Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Did it Break Too Soon? How to Send Back Defective Products

I just got a Federal Express delivery. It was a brand new queen size mattress pad from Louisville Bedding Company! I had one from them that I purchased from Kohl's some time ago and washed it regularly, nothing hard core. The last time I washed it, the bottom part came out shredded. The label was still attached, had the address of corporate headquarters and I mailed it to them.

Yes, instead of throwing it out and buying a new one, I mailed it back. I've been doing this for a few years now. Mailing back broken, ripped or if I have felt that the product should have lasted much longer than I had it, I mail it back. I grew tired of defective merchandise and thought that the manufacturers should be made aware of it.

I always received a replacement and a letter from the quality department or product development. I have done this with a Swiffer. The handle broke, I mailed back the broken handle and got a gift certificate from Procter & Gamble for a Swiffer starter kit. I mailed back FIVE Cover Girl eye pencils, because when I sharpened them, the tips kept breaking so I never got to use the whole pencil properly. Cover Girl mailed me FIVE coupons valued up to $10 each for anything in their line. I've mailed back Burton snowboarding gloves that the stitching started falling apart on one of the fingers after one season. They mailed back a brand new pair from the next season. I've mailed back a pillow sham with a broken zipper to Target's headquarters that I used only once! Put it on for the summer change in my living room and the zipper broke right off! They sent me back two coupons because they didn't have a replacement sham in that pattern any more. I did the same thing with a sleeping bag that a zipper broke off. Had it only one season. They sent back a new sleeping bag.

When I mail something, I don't do it for a replacement. If nothing else I just want them to better their products. I always thought I'd chalk it up as an experience if I never get a response and go looking for a better made one next time. Like Columbia Sportswear. I sent a pair of defective gloves to them and never heard anything from them. Oh well, maybe it got lost in the mail. But I won't buy from them again. I'm team Burton all the way.

Why should I fill my landfill up with their trash? I'd rather send it to the CEO and have them have to dispose of it. Maybe I'm not the only person doing this, but if I was the CEO of XYZ Company, I'd hate to see my broken product sitting on my desk. To think that someone spent money on postage to let me know my product has failed them, would send a message.

So if you have something sitting around that you can't bear to throw out and yet you can't use it, here's what you do:

  • I'm starting to save receipts for big ticket items now. I keep with with the owner's manuals that I've started a file for. Usually if it's within 3 years, they will replace it.
  • If you don't have a receipt, see if there's a label with the manufacturer's address on it. If you get to the website of the company, see if you can find a site map that will have the people working in product development or quality control. If you can't find one, address it: CEO or Defective Merchandise Department
  • Write a NICE letter. Don't forget to add your address, phone number, e-mail. I always rave about how much I love their product and how it has improved my life. It's true, that's why I bought it. My hands stayed warm, my floors were dust free and I love my eye makeup.
  • Salutation should be: Dear Sir or Madam. Unless you have names, say Mr, Mrs or Miss
  • State what is wrong with the product. What happened to it? Why did it fail you? Put Post-It notes to point out where it's defective. I will say how bummed I am that it broke, ripped or tore. I always ask them to please repair it and to please to send it back. They never repair it, they always send a new replacement.
  • Always end with Kindest regards or Most sincerely.
  • Send it well packaged. If you send something flying around unprotected in a large box, it's going to look like it broke on the way there. Package it nice, show respect.
These are large companies that churn out product by the trillions from all over the world. I'd like to think if I paid good money for it, that they stand behind it and 99% of the time they do. I want better made products that we don't have to throw out after a few uses without thinking about it. I do think about it. I will buy from companies that will better improve their products and satisfy me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Newport, Rhode Island: Vanderbilt Hall Part 2 and Learning a Lesson from Peter de Savary

Day two started HOT again in Newport and I found it VERY hard to leave such a nice, comfy room at Vanderbilt Hall for our stay here. We set out for breakfast at Benjamin's Raw Bar before mapping out what mansions to hit on our tour this year. We went to the big three last year: The Breakers, Marble Hall and The Elms. This year, we went for the more modest mansions but still grand and impressive: Isaac Bell House, Kingscote, and Chateau sur Mer. These mansions have guided tours every half hour. These mansions in Newport were the summer "cottages" of America's wealthiest from New York and Philadelphia in what's known as the "Gilded Age".

