Can’t order your food on line? Call 1-800-Verizon

Customers can expect to remain confused unless the customer calls 1-800-Verizon, or some other number that comes up when searching with your browser. Verizon has done it again, created stalwart technology that is totally unusable to the common consumer. Yes, Verizon created a support website for their service and supplies that becomes a giant loop of endless clicks leading to the end of the internet. Yes, I think Verizon actually has created the end of the internet.

I understand the use of technology to reduce workload, increase efficiency and streamline repetitive informational technologies. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what if you have a unique situation that you believe warrants the ever-personal customer interface with a real human? Just so happened to be my case just the other night; having an above normal internet usage bill recently and a significant service degradation of my installed Verizon HomeFusion Broadband, a residential internet solution that uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network to bring reliable, high-speed internet service to customers with limited broadband options . . . and when working properly, provides super-fast internet. Super-fast speeds that are only compared and rivaled to that of cable, T-1 or DSL service. Now one thing I am not, is a technology geek; but I did just stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night so I should be good to go for the remainder of this post.

I just know I used to have an incredibly fast system that costs me a lot of money, and if not managed properly, . . . cost A LOT of money. Like a $380 bill that was ONLY for home-use internet service. No phone, no television, and no cellular phone service. Yes, I paid $380 for data only to my home internet, so I have become used to monitoring the system quite closely and my kids . . . even closer.

Once I figured out that the best way to contact Verizon directly was obviously not through the internet. Going to  proved an hour worthless of many attempts to find a phone number on their website to speak with a human, presumably in some other country where the labor pool is abundant and cheap.

Tonight was just a bit different since once I figured out that 1-800-Verizon would quickly link me to Geon (pronounce: Jee-On, like neon or Deon). Geon spent a good 3-4 hours relentlessly pushing the limits of my sobriety and the limits of my bed-time hour. Geon had me checking everything imaginable that could be influencing several website’s data to suddenly halt when attempting to access that information using my Verizon 4G LTE service. Websites like Facebook were found to be restrictive in displaying all content and YouTube no longer plays videos for some mysterious reason. Hey, I don’t feel so bad right now, ‘cause we tested every component in the 4G broadband system installed in my home computers, and Geon couldn’t figure it out. The night finally concluded with Geon testing all of my communication speeds in my home. Each method of test produced stellar wireless speeds, but the display of any YouTube video or some of the content on Facebook seemed futile. But no matter what we did, or how long we stayed at it, Geon provided me with an exceptional customer experience.

During the 3 or so hours, Geon mentioned he was located in Albuquerque, NM and I mentioned my entire life story. The old saying goes, “better grab a Snickers Bar” cause I was not going anywhere for a while, so we would just talk while we surfed the internet and tested my connectivity speeds. Yeah, we told a lot of stories in between re-booting my desktop, grabbing a beer, re-booting my laptop, taking a bathroom break, grabbing a beer and re-booting the Home Fusion system. I was even able to get Geon to do two things. First I asked that he read a bit more About Us at I don’t know if he did yet, but then I asked that he look up “banana in the tail pipe” on you tube. Geon said he had to be careful and watch his back because his supervisor was looming; so he probably won’t get a chance to go until he is off. Here’s a link if he needs it.

I guess this story is about customer experience. Why does it seem so often I tell stories center around customer experience? Because I’m a customer. It was probably one of the most valuable things I learned while in school.

So who cares?

See, I can do it too . . .


Expansion too fast? – Sublime Ale House / Tavern – San Diego, CA

Is there a right time to complain while seated at a restaurant? Many owners and managers will make the blanket statement, “if you have an issue at a restaurant, then, while you’re at the restaurant, when the incident happens, is the right time to bring it up to management so they can remedy the situation”. What if you bring the incident up to the server and the manager seemed aware, but never approached the table to ensure the customer returns another day?

