FTD’s Groupon Bait & Switch!

I decided to pick up FTD’s $40 for $20 groupon this morning as it looks like a good deal however as I found out quickly this deal is definitely NOT worth it.  I had previously looked for flowers on FTD’s site and knew I wanted to get the Simply Cheerful Mix for $19.99 + another arrangement to get my order total to $40.  After receiving my groupon certificate for FTD, I followed the directions and went to http://www.ftd.com/groupon only to find that the same arrangement that was $19.99 through DealCatcher was now jacked up to $39.99 via the Groupon landing page.  Long story short I realize that groupon certificates don’t normally stack with other offers but it seems extremely shady and definitely goes under the BAIT & SWITCH column in my book!  I think I’ll stick to 18F or Proflowers offers at this point.

On another note, Groupon gladly refunded my order and even mentioned that they had already fielded a number of other complaints for this offer.

Friendly’s New Ultimate Grilled Cheese Burgermelt only 1500 Calories???

friendlys grilled cheese burgermeltFriendly’s is making news for the new addition to their menu – The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Burger Melt which is “A Big Beef burger between two hot grilled cheese sandwiches, with lettuce, tomato and mayo”. I read one article on CBS News that stated it was 1,160 calories which I knew had to be incorrect. I decided to check their site to see how many calories it really has. Friendly’s nutrition chart states that their Ultimate Grilled Cheese Burger Melt is filled with 1500 calories. This number seems way off since their grilled cheese sandwich is 800 calories alone. I just wrote them to find out if this is a mistake or how they got to the 1500 calories number. Below is my letter to them. I’ll follow up when I get a response.

Email to Friendly’s:
I noticed your ultimate grilled cheese burgermelt is supposed to have 1500 calories however your grilled cheese alone has 800 calories. Simple math tells me the “bun” (ie 2 grilled cheese sandwiches) alone would be 1600 calories which would put this sandwich closer to say 2,000 calories when you throw in the burger and condiments. Is this an oversight on your part or is there something I am missing?

 

EPA moves to ban EndoSulfan (Pesticide)

Surprise surprise, the EPA is trying to now ban the insecticide Endosulfan (a chemical cousin of DDT). According to the CNN article, this insecticide has been in use since 1954 and is used on a variety of crops including apples, cherries, peaches, potatoes, grapes, barley, oats, tobacco, cotton and wheat.

Entire Article

Chrysler to Double Cash For Clunkers Vouchers

I just read in the news that Chrysler will double the federal government’s cash for clunkers vouchers starting Thursday. Best of all, even if your car does not qualify for the government’s voucher, the Chrysler offer will apply to any buyer regardless of the age and fuel economy of the trade-in vehicle. In other words, if you pick the right car and already qualify for the government’s vourcher you could get up to $9,000 off a new Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge.

List of Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles for Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep

[RAW]


2010 Dodge Caliber

Combined MPG– 26

MSRP – $17,090

2010 Dodge Journey 2WD

Combined MPG – 21

MSRP – $21,600

2010 Jeep Patriot 2WD

Combined MPG – 25

MSRP -$18,170

2010 Jeep Compass 2WD

Combined MPG – 25

MSRP – $19,095

[/RAW]

Rental Car Company / Car Seat Update

I recently wrote about my experience with renting a car / car seat from Thrifty.  After sending them an email telling them of the many problems I had, here is what they wrote:

Dear Mr. Kahn,

Thank you for notifying us of your recent experience with Thrifty Car Rental.  On behalf of Thrifty Car Rental, please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience you experienced.

Please accept my personal apology for the condition of the child seat rented with your vehicle.  We always want to provide a clean, well-serviced vehicle that is ready and waiting for our customer, including any child seats rented.  It is very obvious we failed you on this rental.  The condition you described is no more acceptable to us than it was to you.  Your contact will ensure the location General Manager will be contacted for corrective actions and procedures.

In an effort to regain your confidence in Thrifty Car Rental, I have requested a credit in the amount of $70 to be issued to your credit card.  Please allow sufficient time for this amount to appear on your billing statement.

