• Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Confessions of a DiningIn 12-Stepper

    They say, any trauma you survive is okay, as long as you get a good story out of it.

    So here’s why I HATE DiningIn. Like most addictions, we hate ourselves for returning to them more than we hate the thing itself. I have told myself a number of times that I will not use DiningIn again. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and damn it, people like me.

    It’s only when you hit rock-bottom that you can truly begin the journey of recovery.

    Honest disclosure.
    So first off, I hate food snobs, but I also know that “dining” is not something that happens out of a Styrofoam container. It’s food that we hope is okay. It makes us not-hungry. Food in a Styrofoam container is not expected to do more. If once in awhile it does better, we’re really happy.

    I love to cook, so take-out is not even something I am inclined toward. But what about those days when you want to work on your jammies, not do the shower, primping thing. I admit it, I am weak. Sometimes I just want to roll out of bed and jump on the computer and stuff something passable in my mouth when the grumbling of my stomach gets louder than the click of my keyboard.

    One day at a time.
    So today, I took out the DiningIn catalog. I looked at a menu and decided I might get more info on some of the items on the website. I logged on. I found many more dishes than my old paper catalog. I began my order. Shortly, I found myself caught in an endless loop of broken code. After spending far too much time working around it and correcting my order, I clicked to “continue” to review and place my order.

    At the bottom of the page (right below the $70.00 total), was a warning that some of the menu items were not available. There was no indication of what the offending items were. The only option was to “Confirm order”. I picked up the phone.

    We always have choices.
    I had two options, Press 1 to place an order, Press 2 for customer service. I picked customer service. By the way, this might be a good time to let you know that if you are ever in a supermarket, theater, or bank and you see me choose a line, DO NOT FOLLOW ME. I will ALWAYS make the wrong choice. Without fail, my cashier option, even though the line looked shorter and moved faster, will always come to a screeching halt for a price check, a cash drop or a shift change. Without fail. (Don’t say I never did you any favors.)

    Okay, back to my new worst enemy, DiningIn. After selecting 2 for customer service I get a recorded message instructing me that operating hours are 10 AM to 10 PM or something like that. The point is it was 4:15 PM. Just about dead on middle of the hours by my reckoning. I’m asked to enter an extension to leave a message. Then, a ray of hope. If I require off-hours assistance, press 0. I take the bait, press zero. Fool.

    My first customer service guy asks how he can help me. I first offer the feedback that they need to fix the code and give him details about where the problem occurred. Then I explain the difficulty with completing the order. His solution is to tell me I should call back and press 1 for order placement help. I explain that I’ve already spent about half an hour placing my order and reporting bugs on their website, and I’d like him to just tell me what the problem is. He can’t. They don’t have access to that information. He decides the only possible explanation is that there may be some items on my order that might be lunch items and now that it is after 4 they switch to the dinner menu.

    The road to hell.
    His next solution is brilliant. He will call the restaurant and review my order and ask them which of the items are no longer available. Before I can ask him to just place the order, since he has the list of items and is calling the restaurant anyway…but no. He’s gone. Next, I get Mr. Helpful Supervisor who is ready to hear me repeat my story and help me in whatever way he can. Clearly reading from his “irate customer script.” Blood pressure up? Check. Blood sugar down? Check. Click here to confirm. CLICK.

    He can understand why I’m upset, he’d like to help me. He suggests that it’s probably that they’ve run out of the items I ordered. I’m not buying it. He offers that it might be that the website had items that the catalog (printed four months earlier) did not have. (that's the 'sympathize with the customer' part of the script) Nope, ordered from the admittedly more current website. Then he says, it’s probably an issue with the time of day. The items I selected might be only available on the lunch menu and by the time I finished the order, it was dinner menu time. I ask him why there is no indication on the website or the catalog of limited availability. Has no answer.

    Now, he’d like to help me by taking my order. For God sakes will someone make me a G&T already? I ask him what part of this makes sense and also, why the poorly coded website, why the phone tree problems, why the first guy WHO HAD MY ORDER AND CALLED THE RESTAURANT didn’t just place it? No answer. Make that a double. So, if I’d like, he will take my order all over again, and call it in. I decline.

    Rock bottom.
    By now, I could have showered, pressed fresh clothes, done makeup and hair, gone out to eat and come home. Like an alcoholic on a Monday morning, I vow I will not be weak again.

    1. I admit I am powerless over the temptation of food, delivered to my door in one hour.
    2. I believe a power greater than me might restore me to sanity. (Old Raj.)
    3. I will turn myself over to this higher power. (Make it a triple so my head won’t explode while I finish this list.)
    4. I have made a searching and fearless inventory of my pantry. (Damn it! I had another pack of ramen and I didn’t’ know it!)
    5. I admit to Old Raj and my husband (on his way back with local takeout) the nature of my oversight.
    6. I am entirely ready to have this defect of character removed. (maybe I should have a quadruple?)
    7. I humbly ask to have these shortcomings removed.
    8. Hmm, list of all persons harmed. Does my cat count? His dinner was late because of my distraction. My husband, who had to go out for takeout?
    9. I have apologized to both cat and husband. I promise to be more vigilant about shopping and feeding schedules.
    10. Prayer. Hm. I prayed not to run out of ice, it worked. Also, my husband returned with dynamite barbecue from Chinatown.
    11. Continued to inventory and found that indeed, I was even out of eggs and bread. Not even a fried egg sandwich would have saved me if that ramen weren’t hiding.
    12. Sated and having had this epiphany, I promptly returned to said keyboard. In jammies. To spread the word.

    If you need help, call my friends at Bauer, THEY deliver.
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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1:24 PM  
    Blogger TSteel said...

    This is a hilarious blog posting and a great blog! I am going to write about it next week on my own blog, epi-log, on epicurious.com. Hope it brings some traffic!!!

    6:33 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Jackie, it is a great article! The last time I ordered take out was at least 20 years ago. After reading your ordering SAGA, I will never do it again. If we are in the mood to cook, we dine at home. If we do not have the mood to cook (like on Friday after work,) we will just eat out.
    You describe the "touch tone phone command" exceedingly well. Thanks for your comical writing.

    11:44 PM  

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