Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lucky Baldwin's Pub / Sunset Magazine

I was looking for an interesting neighborhood / day trip to kill an afternoon in with an old friend. I ran across an article in Sunset Magazine all about the little town of Sierra Madre. Sunset had raved about this one pub called Lucky Baldwins.

My first mistake was trusting Sunset! It was dumping rain when I met my friend. We ventured into the little pub - only a handful of customers but not unusual in such a deluge. It seemed like a typical English pub: kind of dark, heavy wood furniture, long bar. We ordered the iced tea as we were both driving in the crazy CA weather.

Oy! What undrinkable swill! It tasted as if it had been brewed in a coffee pot with old coffee still in there. No amount of sweeter could make it taste better! And it kind of stuck to your teeth with some weird greasy coating!  I sent mine back  - no one should have to pay for undrinkable beverages! But my friend kept quiet.

We both ordered their version of the shepherds pie called cottage pie. It was the most god awful food I've ever tried to eat!  I admit, I'm a little spoiled... I adore the Cheesecake Factory's Shepherds Pie. It is perfect... amazing cuts of beef, gravy, tender yet crunchy veggies and mashed potatoes that taste like... mashed potatoes!

This is the Cheesecake Factory's:

And this was Lucky Baldwin's

This was what I brought home to the dog. I did make an attempt at eating the mashed potatoes on top but they tasted powdered. Served with fries (would you like some potatoes with your potatoes?) that tasted as if they had been in the freezer too long and the peas were actually on the side. The peas were the tastiest part of the meal... but then it's hard to screw up peas!

The pie itself tasted like they threw some cooked carrots into pasta sauce and covered with with the icky potatoes. I know restaurants are trying to save money but sheesh... pasta sauce has no place in cottage pie!

I was shocked to learn that Lucky Baldwin's has TWO locations! I would avoid them both based on this meal! And as for Sunset magazine... I don't think I will trust them again! Clearly the writer had too much ale when the recommendation was written.

Lucky Baldwin's Pub - FAIL
Sunset Magazine - FAIL


Amazing Sephora

Things can get a little negative around here what with all the crappy customer service out there. No one seems to value their customers and don't even get me started on banking! Chase Bank, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank America are all taking away free checking! But I thought I would focus this post on one company that is doing something RIGHT!

I was amazed and surprised to find a gift card in my email inbox from Sephora, THE online cosmetics place! O.K. FULL disclosure here: I've long been a fan. I'll never forget one year when I forgot an old friend's birthday and panicked. I looked and looked at all the websites I know she loves for a place that would send her a gift certificate THAT DAY... there were NONE! And then I tried Sephora and BOOM, my friend had her gift and LOVED it! And now she's a Sephora fan too!

But in addition to great customer service and fast email gift cards, Sephora treats it's Beauty Insiders (free to sign up!) to little treats in every order and NICE treats every 100 points or 500 points.

And you get birthday gifts... well, this is a negative to me because they always smell like food. I HATE beauty products and candles that smell like food! That's a man thing. Women like florals and perfume scents. But I can usually add a few scented oils and make it better but if the only negative is I don't love my birthday gift - eh, c'est la vie!

Back to my holiday gift ... Sephora sent all Beauty Insiders a $15 gift certificate and gave us several weeks to use it during the holiday season! I used mine for some Black Honey (Clinique) lip gloss / gel blush.

It feels so nice to do business with a company that treats me as if they appreciate me! I wonder if we could get the Execs at Sephora to do a training seminar for bank management??? Wouldn't that be nice?

Sephora: Pass / A+


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Walmart Fail

I know many people out there just don't like the make-it-cheaper-in-China mentality that is Walmart but hey, money is tight. I like to shop there.

But I ran across a Walmart corporate policy the other day that SUCKS.

I went to buy underwear. I've bought my undies at JC Penney for decades... but they get a fail for not carrying the Patches line of cotton bikinis I adore. So, I've been shopping.

I found some that looked like they may "do" at Walmart but I was in the skankiest Walmart in L.A. (Panorama City). This store is so low rent, they have the beauty isle all blocked off to prevent shoplifting. Seriously, I would never shop there at night!

The undies I wanted were packaged five to a bag for 9.50 except, the ONLY ones in my size were open and one was missing! But I need undies. So I go to the register and they tell me the policy is 10% off or 90 cents. That might make sense if you are buying a lawnmower but not a package of multiple anything. I felt strongly that the discount should be 1.90 (9.50 / 5).

The clerk was no help (are they ever?). The front end manager was useless as was the assistant manager. I had to drag my poor feet over to customer service to stand in line for half an hour (REALLY Walmart? When are you ever going to learn you need DIFFERENT LINES for cash checking people and ACTUAL CUSTOMERS???) to finally talk to the store manager.... who had already been brief by the little assistant manager before I finally got the PROPER discount.

Time is money... but I have more time than money and wrong is just wrong. The handling of this... FAIL!

Monday, November 29, 2010

FHA / 3M Road Sign Fail

In an economic climate where everyone is hurting including our local municipalities, the Federal Highway Administration is forcing ALL local governemnts - no matter how tiny they are - to put up new road signs. Why? Because a study has decided ALL CAPS is too hard to read and that Title Case letters is preferable!

We've all had friends -usually new to the Internet - decide all caps are fine when it's viewed as shouting. I agree, title case is easier to read but the cost to replace all those signs will run in the billions!

The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices published by the FHA also calls for the size of the letters to increase from four to six inches on roads with speed limits higher than 25 mph. Additionally by 2018 all signs must have reflective lettering.

But the really sneaky part - one of the studies was funded by 3M - who makes the reflective lettering! 3M - who sends so many of our jobs overseas, funded a study that benefits them!


Let's all buy generic tape this holiday season!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Yes, everyone hates the post office. But what inspired me to make the post office my inaugural post here on this blog???

The complete failure of the USPS Click n Ship system yesterday. I spent close to two hours trying to print one label. One of those hours - while still trying to print - was spent on hold hoping to ask tech support what was wrong.

Normally, I LOVE Click n Ship! It's so easy! It saves me money and TIME! I print my labels and bypass all those annoying lines at the post office, place my packages on the counter, nodding to the clerks and I'm out the door. Easy peasy!

But not yesterday. I failed to be able to ship at all! And after I got someone on USPS Chat, I was finally informed that the issue was internal... THEIR fault.

When I know one of my websites is not working, I put up a notice. WHY can't the post office do the same? Why waste people's time?

USPS Click N Ship - FAIL!