We appreciate your business and hope you will allow us another opportunity to fulfill your car rental needs in the efficient, professional manner you expect and deserve.

Thank you once again, Mr. Kahn, for taking the time to notify us of this situation.  We look forward to serving you again soon at Thrifty Car Rental.

Sincerely,
Customer Service Representative

This makes my wallet feel better but does not completely solve the problem.  There is no excuse for car rental companies stocking outdated car seats with missing parts.  If they are charging a $7 – $10 per day premium for a rental fee those seats should be at least as new as the rental cars.

Review: Harvest Restaurant at the Hotel Hershey

harvestMy wife and I recently stayed at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA to celebrate her 30th birthday. I booked the trip a few months back and when I was booking it I noticed a new restaurant was opening the week before we arrived. The restaurant was called Harvest and it sounded right up our alley in terms of a place we would enjoy. Below is a description of the restaurant along with a letter that is found on the inside of their menu and my review of the restaurant.

Harvest’s Description on the Hotel Hershey’s Page:
Located at The Hotel Hershey, Harvest offers genuine American cuisine made from the freshest local and regional ingredients. The menu features an innovative selection of both classic and traditional American fare served during lunch and dinner, with daily specials.

Letter from the Executive Chef in the Menu
From farm to table, we offer the freshest dishes prepared from local ingredients found within
a 100-mile radius of The Hotel Hershey. Our culinary team welcomes you and your family to experience just how good genuine American cuisine can be, especially when it’s locally sourced, creatively presented, and enjoyed in a casual ambiance. Our concept of genuine American cuisine features a range of authentic dishes found across the country. From the Southeastern Coast to the Pacific Northwest, the experience and various backgrounds of our Chefs gives us the unique ability to recreate signature American dishes.

And at Harvest, we create those dishes using the freshest local ingredients grown right here in
Pennsylvania. We’re proud of our new restaurant and the fact that we’re leaving a smaller environmental footprint while working closely with the Lancaster Farmers Co-Op. Some of our local growers also include Creekside Farms of Perry County, Adams County Apples in Biglerville, Groffs Meats from Elizabethtown, Willis W. Gibbel Farms in Brunnersville, Longs Farm from Lancaster County, Todd Farm in Nottingham, and Green Meadow Farm from Lancaster.

We also serve “filtered water” to provide the freshest, most pristine, and purest water available.
Above all, we’re focused on preparing a delicious meal for you and your family to enjoy while
in Hershey. Thank you for visiting Harvest.

Review of Harvest Restaurant at the Hotel Hershey
We made reservations as soon as we arrived at the Hotel but I would recommend you make them before arriving. The place is relatively small and there is limited seating. With the reservation we only had to wait about a minute before our table was ready.

Decor – 2 1/2 Stars
Their atmosphere is warm & cozy but incomplete. They have yet to come up with a unified table centerpiece (ie flowers, candles, etc) and their are a few obvious art paintings missing from the wall. I don’t fault them for this though as they did just open a week ago and I’m sure there are bound to be glitches in the first few weeks.  I heard that  they were considering putting potted herbs on the tables but when we arrived the first night there wasn’t anything on our table.

Food – 3 Stars
The food was delicious however there were some things that could have been better. The fingerling potatoes with cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalepenos, bacon bits and scallions was by far my favorite part of the meal. Each ingredient worked well with the other and how can you go wrong with fries / cheese and bacon bits?  My chicken was perfectly cooked, tasted fresh and was nicely paired with goat cheese grits (something I would have never thought to pair with chicken).  The peach pie we ordered for dessert was very tasty but luke warm and would have tasted much better if it had been warm-hot.  I really enjoyed knowing that the ingredients were all local to the PA area.

Service – 3 Stars
The wait staff seemed extremely new at their jobs (most of them) but friendly and helpful.  Although they were new at their jobs, they still did a great job and were attentive. It took a long time for us to receive our dinner however I know they were pretty busy the day we went as we were unable, at first, to get a reservation due to them being overbooked.

