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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator(Model # MSD2576VEM)

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM)
You may not think a refrigerator has much to do with travel or value, but in-fact, when we go away on vacation, we leave several hundreds of dollars worth of food in our refrigerator and freezer. If either fail while we are away, as ours did recently, the costs can be staggering.

We purchased a $1600 Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM) through Home Depot's website (www.HomeDepot.com) on November 26, 2011, just over two years ago. It is now a 250 pound door stop!

A $1600 refrigerator should last more than two years and 120 days, but this one died last week when the condenser failed, an $863.46 repair. 

When I called Home Depot to see if they stood behind the faulty products they sell, I was told "we're so sorry for your troubles, let me connect you with Maytag". I told the individual that the Maytag warranty was for 12 months, parts and labor, and that my MasterCard extended warranty added an additional 12 months to the warranty, expiring less than 4 months ago. I asked again "are you going to stand behind this product" and was told "I'm sorry, but you'll have to contact Maytag" … WRONG ANSWER!

How can a $1600 appliance fail after just two years? Because it is garbage. Why will Home Depot and Maytag NOT stand behind their products? Because they can! These companies could care less that one of their products failed just as Apple Inc. could care less that their products are junk, and only because individual consumers just do not count. If I do not buy another Maytag or Home Depot product, which I will not do, it means nothing to their bottom line. They only care about large losses and knowing that people care only about themselves, they know all too well that we will not unite and boycott their products and services, so they blow us off. Being the owner of two homes, one a rental property, I spend several thousand dollars each year at Home Depot. As a Home Depot, Inc. and Maytag Corporation shareholder (large cap mutual funds), I have serious concerns when the companies I am part owner of fail customers with faulty products and poor support. You should too!

I refuse to spend another penny, much less $863.46, to repair a two-year old Maytag refrigerator which should last at least 10-15 years. This is not the first problem I have had with Home Depot and have only continued as a customer because the nearest Lowe's is over 30 miles away. This was my first Maytag appliance, even though I had heard terrible things about their products prior to purchase, AND MY LAST.

I hope I can save at least one person the same grief and expense we have suffered at the hands of Home Depot and Maytag by writing this review. Hopefully, enough people will read it and Home Depot and Maytag will get the message, but I am not counting on it because THEY DON'T CARE, THEY DON'T HAVE TO!

No surprise, BOTH REVIEWS (Home Depot and Maytag) WERE REJECTED! "Your opinion is very important to us, but ...". Give me a break! Here are the emails I received:
From: Maytag <noreply@messages.maytag.com>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM
To: Chris Sorrentino <combatcritic@gmail.com>
Subject: Your Review has been Rejected


maytag

Hello CombatCritic,

Your opinion is very important to us and the Maytag community. We appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment. Unfortunately your review did not meet ourguidelines for posting on our site for the following reason(s):
  • To protect your privacy, our publication guidelines do not permit the mention of such personal information as your name, phone number, email address, or postal address. Also, it does not permit the use of derogatory comments or profanity.
We encourage you to review our guidelines and resubmit your review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment.

Thanks for being an active member of the maytag community.
Sincerely,
Team Maytag


From: The Home Depot <HomeDepotCustomerCare@email.homedepot.com>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:34 AM
To: Chris Sorrentino <combatcritic@gmail.com>
Subject: Your review has been rejected


Your community engagement helps other customers get the right products for their projects
Please add HomeDepotCustomerCare@email.homedepot.com to your address book. Learn how.
Home Depot

Hello CombatCritic,

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback about 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel. Your insight is very important to us and the other Home Depot customers who will read about your product experience. Unfortunately, your review did not meet our guidelines to be eligible for publication on our site. We want to post your review, so please remember to omit references to other websites and do not include URL links.
We encourage you to look over our guidelines below and resubmit your review regarding 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel.

Writing Guidelines
We want to publish your review, so please follow these writing guidelines:
  • Focus on the product
  • Avoid writing about customer service issues - instead, contact us to discuss your concerns
  • Do not mention competitors or the specific price you paid
  • Do not include any personally identifiable information such as your full name or address
Thanks for being an active member of The Home Depot community.
Sincerely,
The Home Depot Team
If you have questions regarding the submission and approval process, please call us at 1-800-466-3337 (1-800-HOME-DEPOT).
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"I am sorry to inform you Maytag and Home Depot, but" ... 
CombatCritic Gives the Maytag MSD2576VEM Refrigerator, Home Depot, and Maytag Corporation 1 Out of 10 Bombs … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!









Key Words: Home Depot, home, depot, Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator Model # MSD2576VEM, Maytag, Side-by-Side, Stainless, Steel, Refrigerator, Model, MSD2576VEM, CombatCritic, combat, critic

