Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hey Chubby, Let's Do The Twisters ... Grill and Bar That Is

  • Twisters Grill and Bar
  • 13100 Kansas Ave
    Bonner Springs, KS 66012
  • Phone number(913) 667-3700

  • Website
  • Prices: $$$$$

We found Twisters on Yelp after attending a Yelp Elite Event near Bonner Springs, about 20 miles east of our home in Lawrence, Kansas. I saw photos of their tacos and they looked better than any we have tried in Lawrence, so we decided to give them a go.

Twisters sits in the corner of a strip mall just off Interstate 70. For a Sunday night, they were rather busy with only a few open tables. The atmosphere is very casual with groups of friends, couples, and families scattered about. For example, there was a couple at the table next to us with a 10-year old boy who had ranch dressing accidentally dropped on his head by a passing server (I hope his meal was comped!). TVs abound with sports playing around the large room and sports memorabilia dotting the walls, from football jerseys to posters. The kitchen sits behind the busy bar where the friendly servers scramble back and forth while serving hungry customers.

The menu is eclectic, from Mexican fare (tacos, enchiladas, nachos) to burgers to meatloaf and sandwiches. I ordered a Dos Equis Amber draft on special for $2, some beef tacos ($2.25 each), and cheese and onion enchiladas (also $2.25 each). The taco shells were obviously deep fried in-house, stuffed with ground beef, lettuce, plenty of cheese, and diced tomatoes complimented with what appeared to be store bought salsa. They were the best tacos I have eaten since moving from Kansas City last year (Rancho Grande) minus the guacamole (or avocado), hence my only complaint ... there was no guacamole available on the menu as either an appetizer or a side. The enchiladas were also very good with plenty of cheese and a tasty red sauce with hints of what seemed to be mole (a Mexican savory chocolate sauce). The tacos and enchiladas were better than any I have eaten at any of the dozen or so Mexican restaurants we have tried since moving to Lawrence last year and this from a bar and grill!

My wife ordered the half-pound (8 oz) Mushroom and Swiss Hamburger with fresh onion rings. The patty appeared smaller than 8 ounces and was not handmade, probably frozen from Sam's Club, Cisco, or another restaurant supply chain. The bun was fresh, but the burger bland. The onion rings were made with fresh onion and deep fried, piping hot and missing only a bit of seasoning.

I would return for the tacos and enchiladas, but would pass on the burgers, trying the meatloaf instead, hopefully being homemade and not "Stoufer's" or some other frozen variety.

CombatCritic Gives Twisters Grill and Bar 7 Out of 10 Bombs (for the tacos and enchiladas) and 6 Out of 10 Bombs Overall (for VALUE) ... Bombs Are GOOD!

Key Words: Twisters Grill and Bar, twisters, twister's, bar, grill, beer, Mexican, food, taco, enchilada, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burger, hamburger, menu, Bonner, Springs, Kansas, Yelp, CombatCritic, TravelValue


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adventure Zip KC ... Fun, Safe, Exciting Ziplining Near Kansas City

Watch My Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube


Adventure Zip KC

12829 Loring Road

Bonner Springs, KS 66012

Phone: 913-302-8881

Website: Adventure Zip KC

Yelp Elite '14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC's "Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure" at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City's Community Manager. Yelp "Elite" are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC's staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to "the tower" (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The "HIKE & ZIP" PACKAGE lasts 1 - 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The "Tower Zip" lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Adventure Zip KC 8 Bombs Out of 10









Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Yelp KC: Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure (Zip KC)

Watch Our Yelp Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube



Yelp Elite '14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC's "Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure" at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City's Community Manager. Yelp "Elite" are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC's staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to "the tower" (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The "HIKE & ZIP" PACKAGE lasts 1 - 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The "Tower Zip" lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Yelp’s Newbie Elite Aerial Adventure 10 Bombs Out of 10









Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

FedEx "ONE RATE" Rated "DECEPTIVE" ... Can You Say "BAIT AND SWITCH"?

FedEx "ONE RATE" Rated "DECEPTIVE" ... Can You Say "BAIT AND SWITCH"?
  1. FedEx Office Print & Ship Center
  2. Address: 911 Massachusetts St, Lawrence, KS 66044
    Phone:(785) 843-8019
    Prices:
    $$$$$
    Hours:
     
     M-F 7:00 am – 11:00 pm

First of all, the FedEx website is confusing and difficult to use. I have an account, but have to enter data over and over even after "saving" it. I recently created two shipments, one going and one return, using the same information, but when I got to the store realized that I was being charged an extra $2.31 for the return shipment even though it was being delivered to the same city it was being shipped from (Lawrence).

