Kitchen


Ever heard of Dick Van Dyke Appliance World? If you live in east central Illinois, you have. They have this catchy little jingle that they litter the airwaves with.. If you buy from us, you get the whole store! And, it’s the home of the $25 service call!

Last Thursday evening, the refrigerator at one my homes started making abnormal clicking noises every few minutes, and this continued throughout the night. It sounded kinda like a cricket, to be honest. The next morning, Friday, my resident that lives in that home emailed me to tell me about it, and I dropped by before work to look things over. My knowledge of appliance repair can basically be summed up on a sheet of notebook paper, and I didn’t have a clue what might be wrong, since all of the exterior things looked approximately normal (except for the dripping water from the melting ice in the freezer).

So I called up Dick Van Dyke a bit after 9am, explained the situation to them, let them know that this was for a resident and not for me, and that they needed to do their best to get this taken care of as soon as possible. They let me know that, even though all of their trucks say $25 service call, that it is actually $28 dollars, as of February 14. Strike 2. (Where’s strike 1, you ask? See down at the bottom)
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What percentage of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups end up with double wrappers?

Don’t act innocent. You know exactly what I’m talking about. So, what do you think? Give me a number..

Back it up with a link if you’re really cool.

After what many would say was “too long”, the Qdoba matter is finally resolved. Read the whole story at

Problems With The Local Qdoba

I just sent this email to Qdoba corporate. We’ll see how things end up.

Hello,

I am writing to complain about a Qdoba restaurant visit earlier today.

On January 25, we purchased 4 $25 Qdoba gift certificates from this website:

http://wcia.frugal-fridays.com/index.php?index_type=promo-detail&pid=31017

You can see in the right column that it says that the denomination is $25. I’m not sure when the red text at the top was added that says you get five $10 certificates. In January, it said 2 $25 gift certificates per “deal”. We purchased two deals, therefore we got 4 $25 gift certificates.

A week or so back (on March 8th) we went to Qdoba for the first time to eat. You can see on that webpage that each certificate can be used for multiple visits. The way this normally works with these certificates is that the person at the store makes a note on the back of how much foot was purchased, and how much is remaining on the certificate.

We were told in the store that we couldn’t use the certificate for multiple visits. We explained that it said very clearly on the website that the certificates could be used for multiple visits. The manager went in the back, and called a higher up manager and came back out front and said that they were wrong, we could use it, there was some confusion, but everything was OK, and the manager made a note on the back of the certificate about the price of the food, and everything was OK.

We were a bit annoyed that we were being told that we were wrong when we knew we were right, but we were satisfied at the outcome.

Today we had a decidedly different experience when we visited about 1pm. We didn’t expect any difficulty regarding the gift certificate, but the manager on duty today absolutely refused to believe us and would not let us use a portion of the gift certificate. She told us we were wrong and that the certificates could only be used twice, which makes no sense and isn’t mentioned anywhere.

I had thought that the customer was always right, but at this store we were definitely told we were wrong, even though the above URL clearly shows that we were, in fact, right.

Since we had no desire to waste close to $20 in remaining gift certificate on a single burrito, we left the store and decided to approach this more rationally by getting the web page proof, since our word was clearly not good enough.

So, we are now stuck with about $94 in gift certificates and a store that has apparently decided to change its policy from what was stated on the webpage where we bought our gift certificates.

Please advise on how I can best get this resolved. I don’t feel like I can make any progress with the managers at the store, and I’d hate to have to get a lawyer involved over this.

When we left today, the manager was saying that she’d get in trouble if she let us use a portion of the gift certificate. Oh well… their loss. They had already made our burrito and we were checking out when we decided to just leave and eat somewhere else.

On an unrelated note, I’d recommend the Pad Thai at Basil Thai on Green Street.


March 24th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

This morning, March 24, I got a voice mail from Qdoba corporate.

It was Guest relations, and they wanted me to call them back. At 2:17 this afternoon, I called them back. I gave them my report number and they escalated the call to a different person, Emily, who I talked with for several minutes.

Her computer was running slow, and I told her the story. We agreed that this probably wasn’t a “corporate” thing, but she decided to call the franchise operator and verify with them the situation, and she said that she’d be getting back with me later this afternoon or tomorrow about this situation. We’ll see what ends up happening.


