Thursday, November 2, 2017

Outback Steakhouse Strikes Out

It's been a while since I last ate at Outback Steakhouse, but primarily because my work environment changed so I wasn't frequently on that side of town, but I had reason to go to Henderson Nevada today so I dropped by the Outback on Stephanie for a good meal.  Actually, I stopped by to get a GREAT meal, but that's not what was served.  Well, their Diet Coke was above average (which is another story for another blog), and the loaf of bread was the same as always (which is good - it's not my favorite bread, but it's exactly what it's always been - good enough to enjoy), although even this wasn't hot, but had obviously been sitting out for a while.

But instead of Diet Coke or fresh bread I went to Outback for a medium rare ribeye steak, a Caesar's salad and their garlic mashed potatoes, the meal I always choose when I go there.  First came the salad.  Have you ever had a dry Caesar's salad?  I didn't think it was possible, but in this I was wrong.  There wasn't enough dressing to bring the lettuce to life.  Big disappointment, but it's just a "side" so, all other things being equal, I wouldn't object.  However, then came the steak. 

Right up front, I looked at it and was stunned. It was small.  Really small. Since I order the same steak almost every time, this wasn't just a guess.  It looked to be at least a quarter, maybe a third smaller than usual.  Which wouldn't have been so bad except it also seemed to have more than usual fat and gristle.  Finally (this is the trifecta of disappointing steaks), the steak seemed to have been over-tenderized, to the point where it was falling apart. I'd never realized how the texture of meat impacts it's appeal and enjoyment.

Finally, the garlic mashed. Not sure how you can screw this up, but it was as dry as the salad.

Ok, that covers the meal.  When I paid (by one of those damned machines on the table - for the prices I pay at Outback I'd like to deal with a real person, but maybe that's just me), I was asked to take a survey, which I did, and ended it by including a text message to the store management.  It couldn't have been a message that the manager wanted to get, but I'm truly surprised that the manager didn't immediately reach out to me, if only to apologize, if not to try and make it right.  But so far, not so much.

Maybe it's just the Outback at Stephanie, but when I consider the size and quality of the steak, I've got to believe that this is a corporate decision to downsize the meal instead of raising the price.

If you're jonesing for a steak, you might do better somewhere else than Outback Steakhouse. I know the next time I want a steak, I'll find another place to go.
Fifty-Fifty Alert - My Pillow - Not All Bad, But Sure as Hell Not All Good

We both have sleep problems, so eventually the commercials wore us down and we got the buy-one, get-one-free, My Pillow, then gave them a try.  The vote is 50-50.  Lynn likes her My Pillow just fine; I gave up on mine within less than a week.  So instead of a good deal on a $50 pillow, we got a less-good deal, $99 for one pillow (the other one is not being used, nor is it going to be used, except for the cat, who likes it just fine).  Basically, you'll either like it or hate it, and if you can find someone who has one and give it a try before you buy, you will likely be far happier than I am.  Ask Lynn and you'll get a very different answer, because she likes her My Pillow.

One final note - My Pillow is fighting (and settling for seven-figure sums) lawsuits about health and other claims. I know nothing about this, but it wouldn't be fair to my readers (both of you) without mentioning this.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Fine Art of Losing A Loyal Customer - Big O Tires

I have been a loyal customer of Big O Tires - the local operation on North Nellis Blvd. in Las Vegas - for more than 20 years.  The reasons are simple.  They are close, they provide good service at good prices, and most of all, they respect me as a customer and as an individual.  As I get older, that respect has become more important to me - life is too short to be treated rudely by people who are nonetheless eager to take my money.  But that had not been a problem ... until late last month.

I was getting ready for a 3,000-mile trip to see the kids and grandkids over the holiday, and I needed an oil and filter change and new tires - so I headed to Big O.  It was about 5:40 p.m., and the store had always been open until 7, so I saw no problem.  When I got there I saw they now closed at 6, so I figured I'd get the oil changed then, and I'd get the tires the next day. 

However, I was turned away.  They said they couldn't change the oil before six, when they closed.  There was no sense of recognition that they were creating a problem for me, nor were they apparently aware that, in addition to turning me away, they were being rude.  This was an entirely new attitude - they'd always been accommodating, until the time when I really needed them.

As problems go, this was a small one. Jiffy Lube was more than happy to take my money for an oil change, a new filter, a fuel system cleaning and new wiper blades - all for about the same, or maybe a bit less, than Big O would have charged.  And I had no problem finding a tire store - at 6:30 on a Friday night - who'd sell me four new tires, two new wheels (I'd had one stolen while I was in the hospital - talk about adding insult to injury) because I wanted a full-sized spare for the trip. 

Big O lost all of that business - in the grand scheme of things, this is not a problem for Big O (they can live without $750 or so) - but they've also lost my future custom - so no more tires, no more oil changes, no more servicing every 3,000 miles, no more me.  That won't shut them down, either.

HOWEVER ... if you want good service and a modicum of respect, you can no longer count on Big O Tires to give you what you're looking for. There are many competitors - so, like me, go looking for someone else to provide your nuts-and-bolts, bread-and-butter car service.