Monday, March 24, 2014

"El Sol" Is Not A New "Shining Star" In The Lawrence Restaurant Scene

    El Sol Mexican Restaurant
    1520 Wakarusa
    Lawrence, KS 66047

    (785) 331-2663

    Price: $$$$$

    Another closed El Mezcal location in a shopping center on the corner of Wakarusa and Bob Billings Parkway (now called "El Sol"), I had read in El Sol's inaugural review that they were a "Tex-Mex" restaurant. My fellow Elite '14 member had high praise for their food, service, and ambience, so we had to give them a try. Our experience was once again very average in a town not well town for outstanding cuisine and I found not a single Tex-Mex item on the menu. In fact, when I asked the waiter if they were a Tex-Mex restaurant, he stated "definitely not".
    As mentioned in recent reviews, I am a Mexican food snob, having grown up in LA where Mexican restaurants outnumber Bentleys and spending three years in San Antonio, Texas during my first Air Force assignment. Not changing my modus operandi,  I stuck with the basics, tacos and enchiladas, during my first visit to see if they can get them right before moving on to more complex dishes.
    Taco and Enchilada Combination Plate
    The restaurant's decor is very colorful with natural wood tables, bright tones, and reminiscent of  a traditional Mexican cantina. The service was very attentive, friendly, and fast. Our server, Rafael, was extremely polite and amenable to answering my many questions. We ordered the guacamole ($3.99) and the white cheese dip (queso blanco - medium - $2.99). The guacamole was small, made with avocado and SMALL PIECES OF TOMATO, but tasty. The queso blanco was warm and well seasoned, adhering to the pre-fab chips, another disappointment and a dead giveaway of a sub-par restaurant in my experience. I had the 27 ounce margarita (on the rocks - $6.99) which was decent, not very strong, and priced $2 more than El Mezcal. My wife had the horchata, a Mexican rice-based drink which was better than El Mezcal's various versions.
    Cheese Quesadilla with Guacamole and Pico di Gallo
    My wife ordered the cheese quesadilla, coming with a small dab of guacamole and pico di gallo ($4.99) and a cheese and onion enchilada with queso blanco instead of red sauce (ala carte - $1.99), coming with refried beans. It is difficult to mess-up a quesadilla and El Sol was again no exception. She liked the enchilada, but queso blanco was a bit too spicy for her Itialan tastebuds (the spiciest dish in Italy is penne arribiatta).
    Cheese and Onion Enchilada with Queso Blanco
    I decided to forego the rice and get down to brass tacks, ordering two shredded beef tacos and a cheese and onion enchilada ($8.49) combo plate (all beans). The tacos came in pre-fab corn tortillas and the beef, although skimpy, was well seasoned and topped with a little lettuce, white cheese, and chopped tomato. I saved some of the guacamole for my tacos, borrowed my wife's pico de gallo, and added their salsa, which was not bad. The tacos were not great. The enchilada sauce was a bit too watery and lacked taste, the enchilada cool, not even lukewarm, another disappointment. True Tex-Mex enchiladas are smothered in chili con carne and topped with cheese, but this bore no resemblance to any Tex-Mex I have eaten and was one of the worst enchiladas I have had.
    Pre-Fab Taco Shells
    Again, not my favorite Mexican restaurant in Lawrence by any stretch and we will likely not return given the distance from our home and the fact that there are at least four better Mexican eateries in closer proximity.





    CombatCritic Gives El Sol 5 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

    El Sol Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon










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    Key Words: 66044, burrito, CombatCritic, eat, el, El Sol, el, sol, enchilada, food, guacamole, Kansas, Lawrence, margarita, Mexican, mezcal, restaurant, taco, travel, TravelValue, value

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Alvamar Golf and Country Club ... Mostly Friendly Faces, Fair Prices, Decent Facilities

Alvamar Golf and Country Club
    1809 Crossgate Drive
    Lawrence, KS 66047
    (785) 842-1907
    http://www.alvamar.com

    Having been unable to play much golf in recent years due to bad knees, now that arthroscopic surgery has given me the ability to walk long distances with less pain (note that I did not say "painlessly") it was time to join a club.


    View of 18th Hole (Member's Course) from Clubhouse
    We moved to Lawrence, Kansas last August and I gathered information on local golf and country clubs in order to make an informed decision. After visiting the top-3 last Autumn, I narrowed down the field to two after I received an unwelcoming introduction to Lawrence's city course, Eagle Bend:
    It was a blustery day in October when I dropped by Eagle Bend to inquire about annual memberships. I was hoping to play the course as a "single", never having had ANY DIFFICULTY getting on even the most popular courses in the world last minute, including St. Andrews and Carnoustie (Scotland), Cog Hill (Chicago), Torrey Pines (San Diego), and Princeville (Kauai) to name just a few.
    The two men behind the counter acted as if I were an alien, grudgingly taking the time to answer my questions about spending close to $1500 per year to play golf on their course. When I asked about getting out as a single that day, the course was busy but not overwhelmed, I was told it would be "impossible". "Really" I said, thinking they were joking, but they were as serious as heart attacks. I asked if it was always so difficult getting on as a single and they confirmed that it was, something I had not heard in 50 years of playing golf as a single, so I left, never to return.
    I stopped by Alvamar Golf and Country Club on my way home and was impressed by their friendly, easygoing nature and welcoming attitude. The Head Pro, Paul Hooser, answered all of my questions and told me that getting on as a single at Alvamar is NEVER A PROBLEM. Their pricing was better than Eagle Bend and practice facilities as good as I have seen anywhere, so I waited for Spring to finalize my decision.

    I contacted Alvamar and Lawrence Country Club ($220 per month - golf/social/pool/tennis membership) via email in mid-March, inquiring about a possible tour and opportunity to play the courses. Alvamar's Ryan Spencer (Director of Golf Membership) was quick to get back to me, Lawrence Country Club never did.

    Enjoying Sunday Brunch
    Brian Minnis, Director of Operations and one of the owners, met me when I arrived and personally gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to the staff. I was very impressed with the facilities and staff, but even more so with the University of Kansas (KU) Affiliate Membership. Normally $240 per month ($2,880 per year) plus a $300 initiation fee, Brian told me that KU Staff and their families get a golf/dining/social membership for just $150 per month ($1,800 per year, a savings of over $1000) with no initiation fee and access to all of the facilities for my wife included ... SOLD!

    I joined Alvamar on March 13, 2014 and played my first round that day, 10/18ths of a round anyway. As I putted-out on the 10th green of the Member's Course, a tight, tree-lined  layout that meanders through large custom homes and gently rolling hills, I turned to return to my golf cart ... BUT IT WAS GONE! While just 30 yards away putting, it turned out that three teenagers drove off with my electric cart along with my new iPhone and golf clubs valued at over $1700. I recovered my iPhone, which they tossed from the cart as they drove down the 13th fairway, using Find My iPhone in the Pro Shop. I also found two of my golf clubs in the bushes across the street from the 13th green where witnesses had seen the boys fleeing the scene but everything else was lost.

