Lawrence, KS: Tres Mexicanos Is Muy Bueno Amigos


Tres Mexicanos

1800 East 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone number: (785) 830-8415
Prices: $$$$

We tried Tres Mexicanos shortly after moving to Lawrence and were not overly impressed. Because they are so close to our house, in a stirp mall on East 23rd Street, we decided to give them another try recently and I am glad we did.

Even though the service was spotty, the food was pretty darn good and the prices fair. They have Amercanized tacos with pre-fab shells, fried tacos (more traditional), and traditional, authentic soft tacos on corn tortillas with just meat, cilantro and onion as they should have. The tacos, except the pre-fab variety, are very good and their cheese and onion enchiladas tasty. Their guacamole is one of the best in town and one of the best values as well.

The atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired, but the food is good, the margaritas well done and strong, the service OK, and the prices very fair, so we will be returning again soon.

CombatCritic Gives Tres Mexicanos 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Six Bombs Equates To:
“Good To Go”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Tres Mexicanos Is Muy Bueno Amigos

Key Words: Tres Mexicanos, tres, Mexicanos, Mexico, Mexican, taco, enchilada, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Read Chris S.‘s review of Tres Mhttps://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.jsexicanos on Yelp

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Editorial: Kayak and Delta Share Core Values – Zero Integrity And Dishonesty


Delta Airlines Performs A Classic Bait and Switch, Doubling The Price Of An Airfare To Over $3000 After Hitting “Purchase”!

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I found two @Delta fares on @Kayak for $757 round-trip each to Naples, Italy on September 1st, but when I spent over 10 minutes entering our personal details and credit card info and then hit “enter”, Delta refused to process the ticket and doubled the price! Can you say “bait and switch”? Sure ya can, because that is exactly what Delta did. The message stated that the fare was now $1500+ each (over $3000 total – a $1500 increase from the advertised airfare) if I wanted to continue booking. I did not.

The transaction even hit my credit card because I received text and email alerts warning me of a possible fraudulent transaction. When I replied, telling my bank that it was not fraud, they replied and told me that the transaction had already been reversed.


As a retired military officer, integrity is my mantra. Obviously, Kayak.com and Delta Airlines do not undertsand the meaning of the word.

WTFO? Shame on you both!

This is exactly why we stopped flying Delta and started flying United exclusively. I will also consider using an airfare consolidator other than Kayak.com, like JustFly.com, from now on for letting this happen. I wasted 30-40 minutes of valuable time researching fares, departure times, flight and layover duration, and entering required information for payment, only to be told AFTER confirming the purchase that the fare was no longer available.

I think the FAA and Georgia Attorney General need to hear about this classic bait and switch tactic … don’t you?

The V.P. of eCommerce Operations ay Kayak replied to my concerns with this crap:

From: Esther – KAYAK Date: Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 7:54 PMSubject: Your recent KAYAK Feedback 

“Hello and thank you for contacting KAYAK and sharing your experience.

Please keep in mind KAYAK is a travel website whereby you search for travel options and we provide you with search results and choices on where to complete a reservation.  Further upon selecting the order to process with Delta you left our website and we no longer have insight into the reservation attempt or fares.  

Please keep in mind prices and availability change frequently and it is possible the fares changed from the time you selected an itinerary until you when you were completing a reservation. Further fares are not guaranteed and ticketed and confirmed.

If you require further assistance we suggest you contact Delta directly.

Thank you,

EstherKAYAK VP, eCommerce Operations”


My response was as follows:

“Once I go to the carrier’s website to complete the reservation, that fare should be locked in until I submit payment, which I did. Delta even charged my credit card before reversing it!

Don’t tell me a consolidator site as large as Kayak doesn’t have some pull with the airlines. Kayak should raise the BS flag with Delta. It’s not right to waste Kayak customer’s time. My post is getting a lot of attention and it doesn’t reflect favorably on Delta or Kayak.

Your reply is canned and self serving and I find it offensive. I did contact Delta and they refuse to respond. Why don’t you stand up for your customers? Kayak profits greatly from sending people to other sites, then you wash your hands? Integrity? “

CombatCritic

Here is the sorry, self-serving response from Kayak’s vice President of eCommerce Operatons:

“I am sorry to hear you believe my response is canned because it certainly is not. The intent of the reply was to inform you about KAYAK’s service which is a travel website whereby you search for travel options ( please visit: https://www.kayak.com/about to learn more).