March 25th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Next day, 4:35pm. Got a call back from Emily. She has been in contact with the franchise operator here in Champaign, and the franchise operator doesn’t have any awareness of this promotion at all. So, she is still working with them to figure out what is going on. She said that the franchise operator was OK with accepting the coupons once the franchise operator figures out what is going on, but they are still trying to figure that part out.

This is, by the way, for the Qdoba on Green Street here in Champaign.

She said that she just wanted to call me and let me know what the current status is, and she’ll get back with me as soon as she finds out more information.


March 27th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Two days later, 4:10pm. Got a call back from Emily. She said that the franchise operators didn’t want the employees to have to keep track of the running totals on the back of the certificates. I didn’t decide to press this issue.

She asked me if I was a member of the Qdoba loyalty club. I said no. She said she could sign me up. She said that they would credit my loyalty card with an amount equivalent to the credit that I had left, which, if it was around $94 would amount to about 17 entrees.

She said that she could send me an “empty” card, and when I give proof of the gift certificates, that they would then “load” the loyalty card. We determined that she could mail me the loyalty card via snail mail, and I could mail her the certificates via snail mail, and all would be good.

I asked for more details on the loyalty card. She said that it was a card for frequent visitors and after they purchase/etc a certain amount, their card is credited with something, like an entree. So, she was proposing to credit my loyalty card with 17 entrees. I asked her if I could just get one of the credit-card style gift certificates instead. I might, as I told her, want to just run in there sometime and get a beverage or something. The loyalty card would be useless for that.

She said that she didn’t think a gift card could be loaded with that much money, and I asked her about multiple cards. She said she’d have to check. So, she put me on hold, and came back a little later saying that she’d gotten the voice mail of who she was looking for.

We exchanged email addresses so that we could send each other snail mail addresses.. The contents of my email:

———–
Emily,

My US mail address is:

Kirby Vandivort
etc.

I don’t have the exact amount that I used from the one cert handy, but
I’ll let you know as soon as I get that information.

As we discussed on the phone, the “credit card style” gift
certificates would be a fine substitution for the paper certificates
that we had before. Thanks for your time and efforts in helping me
get this resolved. It was disturbing for us to be told we were wrong
by the workers there, and, frankly, I’m still not happy about that,
but I’ve been quite pleased with how you have represented “corporate”
.
————-

So, the saga continues. Isn’t life fun!?


March 28th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Next day, early afternoon. Got a voice mail from Emily. I called her back at the Qdoba customer satisfaction number. Got “Exavier” and told him I wanted to talk to Emily about a specific case number. He said rapidly, “Oh ok. Let me put you in the Senior Queue”. A few seconds later, Mariam answered. She said she worked with Emily and could help me out. Put me on hold for a minute or so and came back on the line and said that Emily had a note in the file that she wanted to talk to me directly.

So, when Emily finished helping another customer, she got on the phone with me. Said that her colleagues said that they could preload a gift certificate with the amount, but that they need the gift certs before they will send out the preloaded card. So, she said she’d email me with the address to mail things to. We ended up finishing our phone call and a few minutes later I got the following email:

———
Dear Kirby,

Thank you for contacting us regarding your recent visit to Qdoba Mexican
Grill. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience you experienced, and can
assure you we are following up with appropriate management.

The mailing address for Qdoba Mexican Grill is:

I will call you once I receive the certificates just to let you know they
have arrived, and we will have the gift card sent out, also via certified
mail, that same day. I appreciate your continued patience and your
flexibility in resolving this matter. If you have any further questions or
concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Emily
Senior Guest Specialist
Qdoba Mexican Grill
———

So.. here’s the rub: Last week, when this whole thing started, I thought it a good idea to have a scanned copy of the partially used gift certificate. This cert seems to have been left in the scanner and taken by someone else.

So, it looks like I’m only going to have $75 in gift certs to mail them, and it completely destroys the testimony that I’ve given so far, etc etc.

But, my plan is to tell her in the mail exactly what happened and explain that the cert wouldn’t even have been scanned in the first place if this whole thing hadn’t happened. In addition, I can include (hopefully) the receipt from the original purchase, if that is still lying around. Stay tuned. We aren’t in the clear yet!


April 1st, 2008 at 9:23 pm

After a delay, we found the other certificate! So, I have all of the gift certs. I’ve written a letter and I’ll be mailing the certs to Emily tomorrow morning. PDFs and pictures will be posted regarding this as soon as I get a chance.


April 2nd, 2008 at 12:42 pm

This is the letter that I sent to Emily. The letter went out certified mail earlier today.

