Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fry's Electronics

I'm posting this letter on behalf of my mother. Now you see where I get my skills. I learned from the master! This letter is incredible. You rock, mom!

Dear Fry’s Electronics:

Times must be good for your company. I am assuming times are good based on my recent sales and services experiences at my local Fry’s. In my experience, when times are good, companies and their employees seem less concerned about the consumer’s store experience. And that seemed to be the case on Monday, January 17th.

Before I relate my experience I would like to provide some background information. My husband and I purchased two refurbished HP Pavilion Laptops from our local Fry’s in 2006. They have been fabulous laptop. However, I now need a smaller, more portable laptop. Based on my previous experience I wanted to look at Fry’s. Imagine my delight, when on Saturday, January 15th, I dropped by and found a Toshiba Satellite T135, refurbished, on clearance for $400. I was very excited. I had wanted that type of laptop, but most were nearly $600-700, out-of-range for my start-up business. I happily purchased the last one and added a three year warranty with the replacement coverage.

I took the laptop home and was ecstatic with the performance and light weight. I added software and felt I had made a wonderful purchase. Unfortunately, I realized the battery was not charging. So, Monday morning I took the laptop back to Fry’s, thinking I had my bases covered and regardless of what they found, I would have a computer.

I went to the service department and was amazed that you had nine service people. Even more amazing was that half of them appeared to be on their phones, and two or three were helping one customer. The line got significantly longer behind me and department managers and employees carefully avoided making eye contact with any of us in the line. Finally, someone decided a second service attendant might be necessary. I believe at that point there were at least ten people in the line behind me.

My computer was checked and the service technician wrote down that either the battery was bad or the mother board was bad. He gave me a slip and told me I would need to go returns since my computer was broken. I went to returns and did not have to wait long, fortunately. However, I was told I could not use my warranty because I was in the “15 day return window.” They gave me my green credit slip and said I could use that towards my new purchase. I was beginning to feel somewhat disgruntled at this point. I thought I would have a replacement. I knew from my previous trip that there were no $400 laptops like I wanted. But, I went back hoping someone would help me replace my laptop.

I went back to the computer section and asked the manager if there were any Toshiba’s like mine at another store. He reported there was only one in San Diego, but he would get a sales person to help me. We looked at the displays, and sure enough, there were only two laptops, each $599. The sales person was kind enough to check in the back to see if there were any open boxes or last items. While I was waiting for his return, another sales person came up and asked me if I needed help. He said I looked, “sad or upset.” I told him I was very frustrated and why. He told me “I needed to let go of my negative energy and find positive energy. My frustration would not change the outcome. I should look for something positive to take away from the situation, like ‘I would go home with a laptop because he was sure they would price match and take care of me.” I must admit, I was a little put off by his comments, but tried to put on a face of “positive energy.”

The sales person came back and told me there were no open boxes or last items. At this point, I felt desperate. I started to wonder if there was a way to keep my original laptop. So, I went back to the service department to see if we could get a battery for the computer and determine if that was the problem. Andy, said sure, and told me to go back to computers and ask them to get me a battery. I went back to computers and asked the manager, Martha, if they had any batteries. Martha, looked very busy, but took the time to look up and me and say “no, we don’t have any batteries.” I was surprised, and asked again, and she said “no, we only have the long Toshiba batteries.” I was impressed with her ability to keep the battery inventory in her head, she had not even needed to look it up. She did suggest I go to components to see if they had a universal battery. She was a little brusque, and I had the impression I was interfering with other more important matters.

I dutifully went to components where I met Ben. Ben looked for a universal battery, but there were none. After I explained my dilemma and frustration, he was kind enough to take me back to see Jim in computers whom he thought could help me. Jim went to the back and came back with a battery, but it was the wrong one. He told me I needed the actual battery from the computer so he would know what it looked like. In fact, he said the probably should have brought the battery from service the first time.

Once again, I went back to the service department. Andy got the battery and went with me back to computers. Jim went to the back and found a new battery. I guess Martha missed it in her mental inventory. Andy and I went back to service and he tried the battery. Unfortunately, the computer could not see the battery. And so, after over two hours of back and forth, I took my green slip to the cashier and left with my $580.00 and what little “positive energy” I had left. I was disappointed, frustrated, and disillusioned by my buying experience at Fry’s.