Also, please keep in mind we do not set the prices displayed in the search results nor do we control any of the fares. Further, as noted, prices and availability can change quite quickly as a result prices are not guaranteed by booking providers until they are purchased and ticketed.

Hope this helps clarify further.

Kind regards, 

Esther

KAYAK VP, eCommerce Operations”

Like Hotels.com, who could care less about their customers (see my post on Guest House Vlado), Kayak is just another travel consolidator that makes money off of all of us by routing us to another website, then washing their hands of whatever happens next.


CombatCritic Gives Kayak.com and Delta Airlines 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On MY Quickly Growing “WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:
“Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Editorial: Kayak and Delta Share Core Values – Zero Integrity And Dishonesty

Key Words: Kayak, Delta Airlines, Delta, airlines, airfare, Kayak.com, Delta.com, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, company, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Waldport, OR: Decent Little Wednesday Market, Moderate Prices


 Waldport Wednesday Market

116-182 Alder Street
Waldport, OR 97394
Prices: $$$$

A decent little market about 3 blocks east of Hwy 101 in downtown Waldport, Oregon with about 20-25 vendors. There is a guy selling 8″ wood-fired pizzas in the $7-$11 range, lots of tie die and homemade jewelry, one fruit and vegetable stand, and a few selling sweets (fudge, caramel corn, etc).

Not a great variety and not anything I could do without EXCEPT the lady selling stuff that keeps mirrors, windshields, eye/sunglasses, and other things glass from fogging up. The sign said 1 for $7 and 4 for $20, but she offered me 1 for $5 and 3 for $10, so I got 3. It will be worth it if I can keep my sunglasses from fogging up while pl;aying golf in the humid Midwest heat!

CombatCritic Gives The Waldport Wednesday Market 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs 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!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Waldport, OR: Decent Little Wednesday Market, Moderate Prices

Key Words: Waldport, OR, Oregon, little, Wednesday, market, flea, farmer, farmer’s, moderate, prices CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts


Airbnb
San Francisco, California

I have noticed a recent trend on Airbnb, in Eureka, California at least, where hosts have either canceled after having made a “confirmed” Instant Booking or ignored my requests to reserve a room posted as “available” on their calendar during the applicable dates.

I requested a reservation on two different occasions at Jennifer’s Garden View Room for a upcoming trip to Eureka, changing the dates due to unforeseen circumstances, but never getting a response despite promises to get back to me the “in next day or so”. Here is the transcript of messages:

July 6, 2016

Hi Jennifer! 

I’m thinking of coming to Eureka for at least a week. Your calendar looks clear and I’m finalizing the rest of the details, but want to make sure your place is available and for how long before I make reservations in other towns. 

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks!

Chris

——–

July 6, 2016 

Hi Chris! 

Nice to hear from you. I will have to check with a couple of possible renters and get back to you in the next day or so. 

Thanks! 

Jennifer 

 ———-

July 9, 2016 

Change of plans out of my control … Please let me know if your place is available (during these dates) or know (of) another option. Not much available in my price range in town during that period. 

Thanks! 

Chris

——- 

July 9, 2016 

Hi Chris. Good to hear from you. I need to check my calendar tomorrow and get back to you. 

Jennifer

—— 

Not one, but six days later and no response from Jennifer, I sent he another message: 

July 15, 2016 

I’ll take the silence as a no. Not having much luck with Eureka hosts. Thanks anyway! 

Chris 

—— 

July 16, 2016

Sorry Chris, I haven’t been able to check my phone or work on your questions. But I think I’ll pass on this one. 

Extremely unprofessional behavior and bordering on discriminatory, considering the fact that the room is posted as available, but she refuses to accept my reservation. Maybe I should change my profile:

About Me 

School: Los Altos High School (Hacienda Heights, California); California State University, Los Angeles, California 

Work: Retired Air Force Officer, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in the treatment of PTSD with military and Veterans 

Languages: English, Italiano

After being ignored, then refused, by Jennifer, I checked Airbnb for other options in Eureka during those dates and, oddly enough, Jennifer’s Blue Room – Arcata, CA, United States was still available for the exact dates I was requesting. It seemed obvious that Jennifer did not want me staying with her for some reason. Maybe she does not like Veterans because that was all she knew about me based on what is in my profile, that and the countless positive reviews from hosts we have stayed with.

