels and you might awake in a culinary nirvana, complete with hundreds of Cuisinart kitchen essentials.

But Cuisinart convinced me that with my Smart Stick, I would be unstoppable. Invincible. A Gastronomical Genius. An Accomplished Appliancist.

Make way, Julia. Paula. Martha (yeah, I said "Martha").

Savor The Good Life®

The Smart Stick surely sounded good on the outside.

Why in just a few days I had pureed green beans and carrots for some dog treats, made some gravy and even a shake. (of course these would now be represented with their Cuisinart-a-fied new names of "Homemade Rustic Rosemary Canine Veggie Treats With A Smattering Of Italian EVOO," "7 Spice Southern Style Roasted Garlic And Peppercorn Sausage Gravy," and the delightful, delectable and decadent "Triple Chocolate Power Blast Protein Shake."

Where Smart Stick Meets Shitstick

You see. After just a few weeks of use (about four total uses in all), the Smart Stick turned Shitstick.

It broke.

No workey.

So there I was back transported back to the present in my common kitchen.

Goodbye, Shitstick. Hello Nanna's fork.

Goodbye, Accomplished Appliancist. Hello, Consumer Victim.


Victim's Note Of Interest: Cuisinart refers to the Smart Stick as a "hand blender" undoubtedly for legal reasons. I'm assuming things could get costly if a consumer immersed something like the Shitstick and sued the culinary giant. But then again, does being a "hand blender" imply the device blends hands?

More Kitchen Calamities? You betcha. Consumer Victim Style! Check out range rage here. More details coming soon!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Potbelly Screwfest

I really try hard to make something of my life. I put a lot of thought and energy into *most* of my life projects. So when I come across a successful idea despite itself... well, it really hacks me off.

I've been to Potbelly at least a handful of times. At first the charm of this place "being different" is what drew me back. Then, once I got to know Potbelly better, it donned my list of Places Never To Eat At.

Why, you ask? Well, the food is mediocre. My friend Kristen says "the bread hurts my mouth." Cody calls Potbelly "Pothelly." Then there's the ambiance. The cackling sound of loud employees shouting orders while you're eating? Deffening. It's anyplace but the place to go to digest your food peacefully. And the "line design?" Read on!

Soup's On... Not

My first poor experience with Potbelly happened a month ago. My coworker David and I decided we wanted soup and he said Potbelly had a good potato soup, so we bolted to forage for food. I realize the place can get busy at lunch, but I've never understood why workers YELL across the line of customers at the counter to take orders from the folks further down the line. Some might call that endearing. I call it irritatingly unnecessary. DO YOU REALLY LIKE PEOPLE YELLING AT YOU BEFORE THEY TAKE YOUR MONEY? I know! Me either.

After wading through the line and finally making it to the register, the register lady asked "What did you have." I said "A bowl of soup to go." She said "You don't have to wait in line to order soup." I said "Oh, I didn't know. There's no sign here to indicate that." The lady went to retrieve the soup and as luck would have it, they were out.

No Soup For You

She offered to give me some frozen soup, but yeah, not so much. My favorite part was when she asked "Can I get you anything?" I said "Yeah, how about some hot soup?" The blood rushed to my face as I realized this lady was just a pre-programmed myna bird. She looked to be about 35 and I was frustrated how at that point in life, someone has mailed it in and chosen to not use their brain.

Thar She Blows

I decided that I'd have to give register lady a life lesson from the line so she might be of some use for future customers (my guess is that Potbelly didn't have an effective training program). I said - "You know what would be really awesome? If the people behind the counter actually talked to each other. Not yell, but talk. You're out of soup but the guy YELLING orders at the front of the line has no idea. It would be really awesome if you could let him know so other customers don't have to wait in line for soup they can't have."

The lady said she would tell the line, but as I waited for my friend David to collect his sandwich and not his soup, I noticed she just went along her merry pre-programmed way.

Frustrated, I sent in a complaint to the Potbelly website when I got back to the office. Surprisingly I received a reply the next day from a regional manager who offered her apologies.

I decided to sweep this experience under the Potbelly rug as just an untimely event... until...

Screwfest, Part II

I decided I could be bigger than that bowl of soup I couldn't have, so a few days later I went in to get a shake. Danielle said I'd love the shake. This time, instead of standing in line, I stood under the "To Go" sign and asked the counter lady for a shake to go. She said "You need to stand in that line over there (pointing to the other register). I said "OK," and got into formation.

I stood at the register and watched register guy ring up three customers who were coming downstream toward me. It was true. I didn't exist. Since I wasn't coming at him "from his left," apparently I wasn't going to get service.

The best part is when I turned to my left to ask counter lady what I should do, a customer had just walked-up to the counter and asked for a shake and counter lady started making it!

WTF, I thought. Why is she making the other customer a shake, but I had to wait in line... only to be ignored by register guy? I was losing it. I wanted that damn shake and I was going to get it!

A lady coming downstream looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. I said "I'm sorry, I've been standing here for three customers and I need to place my order." Register guy looked up and at me like "What are YOU doing here?" I said "Excuse me. I was told to stand here to order a shake and you've been ignoring me for three customers now. Can you please get me a shake?"

