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Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Cost Of Poor Customer Service

I really hoped I could avoid writing this.  I don’t particularly like to bash anyone, you know?  But, I have run out of patience.

Every word of this is true, except for the end, which is my own personal commentary on the facts I am about to present to you.

On Saturday, March 23 of this year, I walked into a Tourneau watch store in my area.  After looking around a bit, I saw a beautiful watch for $625.00.  That’s a lot of money, but I really wanted an upgrade from my previous watch.  So…I bought it.  Now, I was a bit reluctant to buy it at the store since it was cheaper from Amazon.  The convincing argument was that it was guaranteed for three years.  After having it sized, I put it back in the case so I could wear it to work the following Monday.

I wore the watch Monday and Tuesday at work.  By the time I got home from work on Tuesday, the band of the watch was causing me considerable pain.  I took the watch off, and saw the band had started to literally tear the skin on the underside of my wrist.  Not to the point of bleeding, but still, you could tell some of the skin had torn away.

On Wednesday, March 27, I called the store and spoke to a very nice salesperson named Susan.  She was also the person who helped size the watch. I told her the problem, and said I might need to return the watch.  She said to come back in and she would see what she could do.

On Saturday, March 30, I went back to the Tourneau store and met with Susan.  I gave her three options.  My first and preferred option was to get a new band for the watch.  She said that they could do that, but the band would not sit evenly against the watch, so it may look funny.  I felt for $625, I did not want my watch to “look funny.”  The second option was to look at a different watch.  I looked at watches costing as much as $900.  I just didn’t like any of them nearly as much as the watch I had bought.  Option three was to return the watch. 

Susan said they generally do not take watches back.  Susan suggested a fourth option.  Their watchmaker could buff the areas that were tearing at my skin.  Perhaps that would help.  I gave it a shot, and when I tried it on in the store, it did indeed feel better.  Once again, I put it in the case, so I could wear the watch to work the following Monday.

Monday morning, I put the watch on and drove to work, which is about an hour away from my home.  By the time I got to work, I had to take the watch off because my wrist hurt so badly.  Once again, the band had started to tear at the underside of my wrist.

So, on Monday, April 1, I called the store again, and told them that I’d like to return the watch and get my money back.  Well, apparently, they don’t do that.  It is against their policy.  Apparently, you only have three days to return the watch and it must not have been altered, even if the alterations were at their suggestion and the watch physically hurts you. 

I thought this was unfair, so I asked to speak to the general manager.  She was nice enough and said the best she could do was a store credit.  I told her that, while I appreciated that, I didn’t think the store policy was fair.  In any case, after a discussion, I felt I had no choice but to take the store credit.

My wife went onto the Tourneau web site and wrote an email to their customer service department either that day or the day after, so it was no later than April 2nd.  I started to tweet to @Tourneautimes about how poor the policy was, and @Tourneautimes contacted me and asked what the issue was.  @Tourneautimes was nice enough to follow me  on Twitter, so I could direct message them the entire story, and did so on April 4.  @Tourneautimes responded that they would contact customer service and someone would get back to me shortly.

Today is April 28.  No one from customer service has ever contacted either my wife via email, or me via Twitter. 

Those are the facts.  Now for my commentary: 

First, Tourneau told me on the phone that their return policy is on the receipt.  I don’t read my receipt, except to make sure I’m not overcharged, or unless someone tells me the return policy is on there.  No one did.  I think that was wrong of them.  If that’s where the return policy is, they should at least tell you that.

Second, it should not take a customer service department this long to get back to someone.   Having worked with companies with varying size customer service departments, it almost never takes any company I have worked for this long to get back to someone.  And when someone would contact me to complain about the length of time it has taken someone to get back to them, I stayed on top of it, as I would like to keep the person or company as a buyer of whatever product the company I worked for sold.

Third, I understand why Tourneau has the policy they do.  I am sure that many people have some event they need to attend and “rent” a watch with no intention of keeping it.  However, in my case, I made a sincere effort to keep the watch.  I had no desire for my money back.  My true desire was to keep the watch.  Having always worked in businesses where I deal with the public in one form or another, and having written policies for departments in the past, I believe that policies need to be flexible as long as that flexibility isn’t something that is illegal or puts the company in a compromising situation.

Fourth, am I blameless?  Absolutely not!  I should have been smart enough to ask what the return policy was before I bought the watch.  Unfortunately for me, I took my feelings to the store, but left my brains on my pillow.

Fifth, I don’t blame anyone in the store, the general manager, or @Tourneautimes.  They were just doing their jobs.  I do blame Tourneau corporate customer service. They did not care enough about me as a customer to bother to get back to me. 

So, what am I left with?  Well, I have two gift certificates.  One of them we sent to Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue for their annual silent auction.  At least that will help some poor animals who have been abandoned have a better life.  We haven’t decided what to do with the other one yet.

But I can tell you I will never set foot in a Tourneau store again.  And the way I figure it, even though I don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter, between the ones I do have, all of my wife’s Facebook friends, and all of the people who we have told personally about this story, we have cost Tourneau a number of potential customers and quite a bit of money. 

Perhaps this post will be the catalyst for Tourneau to begin to do the right thing for their customers.  And if they should ever contact me, I will tell you what they say.  Good, bad, or indifferent.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Think Like A Chef - Gluten Free Seared Tuna with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette & Fennel Salad

The next meal to use the roasted tomatoes in the Think Like A Chef series is seared tuna with roasted tomato vinaigrette and fennel salad.  This was a cool meal to make, because the roasted tomatoes were used two ways.