FedEx advertises "one low price" ("as low as $7.50") for envelopes, but my envelopes cost $12+ and $14+ for a total of $26 ... NOT $15! They state on their website:
"FedEx One Rate ... Simple, flat rate shipping with the reliability of FedEx"
But their website is anything but "simple" and it is obviously not a "flat rate" because they charge different prices depending on where the envelope is going.

I asked about the price discrepancy at Kinkos, but was told "oh, that's just the way it is" and was not offered a refund or new shipping labels at the cheaper "one rate". Customer service at this location is sketchy with reps having little if any knowledge of FedEx processes or pricing. In-fact, the employee told me "next time, just come to the counter and we'll take care of it for you", but when I did just that a few weeks back I was told "go to the computer over there and print your own labels". I then spent 30 minutes trying to navigate the website, re-enter "saved" information, and print the labels.

CombatCritic Gives FedEx Kinko's (Lawrence, Kansas) 3 Bombs Out Of 10










Key Words: FedEx Kinko's, fedEx, Kinko's, Kinko, Fed, Ex, shipping, envelope, tracking, delivery, confirmation, shipment, OneRate, one, rate, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Anatomy of a Perfect Taco

Dear Mexican Restaurants (particularly those in Lawrence, Kansas),

Photo #1 - Taco - Side View

Tacos are not meant to be served in pre-fabricated corn shells as is the case in every Mexican restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas and across the country for that matter. A perfect taco starts with a handmade corn tortilla filled with cooked/seasoned meat (beef, chicken, pork), sealed with toothpicks (note the toothpick holes in photo #1), and deep fried to crispy golden goodness. Shredded beef is the preferred meat filling, but ground beef will suffice in most cases if seasoned well.

After frying, the toothpicks are removed from the piping hot taco shell and cheese, fresh lettuce, and tomato are stuffed inside. The best tacos I ever ate were in California, prepared like this, with thin slices of fresh avocado added (guacamole can be substituted) before serving. There should only be enough room for some fresh, homemade salsa before the first bite is taken. The shell should be crisp enough so that you get the signature taco crunch as you take a bite, yet soft enough so that it does not fall apart as you inhale, I mean eat, the entire taco.

Taco - Top View
These tacos are from Rancho Grande Cantina in Parkville, Missouri and are as close to perfect as I have found in the Midwest (minus the requisite tomato and avocado). Take note amigos and LET'S STAMP OUT PRE-FAB TACO SHELLS IN OUR LIFETIME!

Key Words: taco, tacos, shell, tortilla, corn, meat, beef, recipe, menu, beef, pork, chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pico di gallo, avocado, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Sunday, August 3, 2014

India's New Visa Contractor Stole My $170 ... And I Still Don't Have A Valid Visa!


I have always wanted to travel to India, but as a result of a potentially life threatening medical condition that is exacerbated by stress, I decided to visit Dharamsala later this year to learn about Buddhism (and forgiveness) and study yoga full-time. At least that was the plan until I applied and paid ($200) for a valid visa ... which I have yet to receive.

I bought my ticket to travel to India after finding a reasonable roundtrip airfare ($1100), then purchased my wife’s ticket ($1700) so that she can visit during the Christmas holidays. Visas to travel to India are contracted out to a new contractor (effective July 2014), Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC(CKGS), and their processes and website are not easy to navigate, even for someone with a fairly high IQ. Be prepared for confusion, difficulty obtaining your visa, and wasted time and money at least based on my horrible experience. Here is what happened …

I followed the detailed directions on the CKGS website and submitted all required documentation, paying $150 for the (10-year - available only to US Citizens) visa, $20 in processing fees to CKGS, and $25 to FedEx to get my passport and documents to Houston and back for a grand total of nearly $200. A week later I received a message from CKGS stating that 1) I did not sign under the photo on page 1 of my application (which was true in that it was neither obvious nor included in the instructions) and 2) I did not include the "additional particulars form" (which I had in-fact submitted with my package) ... not a good start!
Signature Required On Page 1 Of Visa Application

Here is the email I received from CKGS:
-----------------------------------------
From: <noreply.usa@ckgs.com>
Date: Monday, July 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM
To: CombatCritic
Subject: Incomplete Application

Dear CombatCritic ,

The following Documents are incomplete: We are not able to continue processing your application due to is missing; signature on the first page of the application form right under the picture, anf the additional particulars form which can be found on our website (in.ckgs.us). Please sent the required to our Houston Center. Thank you.

