Friday, December 11, 2009

What would you do? Orta restaurant in Pembroke

My husband and I recently went to dinner at a local restaurant, Orta , that we had been wanting to try. Choosing to go on this particular evening was made easy because a client of mine gave me a gift card worth $50.00 as a Thank-you for a difficult job we had just finished. Along with the gift card she sent a lovely note that made me feel terrific. A boost that we could all use every now and then.

It was my birthday so we were hoping for a nice evening. I won't go into detail about the food or the service. It's not my intention with this post to promote the restaurant. When the check was presented at the end of the evening we presented the gift card along with the extra cash to cover the balance and a good tip.

The bartender (we almost always sit at the bar in restaurants) came back and told us that the card had no money on it. Without alarm I assured her it must have been a mistake...the card had never been used.

This time the manager, Jennifer came to us, over our shoulders so we had to turn on the bar stools to talk to her. She was trailing the receipt and carrying the card. Attention was being paid now by the customers in the bar and dining room. Human nature to want to know what's going on , right?
She explained to us that the card never had a balance put
on it.
I asked her to try again....the woman who gave me the card was reliable and responsible. She told me I should call the woman who gave me the card when I got home to find out what the problem was. I told her that under no circumstances would I call the woman .....she gave me the card as a gift and it would be the ultimate tacky act to call her. I knew she would be very upset that something she did to show appreciation was now causing embarrassment.

She came back, this time behind the bar, and said the card was not good.
I asked if the gift cards were sold anywhere other than in the restaurant. She said which I replied, "then the mistake must be on the part of Orta. The card obviously was not powered up at the time of purchase."

And her reply? She said, "Unless she acquired it by shady means." Thanks...let's add insult to injury.

I assured her again that the woman who purchased it was a fine human being who would NEVER do something like that. I asked her to honor the card...we were obviously not in there to scam them...and take my information so we could follow up.

She said it was not her restaurant and she was not authorized to comp the $50.00.

Well, I'm from the old-school restaurant world. My father was in the restaurant business for many , many years . I traveled with him several times up and down the East Coast when he was a supervisor for a chain of upscale Steak Houses. His feeling, and he expected the employees to mirror this, was that every employee was the restaurant...and that was necessary for the ship to sail right.

I looked at Jennifer, mouth agape, and asked her if she really intended not to honor the card.

She said she would not honor the card.

I told her I felt she was making a mistake.

She shrugged her shoulders and said that since the card didn't work she wasn't obligated to cover it. She took my name and number and said they would "research" the issue and get back to me.

We ended up having to use a credit card we didn't plan on using. We had enough cash to add to the gift card, but not enough to cover the entire bill...which came to $107.00 with a tip. There was just a very brief moment when I almost considered not leaving a tip , but I couldn't do that to our servers. It was not their fault.

We left Orta ,walking from the bar in the back through the dining room.
Did I mention how embarrassing it was?
It really was.
Really, really was.
You have to make a real effort to embarrass my husband , he has a high threshold. That threshold was met and surpassed. Yeah, it was pretty close to humiliating. I've never had a credit card rejected in a public place...that's what it appeared was happening to us. I hope to never experience it again.

We had planned to stop at a friend's cocktail party after dinner. Both of us were so upset when we left that we decided we wouldn't be very good company and went straight home. It is in Orta's favor that we didn't go. We both would have been ranting and spewing.

On the ride home we discussed it and decided to hold our tongues until we saw how it played out and give Orta the benefit of the doubt that wasn't given us.

This happened on Saturday night.

On Sunday night , while we were at a family party, a message was left by Jennifer. She said that they were still "researching the issue" and didn't want me to think we were being left hanging.
When we played the message it occurred to both of us that we had the gift card (although I think Jennifer took the numbers off the back) and we were never asked the name of the person who purchased the card.

Knowing Orta was closed on Monday , I waited until Tuesday to call.
A man answered the phone and I asked for Jennifer. He said she was off that day. I asked for either Jimmy Burke or Joanie Wilson (the proprietors). He said he was Jimmy Burke.

I started to explain the situation and he said he had been informed by Jennifer on the previous evening at the Christmas Party. He told me they were still "researching" with the company that handles the swiping of the cards and powering them and so on. I didn't really understand what he was talking about.
I thought he would be interested in hearing the story from me and went on to explain how embarrassing and upsetting it was.
He told me Jennifer was a very nice person.
I said I was not trying to challenge that, but it was not right of her to suggest..NAY.. say that the card may have been aquired through shady means.
I told him that the card had been sent with a lovely note, a photo-copy of the menu and an Orta business card.
Is that usually what you get with a gift card?, I asked.
It is exactly what you would get with a gift card,he told me.
I told him I still had the envelope it had been sent in and gave him the postmark date.(Oct 1) I also asked if I could give him the name of the person who gave me the card, though I couldn't say whether she had a credit card trail or if she used cash.
These two things would certainly help them with their "research". At this point, I said, I am willing to call her to inform her of the problem.

He thanked me for the information and said he would continue to work on it.

