Monday, February 04, 2008

Don Jacobs Toyota Subaru Mitsubishi

I have recently had the most pleasant buying experience of any kind at a car dealership and on a used car no less.

On Thursday January 31st I took delivery of a 91 Camry. Jim Lemke was my salesperson. He was a good person to deal with; however the person that took this experience over the top was Mr. Tom Rust the sales manager. The Camry that I took delivery of was definitely not a Grade A used car. But I saw the mechanics notes and had a good idea of what to expect from the car. And for less than $2,000, I knew not to expect much.

Both Mr. Lemke and Mr. Rust emphasized that I was buying the car As-Is. After having been a car salesman for 3+ years, I would expect nothing less. But, Tom also told me that if I did discover a major issue that was not disclosed to me either in the safety or in the mechanics notes that I should bring it to his attention. Once again, after having sold cars for 3+ years, even if I did find a problem, I certainly wasn’t going to expect Tom or the dealership to bend over backwards.

The day after I picked the car up, I filled it with fuel and drove to Farm & Fleet to have new tires put on. When the mechanics put the car on the rack and began working on it, immediately they grabbed a fire extinguisher and some floor dry. The manager went over to the car, and then came by me. He explained that they would not work on the car because of a major gas leak from the tank. He then showed me the leak and sure enough the tank had rusted out at the seams and was leaking.

That night I went back to the Subaru dealership to inform Tom Rust of the issue. To my utter amazement, he offered to rescind the purchase of the car and give me a full refund. He also gave me the option of the dealership paying for a new tank if I were to replace it myself. Because of some of the attributes of the car, mainly a sub-100,000 mile V6 Camry, we choose to replace the tank.

As I previously stated, I sold cars for different dealerships in the Milwaukee area for more than 3 years. This was totally unexpected. I was expecting to be told that I had a tail light warranty and that I was up a river without a paddle. But Tom made things right for me. He was professional and treated me like I actually mattered. And all this for a used car that sold for under $2,000. Had I spend $40,000 I could have expected his professionalism and courtesy. But never would I have expected this from anyone in the car business on a budget car.

If you are in the market for a used or new car - Tom Rust at Don Jacobs Subaru Mitsubishi Toyota is a good person to deal with.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Joey Buona’s

My mom-in-law was in town this last weekend. My sis-in-law wanted to go to Joey’s Buona’s on Water Street. She had been there for a birthday party a few months ago and said it was really good. (She thinks Burger King is really good too though) I had never been there, so we took a chance. We were not disappointed.

Saturday’s experience was an all around winner. Great Food – Great Service – Great Atmosphere

There were 5 adults and my two rug rats in our party. We ended up order the “Family Style Dinner” It was $25 per person. The cost made me hesitant at first. But I looked at what we got and decided to take the plunge. Here is what you get for $25 a person.

Your choice of two appetizers, salads, pasta, entrees, and desserts. Everything on their menu (Menu in PDF) looked really good so it was kind of difficult to decide as a family what we wanted.

We ordered the “Soon to be famous” Italian Nachos and Toasted Ravioli for our appetizers and a Caesar and Joey’s Special for our salads. They all came at the same time.

The Italian Nachos were unique and very tasty. I don’t care for olives but I just picked those off. The Toasted Ravioli was GREAT. They disappeared really fast and that is when I became truly amazed at the value of Joey’s. The waiter (without being asked) brought another plate of the Toasted Ravioli. The waiter explained that the value of ordering Family Style Dinners is that they are never ending. They will continue to serve the appetizers until we are ready for the pasta and entrees. I was in heaven – never ending appetizers.

After gorging ourselves on appetizers we were served our pasta and entrees. We had ordered the Mushroom Ravioli Al Forno and Lasagna for the pasta choices and the Lemon Chicken and Chicken Parmesan for our entrees.

The lasagna was a tad drier than I like, but still very flavorful. The Lemon Chicken was fabulous. And the Mushroom Ravioli made me regret gorging myself on the appetizers and salad. I didn’t have room to try the Chicken Parm.

