Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account


TripAdvisor Inc.
400 1st Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Phone: 781-800-5000

I was, and the operative term is “WAS”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor” until recently with hundreds of reviews and photos in many of the 41 countries I have visited. My reviews are honest and as objective as anybody’s opinion can be and I received hundreds of “Helpful” votes for my reviews and photos.

TripAdvisor is very selective about the reviews it posts, unlike Yelp (where I have been “Elite” since 2014), refusing to post reviews willy-nilly based on criteria only they are aware of. I think the operative answer is, if a review does not conform to a “standard” which favors the business that is paying them for advertizing, then it does not conform and is not posted.

For example, I have written several reviews that TripAdvisor refused to post, claiming that the content was “too similar to that found on the internet”. Basically, they were saying that I plagiarized my content from a website, something I have never done nor will I ever do. I may use information from a website or pamphlet as background for readers in a review or copy the ingredients for a recipe from their menu for simplicity’s sake from time to time, but never word for word and I always edit the material into my own words and style. Sometimes they simply refuse to post a review with no reason given as was the case with my review of the Villisca Axe Murder House, having submitted the review numerous times without it being published and without explanation.

TripAdvisor would not exist without the reviews of travelers, so I find it extremely self-serving and deceiving to refuse to post reviews from Top Contributors that do not conform to their paying advertiser’s demands. I put a lot of time and effort into my reviews as evidenced by the 40,000+ visitors to my blog each year and the 40,000+ views of my reviews and photos on Yelp each month. My content is original, honest, and objective as any reviewer can be, so when TripAdvisor recently refused to publish my review of Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant in Brooklyn recently (because the content “was not original” … BULLSHIT!) for the umpteenth time, I deleted my account.

The other reason I deleted my account is because TripAdvisor, as I found out, has zero integrity themselves, allowing people to post reviews whether they have been to a restaurant, hotel, destination, or attraction or not. There is no requirement to having been a customer (as Money Magazine reported in a recent issue – see excerpt from Money Magazine below) to write a review, so businesses can use robots and fake review websites to fluff their ratings, making them relatively useless. I have found during my travels to 41 countries that TripAdvisor may be good for general information about a business or location, but the ratings rarely accurately reflect the experience and now I know why.


Yelp on the other hand uses complex algorithms and your GPS location to ferret out fake reviews. They also have “Elite” members, reviewers like myself that are hand selected by the Community Manager (CM – each major metro has one, a paid Yelp employee) with several face-to-face and virtual interactions taking place between Elites and CMs each year. So if you really want to ensure you are getting a valid rating and honest review, use Yelp and sort reviews or pay attention to those only written by “Elites”.

TripAdvisor does not appreciate the countless number of honest reviewers out there, refusing to interact one-on-one with even Top Contributors. Trying to get an explanation for a decision they make or get an question answered is impossible with TripAdvisor, unlike Yelp where you get an answer from a Yelp employee every time you have a concern or question.

My recommendation: Dump TripAdvisor and download the Yelp App on your phone or tablet. You will be glad you did!

CombatCritic Gives TripAdvisor 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!








One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account

Key Words: TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, trip advisor, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, attraction, destination, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, integrity, reviews

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”
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India’s New Visa Contractor Stole My $170 … And I Still Don’t Have A Valid Visa!


I have always wanted to travel to India, but as a result of a potentially life threatening medical condition that is exacerbated by stress, I decided to visit Dharamsala later this year to learn about Buddhism (and forgiveness) and study yoga full-time. At least that was the plan until I applied and paid ($200) for a valid visa … which I have yet to receive.

I bought my ticket to travel to India after finding a reasonable roundtrip airfare ($1100), then purchased my wife’s ticket ($1700) so that she can visit during the Christmas holidays. Visas to travel to India are contracted out to a new contractor (effective July 2014), Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC(CKGS), and their processes and website are not easy to navigate, even for someone with a fairly high IQ. Be prepared for confusion, difficulty obtaining your visa, and wasted time and money at least based on my horrible experience. Here is what happened …

I followed the detailed directions on the CKGS website and submitted all required documentation, paying $150 for the (10-year – available only to US Citizens) visa, $20 in processing fees to CKGS, and $25 to FedEx to get my passport and documents to Houston and back for a grand total of nearly $200. A week later I received a message from CKGS stating that 1) I did not sign under the photo on page 1 of my application (which was true in that it was neither obvious nor included in the instructions) and 2) I did not include the “additional particulars form” (which I had in-fact submitted with my package) … not a good start!

