Monday, November 18, 2013

Dolcissima Salon and Spa North Wales and the Groupon Coupon

I'd given Dolcissima a 2 star review on Yelp. Nicole (the owner) called me to tell me that Yelp was a scam. Funny, I've been using it for reviews and rely on Yelp to find new things I haven't tried. I generally find that a place lives up to it's good/bad reviews. I always cancel out the glowing 5 stars given by people with 1 or 2 reviews and do the same for the 1 star (and few reviews).
I've found business owners who don't give a customer a great experience point the fingers at EVERYONE else (the Reviewer! Yelp! Facebook! Don't believe any reviews! Unless they are glowing!!) - that really really ticks me off. Take responsibility for the fact YOU, the owner, need to address criticism.
Anyway...Nicole called me and went into this tirade against Yelp. Then she told me that Karen had been new, but she has come a-llllongggggg way and is doing awesome. Then she told me she would love to do my hair (free of charge) for a hair class. I told her to contact me in January or February. In the meantime, I noticed all her "bad" reviews on Yelp were hidden. I guess she couldn't hide mine because I have been reviewing (both good and bad) for a few years.
Well, she never contacted me. What Ev. There is nothing worse than a business owner who blames the customer or makes excuses for a poor experiences or so I thought until I ran into the business owner that blamed the customer, promised to 'make it right' but never carried through.

11/18/2013 Review: I'm torn about how to review this place. Ultimately, though, unless things change, I can't recommend based on my experience, which was quite an experience!
Though I love Blue Hair Studio in Huntingdon Valley, I'm always looking to find something closer to home so I take advantage of Groupon or Living Social Deals when they come along.
I recently tried a Groupon (29.00 for haircut and conditioning treatment) for Dolcissima AFTER reading the Yelp reviews (most of which are hidden). Because many hidden reviews are often either friends or family of business or competitors leaving a bad review - I thought, eh, I'll try it despite many bad reviews. I've since come to the conclusion that many bad "filtered" reviews probably come from customers who were so upset or dissatisfied that though the rarely write reviews, they had such a horrible experience they wanted to alert other people.
Okay. Here is what happened when I took a chance on Dolcissima.
When I came in for my appointment no one was at the reception desk. I looked in to the hair studio and two stylists were working, both looked up at me, but no one even said hello. No one came out to ask who I was or who I was there for. I started to get nervous when my appointment time came and went and 20 minutes later a stylist came out and introduced herself as Karen.
She sat me in her chair and I explained I was trying to grow out my pixie and had pictures of how I wanted my haircut. Karen seemed unsure about the cut I wanted (I had pictures of Victoria Beckham) and asked the other stylist if the cut I wanted would "look right."
The other stylist assured Karen the cut would look great.
When Karen was washing my hair, she didn't talk to me at all. Then she put conditioner on my hair which had to soak in for about five minutes and left me with my neck on the uncomfortable sink bowl .
After I was back in her chair,  with me trying to make small talk (I asked all the questions...was she from the area, did she ever eat at the Tex Mex, etc - I felt like I was the one putting her at ease) she began cutting very nervously. She kept looking at the other stylist who was chatting away with her own customer and asked her if when she got to the nape of my neck, would she (the other stylist) mind cutting it for her because she (Karen) had fat fingers.
Oh. My. God.
That was when I realized this stylist was either totally new or totally incompetent (I'm hoping new). Karen was not a heavy person, and as far as I could tell, her fingers looked normal. In all of my many many years of haircuts, I've never ever had a stylist ask another if they could cut part of my hair because their fingers were too fat.
The other stylist said she would help after she was done with her customer. So Karen made little snips in my hair and I could tell she was trying to go very slow, waiting for the other stylist. I actually wondered if I was on a hidden camera show.
Karen looked at me in the mirror and asked me if the cut that she had done so far seemed "even."
Finally, a different stylist walked in and I believe it was the owner, Nicole. Karen asked Nicole if she could cut the hair around my nape and then Nicole took over and was demonstrating to Karen how to cut my hair the way I had requested. She totally took over (thank god) and started REALLY cutting my hair and explaining that she'd done my cut a million times because people growing out pixies often ask for the same style. Nicole chatted all about how Groupon works and her families place at the shore. I totally relaxed and was so very very very thankful that she arrived when she did. This is why I'm a bit torn about my review.
I feel  just because I used a Groupon was no excuse to throw me to a new stylist and then used my hair as a lesson in how to cut.  I believe that’s wrong on so many levels and I think, even if you went to a hair styling school, it would be cheaper and overseen by a teacher.