As I mentioned earlier, I made an “Instant Book” reservation (for the very first time) at Terri’s “Serene Views”, a different private room in Eureka, California. Instant Book is a feature that allows you to enter your dates of travel and if a listing’s calendar has no occupancy during that time, you can get an instant “confirmed” reservation instead of waiting for the owner to get back to you. Sometimes it takes days to get a confirmed reservation from some of these ding-a-lings, so when I saw what looked like a nice place at a good price, I cancelled a reservation I had made on another site in the interim and booked with Eureka Terri … BIG MISTAKE!


An hour-and-a-half later, I got a message from Terri:

“Looking forward to meeting you!”

BUT … nearly four hours later, as I was prepping for my trip, I received this surprising, inadequate and unprofessional excuse from Terri:

“My family requests a visit during this time. Hope you find a suitable replacement. Thank you.”

Here is Airbnb’s CONFIRMATION OF MY CANCELLATION:

UNSAT … FUBAR … My week in Eureka was now Tango-Uniform  and I scrambled to find a place to stay in my price range … thanks, for nothing Jennifer, Terri and Airbnb!

I had to pay hundreds of dollars more because a couple of Airbnb Airheads, an unprofessional newbie and a tree hugging liberal, could either not keep their calendars up-to-date or simply discriminate against guests based on the information in our “verified” profiles. It makes Airbnb look bad because they condone this unprofessional behavior and it should not have been allowed. 

What is the purpose of Instant Book if your confirmed reservation can simply be cancelled on a whim by the host? Useless … both Instant Book and Airbnb’s response to the situation … because when I sent them a message communicating my dismay, all I got was an automated response telling me, to paraphrase: “we’re too busy and important to respond to every customer … sorry, you are on your own bub!”

Here is the message I sent to Airbnb, telling them about the discriminatory behavior by their hosts:

I requested a room for these exact dates on two occasions with Jennifer and she told me there was no availability (just yesterday), yet this room in her home is advertised as available during that period. She told me twice that she’d “get back to me” the next day, but failed to contact me after more than 5 days both times, leaving me hanging without a reservation. 

She is the second inconsiderate host in Eureka, having Instant Booked a room at another house (with Terri), only to have (her) cancel four hours later.

Airbnb should police their hosts a little better to prevent unprofessional behavior and/or outright discrimination against Veterans (and many others according to the NY Times and numerous lawsuits). It’s obvious that these “liberal” hosts don’t want a male, conservative, retired, military officer staying with them and that is not just wrong, it’s illegal.

If you don’t do something about it, I will. 

Thanks!

Chris S

I have yet to receive a response from Airbnb, hence, I am writing this editorial. If you would like to read the New York Times article on Airbnb’s condoning of discriminatory behavior by their hosts, you can read more here: New York Times: Discrimination by Airbnb Hosts Is Widespread, Report Says

CombatCritic Gives Discriminatory Jennifer, Cancellation Terri And Airbnb 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!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts

Key Words: Airbnb, room, apartment, stay, Jennifer, Terri, Eureka, Arcata, CA, California, accomodation, hotel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog, airbnb.com

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

TravelTech: Renewed My GolfLogix Subscription, THEN They Implemented A New, Substandard Version … I’m Outta Here!


GolfLogix Application For iPhone

Suite 100A
15685 N. Greenway-Hayden Loop
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
Phone: 877-977-0162
Fax: 480-287-8749
Email: info@golflogix.com
Price: $$$$
I used to love my GolfLogix app, then they charged my credit card $20, shortly thereafter implementing a new version that absolutely sucks!

I am canceling my “Champion Membership” after they ruined the app with their “new” version. I wrote to them, telling them about my disappointment: 

“Your new interface sucks. The font is so small I can barely see it and I can’t seem to bypass the club (yardage) tracking option, making me scroll through the numbers (instead of simply entering yardage) on the old version. Who in their infinite wisdom implemented this piece of #%$@? Bring back the old interface or I’m out of here!

To which they replied: 

“Dear Valued Member, Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately that feature was not included in the new streamlined GolfLogix App. We working to return that feature. Again we apologize for any inconvenience and hope you enjoy the New GolfLogix App.”

They did not address my concerns, sending me a “boilerplate” response with misspelled words. They don’t care, implementing a new version before it was fully functional, so I’m moving on and canceling my subscription.

CombatCritic Gives GolfLogix 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs 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!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: TravelTech: Renewed My GolfLogix Subscription, THEN They Implemented A New, Substandard Version … I’m Outta Here!

Key Words: GolfLogix, golf, logix, logic, logics, app, application, iPhone, iStore, iTunes, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, service, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform =  “Tits Up” 


Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re "The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys"!