My son suggested I call a manager when I was calmer to discuss the situation. He wondered if my experience would have been different if I had waited two weeks to take in my laptop. Then, I would have qualified for my warranty. So, today I called my local Fry’s. Unfortunately, when I asked to speak with a computer manager, they said they were going to transfer me to Martha. I hung up, I couldn’t imagine I was going to get any satisfaction from Martha, who was not helpful on Saturday.

I then decided to try the other Fry’s in town. The sales person was helpful. I explained I had a “bad experience” at the other Fry’s and was hoping he could help me. I told him I had been looking at Amazon and gave him the prices for similar computers. He found one Toshiba Satellite, which was a newer model, and it was an open box. The manager was willing to come down to the Amazon price or the open box price, but not both. Either way, I would still have sales tax at Fry’s and the warranty was $20 more than the one at Amazon. (the computer I was looking at was not on display, it was the last one, and in an open box in the back…so when was it going to be sold at all?)

Although I received help and some discounts, I decided I did not want to spend the additional $180.00 to have the computer and three year warranty. I did not think it made sense as I could get the same thing at Amazon for only $130.00 more. Once again, I left Fry’s with my $580.00.

In conclusion, if Fry’s had honored my warranty, even though I was in the 15 day window, Fry’s would still have my $580 and I would have a laptop. So, I conclude Fry’s must be making a lot of money since my $580 was not significant enough for anyone to really make an effort to save the sale and have a satisfied returning customer.

I would like to thank Ben in components, Jim in computers, and Andy in service. They each used what power they had to try and help me out. I wish your managers had been more motivated and caring. Perhaps, I have come to the wrong conclusion. Maybe the managers are the ones making money not the Fry’s store.

I hope you can use the information to improve your customer service. I look forward to your response.
Terry Cole

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chipotle Follow-up

Dear Chipotle,

On September 21, 2010, I wrote you inquiring about a Chipotle rewards program or punch card. I was told that this is in the works, but as of the last time I ate at Chipotle (last week sometime), I didn't see any news about this. Is there any progress with that?

I also sent a follow-up email about an idea for a point system where customers can select from a menu of benefits such as free chips or guacamole. I never got a response on that.

I wanted to commend you on a small detail. I've always been annoyed that the lemon slice tub by the drinks didn't have tongs. There was always a plastic fork in there, but it wasn't effective and people would always just end up putting their hands in there. I thought about writing to suggest tongs, but before I even got the chance, they magically appeared. I now feel much better about the sanitation of my lemon slices.

Chipotle, you still have the best barbacoa tacos ever. I love you! Ole'!

Warm Regards,
Michelle Cole

Chipotle's Delightful Reply:

Dear Michelle,

Thanks for writing to us. Our loyalty program is still in the works but not quite ready to be rolled out yet. We are working hard to make sure it is very unique to Chipotle and unlike anything you've seen at any other restaurant or business. It's taking us a bit longer than we originally thought, but I promise we'll roll it out, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I apologize that you never received a response on your second email regarding a point system. We do respond to every comment we receive so I'll look into seeing where that one might have ended up. I just searched our system and didn't find anything from you. Did you, by chance, send it under a different email address?

We are happy that the appearance of tongs for our lemons made you happy and that you love our barbacoa tacos. Thanks for the positive feedback.

We hope to see you again soon!

Wipeout Follow-up


On Tues, Sept 21, 2010, I wrote with a suggestion to create a Best of Big Balls Wipeout DVD. Is there any progress on this? I really would like a good hour of nothing but the big balls for my entertainment.

I also really think you should get Rosie O'Donnell on the show.

I'm so excited for Winter Wipeout, but the obstacle course at the end seemed far too easy on the first episode. Will improvements be made to make it more difficult?

I love you.

Warm Regards,
Michelle Cole


Dear M&Ms,

I would like to start out by saying that I love M&Ms. I have been a huge fan of the green M&M since long before her popularity in mainstream candydom. I actually wrote a persuasive speech in high school about the voting of the blue M&M. (I'm still slightly bitter that the new color replaced the tan M&M and no one was informed that it was a trade and not an addition, but at this point I should probably get over that. I mean, that was like ten years ago. I digress...)

I recently visited M&M World in Las Vegas, NV. This was a delightful experience, although I did feel the custom color mix M&Ms were grossly overpriced. I suppose that's what happens in Vegas, though. I'm wondering if you have M&M cuff links. I saw tie tacks there, but not cuff links.