First, the vinaigrette was made by combining, in a blender, two roasted tomato halves, ¼ cup tomato juice, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  After the ingredients were pureed, I slowly added ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil while processing.  After tasting it, it needed more salt and pepper, so I added some, remixed and tasted again.  This time I thought it was fine, so I put that aside.

Next, I had to make the salad.  After taking the core out of a fennel bulb, I used my mandolin to make very thin slices.  Then I combined that with some herb leaves.  I used basil, parsley, and dill.  Now, the recipe calls for mixing the whole concoction with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Instead, I took a tablespoon of my vinaigrette and combined that with the salad.  My thinking was, it already had the salt and pepper, and it would have a bit of the flavor of the vinaigrette.

Now, in a heavy skillet, I took a tuna steak, which I cut in half, and seared it in a pan, using extra-virgin olive oil, and seasoned very simply with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  I seared it for about two minutes on side one and then a minute or so on the second side.  I then transferred it to a cutting board and cut it into slices.

Next came plating.  On the bottom of the plate were chopped roasted tomatoes, the sliced tuna on top, and then the herb salad on top of that.  Finally, I added a very slight drizzle of the vinaigrette.

Better plating!

This was a pretty healthy meal.  If I figured everything out correctly, this dish was 328 calories, and only 7.1 grams of fat.  Total carbs were 17 grams, while having 45.2 grams of protein.  It also had 4 grams of fiber.

The roasted tomato has been an interesting ingredient.  I’ve used it in a few different ways, and it was fun to see how one ingredient can be used so many different ways.  In fact, during the week, we usually eat paninis one day, and we have started to add a roasted tomato half to the sandwich, as it adds much more flavor than a regular slice of tomato.

I am on to the next chapter in the trilogy section on Chef Colicchio’s Think Like A Chef book, which deals with mushrooms.  I will be traveling quite a bit for work over the next few weeks, but I will try to update as much as I can.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Think Like A Chef - Gluten Free Roasted Tomato Risotto

Having cooked for many years, there isn’t that much that surprises me any more.  The real joy in cooking is tasting what you have created and more importantly, having others taste what you’ve created.  As Emeril would say, “It’s a food of love kind of thing.”

What I mean is, if you’ve cooked for any length of time, you’ve seen how shrimp changes color as it cooks.  You’ve seen how a piece of meat can go from raw to toast based on cooking times and the amount of heat used.  You’ve seen how water transforms into soup.  It was really cool the first few times it happened.  Now you know what to expect.  I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes the fun comes from learning about a new ingredient.  That’s how I feel about risotto.

The next recipe in Tom Colicchio’s book Think Like A Chef is roasted tomato risotto.  One of the cool things about this book is that it is taking me out of my “cooking comfort zone.”  I love risotto, but it is always one of those things I have avoided cooking.  Why?  Did you ever watch any of the cooking competitions on TV?  You name it, Top Chef, Next Food Network Star, Chopped…someone always goes home because of poorly cooked risotto.  If they can’t get it right, what chance do I have?  

There were not too many ingredients in this dish.  It started out by adding olive oil to a saucepan, and then adding an onion that’s been diced and cooking it over medium heat until soft.  It took roughly ten minutes.  Then, to the saucepan, you add 1-½ cups of the Arborio rice, along with some salt and pepper, and stir until the rice is heated through and has turned slightly translucent.

Next, I took some chicken stock, which has been warmed, and added two cups to the risotto and began to stir.  Again, to quote Emeril, “It’s all in the stirring.”  In about seven minutes, all the stock had been absorbed, and the rice began to transform.  I tasted it…it was still hard as a rock, but it was slightly puffy.  And there wasn’t as much room in the saucepan.  Cool!

Next, I added 3 of the roasted tomato halves I cooked previously; some previously roasted garlic, and another cup of stock and kept stirring.  Every time the stock looked like it was absorbed, I would taste the risotto.  Each time, it was softer, puffier, creamier, and there was less room in the saucepan.  It was literally transforming right before my eyes!

Before I started all this, I decided to “Think Like A Chef” and add a protein, so as I was cooking the risotto, I seasoned some shrimp very simply in salt and pepper, added some olive oil to a pan and cooked the shrimp over medium heat.

Around the 25-minute mark, the risotto looked and tasted done, so I added a tablespoon of the “butter – olive oil product” I use and some low fat cheese, tasted and re-seasoned it.  I put that in a bowl, and then I put the shrimp on top of the risotto.

The risotto was creamy and perfectly seasoned; the shrimp got done just in time, not overcooked at all.  The whole dish was absolutely delicious.

I would make a couple of changes to this dish in the future.  First, as creamy as the risotto was, it was slightly sticky, so I think maybe instead of adding ½ cup of stock at the end, I should have added the whole cup.  I was unsure how much liquid the rice would actually absorb, and I didn’t want a wet mess.

Also, I think if I decide to add a seafood protein to the risotto, I will use that type of stock rather than chicken stock.

So what did I learn?  Well, risotto isn’t as hard as I thought it would be to cook, and it seems that it can be an incredibly versatile food.  I can’t wait to make more!