The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys
Parkville, MO
Phone: (816) 741-7101
Website: TheLawnAndSprinklerGuys.com

Look at their name, “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”, and it will tell you a lot about their professionalism.

I asked them to provide an estimate for major damage to our sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike and to install a backflow prevention device required by the city. All they did was come to the house, look around, and tell us “here’s our hourly rate ($70/hour) and we’ll figure it out when we start”. No formal bid for our insurance company, no phone call, just an email form their admin person.  I asked to have the owner call me to discuss details of the job, but he never bothered to contact me. 

Like most of the dozens of lawn, landscape, and sprinkler companies I have dealt with since moving to KC in 2008, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys are irresponsible, unprofessional, poor communicators and I would not hire them if they were the last company in Kansas or Missouri. They must have more business and money than they need if they can treat customers like that, so I recommend you not waste your time contacting them.

CombatCritic Gives The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A spot On My Quickly Growing WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”!

Key Words: Parkville, MO, estimate, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys, lawn, sprinkler, guys, repair, installation, service, Kansas City, Kansas, city, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”


Overland, Park, Kansas: Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate "Talks The Talk", But Does Not "Walk The Walk"


Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate
Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Services
8500 W 95th St
Overland Park, KS 66212
Phone: (913) 660-0822
Website: kc.selecthomes.com

Part of traveling includes trips to exciting new places and the possibility of picking up and moving to a different city. We visited Kansas City in 2007 never expecting to move there. Now it is time to move on, so we are selling our home. 

After hearing Martin Taggart, Team Leader and Lead Listing Specialist for Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate, on a local radio show, he seemed to say all of the right things so I asked him to possibly list the home we are planning to sell. During our first meeting he seemed personable and savvy, but a couple things he did and said did not sit well at gut level. For example, after viewing the house the tenant had to get her kids to their soccer game, so Martin invited us to Caribou Coffee to make his pitch and, hopefully for him, seal the deal. When it came time to pay for my, my wife’s, and his coffees, about $11 total, Martin did not even attempt to pay, hanging back while letting me pay and deliver his complimentary coffee to him. What kind of professional lets a potential customer capable of generating over $20,000 in commission pay for their own coffee AND HIS after extending the invitation? I should have listened to my gut and parted ways then and there, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

His Gold and Platinum “Worry Free Listing Addendum” scheme is nothing more, a scheme to get another 1% commission out of sellers (for a total commission of 7% – Platinum). The Worry Free Listing ADDendum also ADDs an ADDitional $595 “Transaction Fee” on top of the already exorbitant standard 6% real estate commission (or 7% in the case of Martin’s Platinum scheme) charged on all real estate transactions, something I have never seen in all my years of buying and selling houses. When I asked him why I had to pay a transaction fee on top of even a standard 6% commission, he quickly told me “I’ll waive it and pay it out of my own pocket”, as if it were something he would owe someone else rather than an invention to produce more profit for his company that it actually is.

Martin was anxious to get the house on the market within two weeks, so he promised to help us expedite the listing and sale by referring contractors he claimed he has “special pull with” to perform needed work on the home in preparation for sale, but none of them panned out, either not following-up or not being available to perform the work soon enough to list the home according to Martin’s recommended timeline. Clearly there was no communication between he and “his contractors” about the schedule, wasting my time with numerous phone calls, emails, texts, and a 100 mile round trip to meet one at the subject home in Kansas City. In the end, not one performed as promised, another indication that Martin’s words carry little weight.

He also led us to believe that Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate located in Overland Park, Kansas is #9 in total units sold in the US and #1 in Kansas, “according to the Wall Street Journal”, but upon closer inspection of the link he sent me to confirm these supposed “facts” (see table below), I found that it had nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal at all and the numbers he was quoting included sales for four offices throughout Kansas, including Hutchinson (219 miles from Kansas City). Newton (182 miles from Kansas City), and the home office in Wichita (199 miles from Kansas City).

2015 Teams by Transaction Sides
Rank
Team Name
Company
MSA
City
State
Transactions
Website
9
Select Homes – Team Real Estate
Wichita, KS
Wichita
KS
952.00
15
ReeceNichols – Leawood
Kansas City, MO-KS
Leawood
KS
738.00
24
ReeceNichols – Lee’s Summit
Kansas City, MO-KS
Lee’s Summit
MO
628.00

How can someone include home sales in cities 200 miles away in the numbers that lead people to believe that their Kansas City Team is one of the “top-10 teams in the country”?