Signature Required On Page 1 Of Visa Application
Here is the email I received from CKGS:
—————————————–
From: 
Date: Monday, July 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM
To: CombatCritic
Subject: Incomplete Application
Dear CombatCritic ,
The following Documents are incomplete: We are not able to continue processing your application due to is missing; signature on the first page of the application form right under the picture, anf the additional particulars form which can be found on our website (in.ckgs.us). Please sent the required to our Houston Center. Thank you.
Regards,
CKGS
——————————————
I quickly submitted the signed page and the same “additional particulars” form I originally submitted with my application to the email address provided by CKGS:
From: CombatCritic
Date: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM
To: 
Subject: In Regard To Your Email Indicating My Incomplete Application
Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC
1001 Texas Avenue, Suite 550
Binz Building
Houston, TX 77002
7/17/14
To Whom It May Concern:
In reference to my India Tourist Visa (Application Number application, I am providing the required signature on page 1 (under the photo) and the additional particulars page (which was provided with my original application, but was indicated as missing by CKGS), attached, as instructed by your staff in a phone call earlier today.
Please process and approve my visa at your earliest convenience.
Thank you!
Respectfully,
CombatCritic                                                   
Attachments –
1.     Signature page
2.     Additional Particulars Page
—————————
I received confirmation that my visa was being processed and a little over a week later I received my passport in the mail only to find that the visa was for just 6 months, not the 120 months I had paid for! In-fact, the expiration date of my visa was A FULL MONTH BEFORE MY SCHEDULED RETURN, making it completely useless!
I sent a very polite email to CKGS informing them of the discrepancy:
———————————–
From: CombatCritic

Sent: 01 August 2014 20:52

To: PAD HOUSTON

Cc: fasttrack.usa@ckgs.comenquiriesusa@ckgs.com
Subject: In Regard To My Visa Application – INCORRECT VISA RECIEVED (6-MONTH, NOT 120-MONTH)
Greetings,
I received my visa yesterday. Thank you for the quick turnaround.
Unfortunately, I applied and paid for a 120 month visa ($150 + processing fees = $170), BUT I RECEIVED A 6-MONTH VISA WHICH WILL EXPIRE BEFORE I AM SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO THE USA. Please tell me how you will resolve this situation as soon as possible so I can continue making my travel plans. I have neither contacted the Consulate or Embassy of India regarding this situation nor the US State Department and would appreciate a quick resolution, without further expenditure by me, because of this unfortunate mistake made while processing my visa.
Please contact me by email or phone at your earliest convenience so that I can secure the 120-month visa applied and paid for.
Thank you,
CombatCritic

————————————-
This is the totally unacceptable response I received from CKGS:

——————————-


Dear Sir,
Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.
The Visa issuance/rejection is sovereign right of a Nation and is not open to any discussions. Your Visa has been issued after due process, and this is to inform you that in this case you won’t get the refund of the rest amount. And if you want to extend your stay in India you can contact FRRO for extension.
We highly appreciate your co-operation.
Thanks & Regards,
Rehana.S
A Cox and Kings Company

———————————————
Now that CKGS had made it clear that they neither cared about my concerns nor were they going to make things right, it was time to take my grievance to the next higher level … The Embassy of India’s Consulate Services in Washington DC:
—————————
Greetings,

I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 monthsexpiring a month before my scheduled return to the USA. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).

… Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa”, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.

Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, http://www.combatcritic.com, and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.

Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid (CKGS). I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very Respectfully,
CombatCritic
————————————–
The Embassy of India states ontheir website that visa issues will be responded to in “1-3 working days”, having been submitted on August 2nd, 2014 and 10 days later I still had received no response.

I then filed a formal complaint on India’s                         PORTAL FOR PUBLIC GRIEVANCE – Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances:
———————
Greetings,                                                               August 10, 2014

I have a potentially life threatening condition exacerbated by stress and planned to travel to India … not only to see the sights, but to study religion and yoga in order to prolong my life. I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 months, expiring a month before my scheduled return to the USA. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer in particular, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).

Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa” and that I am not entitled to a refund, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.

Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, CombatCritic’s TravelValue eZine (where you can read the whole story), and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.

Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid. As an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, I am sure that there must have been some type of error in processing my visa and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.