==============================
April 1, 2008

Qdoba Mexican Grill Guest Relations
Attn: Emily Hoch

Re: Qdoba Gift Certificate issue.

Emily:

As we had discussed on the phone, I am enclosing the four gift certificates from the Frugal Friday promotion that the Qdoba on Green Street in Champaign, IL was affiliated with. Three of the $25 gift certificates haven’t been used at all, and the fourth one (as can be seen from the back of it) has $18.71 remaining after a single purchase on March 8th.

This really has been a big hassle for me. On March 8 when the manager on duty had to call another manager for confirmation it was unsettling, but on the March 20 visit, it was downright offensive for my date and myself to be told that we were wrong and that we didn’t know what we were talking about. I can fully understand that a business might decide to change terms to simplify bookkeeping for future promotions, but I find it incomprehensible that they think that they can retroactively change the terms of promotions. I am hopeful that procedures are being put into place to prevent things of this nature from happening to other unsuspecting guests of your restaurant.

While you have been extremely helpful and courteous, it has been really disheartening to have spent so much time jumping through hoops just so I can use the gift certificates that I purchased with the full expectation that I wouldn’t have to spend additional hours just to be able to redeem them under the terms that they were offered. In fact, I thought that I was getting a pretty good deal with the Frugal Friday promotion, but when I add in the value of my time, the postage, and the mental anguish, I think I might have been better off just paying the normal rate for each restaurant visit.

Based on the business relationship that we’ve built, I fully trust and expect that you will send me back a gift card with an appropriate balance. In the event that this letter somehow gets lost on the mail I have made copies of the gift certificates and scanned them into the computer to be added to my blog page at:

http://blog.omnux.com/index.php/2008/03/20/problems-with-the-local-qdoba/

Thank you for your time and effort in helping get this issue resolved.

Kirby Vandivort
==============================


April 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Pictures of the gift certificates, ready to be mailed.


April 3rd, 2008 at 9:39 am

Track the package as it heads to San Diego!

USPS Tracking


April 4th, 2008 at 7:07 am

Is it odd that I scanned in and uploaded the tracking receipt so that everyone out there in internet land could look at it?

USPS Certified Mail Receipt


April 4th, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Package delivered, this morning at 10:28 am.


April 8th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

No update as of this afternoon. Emily said that she’d contact me the day that she got the letter and the gift cards would be mailed out that same day. Nothing yet. I’ll send an email tomorrow morning.

In other news, the blog is starting to get websearch hits.

A few of the things that people are searching for on Google to find this blog:

Qdoba how much does a manager makes
qdoba problems
qdoba corporate profits

Hopefully this will get resolved soon.


April 9th, 2008 at 9:38 am

Just sent the following email:

——–
Emily,

I hope that things are going well for you. From the US post office website, the certified letter that I sent you with the gift certificates arrived last Friday am, and I hadn’t heard anything from you, so I thought that I would check up on things and see what’s going on.

Thanks for your help,

Kirby
————


April 10th, 2008 at 10:50 am

Update from Emily. She called a couple of minutes ago.

Said she had gotten my email and that they had received the certificates. She said that she was waiting for confirmation from the qcard rep to make sure that the card had been loaded with the proper balance.

She said that it might be as late as next Tuesday before they get the confirmation and she’ll let me know when she’s sending it out, as well as give me the certified mail tracking number when that happens.

Other than this minor delay in getting back with me since last Friday, I’ve been quite pleased with how Emily has handled this situation, and, to be honest, because of how she’d done up until that point, I really wasn’t worried about how things would proceed.

Looks like this will hopefully be taken care of within the next week or so.


April 16th, 2008 at 9:41 am

Yes, friends. It is Wednesday, and I haven’t heard back from Emily. Rather disappointing.

Just to keep everyone informed.. After I mentioned that random websearchers had been finding this blog from doing searches, a couple of you apparently decided to have to some fun (you know who you are). So, to give you props, here are a few more searches that showed up. Not all of these appear to be from blog readers. A mix of that as well as random web searches.

qdoba – (Multiple times. Actually a search via the pictures)
Guys named Kirby who have problems with Qdoba – again, from pics
Qdoba certificates – from pics
problems with local qdoba
how much does a Qdoba manager make

Kirby talks to Emily about his problem with Qdoba

I’ll get ahold of Emily later today.