I’d give Nicole five stars for the cut she gave me, but one star (if she was the owner, I’m not even sure) for allowing a brand new stylist (who was very nervous and unsure of herself) to cut a customer’s hair without asking the customer if they were okay with it. So, I'd say, if you're going to use a Groupon, make sure you ask for Nicole - but I just can't trust a business who doesn't value a customer's first impression enough to make sure they are getting the best impression and best service.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pasta Mista is a Mess...

Puddle of raw hamburger juice

Update 11/13/2013 - I received an email from that the owner complained about my picture of the raw burger and it was removed from the YELP review. The owner "James F" also left a comment on my review, stating I give mostly one star reviews... FALSE - anyone actually bothers to read my YELP reviews knows that it's mostly 5 fucking star reviews! As a matter of fact, there is a chart that shows the ratings I've given and I've written 27 reviews giving out 5 Star Ratings! I've only written 4 reviews where places are given a 1 star rating and I HATE giving places low ratings because I want to see Mom & Pop's succeed! So if I give a 1 Star, I do it to A) Hope the Business will improve & if not, to warn others not to waste their time/money.

So, anyway, then, "James F - alleged owner of Pasta Mista" basically blames ME for the fact the burger was raw (I should have personally called the owner/manager!).

Whatever. If James F treats his customers the way he's treated me, I can only wonder how he treats his employees. Oh, and if you are looking for a good local burger...across the street is a little cute place called "Tu Casa" - good Mexican food but they also have great burgers - and when you order "well done" - even though they are Hispanic, they understand my English when I request a "well done" burger. They are also super friendly and the place is warm and clean.

Here's Jame's F's comment (in case he decides to remove it from the Yelp site once he realizes that owners of restaurants should try to improve not intimidate)
James F. of Pasta Mista 11/12/2013
Please read our filtered reviews and not judge my great restaurant on someone that has giving bad reviews to every restaurant in the area except for one. Yes, no excuse for a raw burger, but we apologized and Laura should have asked for the manager/owner and I would have made good on the slice and other items. ATTENTION: Costumers should always ask for owner or manager because the wait staff doesn't have the ability to give food away!"

My original review posted on 4/14/13
Pasta Mista in Chalfont, Pa...

Pro: It's clean. Staff friendly.
Con - from order of worst to least:
Ordered a Texas burger well done. The outside was done. The inside was RAW (see photos) - red juice totally leaked from the burger and my daughters plate was swimming in red juice. UGH.  Took it up to show the counter person. The cook came to counter and said, "well, it's a big burger, it happens." Tried to make me feel bad.
They took the burger off our bill and I requested a slice of pizza instead. They charged me for that (if I owned the place, I would have apologized profusely and given a free slice of pizza or free cannoli)
It took almost 20 minutes for the "well done" burger to arrive.
Took almost 10 minutes for our soda (2) to arrive.
The "chips" (don't' know if they are homemade or not) are brown and taste stale (on the 2 different occasions we tried this place).
Looked promising (after 20 minute wait)
The grilled chicken wrap had a tough (stale?) wrap and was bland.
It was a cold day when we ate in - the place is so small that every time the door opened, it let in a ton of cold air. Had to keep our jackets on the whole time. This probably won't be a problem on warm days.
Steak fries - fine.
The pizza was crisp on the bottom. Pretty good. There's an eggplant pizza and a taco pizza - something that is different from other local places. I haven't tried those, but the pizza I did try (Bruschetta, plain) was good, but nothing that would make me choose Pasta Mista over other local pizza joints.

I hate to give a bad review to a new business - esp. since there are so few in Chalfont - but we had waited weeks after it opened to try it out. They should have ironed out the slow service and there was no excuse for the raw burger. We gave it one more try by ordering a wrap for a pick up and steak fries - but, while it was ready as promised, it wasn't tasty enough to give this place another chance.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Be Suspicious Of Free Cookies In The Service Department