Regards,
CKGS

------------------------------------------

I quickly submitted the signed page and the same "additional particulars" form I originally submitted with my application to the email address provided by CKGS:

From: CombatCritic
Date: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM
To: <pad.hou@ckgs.com>
Subject: In Regard To Your Email Indicating My Incomplete Application

Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC
1001 Texas Avenue, Suite 550
Binz Building
Houston, TX 77002
7/17/14
To Whom It May Concern:

In reference to my India Tourist Visa (Application Number application, I am providing the required signature on page 1 (under the photo) and the additional particulars page (which was provided with my original application, but was indicated as missing by CKGS), attached, as instructed by your staff in a phone call earlier today.

Please process and approve my visa at your earliest convenience.

Thank you!

Respectfully,

CombatCritic                                                   

Attachments –
1.     Signature page
2.     Additional Particulars Page

---------------------------

I received confirmation that my visa was being processed and a little over a week later I received my passport in the mail only to find that the visa was for just 6 months, not the 120 months I had paid for! In-fact, the expiration date of my visa was A FULL MONTH BEFORE MY SCHEDULED RETURN, making it completely useless!

I sent a very polite email to CKGS informing them of the discrepancy:
-----------------------------------
From: CombatCritic

Sent: 01 August 2014 20:52

To: PAD HOUSTON

Cc: fasttrack.usa@ckgs.comenquiriesusa@ckgs.com
Subject: In Regard To My Visa Application - INCORRECT VISA RECIEVED (6-MONTH, NOT 120-MONTH)

Greetings,

I received my visa yesterday. Thank you for the quick turnaround.

Unfortunately, I applied and paid for a 120 month visa ($150 + processing fees = $170), BUT I RECEIVED A 6-MONTH VISA WHICH WILL EXPIRE BEFORE I AM SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO THE USA. Please tell me how you will resolve this situation as soon as possible so I can continue making my travel plans. I have neither contacted the Consulate or Embassy of India regarding this situation nor the US State Department and would appreciate a quick resolution, without further expenditure by me, because of this unfortunate mistake made while processing my visa.

Please contact me by email or phone at your earliest convenience so that I can secure the 120-month visa applied and paid for.

Thank you,

CombatCritic


-------------------------------------

This is the totally unacceptable response I received from CKGS:

-------------------------------

Dear Sir,

Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.

The Visa issuance/rejection is sovereign right of a Nation and is not open to any discussions. Your Visa has been issued after due process, and this is to inform you that in this case you won't get the refund of the rest amount. And if you want to extend your stay in India you can contact FRRO for extension.

We highly appreciate your co-operation.

Thanks & Regards,

Rehana.S

A Cox and Kings Company

---------------------------------------------

Now that CKGS had made it clear that they neither cared about my concerns nor were they going to make things right, it was time to take my grievance to the next higher level … The Embassy of India’s Consulate Services in Washington DC:

---------------------------

Greetings,


I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 monthsexpiring a month before my scheduled return to the USA. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).


… Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa”, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.


Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, http://www.combatcritic.com, and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.


Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid (CKGS). I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.


Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Very Respectfully,

CombatCritic

--------------------------------------

The Embassy of India states ontheir website that visa issues will be responded to in “1-3 working days”, having been submitted on August 2nd, 2014 and 10 days later I still had received no response.

I then filed a formal complaint on India's                         PORTAL FOR PUBLIC GRIEVANCE - Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances:
---------------------
Greetings,                                                               August 10, 2014

I have a potentially life threatening condition exacerbated by stress and planned to travel to India ... not only to see the sights, but to study religion and yoga in order to prolong my life. I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 months, expiring a month before my scheduled return to the USA. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer in particular, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).

Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa” and that I am not entitled to a refund, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.

Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, CombatCritic's TravelValue eZine (where you can read the whole story), and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.

Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid. As an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, I am sure that there must have been some type of error in processing my visa and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.