Here is Martin on KMBZ Radio, leading listeners, as he did me, to believe that his “Kansas City Team” sales numbers include those of the franchises’ offices in Wichita, Hutchinson, and Newton, Kansas:
I followed-up in an email, asking Martin: 

  1. “You claim being one of the top (#9) teams in the country according to the Wall Street Journal and Kansas’ #1 team, but you don’t mention Kansas City. Why? 
  2. Why can’t I readily find these accolades on your website?
  3. Where can I find the sources for your claims?”. 

His response was “Our team outsold the #2 team in the Metro last year by several hundred units”, referring to a team whose sales numbers included ONLY the Kansas City Metro area, not the entire State of Kansas


When I held his feet to the fire and questioned him about the authenticity of the data he was quoting, requested that he provide objective comparative data in regard to sales in Kansas City alone, and asked him to answer numerous other questions I had, including why he was comparing apples to onions (a Kansas-wide franchise group compared to a single Kansas City based real estate team), Martin refused to answer and quickly replied “I respectfully withdraw our offer to engage in the listing of your home”.

There is an old saying in the military about talking the talk and walking the walk, and Martin Taggart can clearly “talk and talk and talk the talk” … I will leave it at that.

Martin Taggart and Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate Get One 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

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate “Talks The Talk”, But Does Not “Walk The Walk”

Key Words: Select Homes, KC Team Real Estate, Martin Taggart, Martin, Taggart, Kansas City, select, homes, real estate, realtor, agent, real, estate, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

United Airlines: We Don’t Care (Sometimes), We Don’t Have To (But, Maybe We Want To) … I’m Confused!


United Airlines, Inc.
77 W Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
b/t Lower Wacker Dr & Michigan Ave in The Loop
 
I do not usually write reviews so many weeks or months after the fact, but being in India for four months where Yelp did not yet exist, I felt compelled to add my two cents.

My first two of three United flights to Delhi were both two hours late and I had to rush through Frankfurt Airport to catch my final flight after already spending close to 20 hours traveling (with 7+ yet to go). I somehow made it!

However, when I recently checked my mileage balance on United.com, my final leg still had not been added to my balance, requiring me to submit a request that still has not been answered.

Airlines in general, and United in particular, just do not care about customer service because they do not have to. They know that most of us will probably purchase the cheapest fare, so it will only be a matter of time before we return even if their service is pitiful, which it usually is … rude check-in and gate agents, aggressive flight attendants, and poor on-time departure/arrival record … they should change their motto to: “United Airlines,We Don’t Care, We Don’t Have To”

As my India trip neared its end, I have to say that United came through with flying colors. 

When one of my wife’s return flights in mid-January was rescheduled, leaving her a 30 minute layover to clear immigration/customs, re-check her bag, and get to the next gate (IMPOSSIBLE), we contacted United and were quickly dismissed … “sorry”! But when we got our travel insurance company involved, they were able to change her flights and get her home in time to attend a meeting at work the following morning.

The saga continued …

I received a call in early February, three weeks prior to my scheduled departure, informing me that my 84-year old mother had been hospitalized and was not doing well.  I contacted my travel insurance company (Allianz Global Assistance/AGA Service Company /Jefferson Insurance Company) thinking that they would be as professional as my wife’s, but after 12+ hours of being ignored (on their 24/7 Hotline), I contacted United reservations in New Delhi.  They were not extremely helpful, but when I was finally transferred to an American employee, she was outstanding.  She quickly found me a flight two days later (i had to get from Southern India to Delhi the next day) and WAIVED THE $300 CHANGE FEE … without even asking.  I was able to get home to see my mother and spend a couple days of quality time before she passed away on 2/12/2015. At that point I was much happier with United.

and continued …

Then, just three weeks after my mother passed, my wife received word that her father had suddenly died in Naples, Italy where he and her mom live. I logged-in to my United account to search for “bereavement fares”, but even though a link appeared in the search results, there was no such information on their website. It turned out that United discontinued their bereavement fares at some point in the recent past. When I called United Customer Care, a deceiving term, I was connected with their offshore “care” center in Manilla, Phillippines where I was quoted $4000 for a single ticket … $1600 more than the cheapest fare available on Kayak.com and $2350 more than we eventually paid Delta airlines. Thanks for your compassion United!

I had been prepared to give United 6, 7, even 8, Bombs (3 to 4 stars) because of the recent positive experiences detailed above, but finding out post de facto that 15,000 of the 20,000 miles from the US to India and back I paid dearly for were not eligible for frequent flyer credits (K Class) and the $4000 quote for a last-minute bereavement fare changed my mind. So, I will now have to downgrade my previous ratings …

CombatCritic Gives United Airlines 3 Out Of 10 Bombs With Room To Grow Or Recede Further … More Bombs Are Better!
 