I sincerely wish I didn’t have to tell you that I almost had to shell out almost 800.00 in order for my car to pass inspection. I sincerely wish I didn’t have to tell you that is appears that a local dealership mislead me and almost robbed me of 600.00.
I am happy to tell you that I was able to find an honest service department that saved me that 600.00! (that’s 12 tanks of gas! Pre-Obama it would have been 23 tanks of gas!).  
The offending dealership? Kia of Warrington.
First, let me say we have a KIA and love it. The sales guy at KIA in Warrington was wonderful. I took my 2003 Grand Am to KIA for the State/Emissions test because when we bought from KIA, we were told that the State inspection would be free for ANY car in the family. It seemed an awesome deal at the time!
The pros about the KIA service center in Warrington? Free cookies in the waiting room! Free coffee! Spacious and comfortable – big T.V.
And all the employees were extremely nice.
Then one of the service advisors explained that my car needed almost 800.00 worth of work in order for it to pass state inspection. It passed emissions.   
Lucky for me, I have a family member who then looked at my car – he agreed that it needed all the repairs suggested by KIA, except for one. He was able to make the repairs.
We then took the car to the Pep Boys service center on County Line Road in Chalfont. The waiting area is not plush. There are no free cookies. There is free WIFI and a soda vending machine!
But I soon discovered there is something far more priceless – honesty.
The service repairmen, Matt, called me into the garage. My car was on the lift and he explained that my family member did indeed make the needed repairs, but when he fixed the offending brake, he should have also replaced the other. However; he did agree with my family member that one of the suggested repairs that KIA had added to the tally was not necessary at all.
Matt explained that dealerships and corporations try to “upsell” services or repairs that aren’t necessary; they are in business to make money.
Matt, however, didn’t treat me as a deposit slip for his company’s bank account – he treated me like a person trying to make ends meet, and though I may not know much about cars, I deserve to be respected and treated honestly.
In all the years I’ve taken cars to have them inspected or serviced or repaired, I’ve never had a service technician actually show me what was wrong and he also advised me of what I might need down the road and what would be a waste of time and money.  
Sure, Matt could have tried to sell me into buying a repair I didn’t need – and it would have added to Pep Boys bank account. But what Matt sold me on was the value of honesty – and I’ll forever be their cheerleader and recommend anyone who values honesty and savings take their cars to the Pep Boys on County Line Road in Chalfont.
The emissions test cost almost 60.00 at KIA – I spent about 100.00 for parts, and the state inspection cost about 30.00 at Pep Boys. But even if I hadn’t had a family member make the repairs – there was still that “repair” that KIA told me I needed which would have cost me 200.00+ labor.
What I learned? There are still auto service technicians who view drivers as people, not as checkbooks. And a free cookie is never free – somewhere, somehow, there is someone who paid 600.00 for your complimentary treat.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ennio Salvatore Salon and taking a Groupon Coupon Chance

Pre-haircut - long & lifeless!
Short and flirty hair. Love it!

I have been a loyal client to Blue Hair Studio (still LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM) - but when a Groupon Coupon came up for Ennio Salvatore Salon - I thought, eh, why not? I have long hair, they really can't screw it up. The economy is tight and Blue is almost an hour away from my house. So I scooped up the Groupon (35.00 for cut, blowout, express Keratin treatment). Then, since the world is going to be ending on Dec 21st - I decided to go from long to short (because why not, the world is ending a day before my birthday and I'm ready for a change!!!)  and then thought I was CRAZY to trust someone I'd never met before to do the deed. But what the heck - it's just hair, it will grow back (and if the world ends Dec 21st, it won't matter!). Anyway, so I showed up armed with like 25 photos of how I "maybe" wanted my haircut (yep, I'm one of those annoying clients!) and Stefanie listened and added some input and within 20 minutes, I went from long to short and flirty and LOVED IT. Stefanie wasn't chatty -  which for me, is great. There studio is situated on the corner of Germantown Pike and is quite small. There is a very small parking lot, but you can easily park on the side of the street (which I did.) The atmosphere was relaxed and simple.  It is not close to my house, but I used the new 202 expressway and was there in 20 minutes. Some salons make you feel like family when you walk in (Blue does this, but I have been going to them for almost 8 years) - but I didn't get that when I walked in. It may have been a busy day, or perhaps they aren't overly friendly. This didn't matter to me, but if you're one of those people who really likes to be coddled at the hair salon - this could be off putting (it was my first trip though, so, like I said, it may have just been an off day.).
The bottom line - Stefanie gave me a GREAT CUT, and I haven't been this short for....I can't even remember - and I'm totally thrilled with it. The back is much shorter and she gave me the option to wear bangs or sweep them to the side.  I'd recommend and will be going back to Stefanie. Glad I threw caution to the wind and snapped up the Groupon Coupon - sometimes it's a crap shoot - but this time it was a bulls eye!
As of this posting, they are offering another Groupon Coupon...
I'm quite a diva about my hair, so if you are thinking about trying someone new or just want to save some money, I say give it a try!