A similar incident happened just the other night. Finally, another son turned 21, so it’s now up to Mom and Dad to take him and the family out for dinner. Tonight’s choice was Sublime Ale House in San Marcos’s famous Restaurant Row near San Diego, CA. What all seemed to be going smoothly for the first 10 minutes turned horribly wrong once the food was ordered.

Ensuring each of the family members arrived at our house so my wife could play designated driver caused us to get a slower than normal start on our evening. We arrived as a party of 8 without reservations on this Tuesday evening following the MLK weekend. Seating was not a problem with the many picnic style benches and tables. I had disappeared momentarily while our server Dave dropped off the menus. A quick glance at the menu upon my return, I had discovered that most everyone seemed ready to order once Dave had arrived again after about another 5 minutes. Dave took our drink order and placed it in the POS. Soon thereafter, Dave returned to start the dinner order. I ordered a couple of pizzas for the table and there were a variety of sandwiches and salads ordered as well. Dave disappeared and our drinks started to roll in about 15 minutes after the entrées were ordered, just as we began to wonder why the pizza holders were already out but no beverages, except a couple waters and the beer that was ordered before the main party was seated.Sublime1

Moments later the drinks arrived. After we began to taste our beers, a call from the table came, “hey, we should’ve ordered appetizers”. I told my son that the pizzas should be here any moment . . . but we kept waiting, without any follow-up from Dave, and thinking the soup should have also showed up by now, unless it was fired at the same time as the regular entrées. Timing this evening was seeming beginning to falter.

Well, we finally got our three large pizzas. We finally got our drinks about 20 minutes into seating and our pizzas as the appetizer about 30 minutes after seating, just about the time we began to wonder of their whereabouts (20 minutes is good). Then each of us at the table began to wonder where the entrées were hiding since each of us at the table already had two slices of pizza each (about 45 minutes in). Just as we began to wonder, the entrées began to arrive. My son’s Prosciutto and Egg burger was served just above room temperature and seemed as if it was meant for another table under the heat lamp. Considering the wait time for turnaround, my son decided to eat what he was served. Yes his fries were also cold, but crunchy. He even said they were the best french fries he has ever had. Dunno, about that one???

We didn’t immediately complain. Looking back, I feel my complaint about a burger seemed small in comparison to the fact that our table had now consumed every one of their beverages including most of the water on the table. I didn’t notice this happening, but I did notice that my beer was empty and I was finishing my water. I asked if anyone had ordered another drink and the answer was, “No, no one came by”. Just as I was finishing my water, I began to slurp in the general direction of another server who came over to check on our drinks. I saw our particular server around and was surprised there were no other drink orders taken.

I pointed out the table status to Chris and explained that no one has been by to top off water or take another drink order. I also told Chris to order another round of drinks complimentary of Sublime, because that was a clear service failure . . . and to get water out as well. I then saw our server and explained that our table went without drink for some time. He dropped off what was in his hand and immediately came over to start taking another drink order. I told Dave that Chris had already taken our order but had not refilled our water in the meantime. Even the water took a long time . . . WTF? Speaking of that; I didn’t have serviceware and asked my wife if there was any available. She said the table was told, there was no more and he’d (don’t know who) be back with more. Anyway, I ate my pizza with what I got from the bar.

Well, our second round of drinks finally arrived as did the water, now making its way to the table. I told Dave and Chris, and they must have talked with the Manager, to keep our drinks full (meaning mostly water and sodas) for the remainder of our stay. At one point, I believe it may have been the Manager approached the table after eye-balling me and asked very simply, “So, . . . are we going to be ordering any more drinks?” Our collective answer was, “no”, and he left. No other mention about our tab, or our food or our drinks.