Cost – 3 Stars
I believe their prices are relatively reasonable for an upscale restaurant. The appetizers averaged around $10, burgers & sandwiches were around $12 – $13 and dinner entrees ranged from $19 – $28. Here is a link to their current lunch and dinner menus.

Conclusion
When we go back to the Hotel Hershey in the future we will definitely go back. I may be slightly biased about the restaurant as I really like what they are trying to do with only offering foods that are  local to that area.

Rental Car Companies Charge Premium for Old & Busted Car Seats

photo41I just sent the following email to Thrifty Car rental company.  I’ll let you know when I hear back from them what their response is:

When I picked up my rental car I was given a toddler seat that had “Do not use after December 2008” stamped on the back.  Upon showing that to the employee they got me another seat.  That seat did not have all the parts that are supposed to come with a car seat (ie the latch restraint belts) nor did the next 2 that I was given.  The Thrifty agent ended up having to go to another car company to borrow a car seat.  I find it very upsetting that Thrifty would not have brand new infant / toddler seats if you are charging $10 per day to use the car seats. I rented for 7 days and was charged $70 for an old car seat that Thrifty did not even supply to me.  All of Thrifty’s car seats at the Norfolk Airport location were subpar and some were even outdated.  Given this information I would like to request a credit for the car seat rental fee.

In all honesty I feel that this is a problem with all car rental companies, not just Thrifty.  We have rented from a few car rental companies over the past 2 years and have found the majority of the car seats to be old and outdated.  If car rental companies are going to charge such an exorbitant fee for something that is required by law for your child, the least they can do is have brand new or relatively new safe car seats. We rented the car for 7 days which means we paid $70 for a car seat. For that same price I could have purchased a new one at Amazon or Babies R Us.

I’ll post an update when I receive a response from Thrifty.

Carova Beach, N.C. Requires 4WD Cars – Good luck getting one

Picture-7I recently went on vacation with my wife’s family to Carova Beach in North Carolina.  Carova Beach is at the northern most point of the outerbanks up 168.  It required 4 wheel drive as the only way to access the houses are by driving on the beach.

We decided to fly to Norfolk and rent a car to drive there.  I wanted to make sure I had the best deal so I did what I always do and booked a car with a few different rental companies.  For those that don’t know, most rental car companies do not reaquire you to give your credit card information so there is no harm booking at more than one place.  I do this as its easier for me to see the final price after they figure in all the extra fees and then I can compare the rates.

To make a long story short, I booked a “CRV” and then called 2 of the 3 locations that I had booked with (Thrifty and Budget).  I wanted to make sure the vehicle that I had booked was going to be 4WD as I know that not all CRV/SUVs are 4wd.  After calling both companies I was told by one company that they could not guarantee a 4wd vehicle although the CSR said most of their SUVs were 4wd. The other CSR told me that the class of car I had booked would be just fine and that it was a 4wd vehicle that I had booked.

When I arrived in the Norfolk airport I went down to the car rental area and went to the first rental car company that I had booked with that was the least expensive and with the shortest line.  I walked up and showed them my reservation and asked to confirm if the car was 4wd.  They checked and said “we have no 4wd vehicles”.  I wasn’t too worried until I had gone through all 3 car companies along with every other company in the airport…all of which said “we have no 4wd vehicles and you cannot off-road rental cars”.  After regrouping and speaking with one of the final rental car companies I had decided I would just take an AWD vehicle so I went back to my first car rental company. Luckily I was waited on by a different employee who looked again and said they did in fact have a 4wd vehicle.

If we ever go to that part of North Carolina again, I’m pretty sure we will just drive from DE and rent a car in this area as I doubt we will have trouble finding one this far away.  Most of the employees said that you cannot request a 4wd vehicle in the Norfolk Airport or possibly at any car rental company as they are first come first serve.

This was one of the worst parts of the vacation as it added an extra hour of my time trying to scramble to get a 4wd car….what happened next ate up more time and really got on my nerves.  I’ll blog about rental car companies and what a joke their car seat fee is later this week.