After I was done eating – the waiter asked us about desert. I wanted the ‘Big Ass’ Cannoli Martini but was out voted. We got a plate of the Chocolate Abbondanza and Italian Strawberry Shortcake. I was able to taste a small piece of each. (The sacrifices I make for this blog.) Both were very good.

The waiter did not charge us for my (19 month old) son to pick off of our plates and my (9 year old) daughter ordered her own kids meal entrée, but the waiter brought her plates for the appetizer and salad portion of the family meal. Our waiter was very friendly and personable.

I was originally worried about the kids. Both of my kids are very well behaved, but I was still concerned about going to a fancy restaurant and the length of time that we would be sitting there. Both did well and the atmosphere was not so stuffy that we were out of place when Matthew started talking to everyone. He talks a very loud gibberish and thinks he is talking. His voice just melting in with the background noise.

My only real complaint is the same with every restaurant downtown and that is the parking. I dropped the wife and kids off and then parked the trusty mini-van about a block and a half away.

Overall one of the best dinning experiences that I have had in a very long time.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Cyber Dad was in town over the weekend.

We were out and about Saturday night and decided to dine at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 4715 S. 76th, Greenfield.

I had noticed the joint on a previous trip to the area but didn't know a thing about it.


Really great food, wonderful service, great atmosphere this place had it all.

For a Saturday night the wait wasn't bad at half an hour, drinks were good and the have an open concept kitchen where you can watch stuff on fire (always a bonus).

Entree pricing was in the $10 to $19 range. Both Cyber Dad and I were so thrilled with our meals we said if we came back we would order exactly the same thing, he had shrimp and scallops, I had Sirloin. Really top notch.

The bread was crusty and had a lovely olive oil / herb dip and the salad to die for (if a bit too small).

Truly a great experience. Give Carrabba's a try.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Benny's Cafe

Benny's Cafe on 27th Street between Layton and College (right next to Stein's Gardens) is on the surface the typical Greek Family restaurant (i.e. Omega, Paul's, etc) t. The menu is the same as any other Greek Family joint. Their prices are average. Where Benny's stands out is in service.

The wife and I went there last week for the first time. 75% of the time that we eat out I order an Iced Tea for my drink. I NEVER use the lemon that the waitress always brings. I used to order it with out the lemon, but waitresses have never listened and always brought it anyway. Eventually I stopped wasting my breath. I would just take the lemon out and set it off to the side.

Ohh, by the way, I drink a lot of Iced Tea. During a typical meal, I will get 6-7 refills. Every time the waitress refills my iced tea she always brings a fresh lemon wedge, even though I ordered it without. Typically halfway through the meal, I will have a small mountain of unused lemon wedges.

Anyway, when Tammy at Benny's took my drink order I didn't bother to order my tea without lemon. When she brought my drink I just removed the lemon wedge and didn't think twice. On my first refill, Tammy shocked me. She brought my second iced tea without the lemon wedge. I was taken back by her observation skills.

In ten + years of ordering iced teas at restaurants and not using the lemon wedge, that is the first time that a waitress was observant enough to not bring me more lemons. It really isn't a big deal to take the wedge out. But it is the little things that separate an average experience from an above average or excellent experience. The observation skills that Tammy showed were remarkable. She got a very nice tip that night.

Ohh and in case you were wondering, the food was average (maybe a bit better) and the prices were good.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Re: Too Demanding

Casper's story has reminded me of an exchange that I witnessed at my Veterinarian's office. I already like St. Paul's (431 N. 27th Street) a lot. They're in a rough part of town, but they charge reasonable prices and keep the doors open after 5pm. You often don't need an appointment just for routine checkups. If anything, they deserve to be on the N**E List for dealing with this woman and not blowing up in her face.