We have spent $3000 on airfare and $200 on a useless visa so far and hesitate to spend another dollar or make additional travel plans until this issue is resolved. If we do not receive a satisfactory resolution (very) soon, we will be forced to change our tickets and travel to a country that treats tourists with compassion, dignity, and respect.

As states, I submitted an email complaint to the Embassy of India’s Consular Department over one week ago, but even though they promise a reply “within 3 working days”, I have received no indication that they intend to intervene on my behalf. I am also contacting the Ministry of Tourism to let them know what is happening.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very Respectfully, 

Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)

————————–

I also informed the US State Department about the scam, hoping that MY GOVERNMENT is interested in a US citizen whom is being mistreated and abused by another nation’s government:

Greetings,
I filed a grievance with the Embassy of India in Washington DC (8/2/2014) as well as the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (below – 8/10/2014) regarding my problems obtaining a valid visa through Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC (India’s US visa contractor – CKGS – Houston, Texas). After asking them nicely to provide the 10-year visa I paid for or refund the money ($170 + $25 postage) I paid, CKGS failed to resolve my visa dilemma to my satisfaction, stating (in so many words) we’re a sovereign nation, can do as we please, you won’t get a refund, and there’s nothing you can do about it”. You can read the whole story on my blog http://www.CombatCritic.com
I am hoping that the US State Department might be interested in knowing how India’s contractor (CKGS) is treating US Citizens, having spent $2.4 billion in India in 2011 alone. With the tourism industry being the fourth largest source of revenue for their nation, I would think that tourists would be treated better than I have been since starting the visa process. 

Here is the grievance:

Grievance Status

Print || Logout
Status as on 10 Aug 2014
<asp:literal runat="server" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" text="”>Registration Number :
Name Of Complainant :
Date of Receipt : 10 Aug 2014
Received by : Ministry of External Affairs
Officer name : Shri Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi
Officer Designation : Joint Secretary PSP & CPO
Contact Address : CPV Division,
Patiala House Annexe,
Tilak Marg, New Delhi110001
Contact Number : 23387013
e-mail : jscpo@mea.gov.in
Grievance Description : Greetings, I have a potentially life threatening condition exacerbated by stress and planned to travel to India not only to see the sights, but to study religion and yoga in order to prolong my life. I applied for a 10-year, multiple entry visa last month (application and additional particulars form attached) through CKGS in Houston, paying $170 ($150 + processing fees = $170) as required via money order. When I received my visa via FedEx two days ago, I noticed that the visa was only for 6 months, expiring a month before my scheduled return. I paid an additional $90 for the 10-year visa and, being a retired US military officer in particular, do not understand why I only received a 6 month visa when I paid for a 10 year visa ($200 total including FedEx charges).

Devona at CKGS in Houston, Texas stated that “the consulate decided to only grant … a 6 month visa” and that I am not entitled to a refund, so I am contacting you to find out what happened so that I might resume making my travel plans to your historic and beautiful country.

Beside being a retired US Air Force officer, I am a food and travel critic with a popular blog, http://www.combatcritic.com (where you can read the whole story), and wish to travel to India to see the sights, study Buddhism, Hinduism, and yoga, volunteer in Dharamsala to help those less fortunate than me, and write about my experiences. I am also a Yelp Elite member and TripAdvisor Top Contributor, having many fans who will be following my journey and hope that they (and I) will not be disappointed by an unfortunate and unexpected curtailment of my travel plans.

Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid. I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10 year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.

We have spent $3000 on airfare and $200 on a useless visa so far and hesitate to spend another dollar or make additional travel plans until this issue is resolved. If we do not receive a satisfactory resolution soon, we will be forced to change our tickets and travel to a country that treats tourists with compassion, dignity, and respect.

I submitted an email complaint to the Embassy of India’s Consular Department over one week ago, but even though they promise a reply “within 3 working days”, I have received no indication that they intend to intervene on my behalf. I am also contacting the Ministry of Tourism to let them know what is happening.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very Respectfully,

CombatCritic

Current Status : RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE
I hope that my grievance will be addressed by the government of India as soon as possible and would appreciate any assistance my government (Department of State) can offer in this matter. If you like, I will keep you informed regarding the progress (or lack thereof) in my case. I hope that I can continue my plans to travel to India. Otherwise, I will be forced to travel to a nation that better appreciates tourists and our hard earned money.
Thank you.
——————————–