April 16th, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Just sent this to Emily

———
Emily,

Tuesday has come and gone and I haven’t heard anything (maybe the email got lost!), so I’m just wanting to find out what is going on with the problem that I had with the local Qdoba in Champaign, IL.

I must admit, I’m a bit disheartened. I feel like we’ve had a nice, responsive transaction up until a couple of weeks ago. However, I haven’t had what I feel to be very good response time since then. This is unfortunate, because that change just happened to coincide with me sending my actual paper gift certificates to your location. Hopefully you can understand my concern: While I had the proof in hand, things were going well. Since I have, on good faith, mailed my paper gift certificates to you, things seem to have stalled, or at least haven’t been proceeding in any concrete way that I can discern. Though I’m confident this isn’t the case, my more paranoid side is wanting me to think that I shouldn’t ever have agreed to mail the paper copies in!

The most recent update that I have from you was on the morning of April 10th when you said that you were verifying that the money had been put on the “q card”, and that you would know something, at the latest, by yesterday. It seemed to me at the time that verifying an account balance on the qcard should be as simple as calling the 1-800 number on the back, but I assumed that the process that you were having to go through was more complicated than that, and I’m sure it has been.

If there are other delays, I can handle that, as long as I know what is going on. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

————


April 17th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Got a voice mail from Emily this morning at 10:12 am. She apologized for not getting back with me. Said that the card had been mailed out late Tuesday or early Wednesday, and that I should have it in a few days. Now, I can say that hopefully this will be over soon.


April 20th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Resolution!!!!!!!

Snail Mail received on Saturday, April 19.

I won’t belabor things. $100 dollar gift certificate, and 3 coupons for a free burrito. The letter that was attached said that I had 4 coupons, but only three were in the envelope. And, there was a typo in the letter, but I guess I can’t complain too much.

Am I happy with the outcome? Well, I am. It cost me a lot of time, and, to be honest, the time spent probably wasn’t properly compensated. But, I have a gift card now that I won’t have to worry about using. It didn’t feel good to be treated like a common liar, and I shouldn’t need to worry about that with this.


When I was growing up, lo those many years ago, we went through a year or two where we had malt-o-meal cream of wheat (or something like that) every single morning. I kinda got burnt out on the whole hot cereal thing.

This past summer, when I went into the Grand Canyon for a week, one of the things that we ate of a morning were packets of Quaker Oat Oatmeal.

The packets were very convenient. Dump in the packet, add boiling water, stir, and eat. I fell in love with them.

When I got back to Illinois, I promptly went to the store and bought a few boxes myself. They have Apple Cinnamon, Fruit and Cream, etc. etc. There is a low-sugar version that I started getting, and it tastes really good. Particularly with milk instead of water.

As I continued eating the packaged oatmeal, I figured that there had to be a way to “roll my own” and save some cash and get rid of the rest of the sugar.
A box of 10 packets of the Quaker stuff is 4-5 dollars or so. I generally ate 2 packets per meal, so it was costing me about a buck plus the cost of the milk.
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Do you drink normal, non-diet soda?

If so, cut out 2 sodas a day, and you’ll lose 2-3 pounds a month. Soda contains totally empty calories. No nutrition at all.

(The math: Figure 160 calories per soda: 320 calories/day multiplied by 30 days/month divided by 3500 calories/pound = 2.74 pounds)

( Coke: 140 calories per can, Mtn. Dew: 165, Dr. Pepper: 160)

That’s a pretty easy way to lose weight, if you’re wanting to do it.

I made a cake for work earlier this week. People seemed to like it, so I thought I’d post the recipe.

Ingredients:
Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Cake Mix (prepared)
Raspberry Jello
Smucker’s Simply Fruit (Red Raspberry, seedless)
Chocolate Cool Whip (8 ounce tub)
Hershey’s Premium Baking Bits Filled With Raspberry

I started with a triple chocolate cake mix and made it according to the directions on the box. I suspect that alterations could be made here with little damage. I had a Dark chocolate cake mix that I had thought about trying as well.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the jello. Boil the water, use the packet and add the cold water. Then, just leave the bowl of liquid jello sitting on the counter.

Once the cake has finished cooking, give it a couple of minutes to set, and start poking holes in the top. I used a toothpick, and put a hole about every half inch. Yes, it’s a lot of holes.

Then, pour the jello over the cake. Try to get it as even as possible. With the cake being warm, the jello will quickly drain into the cake, so you have to make sure to spread out the liquid over the entire cake. A spoon can help here to distribute the jello.

