Category Archives: General

Chick-fil-A’s Religious Hypocrisy—Closed on Sundays, Except for Builders, Pavers, and Landscapers

Chick-fil-A, in their February 2009 press release [local mirror], alleges that being closed on Sundays is meant “to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Evidently, this does not extend to contract workers, even though Chick-fil-A could easily stipulate that contract workers must perform work on Monday–Saturday.

At the Daytona Beach Chick-fil-A, I have commonly seen landscapers or paving crews working on Sunday.

A commentator on Reddit states: “Interesting note, while Chick-Fil-A stores are closed on Sunday, they have no problem having construction workers build their stores on Sunday.”

Because Chick-fil-A alleges their closed-on-Sunday policy is religiously based, it is hypocritical that they use Sunday to get all sorts of work done on their restaurants.

Other restaurants that do not close on Sunday must perform such contracted work during business hours or overnight. Chick-fil-A’s supposed “sacrifice” is diminished when we consider they have an entire day to perform contracted work without pesky customers. Further, any moral authority they have with respect to the “Lord’s day” is denuded.

Unlike with Amazon, I do not have a specific reason to pick on Chick-fil-A.

As a young child, I often visited my grandmother and step-grandfather (who passed away in 2003). I would go with them in the mornings to a meetup of seniors who met for friendship and to discuss various issues. After Target in Orange City, FL replaced their cafe with a Starbucks, we would meet at the Orange City Chick-fil-A. In the photo below from Friday, December 31, 2004, I am pictured far right, age 13.

Richard Thripp and friends at Chick-fil-A, 2004-12-31

As long as Chick-fil-A continues to conveniently employ contracted workers on Sundays, they will never have moral authority regarding the Sabbath. Their hypocrisy is on full display when they claim such authority, such as in deceased founder S. Truett Cathy’s claim from their February 2009 press release: “Cathy credits ‘blessings from the Lord’ for the great success the company has enjoyed, and he remains as committed as ever to maintaining the Closed-on-Sunday policy.”

Why I’m Not Attending Graduation

I actually thought about going to graduation for my M.A. in Applied Learning & Instruction from University of Central Florida, because some of my classmates and faculty were encouraging me to go. However, I think the ceremonies are predatory and stupid, and none of my family were interested in going.

Commencement is an opportunity for the enrichment of the private companies UCF provides monopolistic, “sweetheart” deals to. UCF graduates are required to rent their gowns from Herff Jones at inflated prices that are much higher than other public Florida universities. My gown would cost $120 to rent, and Herff Jones assures me my credit card would be billed $800 if I do not return the gown by 5:00 p.m. the day of commencement, even though the ceremony does not start until 2:30 p.m.

At UCF commencements, guests are prohibited from getting closer to the stage or even standing up to take photos. From page 19 of the spring 2016 Commencement guide:

Photography and Recording Equipment
The University of Central Florida has arranged for GradImages to take professional pictures of all graduates as they cross the stage during the ceremony. After the ceremony, photographers will be available outside the CFE Arena and in front of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center for individual and family photos. Graduates will be contacted at a later date with purchasing information, but are under no obligation to purchase photos. See page 27 for more information.

While cameras and video recording equipment are permitted, guests are required to photograph or videotape from their seats only and must not obstruct the view of others.

GradImages will charge you about $100 for 6 photos that may be dark or blurry, according to their atrocious Yelp reviews. Of course, you won’t be able to tell before buying the photos, because you only get to see blurry, heavily watermarked preview images.

It is my opinion that this level of featherbedding reflects poorly, especially upon a non-profit, State institution chartered for the public’s benefit. Providing a monopolistic arrangement to Herff Jones and GradImages would be like prohibiting students from ordering textbooks from anywhere but the overpriced campus bookstore. It is at odds with the “Integrity” and “Excellence” components of the creed of the university.

When you attend commencement, you are surrounded by people who may or may not actually be graduating. Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates are given a diploma cover; their actual diploma is not mailed until 6–10 weeks later. These purported graduates may even be “walking” early at some institutions, with their graduation remaining dependent on them completing their program of study in the summer semester. Attendance of graduation at UCF and other institutions provides no indication of an earned degree.

I am continuing at UCF in the Education Ph.D. program and have promised to attend that graduation, which will be in 2019 or later if my dissertation takes longer. Fortunately, according to the commencement guide, doctoral graduates actually receive their degree on-stage, indicating they have actually graduated.