The guy looked completely dumbfounded. I guess "Irritated Shake Customer" didn't make the cut for the employee training manual. Worst off, he made my shake. I'm assuming he spat in it, but you know what? That was the best tasting shake of my whole life. Why? Because I earned it. The hard way.

Shake It Off

At my age, I have to try and keep my blood pressure down, so I decided to just let it go. "Serenity now, Patrick" I said. And I did let it go (well, sorta). Truth was I was too old for Potbelly. I realized I needed to restrict my dining adventures to places where people have brains and think on the job.

I learned firsthand that the Potbelly experience simply sucks. Whoever designed the Potbelly line needs to be forced to order from it. Then be fired. It's truly a usability issue you'd think a restaurant that is franchising itself across the country would pick-up and fix.

For me? The next time I want a sandwich or a shake, Potbelly won't make the cut.



Oh. My List Of Places Never To Eat At, You Ask?

1. Any restaurant with a buffet. Buffets are just gross.
2. Any restaurant where you order through a line (sorry Luby's).
3. Mi Cocina in the Dallas Galleria - they stole my glasses.
4. ... and Potbelly, without a doubt!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


If you’re looking for a locally grown dry cleaner, this one’s here.

If you’re looking for a locally grown dry cleaner who takes your money while ruining your clothes, keep on reading.

Dirty Origin

Back in the day before I knew better, I found a new dry cleaner that I visited for few months. “Bibbentuckers” had drive-up service and since I’m a busy ad guy with little time to iron, I rationalized paying them a premium for cleaning my clothes.

My bi-weekly bills, however, started to top 3-digits left of the decimal and I started becoming aware that while the clothes were nicely packaged ($6 at the time for a linen shirt), I could throw away my clothes and buy new ones for not much more money.

The true test was the day when I pulled a blue shirt from the closet while getting ready for work. It had a weird banded stain on the collar where it looked like the pressing machine was left on while someone daydreamed over a tuna sandwich while watching “Days Of Our Lives."

Rumpled, I put it back in the closet and reached for another. Same result.

There were three shirts in all that had the freaky collar stain and I was cleaned out of blue shirts to wear.

Collar Hollar

I took the shirts to Bibbentuckers and explained the situation to the employee. They said they’d run the shirts through again and for me to come back in 2-3 days, which I did. I assumed they would have addressed the matter and put a note on the clothes if in fact they couldn’t solve the problem. What’s worse is they charged me to process the shirts again and as you guessed, the pressed stains were all still there.

Bibbenfuckers Was Born

I took the shirts back again and explained the situation. I said that while I had gone ahead and paid them the first time to fix the error of their ways, the stains were still there. I didn’t understand why it was “hand over fist” to take my money while paying no attention to fixing the stain. Not even a “Hey buddy – we can’t fix it.”

So after the second chance to fix things, my shirts were ruined.

Pissed, I was left baffled how Bibbenfuckers could ignore the situation. They have a customer id card tied to an account with all my information. And to this day no calls. No inquiries as to where my money has gone.

Which reminds me…

Ode To My Three Shirts

My blue shirts of three

Oh how I miss thee

Hate me not

I have not forgot

They took my money.

They ruined you shirts

The dirty cleaners Bibbentuckers

Run amuck by motherfuckers

Cleaned Out Again? You betcha! Consumer Victim Style. Read all about it here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

American Home Shaft

I'm not sure where the saying "peace of mind" came from, but when I think of American Home Shield, I think "piece of crap."

American Home Shaft (as I call them) has been taking my money each month for over 10 years. I pay them because I'm supposed to have someone to call on that makes my life simpler; a company to call on when the going gets tough. Well, that’s what they want you to believe.

Recently, I've had the chance to see how AHS really responds in periods of crisis... and it's pretty damn ugly.

In The Heat Of It

Imagine living in Texas in summer. It's hot and the sun is beating down on your head like a heavyweight boxer beating the face of his wet noodle opponent. Imagine it being 100+ degrees. You retreat indoors only to find that your air conditioning isn't working.

It's actually hotter than Brad Pitt wearing Wonder Sauna Hot Pants in a sauna in Hades during a hot summer day heatwave! (Yeah, I know - that's hot!)

Hotter inside than out. Your heartbeat quickens and you pace around like Ed Grimley only to realize there's nowhere to go. You pick up the phone and talk to some jerkwad from American Home Shaft who tells you it'll be 4 days until they have the time to send someone out.

4 Days? Really?

How would you like to come sit in this hot box for 4 days while I sit and watch your automatic deposit go into my account?

Turns out - loosely translated, “American Home Shield” means “no sense of urgency” and they’ve mastered the art of that to the “t”.

The best part is that when something isn’t fixed right and you call back in, they send out the same company that can’t get their shit straight or else you have to pay a new fee. Three cheers for apathy!

I start to wonder if the companies that align with Home Shaft aren’t just bottom feeders that can’t make it in the real world; companies that suck and they accept it. So they flock to the mother fu$king shiphole who brings them customers. Customer service doesn’t matter because “they aren’t our customers,” right?

Shaft Attack

After investing June and July 2009 into hoping and praying that someone in the AHS network will know how to get an air system working, we gave up. Well, I said it first so that means we broke it off, right? Well, not really. Home Shaft stopped returning our phone calls so we’re on the search for our own AC company.

Shaft - what customers do you serve?

Are you looking in the mirror?