 





Read More Reviews By CombatCritic, Including United Airlines, On Yelp And TripAdvisor Along With Many Other Reviews And More!

Title: United Airlines: We Don’t Care (Sometimes), We Don’t Have To (But, Maybe We Want To) … I’m Confused!
 
Key Words: United Airlines, United, Airlines, air, plane, airplane, travel, airport, flight, reservation, agent, customer, service, CombatCritic, TravelValue, Yelp, value
 

Rub Your Lamp and Wish for MORE FOOD at Aladdin Cafe (Mass Street – Downtown Lawrence)


Rub Your Lamp and Wish for MORE FOOD at Aladdin Cafe (Mass Street – Downtown Lawrence)

Aladdin Café
1021 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Phone: 785-832-1100

My wife had heard good things about Aladdin Café in downtown Lawrence (Mass Street), so we figured we would give it a try while a friend was visiting from Colorado.  She had never had middle-Eastern food before and was enticed by the unfamiliar smells emanating from the kitchen.  As we entered there were two parties seated out of probably 20 tables throughout the restaurant which is sparsely decorated with a small store containing a few middle-Eastern products in the rear next to the kitchen.  We stood there for close to five minutes while the only server in the place yukked it up with a table of three men whom apparently could not make up their minds and could obviously care less that we were standing there like bumps on a log.  She finally ended her conversation and came over tho seat us.

With no bar or alcohol on the menu, you are able to bring your own wine or beer (no corkage fee), so I had done my research on Yelp and brought a nice bottle of wine, a $10 Syrah that would easily cost $30 in most restaurants.  This is a nice option and it was the first time I had the opportunity to partake of such a custom, definitely keeping the bill from getting out of hand.  The server brought two glasses along with our water and a corkscrew.  It would have been nice if she had offered to open and pour the wine for us, and she would have been tipped accordingly, but that was not the case.  I opened the wine, poured, and waited for our server to take our order.


Being our first visit, we decided to try the Agrabah Appetizer Combo, a combination of hummus (blend of chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and garlic garnished with sumac, parsley, and hot sauce), baba ghanouj (roasted eggplant blended with

Appetizer Combo – $8.99

tahini sauce, lemon juice, and garlic), genie dip (roasted red pepper mixed with chickpeas, garlic, and tahini), falafel (deep fried patties of fava bean, chickpea, cilantro,

garlic, and onion blend), dolmati (VERY small rolled grape-leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes, and herbs, simmered in tomato and lemon juice), feta cheese, and Kalamata olives ($7.99) served with a small plate of pita bread.  After 20 minutes and no appetizer, I thought our server, who disappeared much of the time we were there, had forgotten, so we tracked her down to ensure our combo platter arrived well before our meals.  The hummus, genie dip, and baba ghanouj were plopped on the oval plate alongside two small falafels and two small dolmati.  Considering the price and that were were three, I would expect a bit more, considering the fact that the dolmati and falafels were so small you could pop one in your mouth and still have room for an entire White Castle burger.  

Falafel Sandwich with French Fries – $8.99
My wife had the Falafel and Baba Ghanouj Sandwich (Vegan – roasted eggplant spread and falafel served with tahini sauce on pita bread – $7.99) which came with rice.  My wife wanted French fries instead of rice, so the server told us it would be a $1.00 up-charge, not unreasonable, but when the plate arrived there were hardly any fries, maybe six or seven medium size pieces and not nearly enough to satisfy her hunger or justify an extra dollar.  The sandwich had much more lettuce than fillings, a couple small falafels in a medium size pita and at $8.99 including fries, no bargain.  My wife is not a big eater and was still hungry after finishing her food, not a good sign.

Beef and Lamb Gyro w/ Fries – $8.99
I decided to try Aladdin’s Gyro, a combination of grilled lamb and beef ($7.99 – chicken also available) with lettuce and tomato and topped with tzatziki, a creamy Greek cucumber sauce.  I also ordered the fries and after tasting our friend’s rice and was happy to pay an extra dollar for a few measly French fries.  Her rice was bland and white with a dollup of canned mystery tomato sauce on top, a tasteless side and nothing like the wonderful saffron rice I had eaten in the middle-East in the early 2000’s.  The few small slices of gyro meat inside were overwhelmed by the massive amounts of cheap lettuce and a few pieces of tomato.  I have had gyros with three times the meat in Greece and the U.S. that were less than half the price, so do not expect good value when visiting Aladdin Café.