I will be receiving my Master’s degree by mail in 6–10 weeks, just like my cohorts who attended commencement.

Chipotle: Bad Twitter Customer Service in Action

Update on 2016-01-19: It has been over four months and Chipotle did not respond to any of my emails, tweets, nor this blog post. They never made good on the BOGO offer, even though so many other customers received their coupons without issue, and even though Chipotle said they would make good on their offer in tweets in July 2015. Chipotle is yet another example of companies who simply do not keep their word.

I complained to Chipotle via email and Twitter about not receiving the “BOGO” (buy one get one free) coupon from participating in their “Friend or Faux” online game / marketing campaign. I had participated in the game and entered my cell phone number on 7/25/2015 at approximately 12:30 AM EDT, for which, according to the terms, all participants would receive the BOGO coupon via text message within 7 days. Many of my friends had received their coupon within 24 hours, yet I received nothing, like several others complained of in the comments on a post on Money Saving Mom:

Chris says
July 22, 2015 at 9:47 am
I played the game yesterday and did not receive the coupon. 🙁

Veronica says
July 23, 2015 at 12:30 am
I participated in the game. But never received confirmation of BOGO. I eat here often. Thank you

Autumn says
July 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Mine said coupon will arrive in 7 days also..

Veneece says
July 29, 2015 at 1:13 am
Did anyone else have a problem where they played the game but never received their coupon? I’ve played from my phone and 2 tablets and i have not received a coupon or text to either device.

Given that I did not receive the coupon and that I could not sign up again because when I played the game again and entered my phone number, it said I had already entered the phone number, a friend recommended I complain to Chipotle via Twitter, since they would resolve the issue.

I proceeded to have a surprising conversation where Chipotle repeatedly asked me to send them an email via their contact form and then feigned not receiving the emails. After opining that rival Qdoba sent me a BOGO coupon for my birthday without asking, ChipotleTweets appears to have “muted” me, because they stopped replying to my tweets, even without apologizing or resolving the problem! I can only conclude that this is indicative of the hubris of American corporations:

Chipotle Twitter Conversation

Chipotle Twitter Conversation - Addendum

Richard Thripp, 8/05/2015:
@ChipotleTweets Never got the BOGO coupon even after signing up 10 days ago. Disappointed! Apparently everyone else got theirs.

ChipotleTweets, 8/05/2015:
@richardxthripp Check with http://www.chipotle.com/email-us and they can look up your smartphone records. -Joe

Richard Thripp, 8/11/2015:
@ChipotleTweets Thank you — I emailed them 6 days ago but still no reply.

ChipotleTweets, 8/11/2015:
@richardxthripp I’m not seeing an email from you. Perhaps there was a technical issue. Would you mind resending, please? -Myra

Richard Thripp, 8/18/2015: [Yes, there was a 7-day spread here. I don’t use Twitter much.]
@ChipotleTweets I sent the email as Comments + Questions > General Inquiry. I sent another email today. I recd. no texts or coupons.

ChipotleTweets, 8/19/2015:
@richardxthripp What name did you use for sending across your email so we can look into this for you? -James

Richard Thripp, 8/21/2015:
Richard Thripp

Richard Thripp, 8/24/2015:
@ChipotleTweets While Chipotle wastes my time, Qdoba sends me BOGO coupons without asking. http://thripp.org/files/images/qdoba-coupon-20150824.png

Qdoba, 8/24/2015:
@richardxthripp Happy birthday.

Richard Thripp, 8/27/2015:
@qdoba Thanks! Chipotle doesn’t even reply anymore.

Richard Thripp, 8/29/2015:
@ChipotleTweets I never got my BOGO coupon I signed up for in July, and after numerous emails and tweets, you now ignore me. Dissatisfied.

Richard Thripp, 9/04/2015:
@ChipotleTweets Why do you ignore my tweets and emails? I signed up for the BOGO coupon on 7/26/2015 and never got anything.

[Update: Based on reviewing my browsing history logs I actually signed up on 7/25/2015 for the coupon.]

While I did not save the emails sent on 8/05/2015 or 8/18/2015, I did save a screenshot of the email I sent on 9/01/2015, which is below. No reply was received to any of my emails (yes, I checked my spam folder):

Chipotle Email, 9/01/2015

What could Chipotle have done differently?