Then, set the cake in the fridge. I made the cake one evening about 11pm (I was bored). I let the cake sit in the fridge overnight uncovered, and in the morning I put a cover on the pan to retain moisture.

After the cake has had a chance to cool completely, run a knife along the edges of the pan and flip the cake over onto a serving platter. This could be tricky. On my cake, I had a section in the middle that stayed stuck in the cooking pan. I had to use a spatula to remove those sections and reform the expected “box” look of the cake.

Once I had the cake on the serving platter, I coated the cake with a layer of Smuckers Simply Fruit I think it was about an 8 ounce jar.

Then I put the cake back in the fridge to let the fruit maybe harden a little bit.

Meanwhile, I had the chocolate cool whip thawing in the refridgerator. Once the cool whip had completely thawed, I frosted the cake with the cool whip. You have to be careful here. The fruit doesn’t really harden much. It has the consistency of jam, so you have to be careful with the spatula to keep the fruit layer hidden from view. When you dollop a clump of whipped topping onto the cake, spread out from the clump to cover the cake. Don’t spread back in towards the dollop, or you’ll pick up the fruit on the spatula and end up turning the cool whip red. I used the entire 8 ounce tub of cool whip on the cake.


Then, to top it off, I used the baking bits. I can’t find a link for these on the web, but they come in a packet that looks just like a chocolate chip bag, and are probably in the same area of the store. When all is said and done, the cake ended up looking like the picture to the right.

There are a bunch of variations you could do on the cake. I had thought about going the chocolate/strawberry route, and I think it would have worked well. Most any fruit flavor would probably do well. Enjoy!

As I’ve been losing weight the past few months, I’ve developed versions of a couple of common desserts that I can eat totally guilt free. I have a version of jello, and a version of pudding that I have been making on a very regular basis.

Jello:

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of sugar free Gelatin. I use the Walmart brand. They have about 10 different flavors. I have had good luck with all of the flavors but lime for the following recipe.
  • 1 can of ‘No sugar added’ pears or peaches. I prefer the pears. The pears don’t retain much of the pear flavor and just retain texture more than anything. Peaches retain more of their peach flavor, which may or may not interfere with the flavors of the jello. I will say that if you use peach jello and peaches along with the orange juice you get a flavor that tastes exactly like peach cobbler. Supposedly if you use citrus fruits the gelatin won’t set up. I’ve used a can of mixed fruit and the pineapple didn’t seem to cause problems.
  • 2 cups of Orange Juice. I use the Walmart brand that is calcium fortified (in the blue carton). Just make sure you don’t get Orange juice that has sugar added.
  1. Boil 2 cups of water.
  2. While heating the water, drain the water off of the can of fruit into a measuring cup. The pears that I use come as pear halves, so I take a knife and cut around on them to get them into smaller chunks.
  3. Once the water is boiling, pour into into the dish where you’ve put the 2 packets of jello powder. Stir it for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the can of drained fruit. Make sure that the fruit chunks are of a smallish size.
  5. Add orange juice to the water that you previously drained off the fruit so that you have 2 cups total.
  6. Mix the orange juice in with the warm jello water.
  7. Refrigerate. And enjoy.

Total damage: For a little more than 5 cups of dessert, there are fewer than 350 calories, and in the process you take in a lot of orange juice and fruit. Good stuff. Cost is probably a bit under 2 bucks for all of it.

Pros: nice and fruity.
Cons: Takes a while from thinking about it to actually eating since the jello has to set up.


Pudding:

Not much to describe here. I just get the fat free sugar free pudding mix from Walmart (Sam’s choice brand). I’m partial to the chocolate, but others will work as well. 2 cups of skim milk to go along with it, and just mix it up. One of the drink mixer containers works well for this. You can throw the ingredients in the jar/glass, put the lid on it, shake it up good, and it’s taken care of. I like to then slice a banana up and put into the mix. A couple of more shakes, and it is ready for the fridge. Five minutes later and the pudding has set up, and it is ready to eat.

Total damage: About 420 calories for the 2.5 cups or so. It has a fair amount of calcium, and the banana provides the normal fruit benefit. Cost is probably $1.50 or so.

Pros: Chocolate. Quick.
Cons: More calories per cup than the jello. The bananas will turn brown in the mix if you leave it overnight.


So, there you have it. A couple of quick recipes that can satisfy that dessert craving, and I consider them virtually guilt free. You’d have to eat so much of them that you’d be sick before they really started hurting your diet.

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