Having heard nothing … zip … nada from either India’s embassy, Ministry of Tourism, or Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances after filing my grievances, I had to assume that they were either as  incompetent and unethical as CKGS or they simply did not care. I finally located a contact at India’s Houston Consulate where my visa was incorrectly processed, so I decided to give them one more chance to make things right, contacting the Vice Consul (Visa), Mr. Rakesh Sharma:

Mr. Rakesh SharmaVice Consul (Visa)Consulate of India – Houston 
Dear Honorable Vice Consul Sharma,
I have always wanted to travel to India, but as a result of a potentially life threatening medical condition that is exacerbated by stress, I decided to visit Dharamsala later this year to learn about Hinduism and Buddhism (and forgiveness), study yoga full-time, and volunteer to help those less fortunate than me. At least that was the plan until I applied and paid ($200) for a valid visa … which I have yet to receive. I bought my ticket to travel to India after finding a reasonable roundtrip airfare ($1100), then purchased my wife’s ticket ($1700) so that she can visit during the Christmas holidays. Cox Kings Global Services USA, LLC’s (CKGS) processes and website are not easy to navigate, even for someone with a fairly high IQ. I followed the detailed directions on the CKGS website and submitted all required documentation, paying $150 for the (10-year – available only to US Citizens) visa, $20 in processing fees to CKGS, and $25 to FedEx to get my passport and documents to Houston and back for a grand total of nearly $200.
 I received confirmation that my visa was being processed and a little over a week later I received my passport in the mail only to find that the visa was for just 6 months, not the 120 months I had paid for. In-fact, the expiration date of my visa was A FULL MONTH BEFORE MY SCHEDULED RETURN, making it completely useless.
 I sent a very polite email to CKGS informing them of the discrepancy:
 From: CombatCritic
Sent: 01 August 2014 20:52
To: PAD HOUSTON
Cc: fasttrack.usa@ckgs.comenquiriesusa@ckgs.com Subject: In Regard To My Visa Application – INCORRECT VISA RECIEVED (6-MONTH, NOT 120-MONTH)
 Greetings,
 I received my visa yesterday. Thank you for the quick turnaround.
 Unfortunately, I applied and paid for a 120 month visa ($150 + processing fees = $170), BUT I RECEIVED A 6-MONTH VISA WHICH WILL EXPIRE BEFORE I AM SCHEDULED TO RETURN TO THE USA. Please tell me how you will resolve this situation as soon as possible so I can continue making my travel plans. I have neither contacted the Consulate or Embassy of India regarding this situation nor the US State Department and would appreciate a quick resolution, without further expenditure by me, because of this unfortunate mistake made while processing my visa.
 Please contact me by email or phone at your earliest convenience so that I can secure the 120-month visa applied and paid for.
 Thank you,
 This is the totally unacceptable response I received from CKGS:
 Dear Sir,
 Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.
 The Visa issuance/rejection is sovereign right of a Nation and is not open to any discussions. Your Visa has been issued after due process, and this is to inform you that in this case you won’t get the refund of the rest amount.
 We highly appreciate your co-operation.
 Thanks & Regards,
 Rehana.S
 http://www.in.ckgs.usA Cox and Kings Company
 Now that CKGS had made it clear that they neither cared about my concerns nor were they going to make things right, it is time to take my grievance to the next higher level. Please help me resolve this issue without any additional expense as I followed all of the rules required in acquiring the visa and see no reason why my visa was shortened, particularly without refunding the additional $90 I paid (CKGS). I am sure that there must have been some type of error and respectfully ask you to assist me in resolving this mistake and acquiring the 10-year visa I paid for without additional unnecessary expenditures. After all, I am a retired military officer with a top-secret security clearance and a law-abiding citizen, not a criminal or social misfit, and do not understand why my visa was denied.
 I am very ill and the stress of this situation is weighing heavy on my mind, keeping me awake at night and causing unnecessary stress instead of relieving stress as vacations should do. I am a little over two months away from my scheduled departure yet still do not have a valid visa even after paying $200 to get one.
 For a nation built on the fundamentals of Buddhism and Hinduism, including compassion for all living things and the cessation of suffering, your contractor (CKGS) leaves a lot to be desired. All I know is that my travel date is quickly approaching, I still do not have a valid visa, and time is running out to complete my travel plans and ensure a relatively stress-free trip.
 Please tell me what I have to do to get a valid visa so I can resume making plans to visit India. If this is not resolved soon, we will have to try to change our itinerary and travel to another country. I hope that we can resolve this unfortunate situation without delay.
 Thank you in advance for your assistance.
 Very Respectfully, 

CombatCritic

For a nation built on the fundamentals of Buddhism and Hinduism, including compassion for all living things and the cessation of suffering, their contractor (CKGS) leaves a lot to be desired. Will the Government of India DO THE RIGHT THING and grant me the 120 month visa I paid for or will they treat me with the indignity and disrespect I have endured from CKGS? Only time will tell.