Why ignore a customer who is clearly dissatisfied? Particularly when said customer has his own website where he has complained about corporate grievances before, and probably will again?

Why offer to fix the issue by having the customer email his phone number, and then pretend not to receive the emails and not fix the issue?

Instead of wasting my time and annoying me with the silent treatment, Chipotle could have simply said in their first tweet: “Our apologies, but we are unable to re-issue BOGO coupons.”

Alternately, they could have send another coupon, or a $10.00 gift card, which is the maximum value of the coupon according to the terms.

But instead, they jerked me around and then ignored me.

What could I have done differently?

When I signed up for the free coupon, I opted out of text message marketing by clicking a checkbox, because I had read the terms which indicated you could still get the BOGO coupon without opting into text message marketing. I could have been more cautious and opted in, in case the terms were not correctly implemented by Chipotle.

When I mentioned rival Qdoba and uploaded a copy of the BOGO coupon I received from them, I assumed that would get Chipotle’s attention in the interest of not losing business and face to a competitor. Evidently, given their lack of response afterward, this backfired, pissing off the employees that manage the Chipotle Twitter account. Also, note that Qdoba responded with “Happy birthday” even though I didn’t actually alert Qdoba with an @ symbol or hashtag.

What happens now?

Chipotle has been my favorite restaurant for over a year. As a vegetarian, I like that they have two vegetarian burritos (the veggie burrito and the “Sofritas” tofu burrito). They have also made their black beans vegetarian. I like that their ingredients are fairly good, their prices are low, and they do not charge extra for many things.

Chipotle will continue being my favorite restaurant, but I have less respect for them now. Or, perhaps I have more respect, because I know now that they won’t take kindly to being pressured into honoring an offer that they made of their own free will? I can only be happy that there is not a Chipotle “blacklist” like with many online banks and retailers, such as Amazon and Chase. Given that it is much less palatable to blacklist individuals from brick & mortar stores (à la the “soup nazi” from Seinfeld), I am not worried about being refused service by Chipotle.

However, I would not be surprised if they either offer me a gift card or demand I take this blog post down. I suppose they could even offer me something as a condition for removing the blog post. However, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on this blog post (approximately 1 hour), so I may not be so willing.

Update on 2016-01-19: It has been over four months and Chipotle did not respond to any of my emails, tweets, nor this blog post. They never made good on the BOGO offer, even though so many other customers received their coupons without issue, and even though Chipotle said they would make good on their offer in tweets in July 2015. Chipotle is yet another example of companies who simply do not keep their word.

MetroPCS rebate scam / run-around / fraud / bad faith

This is what I am dealing with for buying a MetroPCS phone with a mail-in rebate.

Bear in mind I already sent them a demand letter on 4/25/2015, and I wrote this email below after MetroPCS erroneously rejected my rebate and sending me a rejection postcard not once, but TWICE; the first time, I called 800-999-6389 on 3/13/2015 and a representative told me he fixed the issue, and then I got another rejection postcard on 4/25/2015.

The associated phone was the ZTE ZMAX and was purchased by me on 1/23/2015 and activated on 1/28/2015. I mailed the $100.00 rebate form on 1/31/2015 (17 weeks ago). The rebate is for handsets purchased between 1/21/2015 and 4/05/2015, yet I have been rejected twice for the phone being “activated outside the program period,” even though a phone rep on 3/13/2015 admitted the postcard was completely wrong.

Here is the email I sent 5/28/2015 after finding that their rebate tracking website does not work on 3 separate attempts:


Hello, Amanda [last name redacted], or other Young America Special Services Team employee,

It has been over 4 weeks since the date of the email below (4/28/2015) and the $100.00 rebate card hasn’t shown up yet.

On 5/05/2015, I received an email with tracking # XXXX-XXXX-XXXX for this rebate. However, your rebate tracking website is completely broken / non-functional. I have checked it on 3 separate occasions (Fri., 5/22/2015; Tue., 5/26/2015; and Thu., 5/28/2015), and both times, I have received the following error messages:

When entering Option 1: Phone # and ZIP code:
“We’re Sorry. That request cannot be completed.”

When entering Option 2: Tracking Number or Option 3: Contact Information, the following error message has been received on all occasions:

metropcs-rebate-server-error-20150528

Please provide the date my rebate with tracking # XXXX-XXXX-XXXX was mailed, or when it is expected to be mailed.

It has now been 117 days (almost 17 weeks) since I mailed my initial rebate submission.

Respectfully, I remain,
Richard Thripp
4-year MetroPCS Customer


4/28/2015 email from Amanda at MetroPCS’ rebate processing / fulfillment house:

Hello Richard,

Thank you for contacting the MetroPCS Rebate Center, we are happy to help you with your inquiry.

Your submission has been reprocessed and you can track the status of your rebate on our website; www.metropcsrebates.com within 48 hours. Please allow 4 weeks for your submission to be processed.

If there is anything further we can assist you with, feel free to contact us by email, Web Chat or calling 1-800-999-6389 Monday – Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CST.

We apologize for the confusion.

Amanda [last name redacted]
Special Services Team | YA Canada – a subsidiary of Young America, LLC
770 Richmond St., Unit C | Chatham, ON | N7M 5J5
www.young-america.com


4/25/2015 demand letter (email) to MetroPCS:

My rebate has been twice rejected with a postcard saying “the product activation for your submission occurred outside of the program period.”

The first postcard was received 3/13/2015, and I called 800-999-6389 on 3/13/2015 and was told the rejection was MetroPCS’s mistake and that I would receive the rebate in 8-10 weeks.

I received a new postcard with the same rejection message on 4/25/2015.

This is erroneous and at this point, arguably is an act of bad faith.

I demand my rebate for a $100.00 Visa prepaid card on the ZTE ZMAX mobile phone be honored as advertised, and have documentation proving the phone was purchased from MetroPCS.com, activated during the program period, and that the rebate was accordingly submitted and rejected in error.

Further, I demand an additional $15.00 concession for my rebate being repeated rejected and delayed, arguably in bad faith [this demand was not acknowledged in the 4/28/2015 reply from Amanda at Young America].

If my demands are not met, the actions I will take will include, but not be limited to:

1.) Submitting a chargeback with my credit card issuer (Chase Bank) regarding the transaction, in the amount of $100.00.
2.) Filing a complaint with the Attorney General for the State of Florida and the applicable state(s) of MetroPCS and MetroPCS’s rebate processors.
3.) Being that the rebate is processed in Texas, I have additional recourse permitted under the Texas Business & Commerce Code, Title 12, Section 605.
4.) Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
5.) Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
6.) Being that the repeated rejection of my rebate has arguably been in bad faith and been conducted via correspondence delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, filing a complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service for a possible case of mail fraud.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp


Text of MetroPCS rebate tracking error message which has been showing up on their site for at least an entire week when I try to track my rebate:

Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
Runtime Error
Description: An application error occurred on the server. The current custom error settings for this application prevent the details of the application error from being viewed remotely (for security reasons). It could, however, be viewed by browsers running on the local server machine.

Details: To enable the details of this specific error message to be viewable on remote machines, please create a tag within a “web.config” configuration file located in the root directory of the current web application. This tag should then have its “mode” attribute set to “Off”.

<!– Web.Config Configuration File –>

<configuration>
<system.web>
<customErrors mode=”Off”/>
</system.web>
</configuration>

Notes: The current error page you are seeing can be replaced by a custom error page by modifying the “defaultRedirect” attribute of the application’s configuration tag to point to a custom error page URL.

<!– Web.Config Configuration File –>

<configuration>
<system.web>
<customErrors mode=”RemoteOnly” defaultRedirect=”mycustompage.htm”/>
</system.web>
</configuration>

Coupon Codes and Online Shopping

While some consumers do not know this, shopping online presents as many opportunities for saving as traditional, brick-and-mortar shopping, if not more. Before making any online purchase, it behooves almost any person who intends to maximize the value of their time to investigate what discounts, coupon codes, cashback offers, and promotions are available for their intended purchase.

Recently, many new websites have sprung up to analyze and aggregate coupon codes and promotional offers, for the mutual benefit of the operators of said websites and their customers. One such new startup is Frugaa, which presents coupon codes for websites in an appealing and easy-to-use format that helps its users save time and money.

With Frugaa, it is easy to search for savings by store, by category, and/or by budget. There is also a highly useful system of ratings and comments on coupons which helps you to quickly sift out the non-working or expired coupons based on percentage of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” votes and by glancing at comments from other users.

While Frugaa should be part of a comprehensive money-saving system to reduce the ultimate cost of all items you purchase online, for a newbies and experts alike, I highly recommend checking it out and it is a great place to start if you are new to the field. I expect to see great things from this service and others like it in the future.