Anyway, the primary reason for this email is to inform you that I recently had an unsatisfactory M&M experience. I purchased a 17 oz bag of Peanut M&Ms from a Fry's Grocery store in Phoenix, AZ where I reside. I opened the bag a few days later for a party only to find that about 1/3 of the M&Ms in the bag were completely broken. This left the others dusty and dull from all the debris in the bag.

Now, I realize this may be a handling concern on the part of the grocer, but I thought I would inform you as well on the off chance that it happened to be a quality control issue on your part. I was disappointed, but I will have you know that even broken peanut M&Ms have an addiction power roughly equivalent to that of heroin, and by the end of the night there was nary an M&M fragment in sight.

I've always loved you, M&M, but your bag of shattered candy coating cracked the candy coating of my own heart. I expected a bag of glossy, delicious M&Ms and instead got a bag of broken candy dreams.

Warm regards,
Michelle Cole


M&M Mars sent me an email asking me to call them with more detailed information (UPC, my address, etc.). I called them today, and the girl on the phone was wonderful. They are sending me replacement coupons that can be used for any M&M Mars product. Hooray!

Fry's Food

Dear Fry's,

I would like to start off by saying that your fried and rotisserie chicken are delicious!

Unfortunately, I had a recent experience that was not so pleasing. On Saturday, January 8th (3 days ago), I did my regular weekend shopping. I purchased a bag of Tillamook Sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I opened it today - a few days later - and half the bag was completely molded. I've purchased this product before and never had any issues. I wonder if it was not shelved right or should have been pulled due to the expiration date. Tillamook cheese is not cheap, and I was not happy about having to throw out the entire bag.

I also purchased a 17oz bag of Peanut M&Ms that day. I also opened it today, and about 1/3 of the M&Ms were completely broken and crushed. I did not drop or mis-handle the bag in any way. I'm not sure whether this is a handling concern with you or a quality control concern with M&M/Mars, but I was again disappointed that I spent money on a product that was not up to par.

I always shop at Fry's. I even think Safeway has better produce, but you are just so much nicer, so I make it work. Is there anything you can do to make up for my recent disappointing purchases? Also, what's the secret to the fried chicken? I figure it's worth a shot asking. :)

Warm Regards,
Michelle Cole


Fry's did write me back saying that they would forward my complaint to the store manager of the Fry's I went to. The store manager called me yesterday. I have to call her back. We'll see what happens!

Update 2: I never called back, so that's my fault, not theirs.

NYPD Pizza


I would first like to comment by saying that I absolutely love NYPD Pizza. It is some of the most delicious pizza in town, and my experiences with your company have always been positive and delicious. I'm writing because of an experience I had last Thursday, January 6th. After almost 3 weeks of not eating pizza (this is unheard of -- I generally eat pizza more than once a week), I settled in at a friend's house for a lovely evening of Winter Wipeout (an extraordinary show, if you didn't know) and NYPD Pizza. We ordered our usual 16 inch pizza with ham and waited in hunger for the delivery to arrive. The pizza did arrive within the indicated 45 minutes we were told over the phone; however, the pie was under cooked. Not just a little under cooked. The cheese wasn't even fully melted on parts of it. Don't get me wrong - even a mediocre NYPD Pizza is better than most pizza other places, but we were admittedly disappointed. I actually put the last slice under the broiler to get the melty cheese I'm used to from NYPD. The crust was soft and light, rather than slightly crisp and golden brown. After such a long time of not eating pizza, this was a disappointment.

As I said, I love your pizza and I recommend it to lots of people. You also have the most amazing spinach artichoke dip I've ever encountered. I could eat it in bucket-sized portions. I thought you would like to know about my half-baked pizza experience because I know the pie was not up to NYPD standards. Honestly, if it were the difference between the delivery being 5 to ten minutes later and the pie being better cooked, I would have gladly waited. The quality of my pizza is of utmost importance.

I hope you share this feedback with your staff so that no one else gets an underbaked pizza, especially in a moment of intense pizza craving as was this specific occasion. I also hope my future experiences with NYPD will be more satisfying both to palate and soul. I could eat pizza every day and never get tired of it.

Long live NY style pizza! Thanks for listening.

Warm Regards,

Michelle Cole


NYPD called me to talk to me about my undercooked pizza. The guy I talked to was the manager of the store I bought the pizza from. He was really nice and we had a lovely chat. He's sending me a $25 gift certificate for anything I want at NYPD. This exceeds the value of the pizza I paid for the first time. Way to go, NYPD! :)