Saturday, January 14, 2017

Warning: I am about to complain big time.....

Now if you've read my blog before, you will know that I tend to get a bit fixated on food budgets (In the Midst of Plenty) and on what I can do with clearance sale produce (like Salad Soup--I made a pot of that last night and it was so delicious). 

My food budget is largely based on my eBay sales.  I hope to spend $20 a week on food but sometimes that doesn't happen.  Christmas sales were slow, really slow, and that was true for many eBayers.  Fortunately I had extras in the pantry and in the freezer so I wasn't doing without anything.  

Still,  you can imagine that when someone offers me freebie food, I'm gonna say thank you very much.  And that's exactly what I said when someone offered me a gift card from one of those fancy fresh meal companies (which I will decline to name out of gratitude to the person who gave me the card).  I would never have imagined ordering from a business like that, so I was also really curious about what it would be like. 

Not gonna lie to you: 
I have found the experience horrifying, and it's not over yet.  Darn it.

It began with a very unpromising start.  The website that I had to access was completely un-navigable.  I actually couldn't find any link from one page to another, and there was nothing that explained anything about what I had to do or how to use a gift card.  It was so bad that I actually had to contact Customer Service to help me navigate.

The website refused to allow me to use the gift card unless I joined.  I found that annoying but not entirely unreasonable since I was assured I could quit any time I wanted.  So I quit immediately after I placed my order.

They charged me $1 for the pleasure of joining their little club, and they assured me that I would be refunded my $1 immediately (I have that in writing in an email, by the way, so it's not my imagination).  That never happened.  I'm not so upset about the dollar; it's the principle of the thing--I figure that  if they can't carry through on something so small, they can't really be trusted with anything else, could they? 

I had my choice of meals for 2 (a value of about $60) or for 4 ($80).  There's only one of me and I am not a cheat, so I chose the smaller box.  Consider this:  $60 is fully three weeks of total food budget as far as I am concerned, so I was hoping for value here.  Didn't happen.  What I received was enough to make three very fancy small meals that I have no interest in making.  All of the money value was in packaging, and the packaging was freaking endless--never saw so many little wasteful bits and bobs in my crabby old life.  No way to recycle much of it.

But there was a further problem.  I was told exactly when the box would be delivered:  Saturday morning.  That was last Saturday during the cold snap we had (temperature in the 30's).  I was checking the front door all day long until well after box.  I had to call Customer Service for a second time to find out what was going on (and they offered me a $10 credit for complaining which is pretty silly because I've already quit and I never spent any money there anyway.....well, except my $1).  Well, it turns out that Fed Ex had a "delivery problem" because of "bad" weather.  Bad weather?  Saturday was perfectly sunny and clear; it was just chilly.   

So according to the tracking number that Customer Service finally figured out that I needed (why didn't they just give it to me in the first place?), the box sat in Gulfport (just an hour's drive away) all weekend.  The box was loaded with those chill packs that are supposed to keep things cool but after 5 days on the road, it wasn't cool any more.

Worse, the condition of the few vegetables in the box was poor.  Believe me, I regularly buy clearance veggies so I know poor when I see it.  The carrots were limp and split.  The red pepper looked as though someone had used it as a football.  This was supposed to be high class stuff.  Slow shipping had nothing to do with quality--that stuff went into the box poor.  No excuse.

I was Not Happy.  And for a variety of good reasons.

When you are Not Happy, what do you do? 
Yeah, call Customer Service again. 

I was polite, I was nice, I explained.  Very delayed delivery.  Poor quality vegetables.  And, most importantly, there were a couple of items that had gotten warm (like Seitan which I've never eaten before) so I wasn't sure if they were okay to eat.  Customer Service said, No, absolutely Do Not eat that stuff.  That means that I can't cook the meals as they were meant to be put together.   Great. 

So Customer Service offered me a new free offer:  another box of food that I can order any time I want.  I told them that I wasn't looking to get something for nothing because that would just be greedy; the first box was meant to be a gift and gifts are a one time thing.  The CS rep was very insistent that I Had To Accept a new box because of their dreadful failure to please so I said just said thanks.  What else could I do?  Anything else would have been ungracious and self-defeating on my part.....but I feel totally stuck.

Now I'm gonna have to sign in with that company again to try to navigate the un-navigable website to order more food that is over-packed and excessively fancy and not at all what I want to eat.

And in the meantime, there are three cardboard boxes which are taking up ALL the room in my dorm-size fridge (for fridge explanation, read this post) full of the very specific bits and pieces that remain from the meals that I was never able to cook.  I've gotta figure out what to do with them before they go off, too.  I couldn't even buy milk (which I need for making bread which I am almost out of) yesterday because I knew there was no place to put it away.


Nothing about this whole mess is anything that I ever want to deal with.  I like being my silly old hermit self, never leaving my little town, cooking clearance sale whatever, and listening to my happy Arashi music.  I don't need fancy comestibles, and if I had ever wanted proof of that, this surely put the glace cherry on the elegant gateau.   That stuff is just not me, and I don't want it to be.

Life is good.
Pre-planned boxed meals are seriously Not.

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