Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's not just me

Just saw an article on  MSN.  The annual 'hall of shame' list.

Companies we love to hate

I see a lot of my 'friends' there. Keep it in mind as you choose where your dollars/euros/sheckels go.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Suntrust Mortgage 'press 1 if you prefer English'

Recently I was appointed guardian and conservator for a young man (let's call him 'Sylvester') who got in the way of his girlfriend's car (or so the story goes). He owns some rental property, one of which has a loan with Suntrust Mortgage.  So naturally I try to get some information.

I call Suntrust; they can't talk to me without authorization (I'm used to that) so I faxed them a copy of the order - they have a special 'authorization department' for this!  At the time I didn't have a loan number -- would you believe Suntrust can't look up something with a social security number? Then, the rep said "I can take your payment over the phone". I asked her to think (which is not easy with these mortgage companies) about what she just said; how can I pay if she won't give me any info from which to make a payment? 

Two days later I hadn't heard anything, but Sylvester's momma called that Suntrust is harassing her about the account.  I call Suntrust back; they didn't have anything in the system and refused to let me talk with a supervisor. I faxed the information again.  Now I'm told it takes 24 hours to 'get it into the system'.  There are 24 hours in a day; last time I did the math, two days from my first fax is 48 hours -- so it should be in the system.

And about 'pressing 1'.   I refuse to press 1 to speak my native language and the language of this country since Capt. James Smith and Pocahontas were doin' the nasty in Virginia's swamps 400 years ago. So, even though I didn't press '2',  the system defaulted to Spanish! I had a Spanish speaking operator come on the line - they spoke English quickly.   The joke:  the 'on hold' music on the Spanish side had Suntrust advertisements -- IN ENGLISH.  Go figure.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whadda Dive!

Last week my cousin Anne dropped in my office with her daughter Emily. During our conversation she mentioned that her sister (and my cousin) Emily's son Rob Crenshaw (um, that makes him my first cousin once removed) was to have his restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-inns and Dives with host Guy Fieri.  Rob owns Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte NC and another in Blacksburg VA. The show was on last night (5/17); Susan and I recorded it. And like a lot of Guy's '3D' featured establishments, it looked really good.

Every night Susan and I play the "what do you want for dinner" game.  What's in Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, or on Food Network or any of a dozen other sites.  We love to experiment with something new.  So tonight, on the way home, instead of cooking we decided to head up to Blacksburg to try out Cousin Rob's place.

We'll be back.  Soon.  We liked it that much.

When we walked in our server, "Marielle" greeted us with a big smile; when she learned it was our first visit she went out of her way to make us feel welcome and told us about the menu. She knew the product -- and the recipe featured on Food Network -- and made good suggestions. Marielle is one of the best servers we've ever had. While we waited for our dinner we got complementary fried tortilla chips with a spicy bean dip.

Susan had the Shrimp Tacos -- Cabo tacos with beer battered shrimp, with soy ginger sauce, sesame seeds and scallion.  I had the signature Fish Taco - Two flour tortillas stuffed with beer battered cod, cabbage, tomato, avocado, mixed cheeses, & finished with a cilantro white sauce (and which Guy had on TV).  Marielle suggested Susan have hers with Baja Rice (rice with mango/pineapple) and I had the jalapeno cheddar mashers (smashed redskin potatoes with jalapeno - spicy but not overwhelming). Total tab (with 3 beers - 2 for me) was about $25.00 after tax before tip.

The tacos were 'soft' which I prefer (I hate 'hard shell' tacos that explode all over the place) and tasty.  The fish taco could have used a little more flavor and avocado, but that's nitpicking.  You can see other menu items at the website - click on the Cabo name above.

The atmosphere is 'rustic' (for lack of a better word, but it's not a log cabin) - a lotta wood and sturdy furnishings (being across Main Street from Virginia Tech is a good reason for 'sturdy').  There's a fully stocked bar (again, a good thing for that location) and an outdoor eating deck for good weather.   My only gripe about the physical space is it is NOT handicap friendly.  There's an unused, difficult to navigate handicap ramp from the very small parking lot onto the deck, leading into the main restaurant, but Allyson would have a very hard time getting up and in it.  Live with someone in a wheelchair and no matter where you go, you look for accessibility.

Y'all really need to trek to Blacksburg to try this place.   I'm going to tell my friend Wade -- one of the Roanoke Times restaurant reviewers -- to give it a try.  The paper's already given Cabo a good review (linked from their website) but I think Wade will like it also. And I'm now a Facebook fan.

And someday I hope to meet my cousin Rob and his wife Maeghan. I think he's the first Restaurant person in the family.  We've got too many Lawyers, some accountants and even had a Doctor (Anne & Emily's dad).  Nice to have someone in the family with good taste.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marketing Rule 101: Know your prospective customer

My office just received an offer to sell life insurance -- addressed to my dad, who would have been 103 this year. All they needed for a quote was date of birth.

They made the mistake of enclosing a Postage Paid Business Reply Envelope. . . .