    Alvamar staff reacted immediately and superbly, doing everything they could to help me, including wading through knee deep sludge in a drainage ditch and combing the woods for any sign of my possessions. They was absolutely nothing they could have done to prevent this bazaar theft and went above and beyond after, a testament to the commitment to outstanding customer service I have witnessed so far.
    Eggs Benedict, Quiche Lorraine, Hash Browns, Biscuit and Gravy

    I have since had a chance to play both courses and have been impressed with the layouts and conditions even though the grass is still dormant. With the exception of a few holes, the courses are both very walkable. The Member's Course is much tighter than the Championship (public) Course, a 7,000+ yard test which reminds me of the Robert Trent Jones designed "Blue" Course at the U.S. Air Force Academy where I was a member while on the faculty from 1988 to 1993.

    Brunch: We attended the Sunday Brunch last week early on and enjoyed our meal. At $16.50 per person (coffee $1.50 extra), the brunch was a decent value. Along with the expected breakfast fare (eggs, a great omelet station, bacon, potatoes, biscuits, gravy, waffles, and pancakes), you can choose from Prime Rib (which looked more like roast beef to me), a fish casserole, assorted vegetables, Au Gratin potatoes, and an assortment of fruit and store-bought muffins and pastries.
    Pete's Omelet and Bacon

    Pete, the chef at the omelet bar, does an excellent job and the omelet was superb. Beside fresh eggs, you can choose from bacon, ham, cheddar cheese, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Everything else was fresh and flavorful with a few exceptions. The English muffins in the eggs Benedict had obviously been there all morning and were so difficult to cut with my butter knife that I finally gave up. The "Prime Rib" was actually pre-sliced roast beef (no carving station) in a Bordelaise sauce, tender and flavorful, but not Prime Rib. My only other suggestion would be a dew more dessert options other than slides fruit and store-bought muffins and breakfast pastries, possibly homemade cheesecake, chocolate cake, or pie/cobbler ala mode.

    Alvabar
    19th Hole: The Alvabar and Grill is a large, well-appointed, cozy environment with wood paneling and numerous TVs for viewing sports while enjoying a post-round beverage. A nice selection of draught beers, including Guinness and local craft beers, daily specials, full menu, and reasonable prices make the Alvabar a great place to wind down after a round of golf.

    Food: The menu is eclectic and so far I have tried the Reuben sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing on marbled rye with choice of side - seasoned French fries, cottage fries, mashed potatoes, etc - $9), the original mel't (4 cheese grilled cheese sandwich with melted cheese on top, accompanied by choice of side - $8), the chicken fried steak (flaky, breaded, grilled beef with mashed potatoes and veggie 0 $12.50), the blackened burger ($9), and the taco special (Thursdays - 2 tacos for $3).


    Taco Special - 2 for $3
    The Reuben was good, but not any better than any I have had at a coffee shop for $6-$8 and nowhere near a true Kosher deli sandwich piled high with corned beef. The french and cottage fries are good, but likely frozen. The original mel't is super cheesy, but in a good way and if you love cheese, this is the sandwich for you. The chicken fried steak has been the highlight so far, a crunchy, flaky, perfectly grilled piece of breaded meat about the size and shape of a Kansas City strip, but half the thickness.
    The blackened burger was "OK", nothing special. And the tacos were a huge disappointment, even at a buck-fifty a piece. On prefab, store bought corn taco shells, a smattering of overly greasy, seasoned beef, very little (melted) cheese, and a wisp of lettuce barely filled the shells (not the large variety) halfway. The salsa appeared to be Pace or some other commercial variety, not homemade and the big cup of sour cream was wasted on a taco aficionado who would never think of putting sour cream on anything, well maybe a baked potato, much less a taco. I can walk to Fuzzy's Tacos on Massachusetts Street and get a top-notch taco with shredded beef (ground beed, pork, and chicken available), abundant cheese, lettuce, and fresh tomato on a crispy handmade corn shell for only $2, so these were very disappointing.


    I was talked in to trying the baked Ziti ($14) by Pauly, who as a Bostonian should know good Italian food. I have to say that the dish was not bad, probably a bit overpriced (it should come with garlic bread or a salad for that price). The mozzarella cheese on top was baked to perfection (see photo). The store bought pasta was al dente as it should be and the accompanying peppers, onions, and sausage were tasty although there was a bit too much sauce. Overall, the dish was decent, not great.


    A new veal dish, Veal Scaloppini Francesca ($22.00),  parmesan battered veal with gnocchi dressed in boursin cream and served with a vegetable medley recently caught my attention. Being a lover of all things veal, I had to try it. The photo is deceiving, but there were more vegetables than either veal or gnocchi on the plate. Maybe 3-4 ounces of veal max, it was lightly battered. tender, but appeared and tasted frozen. The gnocchi, all seven of them, were hidden under the sauce and mushy, overcooked. The sauce was tasty enough, but drenched the plate and obscured what little veal and gnocchi were on the plate. At $22, the dish was disappointing. A price in the $14 range or a few more ounces of veal and gnocchi would make the dish more palatable.

    Golf: The golf courses are challenging although not as well maintained as I would expect from a "country club". The fairways are mowed too tightly, offering poor lies in many places where a fairway shot should be rewarded. The local "muni" also has zoysia fairways, but they are much more plush and forgiving than Alvamar's at this point in the season. Alvamar's greens are challenging and in good shape except for the dozens of ball marks on each green from the (too) many tournaments held weekly and self-centered people whom obviously care less about anybody but themselves.  

    The member's driving range is an utter disappointment. Very large with plenty of room to move the tees around, the grass is so poorly maintained that it is difficult to find a decent lie to practice from. On the other hand, the "public" range is well kept and plush, having recently been verticut and reseeded, telling me that members are not as appreciated or respected as well as non-members. 