We have spent $3000 on airfare and $200 on a useless visa so far and hesitate to spend another dollar or make additional travel plans until this issue is resolved. If we do not receive a satisfactory resolution (very) soon, we will be forced to change our tickets and travel to a country that treats tourists with compassion, dignity, and respect.

As states, I submitted an email complaint to the Embassy of India's Consular Department over one week ago, but even though they promise a reply "within 3 working days", I have received no indication that they intend to intervene on my behalf. I am also contacting the Ministry of Tourism to let them know what is happening.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very Respectfully, 

Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)

--------------------------

I also informed the US State Department about the scam, hoping that MY GOVERNMENT is interested in a US citizen whom is being mistreated and abused by another nation's government:


Greetings,

I filed a grievance with the Embassy of India in Washington DC (8/2/2014) as well as the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (below - 8/10/2014) regarding my problems obtaining a valid visa through Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC (India’s US visa contractor - CKGS - Houston, Texas). After asking them nicely to provide the 10-year visa I paid for or refund the money ($170 + $25 postage) I paid, CKGS failed to resolve my visa dilemma to my satisfaction, stating (in so many words) we’re a sovereign nation, can do as we please, you won’t get a refund, and there’s nothing you can do about it”. You can read the whole story on my blog http://www.CombatCritic.com

I am hoping that the US State Department might be interested in knowing how India’s contractor (CKGS) is treating US Citizens, having spent $2.4 billion in India in 2011 alone. With the tourism industry being the fourth largest source of revenue for their nation, I would think that tourists would be treated better than I have been since starting the visa process. 

Here is the grievance:

Grievance Status

Print || Logout
Status as on 10 Aug 2014
Registration Number:
Name Of Complainant:
Date of Receipt:10 Aug 2014
Received by:Ministry of External Affairs
Officer name:Shri Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi
Officer Designation:Joint Secretary PSP & CPO
Contact Address:CPV Division,
Patiala House Annexe,
Tilak Marg, New Delhi110001
Contact Number:23387013
e-mail:jscpo@mea.gov.in
Grievance Description:Greetings, I have a potentially life threatening condition exacerbated by stress and planned to travel to India not only to see the sights, but to study religion and yoga in order to prolong my life. I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 months, expiring a month before my scheduled return. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer in particular, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).

Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa” and that I am not entitled to a refund, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.

Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, http://www.combatcritic.com (where you can read the whole story), and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.

Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid. I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.

We have spent $3000 on airfare and $200 on a useless visa so far and hesitate to spend another dollar or make additional travel plans until this issue is resolved. If we do not receive a satisfactory resolution soon, we will be forced to change our tickets and travel to a country that treats tourists with compassion, dignity, and respect.

I submitted an email complaint to the Embassy of India's Consular Department over one week ago, but even though they promise a reply "within 3 working days", I have received no indication that they intend to intervene on my behalf. I am also contacting the Ministry of Tourism to let them know what is happening.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very Respectfully,

CombatCritic
Current Status:RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE

I hope that my grievance will be addressed by the government of India as soon as possible and would appreciate any assistance my government (Department of State) can offer in this matter. If you like, I will keep you informed regarding the progress (or lack thereof) in my case. I hope that I can continue my plans to travel to India. Otherwise, I will be forced to travel to a nation that better appreciates tourists and our hard earned money.