2/19/2013Update: I did go back for a second visit because they offered me the same deal if I re-booked that day. That being said - I had to call the salon the week of my visit and one time the phone simply rang (it was 3pm on a Wednesday - they should have been opened) I finally hung up and called back, and then someone answered after many rings and I was put on hold and ended up hanging up after 5 minutes. I gave up calling and then called the next day and was able to get through. Though Stefanie is nice and does a good job cutting hair, the regular cost is as much as my old place (Blue Hair Studio) and the building lacks the warmth of my old place. The positive is that there isn't a separate shampoo person (which saves 5 bucks) but for me, my old place - though it is a long drive - succeeds wildly in every area: large waiting area, fabulous friendly warm employees, complimentary muffins and coffee for munching (it's a sweet touch!). So while it was good for me to "go out of my comfort zone" and try something new, I'd be a fool to not return to the place where hair cuts/styling are the same in price but far outshines Ennio Salvatore's when it comes to atmosphere, attention to detail, and making the customer feel extremely welcome (and the staff is super talented!).  It's a really tough economy and every bit counts, which is why since the regular cost is comparable, I'll definitely be returning to Blue.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bespoke Bacon

Bespoke Bacon Mustache 

"The pig is in." Those four words lit up my iPhone text screen at 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night. I was so excited, I jumped out of bed (ok, I'm not exactly a night owl), threw on some boots and didn't even bother grabbing a jacket. THAT is how excited I was (I hate the cold weather and usually don't leave the house without 3 layers of clothing).
A few months ago, my friend Rob who owns Prism Brewery in North Wales suggested I "like" Bespoke Bacon on Facebook.
How could I NOT like a local uncured artisan bacon business?
On Facebook they posted updates that made me drool:
"In stock and ready for you we have:
- Maple and Muscovado
- Signature
- Big Pepper
- Honey Apple
- Bloody Mary

Plus our sugar free flavors:
- Jalapeno-Cilantro
- Signature
- Big Pepper"

Finally, I took the plunge and shot Bespoke Bacon an email and placed an order for the jalapeno cilantro.
The response was almost immediate. turned out that Bryan, one of the founders, was going to be in my area and offered to drop it off - but since it might be really late (that means past 9pm for me) - we agreed that the mailbox would be the drop off point, "Use the code: The Pig Is In," I suggested, inspired by spy novel I've been reading - and having bacon delivered to my mailbox in the middle of the night seemed a bit exotic and covert.

Bespoke Jalapeno/Cilantro bacon
I was so excited when the bacon took all my willpower not to fry a small batch up right then. I went to sleep though, with dreams of bacon and spices dancing in my head.

I woke at 4 a.m. and hopped out of bed like Mark Wahlberg was waiting for me in the kitchen, but no, there was something even better: bacon.
I fried a small batch up and oh...geez, what an awesome way to start my day! The flavors were so perfect. Just a hint of jalapeno/cilantro - no heat at all for those who may be too afraid to try it. I noticed that the flavor is more pronounced when you let it cool a few minutes (I couldn't wait for that first taste and bit right in a sizzling hot strip).

I don't know the guys from Bespoke Bacon - but Bryan texted me, "Let me know what you think, and we always appreciate a shout out."

 After tasting the jalapeno/cilantro bacon, I'm already planning on ordering my next flavor, and my next.
He asked for a shout out, yet part of me wants to keep it a secret. What will happen if I spread the word and they can't keep up with demand? No local bacon? Even Mark Wahlberg wouldn't be able to console me.
I can't keep it a secret giddiness over finding local bacon artisans has elevated me to full stalker mode - a bacon roadie who will babble to everyone who will listen about this great new band of bacon brothers.

Needless to say: I. Am. A. Fan.

Their website:

Great customer service, super speedy, local, natural, and bacon so damn flavorful...what's not to love?

I'm thinking this could start a whole new trend...right next to the mailbox...a baconbox (and when the bacon is delivered, it sends an oink alarm to your cell phone) - anyone got the number to Shark Tank?

If you decide to place an order, use the code words: The Pig Is In The Barn. It won't get you any sort of discount, but it will get you fabulous bacon.