I am not a huge fan of middle-Eastern cuisine, but the offerings at Aladdin were enough to allow some variety.  The service was inadequate, the food mediocre and NOT plentiful, and the ambience non existent.  It is unfortunate because we live just a few blocks away from Aladdin and it would be nice to have a few exotic options in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the only thing exotic about Aladdin Café on Mass Street are the prices and that is not a good thing.

CombatCritic gives Aladdin Café 4 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!





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Key Words: Aladdin, Cafe, middle, eastern, falafel, gyro, food, eat, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, downtown, service, hummus, baba, ghanouj, pita, bread, tzatziki, CombatCritic

Cascone’s Italian Restaurant – Good, Consistent American-Style Italian Food, Large Portions at MODERATE Prices (April 2013 Update)


Cascone’s (North Oak)

3733 North Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 454-7977


www.Cascones.com


$$$ (PREVIOUSLY $$)

Ponte Vecchio – Florence, Italy
I am an Italian-American, was raised by first generation immigrants from the hills between Napoli (Naples) and Bari on the Adriatic Sea, lived in Italy for three years on assignment with the U.S. Air Force, and married an Italian (Sicilian to be precise), so we travel there often to see family and enjoy the wonderful cuisine.

Traditional Italian food (in the old country) only resembles what we call “Italian” here and you have not lived until you have eaten a traditional Italian meal…in Italy. Dinner in Italy normally does not start until 9PM and rarely ends before midnight. Starting with the antipasto, you may have assorted fresh meats and cheeses, prosciutto e melone (cured Italian ham from Parma and melone which is Italian cantaloupe – a traditional antipasto during the warm summer months), or, my favorite, insalata caprese (fresh buffalo mozzarella with bright red tomato slices drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil leaves). Fresh homemade bread always accompanies your meal, but you may be charged a “coperto” (cover) of one or two euros for the bread and place setting. Primo (or the first dish) is next and usually consists of soup or pasta, an infinite variety of freshly made pastas mixed with an equally infinite number of sauce combinations. All the while, you sip bottled water (with or without gas…bubbles) and some of the most delicious wines in the world, usually locally made, if not on the premises. Next comes the secondo (or main dish), usually meat or fish, simply prepared and accompanied by contorni (vegetables, potatoes, and salad…yes, salad comes with the main dish, not before your meal). Italians would never think of eating pasta and meat (or fish) on the same plate, so the traditions you see in the U.S. (e.g. Olive Garden…excuse me while a vomit a little in my mouth) DEFINITELY did not originate in Italy. Finally, a digestivo, a liquor such as grappa, amaretto, or, my favorite, limoncello, is served before cafe (what you call espresso (cappuccino is never drunk after morning and is considered a woman’s drink) and dolce (dessert), usually something simple like fruit and cheese or biscotti (cookies).


My wife and I have been going to Cascone’s for three years and have never had a bad meal. Some were not as good as others were, but never bad. My Sicilian spouse has grown accustomed to the American version and, even though nontraditional (in her eyes anyway), Cascone’s is one of her favorites. Strong praise indeed from an Italian citizen.



We inevitably arrive on Sunday evening and the soup selection (all entrees come with soup or salad and a loaf of fresh baked bread) is very limited, rather predictable, and mostly boring..chicken of one sort or another with noodles or rice.


The salad with the house dressing (an olive oil and vinaigrette) is always good, but inconsistent. Sometimes you get olives, artichoke heart, and croutons, sometimes not. I order the blue cheese crumbles on the side and get a twist of fresh cracked pepper. Very good salad and the great bread makes up for the lack of consistency in ingredients (croutons for example). … UPDATE … THE NEW MENU ) AS OF APRIL 2013) IS NOW ALA CARTE (AGAIN … WE HAVE BEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE) AND SOUP OR SALAD ARE NOW EXTRA WITH A HOUSE SALAD GOING FOR AN ADDITIONAL $3.50 WITH AN ENTREE.  INSTEAD OF GETTING THE WARM LOAF OF SESAME SEED TOPPED OF WARM, CRUSTY BREAD IS NOW A COUPLE OF PIECES IN A BASKET … BOOOOOO!