Fifteen minutes later he called me back and said he just checked his email and the company that handles the "swipes" emailed to tell hi..m the card was paid for.

Well, that's a relief.. but no surprise, I told him.

He at first said he would send me another fifty dollar gift card.

I said, " Jimmy, I already had a fifty dollar gift card. A fifty dollar gift card wouldn't get me back in the restaurant.I do think there should be some compensation beyond that."

He this is important...he asked me what would make me happy.

I said , "A one hundred dollar gift card would make up for a lot.It's not hurting the..."

He interrupted me and snapped, "Why don't you give me a chance to handle this in my way".

He was very huffy and at that point I just wanted to get off the phone and said," what you think is right."

And we hung up.

Here's my view....I went in to Orta with a card that was paid for and should have worked. The client who gave it to me wished for me to have a nice meal and relax. Instead of that we left Orta paying $107.00 ....$57.00 of which I would have gladly paid. Orta got $107.00 for my meal. Due to their mistake. THEIR mistake. If this was handled properly in the first place,it would be over.The request of a $100.00 card wouldn't have actually COST Orta $100.00. They would be getting my business and perhaps my repeat business and my good words for their Restaurant. They would be compensating my husband and I for a very unpleasant experience in their restaurant. I did not demand it....he asked me what would make me happy...and I told him.

That was Tuesday evening. This is what I got on Friday afternoon:

Dear Mrs. Weckbacher,
In this age of computer technology,mistakes often happen. Why the gift card you received did not get activated we do not know but this situation resulted in an embarrassing situation and for that we do apologize.The mistake was not intentional and resulting embarrassment you felt was unfortunate.I am sending you a check for 50.00 to cover the cost of the inactive gift card.
I had originally planned on sending you a 75.00 gift card in hopes that the extra 25.00 would help emphasize our apology. We always try to make sure our customers leave happy regardless of the circumstances in the hopes they will return. Your demand for 100.00 is excessive considering it was an honest mistake. The 25.00 I would have happily sent to you I am sending to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes, a wonderful organization that helps our service men and womenreturning from the war get back on their feet.
Again, I apologize for the mistake and wish you happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year.
Jimmy Burke,

Okay, Jimmy. There's this:

You don't have to explain Intrepid Fallen Heroes to me. I am familiar with them. I agree that it is a wonderful organization. I have given to them. I also have worked for over ten years with the Hanson/Whitman Military Support Group. We have packed and donated hundreds and hundreds of packages over the years. We also send cards and letters, mostly written by us mothers of servicemen.
My son served six years and fortunately he came home not needing the help of IFH. I am glad it is there for those who need it.
I am happy that you have donated to them in your name in an effort to humble me.
If I made a design mistake for a client that involved a degree of embarrassment for them I would go the extra mile to make up for it. I would not go work on a Habitat for Humanity home and tell them it's for their troubles.
I have had a business in this area for many years and I have
never treated a customer like that.
I consider your letter very rude and text book passive aggressive.

You asked me what would make me happy....I did not demand $100.00.

I am not a person who makes demands of people and I very seldom make an actual complaint.

My husband and I have lived in this area most of our lives.
We are always happy to find a new place to go and pass that information on to our friends. We and our friends are at the stage in our lives where our children are grown and we go out often. I know one place I will not recommend.

I regret this whole experience and if I could go back knowing what I know now, I would have just let it go and considered it a loss.

I don't know if Mary purchased more than one card on that day...because of that I
will tell her what happened so she has the chance to warn the other recipients.

I hope you found some degree of satisfaction in your handling of this.
I have not.

This all started off as an act of generosity and kindness. It hasn't ended that way.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hooters Beware!!

Look out Hooters.....the competition is here.

And they make you guys look subtle.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Afterglow

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. After a lovely meal with extended family at home I took off for NYC for a weekend with the girls.

Ohh lala....Ring Dings and Twinkies from Betty Bakery in Brooklyn are to die for.

The cakes and cookies are beautiful!


I can never go to New York without a trip to ABC Carpet and Home. If you've never been , especially at Christmas, then you are missing something special.

This was my first ever trip to Mood.

Aisle after aisle of THIS. A fantasy of fabric. There are no words. I love fabric.

Painting with sand in Union Square. I really miss the vegetable peeler guy. It was always fun to see him. I love New York.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What's new at Crescent Place

I've put a few new things up in Crescent Place. Here's hoping it's a good holiday season.

Know any cowboys who enjoy wine?

How about those with stars in their eyes?

And we all have to set a table sometime this season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Showers I want

Aren't these just the most beautiful showers you've ever seen? Show me something better,if you can.
pictures are from VelvetandLinen

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hollywood or Tackywood

Have you seen Christina Aguilera's house in Instyle Magazine? Whoa ,there! Even the adorable baby doesn't keep my eyes from hurting. Not only is this closet ugly...but as a child of the seventies's beyond tacky. I thought we were coming back to a time where conspicuous consumption is not a source of pride.