Thank you.
--------------------------------

Having heard nothing ... zip ... nada from either India's embassy, Ministry of Tourism, or Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances after filing my grievances, I had to assume that they were either as  incompetent and unethical as CKGS or they simply did not care. I finally located a contact at India's Houston Consulate where my visa was incorrectly processed, so I decided to give them one more chance to make things right, contacting the Vice Consul (Visa), Mr. Rakesh Sharma:
Mr. Rakesh SharmaVice Consul (Visa)Consulate of India – Houston 
Dear Honorable Vice Consul Sharma,
I have always wanted to travel to India, but as a result of a potentially life threatening medical condition that is exacerbated by stress, I decided to visit Dharamsala later this year to learn about Hinduism and Buddhism (and forgiveness), study yoga full-time, and volunteer to help those less fortunate than me. At least that was the plan until I applied and paid ($200) for a valid visa ... which I have yet to receive. I bought my ticket to travel to India after finding a reasonable roundtrip airfare ($1100), then purchased my wife’s ticket ($1700) so that she can visit during the Christmas holidays. Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC’s (CKGS) processes and website are not easy to navigate, even for someone with a fairly high IQ. I followed the detailed directions on the CKGS website and submitted all required documentation, paying $150 for the (10-year - available only to US Citizens) visa, $20 in processing fees to CKGS, and $25 to FedEx to get my passport and documents to Houston and back for a grand total of nearly $200.
 I received confirmation that my visa was being processed and a little over a week later I received my passport in the mail only to find that the visa was for just 6 months, not the 120 months I had paid for. In-fact, the expiration date of my visa was A FULL MONTH BEFORE MY SCHEDULED RETURN, making it completely useless.
 I sent a very polite email to CKGS informing them of the discrepancy:
 From: CombatCritic
Sent: 01 August 2014 20:52
To: PAD HOUSTON
Cc: fasttrack.usa@ckgs.comenquiriesusa@ckgs.com Subject: In Regard To My Visa Application - INCORRECT VISA RECIEVED (6-MONTH, NOT 120-MONTH)
 Greetings,
 I received my visa yesterday. Thank you for the quick turnaround.
 Unfortunately, I applied and paid for a 120 month visa ($150 + processing fees = $170), BUT I RECEIVED A 6-MONTH VISA WHICH WILL EXPIRE BEFORE I AM SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO THE USA. Please tell me how you will resolve this situation as soon as possible so I can continue making my travel plans. I have neither contacted the Consulate or Embassy of India regarding this situation nor the US State Department and would appreciate a quick resolution, without further expenditure by me, because of this unfortunate mistake made while processing my visa.
 Please contact me by email or phone at your earliest convenience so that I can secure the 120-month visa applied and paid for.
 Thank you,
 This is the totally unacceptable response I received from CKGS:
 Dear Sir,
 Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.
 The Visa issuance/rejection is sovereign right of a Nation and is not open to any discussions. Your Visa has been issued after due process, and this is to inform you that in this case you won't get the refund of the rest amount.
 We highly appreciate your co-operation.
 Thanks & Regards,
 Rehana.S
 http://www.in.ckgs.usA Cox and Kings Company
 Now that CKGS had made it clear that they neither cared about my concerns nor were they going to make things right, it is time to take my grievance to the next higher level. Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid (CKGS). I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10-year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. After all, I am a retired military officer with a top-secret security clearance and a law-abiding citizen, not a criminal or social misfit, and do not understand why my visa was denied.
 I am very ill and the stress of this situation is weighing heavy on my mind, keeping me awake at night and causing unnecessary stress instead of relieving stress as vacations should do. I am a little over two months away from my scheduled departure yet still do not have a valid visa even after paying $200 to get one.
 For a nation built on the fundamentals of Buddhism and Hinduism, including compassion for all living things and the cessation of suffering, your contractor (CKGS) leaves a lot to be desired. All I know is that my travel date is quickly approaching, I still do not have a valid visa, and time is running out to complete my travel plans and ensure a relatively stress-free trip.
 Please tell me what I have to do to get a valid visa so I can resume making plans to visit India. If this is not resolved soon, we will have to try to change our itinerary and travel to another country. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.
 Thank you in advance for your assistance.
 Very Respectfully, 
CombatCritic
For a nation built on the fundamentals of Buddhism and Hinduism, including compassion for all living things and the cessation of suffering, their contractor (CKGS) leaves a lot to be desired. Will the Government of India DO THE RIGHT THING and grant me the 120 month visa I paid for or will they treat me with the indignity and disrespect I have endured from CKGS? Only time will tell.

All I know is that my travel date is quickly approaching, I still do not have a valid visa, and time is running out to complete my travel plans and ensure a relatively stress-free trip. I am seriously considering changing my plans and traveling to a nation where they appreciate tourist's dollars and treat people with dignity and respect, but our tickets are non-refundable and I am not looking forward to the added stress and expense of having to change our tickets and plans at this late date.

I have not yet learned to forgive and will pursue this issue relentlessly until I am satisfied with the response from the Embassy/Consulate of India, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Tourism, CKGS, and/or the US State Department. This dilemma has only caused me more unneeded stress, wasted time and money, and caused grief instead of helping to relieve it. I will keep you posted and update this post as details change, for the positive or otherwise.

Namaste

CombatCritic

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