The antipasto selection is limited and non-traditional, including the “Italian Nachos” a huge concoction that looks filling, but not appetizing. With the size of the entrees and the soup/salad, you will not need an antipasto anyway. If you do, get the steamed artichoke (when it is in-season) and share it with your guest.
I love veal and their veal parmigiana is superb. Pounded thin, lightly breaded, and pan fried, you get two large escallops on a bed of spaghetti (I order the mastacioli instead, a type of large penne). I do not like that the meat covers the pasta and inevitably have to dig the pasta out to scrape enough sauce together to cover the mastacioli, sometimes having to ask for extra marinara to cover the white bits. The servers are skimpy on the hand grated parmigianno-reggiano cheese, so I usually have them fill up my bread plate and scatter the cheese as I see fit.  


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE … 


EVEN THOUGH THE MENU HAS CHANGED TO ALA CARTE AGAIN, AND PRICES HAVE GONE UP, PORTIONS ARE SMALLER.  MY MASTACIOLI LAST NIGHT WAS NOT DRAINED WELL AND THE SAUCE WAS WATERY.  CASCONE’S MARINARA SAUCE IS VERY GOOD, BUT WATER, UNFORTUNATELY, DOES NOT ADD TO THE FLAVOR … ANOTHER BOOOOOOO!


I have had the veal marsala and it is not like any marsala dish I have ever tried. They use green (bell) peppers and onions in addition to the more traditional mushrooms, a combination that does not quite work with a delicate marsala sauce. I would not bother with this dish if I were you.


The chicken spedieni is very good and bountiful, but everything comes with pasta and marinara sauce, so if you want alfredo or olive oil and garlic, which would be more appropriate, be prepared to pay extra.

The pasta dishes are good and my wife usually orders the tortelonni Savina Maria, large shells stuffed with veal and cheese in a white sauce with mushrooms, peas, and pieces of prosciutto (cannot tell if it is cotto or crudo). It is very good and enough for one very hungry person of two light eaters (be prepared to be charged if you share, they charge for everything not priced on the menu). She also likes the Pasta Asiago, bowtie pasta in a crème sauce with broccoli and mushrooms (and chicken if you want to pay extra). The Pasta Asiago comes with tomatoes, but my wife is intolerant to tomatoes (can you believe it, an Italian woman that does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook!).  There are a couple pizza choices (two to three depending  on the menu) and are decent, being the single serving (one person) size and much smaller than their Naepolitano (from Naples, Italy) cousins…VERY DISTANT COUSINS!
I have never had room for dessert, but the choices are traditional and look good so go for it if you have room.
The wine list (and menu) change as often my brother’s underwear, so do not become too attached to any particular maker or vintage. The house wines are pretty good and come in various varieties and at $6 per glass, are a relative bargain … 


… UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE … 


We returned for dinner on April 26th, 2013 and the menu had changed once again! THE WINE LIST IS VERY DIFFERENT … WINE BY THE GLASS ARE NOW $8 TO $11 AND UP!  BOTTLES MAY HAVE RISEN, BUT ARE NOW A MUCH BETTER VALUE.  MANY “UPSCALE” RESTAURANTS CAN GET AWAY WITH $8 TO $11 GLASSES OF WINE, BUT CASCONE’S IS NOT THAT KIND OF RESTAURANT AND THESE PRICES ARE GOING TO HURT WINE SALES BECAUSE CASCONE’S HAS A LARGE SENIOR CITIZEN CUSTOMER BASE AND IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, FOLKS ARE NOT GOING TO PAY THE EQUIVALENT OF $60 FOR A $25 TO $30 BOTTLE OF WINE. 



As I said, we have been going to Cascone’s practically every Sunday for five years, so you would think the wait staff would know us by name by now. They do not. The receptionist is quite friendly and knows us by face, but do not expect to be called by name by any of the staff, no matter how long you have been going there. Service is friendly enough and things get done on time (mostly), but they do not chit chat and seem to care less who you are. After all, I am there for food and companionship with my table mates, not to make friends with the wait staff. 


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE …

OUR SERVER LAST NIGHT WAS WONDERFUL AND VERY FRIENDLY AND ACCOMMODATING, EVEN THOUGH SHE NEVER TOLD US HER NAME … THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND EXCELLENT SERVICE … WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!

CombatCritic NOW gives Cascone’s (North Oak) ONLY 6 out of 1o BOMBS … BOMBS in this case are good!


CombatCritic’s BOMB ratings are based on “VALUE” … quality of the food, service, ambience compared to the prices, so the drastic price changes in the case of Cascone’s dropped their score one BOMB … SORRY FREINDS!

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