Sublime2The check arrives and it was calculated properly without the addition of a second round of beers. I gave the server a $20 tip on a $175 bill. Hopefully he understands his was not good service. I hope Sublime also understands that they have a service problem. Just read any number of posts and Yelps about them. As I read some of those Yelps; and if I remember correctly, Sublime has a significant history of slow service, but this was Tuesday night and the restaurant was only about 60% full. My previous visit also resulted in significant service delays, like . . . really long waits between drink order, food order, drink arrival, food arrival. Perhaps it’s part of their business service plan . . . to draw more drinks out of the customers . . . but then why did our drinks go empty? And, then they had a problem bringing water as an interim. I really just don’t think they have their service structure set up properly. It was very bad service. Then to top it off, if the Manager knew there was a service problem, why didn’t that Manager approach MY table to ensure this customer returns. I hope that manager realizes our $175 cover could have been much closer to a $300 cover should the extra round of drinks been calculated in and possibly another (3rd) round for some of us. I really hope Dave realizes his tip could have been closer to $60 or more for exceptional service and a total bill properly calculated to include the comp’ed drinks.

So my question still remains; Am I wrong not to bring up this evening’s failures to the Manager to allow him/her to rectify the situation, better ensuring I return someday to spend another $300? Nonsense, that Manager (weak! , in my opinion) knew about the situation, because the Manager would have to have approved the full table of comp’ed drinks. Then why didn’t the Manager approach me? I think, if I was the manager, would have ensured I (as the customer) returned, especially knowing that I have another son yet entering the food and now “drinking” world.

Do I think this is another case of a restaurant expanding ahead of themselves? Perhaps. Sublime Ale House now has an off-branch called Sublime Tavern (Summer, 2013) located in Del Mar, CA. I have not yet visited the new joint, and I may not anytime soon. Unfortunately, quality of customer experience is what has dropped. I know that Sublime has a good concept . . . but, if you can’t continuously bring quality to that customer, I can only expect the new place may soon close. We’ll see.


What’s in my EYE? . . . passion . ,

Bug and Thing Jan 15 20141.jpgSo I guess I’m now 52. Too easy to lose track. Could be still 51 . . . Now that I’m done with culinary school I find that I again have a garden . . . sucks when it’s 2.3 acres. I have again realized my badd ass VW’s are both running and I have found all of the old parts . . . almost all of them. I don’t know quite what’s there, but everything looks familiar. Scary!

I have now found that 2014 presents, yet a new venture into the world. First is trying to remember to put “2014” instead of “2013” on those bouncers. I have also realized that I have a family. It’s all messed up, . . . but it’s a family. I have found that my two Great Danes have found themselves back onto our bed somehow. I have also realized that I have been getting very good rest nowadays.

As of this day, I’m still waiting for my paper degree to show up. Hmmm, maybe they reconsidered. Oh well, another day goes by and I have also found that I don’t constantly think about culinary adventures . . . or ventures so much anymore. I do, however, still have a passion that still seems to burn inside of me. Perhaps it’s this distorted sense of reality that exists here at CritDicks. Am I, who thinks , , , I am?Curlyhoward

Let’s move this forward and expel what really matters . . . food. While I sit here and type this (and I still suck at it), I’m trying to figure out why I have been able to lose weight coming out of the holidays; and yet it was right in the middle of them that I peaked at my highest poundage. Today, I even did a full set of pushups to hone this big boy. Hey, STFU . . . right smack in the middle of the holidays . . . , I pause for one day and have an Angiogram. Those are always fun. I think the guy shaving my groin area was having a little too much fun. I digress, . . .

So coming out of the holidays . . . like Monday, I’m being electrocuted and needled for a neurological disorder that causes neurological disorders. For four hours, this “resident” gets his way with me, electronically. And there’s this ‘nearly dead’ 84 year old Neurologist” standing watch over “Bucky”. I don’t really know his name, but he was reading the complete procedure from a book. Shit, I only put in for 1.5 hours of sick time . . .    Yeah sick,  . . . like watching and feeling my arm instantly “high-5” this resident.