    Original Mel't - $8
    Staff: Management, who are mostly indifferent to me as a whole and cater to the more affluent and influential members, aside, staff at Alvamar are wonderful. Valerie in the front office is very nice and helpful anytime it comes to sorting out the discrepancies on my bill. Travis, the Alvabar Manager, and his staff, including Hillary, Libby, Lizzie, Carena, Troy, Tatania, and Pauly are all friendly and customer oriented, making spending my money there almost a pleasure. Sammy, Cody, Eric (Clemson), Larry, and many of the other golf course staff are also very customer service oriented and helpful. THANK YOU ALVAMAR STAFF!

    Conclusion: Early on in our membership, I can say that Alvamar Golf and Country Club is a pretty good value, providing good customer service and individualized attention from most employees. The food is adequate, fairly reasonable in price, but for what you would expect from a "country club" ... a bit "below par". 

    Having joined Alvamar to meet people in a new town, I have to say that management does not practice what they preached during my initial tour, catering mostly to the more affluent, socially connected, better golfers at the club. They rarely have a word to say to me, talking at length to those sitting beside me while ignoring me for the most part. The Alvamar Ambassadors, those key members tasked with making new members feel welcome, dropped the ball after our first Bounty Night (Friday night cash and prize drawings), virtually ignoring my wife and I ever since. Members, while mostly pleasant on the surface, are cliquish and isolationists, avoiding talking, much less asking new members to join them for golf, or otherwise interacting with those they deem cool enough for their attention. A few key members, one who staff and members refer to as "Lord" SoAndSo, are apparently so impressed with their golf acumen and/or social status that they have refuse to even acknowledge my existence after several attempts to interact with them by simply saying "hello". It would have been nice to feel included for the hundreds of dollars a month we have been sacrificing to try to meet people in a new town, but after six months we have no more friends than when we joined in March. We will be taking that into consideration when our membership is up for renewal next March.
    CombatCritic Gives Alvamar Country Club 6 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!

    Key Words: Alvamar Golf and Country Club, Alvamar, Golf, Country, Club, Lawrence, Kansas, 66047, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Apple Inc: Poor Judgment, Products, and Customer Service

    Letter to the Editor, MacWorld

    I switched to Apple products after years of cursing Windows and Android-based systems, spending $3000 on two Macbook Pros and an iPhone 5c within the last year. What a mistake!

    My Macbook crashed on me after less than 6 months, taking me 8-10 hours to read forums, reinstalling the OS, and recovering from a Time Machine backup. Next, my iPhone 5C froze while on vacation. After finding our way back to the hotel using non-technological resources (asking for directions and following signs), I spent much of the next two days on the phone with Apple support (Adranna) instead of relaxing on the beach or taking in the sights. Restoring the phone did not work, so Adrianna told me I needed to have the phone replaced when I got home.

    Long story short, she told me I could upgrade to a 5S due to the fact that I lost confidence in the 5C, but Apple refused to honor her promise, stating "policy prohibits a from exchanging to another model even when the customer offers to pay the difference", which I was. After talking to numerous employees, being called a liar, and expressing my disappointment about Apple's products and customer service with senior customer service reps, I have up and had the iPhone replaced.

    Over the past month, I have spent an additional 50-60 hours on the phone partitioning my Macbook's hard drive, backing up my data, wiping the hard drive clean, and reinstalling MacOS and transferring my data after the piece of junk locked-up again. I had to deal with chronic slowness and THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH on my PC, but NEVER HAD A COMPUTER CRASH in the decades of using non-Apple products!

    I hag expressed my dismay with each of the 10-15 Apple employees I have spoken to over the past few months and they only confirmed my concerns ... APPLE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERS AND REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN PLACATE ME. As an Apple investor (owner of $25,000 to $50,000 in Apple shares at any given time) and American consumer, I am appalled by the lack customer service and support I have experienced at the hands of another institution that terrorizes consumers with impunity. Needless to say, I will never spend another penny on Apple products. All consumers and shareholders should be warned and concerned.

    C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
    aka CombatActivist

    Read more detail about my experience:

    On a recent trip to Puerto Rico to film a travel video and review hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, my iPhone died mid-trip. Using my phone for navigation on an island well known for difficulty locating addresses, taking photos and filming video, uploading them along with check-ins, reviews, and tips on Yelp (where I am an "Elite '14 member), TripAdvisor (I am a "Senior Contributor"), Foursquare, and Facebook pages, and locating attractions, restaurants, parks, and beaches, our visit literally came to a standstill when my 3-month old iPhone 5c (unlocked for Family Mobile - $600) stopped responding.

    We were 50 miles from our hotel in San Germán when my nearly fully (80%) charged phone went dark. Having used Waze's navigation and social media app to get there, we were suddenly stranded in an unfamiliar area with no way to get back. Unsure how to return to Rincón where we were staying, I called Apple iPhone customer service using my wife's phone. Over the next 30-40 minutes, I was told that there was no Apple Store in Puerto Rico and that I had to connect my phone to my computer (back in the room), connecting to iTunes to see if I could get the phone to work.

    We figured out how to get back to the hotel on our own and I plugged the iPhone in to my computer, but nothing happened. I then plugged the phone into the adapter and electric socket to charge it overnight and went to bed. When we awoke, the phone was back on, but it quickly went dark again and would not respond no matter how long I pushed the start button. It was time to call Apple again.

    The iPhone technical support representative's name was Adreana and she was very nice and helpful. She told me to hold down the "on/off button" and "back" button simultaneously for 10 seconds and low-and-behold  ... the phone came on! Why did the rep I called from San Germán not tell me about this "hard start" feature, allowing us to possibly navigate our way back to Rincón using Waze instead of winging-it?

    I spent over an hour-and-a-half on the phone with Adreanna, finally having to reset the phone from a back-up I had fortunately made on my computer two days earlier. Because the reset was taking so long, she told me she would call me back before going home to see how it went and determine whether or not the problem was resolved. It was not. The phone had again gone dark shortly after resetting it. Adreanna told me that I would have to have the phone replaced, but because it was a Friday night and nothing could be done until Monday (???) I would have to wait until I got home to go to an Apple Store to get a new phone.

    Adreanna made the appointment for me the day after our scheduled return at the Leawood, Kansas store, the closest to our home in Lawrence and a 40 mile drive each way. I told her that I had wanted a 5s originally, but because I needed a phone and because there was an unknown wait-time for the new 5s, I had no choice to get the 5c. I also told her that I was displeased with the 5c and lost all confidence in the model after what we had been through, asking if I could upgrade to the 5s instead of replacing it with a 5c, EVEN OFFERING TO PAY THE DIFFERENCE IN COST! She told me that would be likely and would call me at the store at my designated appointment time (12:50pm CST - January 15, 2014) to explain to "The Genius" what had been going on and to help me get the phone I needed. I sent Apple the following message before departing Puerto Rico:
    "My phone is still shutting down, it has ruined my vacation, and my travel video I am producing. I am a food and travel critic, yelp Elite member, and TripAdvisor SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR and depend on my phone for photos, videos and to write reviews of places I am visiting. This is not just inconvenient, it has ruined my vacation and disrupted my livelihood.
    C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret) 
    LPC, NCC"
    Arriving at the Apple Store for my appointment the following Wednesday, I was passed around like a volleyball from genius to genius, finally ending up with a guy named "Chad" (who looked like the actor who plays Spock in the new Star Trek movies, also a star of the hit series "Heroes"). Chad was not a good listener and the volume on a video they had playing for an in-store workshop was so loud we could barely hear ourselves think.

    Chad had me go through the entire very lengthy story again even though Adreanna and the other reps had made extensive notes in the case they had created about my problems. I told him that Adreanna would be calling any minute to explain everything, telling him she had told me I could probably upgrade to the 5s ... WHOAH ... HOLD IT RIGHT THERE PAL was the response I received as Chad quickly squashed that possibility by stating that "Apple only makes model for model exchanges, there's no way to upgrade according to Apple policy". I told Chad that Adreanna explained that it was possible and asked if he could check with a supervisor, which he did, only to return to tell me SORRY BUB!

    I asked him how it was that their employee, Adreanna, could tell me one thing only to drive 80 miles and wasting an entire afternoon to be told it was not possible? I would have had them ship a 5c to my house so it would be there when I returned if I had been told "it was not possible" in the first place, but he could obviously care less. He then asked me to tell him the whole story again, as if he were trying to catch me in a lie, but his only solution was to "call iPhone support, talk to Adreanna, and see if they would upgrade my phone to a 5c". I left the store a very unsatisfied customer to say the least!

    Extremely upset and distraught after getting the runaround from a company I had heard so many wonderful things about and wasting so much time trying get help I deserved, I waited until the next day to calm down before I called Adreanna. At 12:50pm on the nose, the phone rang and it was her, having noted the wrong date in her calendar even though she had made the appointment. 

    I told Adreanna what had occurred at the Apple Store and she told me "I will inform my supervisor, we will call the store and get this fixed, and I will call you back soon and let you know what happens". I waited ... and waited ... and waited, but Adreanna did not call. Odd! I waited a few days, thinking that it was more complex than I had realized and believing that Adreanna surely would not just blow me off, Apple would not do that to a customer who had spent $3,000 over the past six months on their products ... OR WOULD THEY?

    The following week I called Apple again, having to explain the whole situation again, but got the same answers ... "Adreanna? We have no idea who she is and she never should have told you those things. You cannot upgrade to a 5s, simple as that!" I asked to speak to a supervisor to find out why I had been told I could upgrade, why I had wasted so much of my time on the phone and driving back and forth to the store if it were in-fact impossible ... "Don't you care about integrity? Don't you care about customer service?" I asked.

    I was put on-hold for close to 30 minutes before a Customer Care Supervisor came on the phone and while telling out of one side of her mouth how concerned she was about my "customer satisfaction", insisted in a rather snotty tone of voice that I was "lying" out of the other. "Our reps would never tell you that you could upgrade, it's not our policy" she said. I said "so are you calling me a liar", to which she replied "I did not say that". No, she may not have said it in those words, but her comment left little to the imagination regarding her opinion of my character.

    As a disabled-Veteran and retired Air Force officer, I take great pride in my character, my integrity, and my honor. When she questioned my integrity, the conversation was over as far as I was concerned. I was so upset that I told her "you win, I am done wasting my time on a company that has so little concern or respect for their customers as is the case with Apple".

    I went to the Apple Store in Colorado Springs to replace my 5c with a 5c "PER APPLE POLICY" in early February. After telling the young "genius" my story, for the 6th time at least, she brought the manager over to talk to me. He said "we'll make an exception to policy based on your experience and upgrade your 5C to a 5S. You'll have to return the new 5C, get a refund, and purchase a 5S for an extra $100." I asked him WHY HE COULD UPGRADE MY PHONE WHEN I HAD WASTED 30-40 HOURS AND DRIVEN OVER 100 MILES ONLY TO BE TOLD IT WAS "IMPOSSIBLE"? I thanked him for his kind offer, but by that time I was so fed-up with the way I had been treated, I told him "thanks, but no thanks … I will not give another penny of my hard earned money to Apple after the way I have been treated". I left the store with my new 5C.

    Now, my Macbook Pro 13" (mid-2012) is acting up again! I had to reset the computer from a backup about 4 months ago following instructions on the Apple Support site after it would not boot no matter what I tried. That seemed to solve the problem, but Safari would not work (along with a couple other programs), so while at the Colorado Springs Apple Store I asked them to taker a look at it. They ended up keeping it overnight to reinstall the operating system which I was told was "corrupt". Safari was working again, but the other programs still had issues.

    Two weeks ago when I could not boot the computer or get past the grey screen with the white Apple and the endlessly revolving wheel, not even in Safe Mode. Again, I tried to solve the problem using Apple Support instructions, but was unsuccessful, so I called their 800 number. The woman on the phone said I would have to partition my hard drive, which she helped me do, reinstall the operating system on the new partition, then follow the instructions after the computer restarted. I and a doctors appointment and could not stay on the phone, so she told me to call back if there were any problems.

    The computer started after reinstalling the OS on the new partition and I followed the instructions as she had told me. It appeared as though the computer was setting-up as if I had not used it before, which I assumed was because of the new partition (which was eating up much more of my 500 GB hard drive by the way). When it asked me to select a backup to restore from, the recent backups from the week before (when the computer had last been working) were nowhere to be found on my 4TB network drive where I had safely stored them for months. The only backups listed were from May 2013, shortly after I bought the computer, so I assumed it wa again an issue with the new partition.

    Once the backup was installed, I immediately went to Microsoft Outlook to check the emails I had not been able to view for nearly 6 days by then. When I checked my folders, all of the emails between May and now were gone … my work and personal email history was nowhere to be found, including those from three large lawsuits I am involved in, my father's funeral arrangements at Arlington National Cemetery in May, and documentation from our (very challenging) tenants in Kansas City (among many others)! All of our photos disappeared and the video on Puerto Rico I had spent dozens of hours creating for my YouTube (CombatCritic's TravelValue) channel was gone!

    I called Apple again on March 12, 2014 to find out where my Outlook (.olm) file went as well as the backups from two weeks ago so I can get back to work, recover critical emails, and locate my Puerto Rico video that disappeared in iMovie during this process.

    I spoke with Andrew who helped me get permissions to the old partition of the hard-drive where the missing files supposedly reside. Because the process took so long, he had me call back later so that I could get some work done, promising to make "extensive notes" so I would not have to explain for the umpteenth time to an Apple Support Representative. Before I hung up, Andrew tried to sell me the "extended warranty" because my warranty was to expire in 61 days. I told Andrew that I have spent $3,000 on Apple products less than a year ago and WILL NOT SPEND ANOTHER PENNY ON PRODUCTS THAT SHOULD LAST MUCH LONGER THAN 12-36 MONTHS ... thanks, but no thanks!

    When I called back a few hours later to continue with the next step, backing-up both partitions of the hard-drive so we could then wipe the hard-drive clean and restore the computer from its original (out-of-the-box) state with the files and programs I need from the two partitions, Melissa #1 answered the phone.

    Even though Andrew had made "extensive notes", Melissa #1 acted as if she had nothing to go on and made me explain most everything. She was obviously clueless, making me wait on-hold while she asked her supervisors what to do next. I had to guide her through the process even though she is supposed to be "the expert". She finally decided that we should back-up the hard drive my 1TB external hard drive (Western Digital - My Passport), but because it would take several hours, I had to call back and go through the next step with another technician. I explained again how disappointed I am in Apple products, that I have wasted 40-50 hours of my time (between these problems and the debacle with my iPhone 5C in January and February), and that I am at wits-end. She placated me, as all other Apple employees have done, with words of sympathy, but zero action or follow-through. We made an appointment for 7:15pm to have a technician call me back to complete the next steps (clear the hard drive and reinstall from back-up).

    At 7:oopm, I checked the back-up to see if had finished, but it still had 22 hours to go! I then realized that Melissa #1's instructions were inadequate and the back-up was not being made to My Passport, but to my 4TB network drive, exactly where she told me it should not be saved. So at 7:15pm when Melissa #2 called back, I told her what had happened and that I had initiated another back-up, this time to My Passport, and that because it would take severel hours, I would have to call back in the morning to proceed with the next steps.

    After 60-70 hours of wasted time and weeks without my computer, I finally finished reinstalling 
    everything on my Mac, starting with a clean slate. It worked OK for a couple weeks, then the problems started again. The other day, it shut itself down twice in the middle of my work, causing me to lose the changes I had made and having to reboot once again. I contacted Kerri, the Apple Technical Support Supervisor who had helped me reinstall Mac OSX and all of my programs after she told me "if you have any more problems, don't hesitate to give me a call":

    From: Chris Sorrentino <xxxxx56@gmail.com>
    Date: Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 10:35 AM
    To: Kerri Fyffe <charper@apple.com>
    Subject: Macbook Pro - Computer Shutting Down

    Kerri,

    My computer shut itself down twice while I was working yesterday, losing everything I had been working on. It seems as though there is more going on than just software issues.

    Please help.