During one of our visits, we stood behind a woman at the counter who was paying cash for services. It became apparent that she was going to be scrounging for pennies from the bottom of her purse before this was all over. Several minutes of fumbling left her a few dollars short, and by this time she had forgotten the amount of the bill several times and recounted her payment twice, in hopes that more money would materialize. The poor receptionist was looking to me, the next person in line, with a very defeated look on her face. She never let on to this woman how ridiculous she being, and that she was totally embarrassing herself.

Somewhere along the line, this woman dug into a separate stash in her purse. She had some quarters tucked away, and you'll never believe what she did next. She started counting quarters to pay the rest of the bill and she was inspecting each one to see which state was on it! Several times, she asked the receptionist "is that a Kentucky?"

Thankfully, the embarrassing lady managed to pay her bill without spending any of her Kentucky quarters. There's no telling how long she would've tried to negotiate if she'd come up short. I told Kelly that if she was within a couple bucks I was going to hand her the money and tell her to go home to her three hundred cats.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Too Demanding?

As the person who started both The S**T List and The N**E List in hopes of highlighting the good and the bad in customer service, you might be somewhat surprised to learn that I've never necessarily felt "the customer is always right." In fact, many years ago I wrote an award-winning market research paper on the very topic.

The paper focused on retail banking and customer retention. Most banks have (or, at the time, had) policies limiting the types of transactions conducted at the drive-through. While some of these rules were intended to prevent fraud, many of them were in place to maximize efficiency. Transactions such as issuing cashiers checks, large cash deposits or multiple transactions were restricted because of the time it took the teller to complete them. Considering the drive-through is intended for more speedy banking, tying up one lane and one teller (keep in mind most drive-through tellers are handling multiple lanes) was simply counterproductive. Invariably, you'd find that each bank had its pool of repeat offenders living under not only the "customer is always right" mantra but also a belief that their excrement had a pleasant aroma. The problem was that if the bank attempted to make that one customer happy, many more sat in line behind them growing quickly impatient and dissatisfied with what was supposed to be an efficient and quick stop at the bank. One happy customer has resulted in several more unhappy ones.

More recently I had the opportunity to witness how such a customer may not necessarily impact the satisfaction of other customers but actually cost the business money. Two nights a week, Eagan's on Water runs a half-priced bottle of wine special. The only caveat on the special is that it does not include wines on the reserve list. These are very pricey vinos that if Eagan's did offer them at half-price it would actually be at below their cost and they would incur and instant loss. One regular customer who we've nicknamed "I'm Better Than You" asks for bottles from the reserve list on at least a weekly basis. Each time the bar manager explains to him why those bottles are not included. Unfortunately, one evening the bar manager was off and IBTY, knowing he could sneak one through, got his half-priced bottle from an unsuspecting person unfamiliar with the policy. Eagan's took a loss and a very popular special is now jeopardized.

The point is that The S**T List strives to make other consumers aware of egregious shortcomings in customer service. Before making any additions to it, I'll always be sure that the demand I'm making of the business is reasonable and that in fulfilling it they're not doing so in a manner that loses them customers or money. If neither of those are the case, then I think my expectations of the business are fair and reasonable.

So when staff writer Jason McDowell attacks Jimmy John's service because they won't let him bring his dog into the restaurant but also won't hand deliver his food to the sidewalk outside the store during the lunch rush, it's interesting to read how so many readers reacted to his gripe.

Hopefully you'll never find a complaint like that on The S**T List.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kessler's Diamonds.

Mrs. RealDebate and I had the occasion to drop into Kessler's Diamonds on S. 76th St. kitty-korner from Southridge mall yesterday.

They were patient, accommodating, informative and best of all not pushy.

Not only did they clean our rings beautifully they GAVE us ring cleaner to take home, encouraged us to use it frequently and drop in whenever we needed more absolutely free of charge.

Now, I'm not stupid, I understand they want us stop in for gratis cleaner in order to have another opportunity to sell us diamonds.

However, it is nice to be pushed for a change.

If you have the occasion to stop at Kessler's on s. 76th St., ask for Michael. He made a sale yesterday, he just doesn't know it yet.

Our anniversary is 2 weeks out, but don't tell Mrs RealDebate, Ok?