I saw Mariah Carey once on some Oprah Donahue 20 60 48 show. The interview was quite a long time ago.....before the breakdown disguised as exhaustion happened. She was talking about what a kind, generous and giving soul she was. They showed her at a camp she started for kids who...geez, I'm not sure who they were. I think it was Camp Mariah Adoration. Anyway, they showed her Snow Whiting among the kids wearing a tiny tank top over her giant top and trying to balance the whole shabang on these high heels. Sooo....then they went to Mariah's New York apartment. Her closet/compound is larger than the average gymnasium.The closet alone is 3000 square feet. All chandelierey and sparkly. She had a separate closet for lingerie...and then...can you believe this?!? she proceeded to model a few of her favorite negligees. You can picture the shoe closet, I'm sure. My point is ,though, that when you have that much crap you should really keep it to yourself. It's just so braggy and cheesy to show it all off. And you shouldn't go from bragging about all the good you do in the world to showing how much more you have than everyone else.

Ok...back to X-Tina.The playroom is enough to cause seizures before you go near the video games. Her husband must love the pink pool table.

I have enough trouble sleeping now. I can't imagine trying to drift off to sleep in this bordello-inspired bedroom. How long a list can you make on what's wrong with this room?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Love it....

I just love these alike yet so different.

I'm always torn like this in my decorating. I find neutrals and soft grays so soothing.......But I still love a big punch of color.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Notanseladams ,Ashley ,Brian and Evan

The crew of the Ramage

Thank you. All of you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Turkey of a Deal

I love Martha. I've loved her for a long time. This year she's selling turkeys. When she announced this on her show today I thought,
"I'm sure they will be more expensive than your average bird but the quality is sure to be there".

Then she sweetened the deal with the announcement that, till midnight tonight, if you added the code Martha15 at checkout you would save $15.00. Wow! That's quite a savings !
So I checked it out.....

12 lb. Turkey.....................69.99
18 lb Turkey......................89.99

No,that's not a typo. Martha wants you to pay $5.00 and up per pound for a turkey.

Okay, okay you may say. It's Martha quality. And it can't be easy to ship a turkey. But shipping is not included in that price.

I checked shipping rates for my address....

12 lb. Turkey...................45.44
18 lb. Turkey...................58.25

So, Martha, even with the great $15.00 off offer I will not be buying my turkey from you this year. I think I can buy a turkey and all the fixings for side dishes and desserts and a bowl of nuts for what you want me to pay for one turkey.

Thanks for the offer, though.
I do still love you.
But I liked you a whole lot more before you were such a shill.

What do you think?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nice give-away

Peanut Petunia is hosting a great give-away. Don't you love it? She has a fabulous blog...get over there and check it out. I know....I've been there already. So go again.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fringe Benefits

While they are busy trimming the benefits where my husband works I thought I would show you some benefits that have been added to Trims and Trappings. First, shown above, is the Natural One. And below we have the Chainette One.

The benefits shown next are the Multi Ones.

And here we have the Greenish One

And the lovely Cream One...

And the Blue One....

And I would never want to forget the Red One.

Here's hoping your benefits never get cut...unless it's to embellish something!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaf Peeping

We were lucky enough to be able to take a few nice day trips in the last couple of weeks. Notanseladams took some much deserved time off this month. We went to Florida for a crazy wedding and spent five days there. After coming home we decided to take a trip to North Conway of our favorite places in the world.

This is the trestle bridge at the entrance to our favorite place to camp. I have pictures of it in summer. We also ski in this area quite a bit so I have winter pictures,too. This is the first time we've been here in "leaf-peeping" season.

Notanseladams belongs in front of, not behind the camera, so here he is. Take note...I've told everyone...but this is the first time I've put it in writing. I want some of my ashes..when I'm be dumped off this bridge into the Sawyer and Saco River.

These natural stone steps are on the trail that leads into the camp area we have been going to for over twenty years. It's a hike-in camp area with platforms on which to set up tents. It's a beautiful place to be...the river is the perfect lullaby to go to sleep to. There are no facilities other than a single composting toilet.

Here is the outhouse containing that composting toilet. This is a fairly new building, maybe three years old , that replaced the old outhouse. It is a luxury suite compared to the old one!
Two years ago we spent a night in this lovely little building while bears tore up our tents and ate all our food. That's right...Notanseladams and I along with Evan and Ashley and two of her friends hid out in this building ALL NIGHT!
But that's a story for another time.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween !!

Happy Halloween everyone.....

Some oldie costumes: Brian as Jerry Garcia
James as Count Dracula
Evan as Captain Hook
Ashley as a Victorian Lady

Brian as Jimi Hendrix
Ashley as the Pink Power Ranger
Evan as Batman
James as a Hippie

Ashley as a Medievil Princess
Evan as Frankenstein
Brian as a Gorrilla (sans the heavy mask)
James as an Army Man

Zevon as Bob Marley

Have a safe and happy Halloween!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fiona and Twig give-away

Fiona and Twig is having a great give-away. Lovely blog. Check it out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cold Feet

I want these.......

Or these.......

Or these........
Or these.
Bogs boots.
I love them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here Comes the Bride............

I've been away for a few days to attend a wedding in Florida. The Bride's picture says it all. Yes, it was one of those weddings.