    Chris Sorrentino

    Here is the script:
    Anonymous UUID:       A1D4A102-0C0B-FD64-F710-6562CF2E1783
    Fri Apr  4 09:44:53 2014
    panic(cpu 0 caller 0xffffff8000adbe2e): Kernel trap at 0xffffff8000c076ae, type 14=page fault, registers:
    CR0: 0x000000008001003b, CR2: 0x00000000beefbad6, CR3: 0x0000000002f59000, CR4: 0x00000000001606e0
    RAX: 0xffffff8020b84a80, RBX: 0x0000000000000000, RCX: 0x00000000000007ff, RDX: 0x00000000beefbabe
    RSP: 0xffffff81e7853d50, RBP: 0xffffff81e7853d80, RSI: 0xffffff8020e60ee0, RDI: 0xffffff81c84a8970
    R8:  0xffffff81e7875000, R9:  0xffffff8001001910, R10: 0x00000000000003ff, R11: 0xffffffffffffffff
    R12: 0xffffff8001103760, R13: 0xffffff8000c075c0, R14: 0xffffff8020e60ee0, R15: 0x0000000000000200
    RFL: 0x0000000000010206, RIP: 0xffffff8000c076ae, CS:  0x0000000000000008, SS:  0x0000000000000010
    Fault CR2: 0x00000000beefbad6, Error code: 0x0000000000000000, Fault CPU: 0x0
    Backtrace (CPU 0), Frame : Return Address
    0xffffff81e78539e0 : 0xffffff8000a22fa9
    0xffffff81e7853a60 : 0xffffff8000adbe2e
    0xffffff81e7853c30 : 0xffffff8000af3326
    0xffffff81e7853c50 : 0xffffff8000c076ae
    0xffffff81e7853d80 : 0xffffff8000bc54cf
    0xffffff81e7853dd0 : 0xffffff7f80fecab2
    0xffffff81e7853e20 : 0xffffff7f813ad2ca
    0xffffff81e7853e70 : 0xffffff7f813b0c3a
    0xffffff81e7853ec0 : 0xffffff7f8107dfc4
    0xffffff81e7853ee0 : 0xffffff7f8153a6bb
    0xffffff81e7853f10 : 0xffffff8000eaea53
    0xffffff81e7853f70 : 0xffffff7f8153a28f
    0xffffff81e7853fb0 : 0xffffff8000ad6ff7
          Kernel Extensions in backtrace:
             com.apple.iokit.IOStorageFamily(1.9)[9B09B065-7F11-3241-B194-B72E5C23548B]@0xffffff7f80fe9000->0xffffff7f8100dfff
             com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIArchitectureModelFamily(3.6.6)[C7B04E3E-37FF-3DC4-A0ED-92DDCE6FCB98]@0xffffff7f81079000->0xffffff7f810a3fff
             com.apple.iokit.IOUSBMassStorageClass(3.6)[6A324A1E-6AB3-32B6-BEA7-36634A35F128]@0xffffff7f81537000->0xffffff7f81547fff
                dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOUSBFamily(675.4.0)[5C861553-BC5A-3979-A6B4-58C57879DD40]@0xffffff7f814ca000
                dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOStorageFamily(1.9)[9B09B065-7F11-3241-B194-B72E5C23548B]@0xffffff7f80fe9000
                dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIArchitectureModelFamily(3.6.6)[C7B04E3E-37FF-3DC4-A0ED-92DDCE6FCB98]@0xffffff7f81079000
             com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIBlockCommandsDevice(3.6.6)[160F02BC-97C1-3119-BD28-4B2ED121C501]@0xffffff7f813ac000->0xffffff7f813c0fff
                dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIArchitectureModelFamily(3.6.6)[C7B04E3E-37FF-3DC4-A0ED-92DDCE6FCB98]@0xffffff7f81079000
                dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOStorageFamily(1.9)[9B09B065-7F11-3241-B194-B72E5C23548B]@0xffffff7f80fe9000
    BSD process name corresponding to current thread: kernel_task
    Mac OS version:
    13C64
    Kernel version:
    Darwin Kernel Version 13.1.0: Thu Jan 16 19:40:37 PST 2014; root:xnu-2422.90.20~2/RELEASE_X86_64
    Kernel UUID: 9FEA8EDC-B629-3ED2-A1A3-6521A1885953
    Kernel slide:     0x0000000000800000
    Kernel text base: 0xffffff8000a00000
    System model name: MacBookPro9,2 (Mac-6F01561E16C75D06)
    System uptime in nanoseconds: 1830367412801
    last loaded kext at 1396651157650: com.apple.driver.AppleIntelMCEReporter 104 (addr 0xffffff7f82908000, size 49152)
    last unloaded kext at 1563896263175: com.apple.driver.AppleIntelMCEReporter 104 (addr 0xffffff7f82908000, size 32768)
    loaded kexts:
    com.avast.AvastFileShield 2.1.0
    com.avast.PacketForwarder 1.4
    com.apple.filesystems.smbfs 2.0.1
    com.apple.driver.AudioAUUC 1.60
    com.apple.driver.AGPM 100.14.15
    com.apple.driver.X86PlatformShim 1.0.0
    com.apple.filesystems.autofs 3.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleMikeyHIDDriver 124
    com.apple.driver.AppleUpstreamUserClient 3.5.13
    com.apple.driver.AppleHDA 2.6.0f1
    com.apple.driver.AppleMikeyDriver 2.6.0f1
    com.apple.iokit.IOUserEthernet 1.0.0d1
    com.apple.iokit.IOBluetoothSerialManager 4.2.3f10
    com.apple.Dont_Steal_Mac_OS_X 7.0.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleBacklight 170.3.5
    com.apple.driver.AppleLPC 1.7.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleHWAccess 1
    com.apple.driver.AppleMCCSControl 1.1.12
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMCLMU 2.0.4d1
    com.apple.iokit.BroadcomBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport 4.2.3f10
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMCPDRC 1.0.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleThunderboltIP 1.1.2
    com.apple.driver.AppleIntelHD4000Graphics 8.2.4
    com.apple.driver.AppleIntelFramebufferCapri 8.2.4
    com.apple.driver.SMCMotionSensor 3.0.4d1
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBTCButtons 240.2
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBTCKeyboard 240.2
    com.apple.driver.AppleIRController 325.7
    com.apple.AppleFSCompression.AppleFSCompressionTypeDataless 1.0.0d1
    com.apple.AppleFSCompression.AppleFSCompressionTypeZlib 1.0.0d1
    com.apple.BootCache 35
    com.apple.iokit.SCSITaskUserClient 3.6.6
    com.apple.driver.XsanFilter 404
    com.apple.iokit.IOAHCIBlockStorage 2.5.1
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBHub 666.4.0
    com.apple.iokit.AppleBCM5701Ethernet 3.8.1b2
    com.apple.driver.AppleSDXC 1.5.2
    com.apple.driver.AppleFWOHCI 4.9.9
    com.apple.driver.AirPort.Brcm4331 700.20.22