I now look here at what I have, . . . and am happy. For this smart sole understands the way to my desires, . . . is through Her desires. I’m off now for a couple days to take a short trip to Lemoore, CA. Thank God it’s short. “Ain’t nothin’ out there but dead sheep and vultures”. Hopefully I’ll discover somewhere to rage about . . . probably not. Then our trip takes us ‘just as flippin’ quickly to the coast again where I will hopefully meet up with some family. Doesn’t matter this weekend, cause ’em Chargers failed again. Deservedly so . . .

Have fun !   Quickly ! ! !

2014 is about to get serious!


“H E L L L L P . . . Justinnnn Bieberrrrrr !”.

I have spent an unusual amount of time in the emergency room lately . . . No, not me! Anyway, tonight probably takes the cake. And, since I now made reference to a food, I can now continue this story. There are many wacko’s here tonight.

barista1Let’s see, there’s the prophet who’s gonna save the world through his righteous powerful words and endless speeches. Then there’s the loud old trailer dude next to us that finally got a good meal . . . just can’t quit asking if anyone is outside of his curtain; “Anyone Out There?”, he yells . . . over and over again. Now he wants to urinate in his bed. Then he keeps asking if this (emergency room) is always like this. Seriously? Friday night in Tri-City ER? . . . Duh!

Then there’s the psycho chick in the ER wacko lock-down room screaming for Justin Bieber and “M o m m m e e e e e y”. Jeez, she won’t stop screaming for “H E L P . . . Justin Bieber”. This place can easily make me Schizophrenic. All the talking, yelling and screaming! SHUT THE F(<&K UP! This chick was beating the walls and screaming just like in the horror movies. She was good . . . , but made this entire ER friggin’ crazy.

Today I was reacquainted with Eric, my awesome Barista at the coffee booths here at the hospital. Yes, he remembered me easily and claims he has read my blog. So now I gotta give him a shout out. If you ever visit, swing by and say “hi”. Eric will throw down a heavily caffeinated Jacko, flavored with whatever the season brings.barista2

So here we are at the emergency room again and have begun to notice that the staff here at Tri-City ER is very friendly. Each doctor we have dealt with in this ER during our many visits over the last 3 months, has always given us his personal business card. Our last doctor even called us at home to check on the patient he discharged the day before. Wow, that’s some kind of customer service. My wife had even made comment about the staff appearing vey friendly. What, did this staff get some “friendly” training? Nah, I think she’s hot for doctor . . . everyone of the young, prematurely greying muffins. Sheesh, relax babe. . . I’ll buy you some Chicken McNuggets later.


The love – Peace and Love . . . Baba Booey!

Ok, so I did it. I dropped the “Howard” bomb. Whatever . . . get over it! As I was thinking of this, I began to think . . . and think some more. I don’t think (LOL) that I have ever put so much love into anything I have been willing to give to another. I don’t know, maybe it’s this culinary bull shit I have learned over the last 3 years. Maybe it’s the perfectionism in me . . . the aviation maintenance side of me . . .


I made a small batch (9 jars) of preserved lemons from a “wire gone crazy” Meyer Lemmon dwarf I had recently replanted a year ago. I must have picked nearly 50 pounds of very ripe (I mean, now!) Lemons from the tree my father and mother had given us when they moved. Looked down one day and noticed several ripe hangers. A week later I went down there with two Claim Jumper sized left-over bags and immediately called for back up. I filled 5 large plastic grocery bags. I quickly dispersed them throughout the community retaining just enough for my personal uses.

A day later I’m looking at my preserving to pick out just the right jars to be given to special friends. There are subtleties in each hand-crafted jar. The contents are the same; lemons, salt, rosemary. The appearance of lemons, a bit of rosemary pressing up against the glass. Recognizing the different characteristics placed each jar in a hierarchy amongst the rest. “Which one will he get”? I quickly realized I had felt this overwhelming feeling of confusion. Which of my friends deserves the best packing . . . ?

Silence now, as the brains over-power-ment has finally subsided to release you back to reality. “JUST give ’em a damn jar!!!”


Dicks – I wish you all the happiness in 2014

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