All I know is that my travel date is quickly approaching, I still do not have a valid visa, and time is running out to complete my travel plans and ensure a relatively stress-free trip. I am seriously considering changing my plans and traveling to a nation where they appreciate tourist’s dollars and treat people with dignity and respect, but our tickets are non-refundable and I am not looking forward to the added stress and expense of having to change our tickets and plans at this late date.
I have not yet learned to forgive and will pursue this issue relentlessly until I am satisfied with the response from the Embassy/Consulate of India, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Tourism, CKGS, and/or the US State Department. This dilemma has only caused me more unneeded stress, wasted time and money, and caused grief instead of helping to relieve it. I will keep you posted and update this post as details change, for the positive or otherwise.

Namaste

CombatCritic

UPDATE: After being ignored by CKGS, the Embassy of India in Washington DC, and the Official Grievance Portal of the Government of India, I was finally able to locate and contact the Vice Consul for Visa Services in Houston, Texas where my visa was incorrectly processed.

I was contacted by phone and email and told that there was in-fact a mistake in processing my visa and told to send my passport (at my own expense – another $50 out-of-pocket) directly to his office for processing. I did as I was instructed and a week later I had my 10-year, multiple entry visa in-hand … FINALLY!

After weeks of stress, sleepless nights, and well over $250 in expenditures, I received the visa I paid for and was able to continue planning my journey. 

My only question is: Why was Cox Kings Global Services not able to remedy this situation

Recommendation: If Cox Kings Global Services refuses to assist with visa problems, CONTACT THE CONSULATE DIRECTLY AND PROMPTLY

CombatCritic Gives Cox Kings Global Services 1 Bomb Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
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Key Words: India, visa, government, Cox Kings Global Services, CKGS, consulate, embassy, travel, value, CombatCritic, TravelValue, integrity, compassion, dignity, respect, tourist, tourism, Yelp, TripAdvisor, trip, advisor

Genesis Health Clubs (Lawrence, Kansas – North/South) DID NOT DO THE RIGHT THING


I joined Genesis after a miserable, humiliating experience at The Summit, which is just a couple blocks from our home in Old East Lawrence, yet eons away in terms of values and how they treat their customers. I was hoping Genesis would be focused more on compassion, integrity, dignity, and respect, but I am starting to have my doubts.
I was lured into signing a one-year contract, an obsolete practice in the fitness industry for decades, by a young salesman who told me that my “wife can join for just $10 extra per month”. Considering that my monthly payment is close to $50 per month, that information sealed the deal and I joined that day.

When I finally talked my wife into joining after years of begging, we went to sign her up ONLY TO BE TOLD BY LISA THAT IT NOW WOULD COST $20 per month … NOT the $10 I was quoted before enrollment. Lisa, the young, female manager, did not offer to honor the price we were originally quoted, but instead offered a two-week trial membership available to the public at-large. 

I informed Lisa about the poor public perception of Genesis’s practices, particularly on Yelp where I am an Elite ’14 member, but she did not seem in the least bit concerned, a potentially fatal flaw for a business in a college town like Lawrence where students use Yelp (and other social media apps), making or breaking most small, local businesses.

I am considering canceling my membership due to false advertising and breach of (oral) contract, but will wait to see if my wife wants to join and if GENESIS HAS THE INTEGRITY to honor the price quoted prior to enrollment.

GENERAL COMMENTS: 

1) Even though $50 per month is the most expensive gym membership in Lawrence by far, Genesis offers fair value due to the fact that the other fitness centers in town do not compare in terms of facilities, equipment, amenities, and classes offered. The equipment, while somewhat dated and dirty, is sufficient in number to accommodate patrons without having to wait and the classes (yoga, spin, Pilates, cross fit) offered are abundant and varied enough to fit anybody’s schedule.

2) With only one drinking fountain at the Lawrence – South facility, with a prostate problem at that, BRING YOUR OWN WATER … filling your bottle in the bathroom with the smell of poop lingering in the air is disgusting! A couple of Culligan water dispensers in one of the back exercise rooms would cost $100 a month at most, increasing sanitation and hydration for customers.