    com.apple.driver.AppleAHCIPort 3.0.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBEHCI 660.4.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBXHCI 670.4.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleSmartBatteryManager 161.0.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleACPIButtons 2.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleRTC 2.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleHPET 1.8
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMBIOS 2.1
    com.apple.driver.AppleACPIEC 2.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleAPIC 1.7
    com.apple.driver.AppleIntelCPUPowerManagementClient 216.0.0
    com.apple.nke.applicationfirewall 153
    com.apple.security.quarantine 3
    com.apple.driver.AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement 216.0.0
    com.apple.kext.triggers 1.0
    com.apple.driver.DspFuncLib 2.6.0f1
    com.apple.vecLib.kext 1.0.0
    com.apple.iokit.IOAudioFamily 1.9.5fc2
    com.apple.kext.OSvKernDSPLib 1.14
    com.apple.iokit.IOSerialFamily 10.0.7
    com.apple.iokit.IOBluetoothFamily 4.2.3f10
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMBusController 1.0.11d1
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMBusPCI 1.0.12d1
    com.apple.iokit.IOBluetoothHostControllerUSBTransport 4.2.3f10
    com.apple.iokit.IOFireWireIP 2.2.6
    com.apple.driver.AppleHDAController 2.6.0f1
    com.apple.iokit.IOHDAFamily 2.6.0f1
    com.apple.driver.X86PlatformPlugin 1.0.0
    com.apple.driver.IOPlatformPluginFamily 5.7.0d10
    com.apple.iokit.IOSurface 91
    com.apple.iokit.IOAcceleratorFamily2 98.14
    com.apple.AppleGraphicsDeviceControl 3.4.35
    com.apple.driver.AppleBacklightExpert 1.0.4
    com.apple.iokit.IONDRVSupport 2.4.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOGraphicsFamily 2.4.1
    com.apple.driver.AppleSMC 3.1.8
    com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIBlockCommandsDevice 3.6.6
    com.apple.iokit.IOUSBMassStorageClass 3.6.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBMultitouch 240.9
    com.apple.driver.AppleThunderboltDPInAdapter 3.1.7
    com.apple.driver.AppleThunderboltDPAdapterFamily 3.1.7
    com.apple.driver.AppleThunderboltPCIDownAdapter 1.4.5
    com.apple.iokit.IOUSBHIDDriver 660.4.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBMergeNub 650.4.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleUSBComposite 656.4.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIMultimediaCommandsDevice 3.6.6
    com.apple.iokit.IOBDStorageFamily 1.7
    com.apple.iokit.IODVDStorageFamily 1.7.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOCDStorageFamily 1.7.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOAHCISerialATAPI 2.6.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOSCSIArchitectureModelFamily 3.6.6
    com.apple.iokit.IOUSBUserClient 660.4.2
    com.apple.iokit.IOEthernetAVBController 1.0.3b4
    com.apple.driver.mDNSOffloadUserClient 1.0.1b5
    com.apple.driver.AppleThunderboltNHI 2.0.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOThunderboltFamily 3.2.7
    com.apple.iokit.IOFireWireFamily 4.5.5
    com.apple.iokit.IO80211Family 630.35
    com.apple.iokit.IONetworkingFamily 3.2
    com.apple.iokit.IOAHCIFamily 2.6.5
    com.apple.iokit.IOUSBFamily 675.4.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleEFINVRAM 2.0
    com.apple.driver.AppleEFIRuntime 2.0
    com.apple.iokit.IOHIDFamily 2.0.0
    com.apple.iokit.IOSMBusFamily 1.1
    com.apple.security.sandbox 278.11
    com.apple.kext.AppleMatch 1.0.0d1
    com.apple.security.TMSafetyNet 7
    com.apple.driver.AppleKeyStore 2
    com.apple.driver.DiskImages 371.1
    com.apple.iokit.IOStorageFamily 1.9
    com.apple.iokit.IOReportFamily 23
    com.apple.driver.AppleFDEKeyStore 28.30
    com.apple.driver.AppleACPIPlatform 2.0
    com.apple.iokit.IOPCIFamily 2.9
    com.apple.iokit.IOACPIFamily 1.4
    com.apple.kec.corecrypto 1.0
    com.apple.kec.pthread 1
    Model: MacBookPro9,2, BootROM MBP91.00D3.B08, 2 processors, Intel Core i5, 2.5 GHz, 16 GB, SMC 2.2f41
    Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Built-In, 1024 MB
    Memory Module: BANK 0/DIMM0, 8 GB, DDR3, 1600 MHz, 0x85F7, 0x483634314755363747313630304700000000
    Memory Module: BANK 1/DIMM0, 8 GB, DDR3, 1600 MHz, 0x85F7, 0x483634314755363747313630304700000000
    AirPort: spairport_wireless_card_type_airport_extreme (0x14E4, 0xF5), Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.106.98.100.22)
    Bluetooth: Version 4.2.3f10 13477, 3 services, 15 devices, 1 incoming serial ports
    Network Service: Wi-Fi, AirPort, en1
    Serial ATA Device: APPLE HDD ST500LM012, 500.11 GB
    Serial ATA Device: MATSHITADVD-R   UJ-8A8
    USB Device: Hub
    USB Device: Hub
    USB Device: BRCM20702 Hub
    USB Device: Bluetooth USB Host Controller
    USB Device: Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad
    USB Device: IR Receiver
    USB Device: Hub
    USB Device: FaceTime HD Camera (Built-in)
    Thunderbolt Bus: MacBook Pro, Apple Inc., 25.1
    THAT WAS SIX (6) DAYS AGO AND NOT A WORD SINCE!

    I am done fighting with these social cretins, will use my iPhone and Mac until they die (which should not take long based on my experience), and will go back to a Windows or Android-based phone and a non-Apple computer when they do ... FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU; FOOL ME TWICE ... AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN APPLE!

    CombatCritic Gives Apple, Inc. 1 Out of 10 Bombs for their poor products, customer service, and judgment ... More Bombs Are Better!











    Key Words: Apple, computer, Mac, iPhone, 5c, 5s, Macbook Pro, Macbook, poor, customer, service, integrity, honor, character, Institutional, terrorism, InstitutionalTerrorism, CombatCritic

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