Gilded Age
: Between the years 1865 and 1901 was an era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States.

Massive wealth was spent on a summer house here. An extreme case of keeping up with the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Astors, Morgans, Rockefellers was duked out from
service à la russe (14 course formal French menu service) to sherbet ice cream b
eing served. Mind you, there were no freezers, ice was kept in an ice house up in New Hampshire during the winter and it was SHIPPED by boat, down river, to Newport in the SUMMER to keep such a treat frozen. How fleeting! It had to blow the tails off your guest's tuxedo so you can be ALL the talk the next day in this high society. This was every night in the summer. Your job as a high society doyenne was to shock and awe your guests. If you didn't rock their world, you didn't make the cut. These ladies fought tooth and nail to stay on the Social Register.

Social Register: A formal guide to the members of the "polite society" or old money. Gobs and gobs of it.

We sweated out the tours and made our way back to the hotel. A lengthy dip in the pool during a pouring rain (I love swimming in pouring rain) in which they served us beer outside under one of the roomy umbrellas so they kept "dry". We decided after to go to Monty's Bar and Restaurant for cocktails. It was a beautiful room. It has a very extensive American Illustration Collection hung on gold leafed walls. Ted and Lis
a, our super friendly bartenders, served us up a couple of Pimm's Cups. My first one, it was so good.

But the special treat of the evening was meeting the owner of this grand mansion hotel and a guest this very night, Peter De Savary.


He was in town and what luck to meet such a charismatic, out going, generous man. We met his daughter,
Lisa and his grandchildren. And of course Monty, the namesake of this fine gastro pub restaurant. His little dog that goes with him every where. He was such a gracious host, making sure we LOVED everything (which we did) and he offered us dinner there to try out a new entry he was working on with Chef Peter that was to be put on the menu the next night. How could we resist?? A baked potato topped with sour cream and caviar! Surrounded with the finest grilled baby carrots, beets and sauteed watercress. Wow, Pimm's Cup and Baked Potato with Caviar. Another plate elegantly licked clean. Serenaded the whole time by Christine, on the baby grand piano.

There's one thing I took away from meeting Peter de Savary. His generosity in his ability to make you feel so comfortable and relaxed. I had no idea who he was other than seeing one of his pictures on the wall from his America's Cup Challenge participation. He had great enthusiasm in his new hotel here and it showed. He was meticulous in his renovation and interior design., keeping it true to it's former glory but upping the modern quotient. The people he had working with him there: the always bowtied Alex, Arielle, Derrick, Jameson, Ted, Lisa, Peter the Chef, Rich, Ray and if I forgot someone that we met during our stay, you too! They were all on the same level: To provide us in the utmost impeccable service and relaxation. I was gobsmacked. It was all so beautifully done and they were all so happy to share it with us.

Now there's a lesson in good business: making you come back for more.

Is this what it was like back during the Gilded Age? It felt like it to me. We were treated like
we were one of the Vanderbilts. I was pampered, delighted and my every wish granted here. I can't wait to go to there again.......

Vanderbilt Hall Hotel
41 Mary Street
Newport, RI
(401) 846-6200

Benjamin's Raw Bar
254 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840-6613
(401) 846-8768

Isaac Bell House
424 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI 02840-6924
(401) 847-1000

253 Bellevue Avenue
Newport , RI 02840
(401) 847-1000

Chateau sur Mer
474 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI 02840-4114
(401) 847-1000

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Newport, Rhode Island: Vanderbilt Hall Part 1

Off to Newport, Rhode Island on a very hot motorcycle ride, where we arrived at Vanderbilt Hall to check in. We got there too early, as our lovely concierge, Arielle, informed us. I was just about to cry a river on my already sweat soaked road clothes because all I want to do was peel off the long jeans, boots and socks right then and there. But fear not! We were allowed to use the spa downstairs, change into our suits in a beautiful modern locker room, slip on a thick terry towel to take a swim in the brand new outdoor pool or the indoor pool. When I went outside to get my helmet and gear, it was already swept up and put on a cart by Jameson. No more heavy lifting! I was done with the heat. He even offered to park my bike!

My bag didn't fit in their locker so they again, took it away to install in our room while we went out to the refreshing saline inground pool. Just opened 2 weeks before, how lucky we were to arrive after construction. Since it was Monday, their bar and restaurant, Monty's, was closed. But we wanted a beer! I walked two blocks to Spring Street Spirits and brought back a six pack. I asked permission if we could drink it there and asked for plastic cups. The ever attentive Alex, the house manager, bow tied and one of the sweetest guys ever, put our beer on ice, poured out two special plastic pilsner glasses and back to the pool was I. We were at the pool til after 6, not even thinking about the room (it was ready for check in at 3), drinking our ice cold beer and lounging on those teak comfy cushioned lounge chairs under market umbrellas, lazing over the view of the Trinity Church steeple, which was founded in 1698, before us.


We were finally relaxed and sated enough to go up to our room, 309. What a room, large spacious suite, our motorcycle helmets and jackets were neatly placed on a chair in the suite part of the room, it was so cute and thoughtful how they placed them! Luxurious linens on a big fluffy bed, a great sofa to sink into with a 50" flat screen, a living room that I felt like, too bad we weren't having guests over. A wet bar, stocked with the essentials to have a swank cocktail party for those guests. Huge closet with shelves and drawers, two robes, everything was put away and out of sight.

And then the bathroom. The ultimate spa bath with large frameless glass doored shower with TWO adjustable shower heads with different jet settings. Thick white terry towels and a glass shelf that ran the length of the room underneath the mirror that also ran the length of the room with top notch toiletries laid out on wooden trays and a dispenser with cotton balls and q-tips and two glasses, NOT plastic cups. I spread out all my goodies on every 7' of that shelf. It was a pale sand 12"x 6" tile and accented with a frosted green glass 2" sq tile throughout. The toilet had two flush strengths: 1/2 and full.

We went to dinner at Sushi Go which had 1/2 price sale on all fresh catch of the day sushi after 8pm, got a bottle of wine at the shop I was at earlier (open til 11) and we took out $50 (with a bottle of wine!) dinner to the roof deck of the Vanderbilt, which was just heavenly. A table up a small fight of steps had the entire harbor laid out before us with the lit up Pell Newport Bridge.


The roof deck is fully equipped with a kitchen and teak furniture and we stumbled upon
an iDeck that we popped in the tunes and had one of the most nicest evenings. We went back to the room and there was a turn down service, our bed completely undressed, turned down with chocolate covered apricots, the roman shades drawn, and the bathroom! It was completely cleaned, new towels replaced and trash taken away. Like we were never there and it as all brand new again. I never want to leave here......

I'll have a little more of the history of this grand mansion hotel tomorrow so stayed tuned!

Vanderbilt Hall Hotel
41 Mary Street
Newport, RI
(401) 846-6200

Spring Street Spirits
137 Spring Street
Newport, RI

(401) 846-0959

Sushi Go‎‎ ‎
215 Goddard Row
Newport, RI 02840-6607

(401) 849-5155

Trinity Episcopal Church
One Queen Anne Square
(GPS: 141 Spring St.)
Newport, RI 02840
(401) 846-0660

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Good Life in Providence, Rhode Island

Last weekend got a great start on Friday night at the Monster Ball starring Lady Gaga. I gave tickets to the sold out MSG show to my husband, Michael, for one of his anniversary gifts. She is truly the Queen of POP. I kept my paws up the whole time, cheering and screaming every word to the lyrics with my fellow l'il monsters, like a rallying cheer at the big game. I had so much fun, watching the crowd's reactions to her every move and change up with some of the most fab over-the-top outfits commanding the stage. It's been a while since I've had a sore throat the next day after a concert from singing back up. Long live the Queen!

The next day we started out on our motorcycles to Providence, Rhode Island under thankfully, cloudy skies. We arrived in Federal Hill, which has gone under a renaissance in the last few years with DePasquale Plaza as it's jewel on Atwell Avenue and De Pasquale Avenue. We stayed at the newly renovated Hotel Dolce Villa in a one bedroom suite, which was like a one bedroom apartment! All white on white, full kitchen, large bedroom, two closets, jacuzzi bath.

My only complaint was the mattress! It was the strangest "foam"
. Not a form fitting temper-pedic sort of mattress but hard foam. Crazu! And someone smoked in that room, 3B! Too bad. Otherwise, for a lovely 14 room hotel, it was really nice, clean and quiet. But count on taking a handful of sleeping pills (that should come with your welcome kit) to get any sleep on that brick called a bed. Please get real mattresses!

Out in front of the hotel was the plaza, laid out like a piazza. Really nicely done with large planters of petunias and requisite Italian flava, from the faux painted buildings to the "star" lights strung over the square. Every night was scheduled live entertainment in front of the large c
entral fountain, from karaoke to Frank Sinatra-esque singer. There were outdoor cafes, Venda Ravioli store, bakery, and a night club, Solo Burger. At this club you can get a hookah, $20 pitchers of sangrias and margaritas and park yourself in the outdoor sofas to watch ladies wearing outfits WAY too tight and short for their body types, toppling on 5" heels over the cobble stones with the boiz following along in Ed Hardy glitz t-shirts and giant watches. I liked the club and the show. It was quite a giggle.

We had a pretty good meal at Mediterraneo Caffe, down a few blocks on Atwell, with a 20% off coupon th
at came with the room. They gave us three 20% off coupons, perhaps to make up for the weird mattress situation? We had pizza at Geppetto's and breakfast at the Caffe Dolce Vita before heading off to Newport.
For a stay in Providence, this spot was a fun stopover. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. Hopefully, you'll have a better bed to sleep on than we did!

Hotel Dolce Villa

63 De Pasquale Ave
Providence, RI 02903

(401) 383-7031

Caffe Dolce Vita
59 De Pasquale Ave
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-8240

55 De Pasquale Ave

Providence, RI 02903
(401) 270-3003

Venda Raviloi
265 Atwells Ave
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 421-9105

Solo Burger
58 De Pasquale Ave

Providence, RI 02903
(401) 272-5440

Mediterraneo Caffe
134 Atwells Ave
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-7760

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beer Garden Tour 2010 Third Stop: The Standard Beer Garden

I celebrated my 20th anniversary last night with my wonderful husband! Dinner at Le Bernardin, which was off the charts. Let's just say my plate was elegantly licked clean. And for a bonus, we got to lay our eyes on the beaucoup handsome, tall chef who cooked our otherworldly meal, Eric Ripert. He was a vision in chef's whites as he glided into the dining room parting the sea of black attired waiters, attendants, busboys, hostesses, sommeliers to greet diners as they strained to look up at this gray fox to thank him for the fine meals before them. Wow! He was here on a Wednesday night and not at a book signing or opening another restaurant in Disney World or Las Vegas. What a treat! Who needed dessert?

From there, we went to the High Line Park. What a super cool beautiful park! We got there just as the night began and the lighting and night sky..... it was sooo pretty. So well done. You have to go check it out: http://www.thehighline.org

We walked under the Standard Hotel and now finally! I get to check out this beer garden. It was very busy. It's located beside the Standard Grill and the entrance to the beer garden is on the corner of Washington Street and 13th Street, underneath the High Line. But you can sneak in there other ways and by pass the line outside. You have to buy tickets for the beers and food. We go to the "draft" bar (there's also a liquor bar) and there is only three drafts and three bottles. Hmmmmmmm, I like having a lot more choices than that. And would it hurt to wipe the bar down? Gross. And funny, there was a smell there that was a cross between garbage and I don't want to make you sick, I'll end it there. They offer brats and giant pretzels. And beautiful people. Loads of those...

The bathrooms are large, multi stalled and unisex, just separated with a chain mail curtain so we got to share a trough of sinks which half of the faucets were falling off the wall, not working, no soap in the dispensers. Too bad, it looks like it could be a nice bathroom if they would attend to it. O! and ladies! Want to by pass the lines? Just do it because you can actually walk pass the long line of foxy babes, because they are ALL texting, heads down, not paying attention to empty stalls! 75% of the stalls were EMPTY. They were waiting in line for someone to come out of one stall! So there's plenty of relief there, just try a door! It was comical to say the least.

And they give out bushels of apples after your bathroom break, nice touch!

It was a different atmosphere than your basic beer garden, but almost disney-esce as it was part of the Standard Hotel. They tried to be bavarian with the waiters and bartenders wearing cute t-shirts with lederhosen printed on them and offering (one!) pils and (one!) weiss beer but it missed the mark with me. It's okay for the hotel guests I suppose, you're in the middle of the most trendiest fashion forward few blocks of the Meatpacking (and there is a lot of "meat" there ladies, am I right??) District but there are much better beer gardens than this in NYC.

848 Washington St

(between Little W 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10014