3) The men’s locker layout in the Lawrence – South location is sub-optimal in that there are only two benches and they are situated by the entrance so that traffic to the shower and toilets must pass between the benches and lockers, a logistical nightmare for the few people lucky enough to have a seat and one of the sparse number of lockers available.

4) The Lawrence – South facility has only two showers and no sauna, steam room, or whirlpool, so exercise is all you are going to get there. The North facility has all three, but the steam room is never hot enough, the sauna is broken more times than not, and the whirlpool, beside being a little too hot, is so chlorinated that it burns the eyes and lungs.

Beside the concerns addressed above, I was pleased with my membership even though both facilities are somewhat dirty, until I found out I was lied to during the registration process. As a retired military officer, honor and integrity are paramount in my life and I do not frequent businesses which fail to practice those core values. We will see if Genesis holds the same values and whether or not they choose to DO THE RIGHT THING, honoring the price I was quoted prior to enrollment. 

UPDATE  – April, 2 2014:

Sad … not for me, but for the shortsighted owner of Genesis- Lawrence. Not only will Lawrence South Manager Lisa NOT HONOR THE PRICE I was quoted before signing-up, she had the nerve to insinuate that I, a retired military officer, Veteran, and customer, was trying to game the system! Extremely be ad decision on her part. 

I will pay the additional $10 per month over what I was quoted before signing the contract because $10 is not going to break the bank and I do not want to go through the hassle of suing Genesis for Breach of Contract. Genesis, on the other hand, now has a very unhappy customer, one who has provided them with FREE AND MOSTLY POSITIVE check-ins, tips, and reviews up until now. As I told Lisa, I cannot in good conscience continue to support a business that neither treats customers with dignity and respect NOR DOES THE RIGHT THING … IT IS CALLED INTEGRITY FOLKS!

CombatCritic Gives Genesis Health Clubs (Lawrence, Kansas) 2 OUT OF 10 BOMBS (based on the lack of truthfulness prior to enrollment and poor customer service) AND THAT IS GENEROUS … BOMBS ARE GOOD!










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Don’s Auto Center: An Honest Business In A World Plagued By A Lack Of Integrity


Lawrence, Kansas: I took our 2000 VW Beetle TDI to Don’s Auto Center to see if the “problems” another mechanic (Das Autohaus – see review at http://www.combatcritic.com/2013/12/if-you-want-to-spend-lots-of-money-take.html) told me needed repairing were indeed concerns. On my recent Das Autohaus invoice, the owner had stated that the vehicle needed “new struts” ($400-$600 on RepairPal) and removal of “excess carbon buildup on intake manifold” (which I had done less than two years and 20,000 miles ago at a cost of $700), for a total of $1,100 to $1,300 in repairs.

I had recently taken the vehicle on a 500+ mile trip to Colorado to visit my mother and noticed that the fuel economy was six to seven miles per gallon less than last summer (intake manifold?) and the ride somewhat rough (struts?), so I decided to take the vehicle to Don’s when I returned to see if the Das Autohaus “recommendations” were accurate.

I explained to Mike, the owner of Don’s, what the symptoms were and what I thought could possibly be causing them (based on the Das Autohaus diagnoses – struts and carbon in manifold). Mike called me later that day and told me that he had checked the suspension thoroughly and found “no issues”, no concerns and certainly no need for new struts. He told me the cause of the rough ride was likely caused by the tires being overinflated and simply let some air out of the tires. As for the poor gas mileage and possible carbon buildup on the intake manifold, Mike said that the winter additives in the diesel fuel cause lower gas mileage and because the manifold was cleaned less than 20,000 miles ago, there was no need to have it done again. He told me that the air filter was a bit dirty, so I had him replace it and do an oil change ($30 for an air filter, $50/gallon for synthetic motor oil) for a total of LESS THAN $200 and OVER $1,000 LESS THAN THE DAS AUTOHAUS “NEEDED REPAIRS”.

I thanked Mike for his honesty and integrity, values I as a retired military officer hold dear, and will return to have him service our
vehicles from now on. You can come to your own conclusions regarding Das Autohaus. All I know is that by taking our vehicle literally a couple blocks down the street to an honest mechanic, we saved over $1,000. Enough said … THANKS MIKE!


Key Words: Don’s Auto Center, Don’s, auto, center, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, honest, mechanic, integrity, honor, price, fair, manifold, tire, strut, repair, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue