Customer Service Failure From Integration Acres (Albany, Ohio)

img_1222I don’t like to talk negatively about a business. Often, when I find a business with poor customer service, I just promise not to return and move on. Poor customer service is one thing. Apathy is something else.

You can read my earlier posts about the paw paw. It is on my “to do” list to try it for the first time. Sadly, I missed the season for fresh paw paw this year but I remembered a post that listed Integration Acres as a place to buy frozen paw paw. I ordered a bag a frozen paw paw pulp and two flavored paw paw pops. I was excited at prospect of tasting paw paw and writing about it.

First Integration Acres shipped the package of frozen item via UPS Ground. It took three days to get to me. All of the items were fully defrosted and the box had a stench when I opened it (see photos). A sad situation but easily corrected.

img_1223I called the number on the nice letter included in the package. The letter thanked me for my purchased and said to “call, text or email with questions, comments, experiences and suggestions”. I explained the situation and the nice man on the phone asked me to send an email with the details. He promised they would fix the issue. I send an email with details and photos.

Two days go by with no response. I called the number again and get voicemail. I leave my name and number and said I was confirming they received the email.

I get a text a few minutes later saying, “I’ll call you right back”. That was two days ago.

Promising to fix an issue then not responding is worse than poor customer service! Instead of writing a post praising Integration Acres for helping me solve a problem! I’m writing about this. Any ideas how to handle this?

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!


10/26/2016 – Update – Along with this post, I also did a review on Integration Acres’ Facebook page. They replied in less than two hours with the following, “Brent, we’re sorry for the delay in resolving the matter. We are processing fruit and shipping at the same time, and fell behind. Will issue your refund immediately, and will try to see what happened with UPS. Again, we’re sorry for not taking care of it sooner.” I got a credit a couple days later.

Rest Stop Bathrooms and the Curse of the Low Power Hand Dryer

dreamstime_xs_48754288 - Public BathroomI’ve been on several road trips in the last few months including an 18 hour trip to Florida. I enjoy road trips. I listen to audio books during the drive and the view on scenic roads can be relaxing.

One side effect of a long drive is occasionally, you feel the call of nature. Suddenly, those information signs along the road become important to read. You begin the search for a rest stop, truck stop or some other place to grab a snack and use the facilities. A common ritual on a road trip.

My problem is this. I’ve noticed more and more of the public bathrooms don’t have paper towels. All you get are hand dryers. Most of the time, it’s a low power hand dryer. I can honestly say that low power hand dryer are good for nothing but building frustration.

Now I get it. Paper towels add to landfills. Plus, businesses can save money by not suppling them. My complaint is this. You can’t blow your nose or wipe something off your shirt with a hand dryer. There are times when you need a paper towel in a bathroom.

These low power hand dryers are not working for me. I decided I need a solution for my road trips. Kleenex hand towels to the rescue! I buy a box at the start of the trip. I grab a couple towels before getting out of the car and put them in a pocket. If the bathroom is out of paper or has a hand dryer, I’m covered. I simple reach into my pocket.

I know some of you will think this is no big deal or even silly. My view, it’s a less stressful road trip!

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories!

2016 Social Media Planning II

dreamstime_s_29448883 - Social Media
© Nito100 | – Social Media Photo

I completed a social media audit. My activity on social media channels is as follows:

  1. Facebook (7 followers) – I have a page setup for Maryland Travel Stories (MTS). I share most of the posts from the blog there as well as other stories I find on Facebook.
  2. Twitter (38 followers) – MTS has a profile setup. I tweet most of the posts from the blog and retweet other stories.
  3. Pinterest (1,543 followers) – This is my personal profile but I have boards setup to support MTS. The profile I setup for MTS is no longer active. The two most popular boards are Coffee Shop Stuff and Bucket List Ideas.
  4. Google+ (1 follower) – MTS has a page setup. There’s a widget installed that automatically shares any post from the blog on the page. No other activity.
  5. Instagram (1 follower) -I created a profile but the setup is not complete and there are no photo posted.

Social Media Priorities (I’m going to get hit with rotten tomatoes for this.) :

  1. Priority #1 – Lower social media as a priority – Simply put, I don’t have enough hands and there are not enough hours in a day. I’m giving myself permission not to worry too much about sharing on social media. There are days when I spend three times as much time planning, posting and sharing on social media as I do creating the content I’m sharing … NUTS! This turns the fun of blogging into the chore of marketing … and adds all the stress! Of course I’ll be singing a different tune if I win the lottery or get a call from Oprah. It could happen.
  2. Focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – I have limited time and I have to focus. If I find a way to monetize the blog, I can add more social media channels by outsourcing the work. I already have a great recommendation for a virtual assistant.
  3. Content PlanWorking on it now. This will be the next post for social media planning.


Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

SuperHandyApp, SuperPro, Snow Gone, Awesome!

dreamstime_xs_30044916 - Car covered in snowSo here’s my Jonas Blizzard 2016, snowzilla, snowmageddon story. And it’s a simple one. My car was covered in snow [I forgot to take a photo but this photo comes very close]. Snow piled on top, both sides and in back. For me, a heart attack waiting to happen. What’s a simple solution … pay someone to dig it out!

At least I thought it would be a simple solution. There are a lot of websites that list labor, handyman or skilled services but it’s not really easy to order a service. I picked two websites, scrolled through the listings and started dialing. Some had a number listed but I always got voicemail. Some listed an email address only. Before long, I was in email and text exchanges with 4 different providers. Back and forth. I got a question. I replied and wait for an answer. On and on this goes.

2264289_orig - SuperHandyApp - SuperProWhile all this is going on, my wife downloads an app called “SuperHandyApp” on her Android phone. She registers and requests snow removal help. She gets a call from Adalberto. “I’ll be there in 20 minutes”, he said. Magical words! I could respond to all the people I was texting and emailing and say, “I just hired someone.”

This is an awesome service! Fast and easy. It’s like Uber for labor and skilled services. Open the app on your phone. Order the service. Someone shows up and does the work. Payment is handled through the app … like Uber!

This is a new service from what I understand. While I loved the ease and results, there where some bugs in the system. All can be blamed on snowmageddon I think. Adalberto came and two hours later, the work was done. Bottom line … I LOVE THIS APP! It’s called “SuperHandyApp” on Android and “SuperHandy” on iTunes. Look for the “S” symbol above. It’s limited to the DC Metro Area & the Los Angeles Area for now. If you live in the zone, check it out!

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

Hotel Stay: Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night


I saw the above tweet and had to check it out. It’s an article on the Groupon website called “Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night and Other Hotel Tipping Etiquette” by Jorie Larsen. In the article, Jorie Larsen spoke with manners expert Lizzie Post (cohost of the Awesome Etiquette podcast). Read the article to see the complete info-graphic on hotel tipping.

My favorite part was tipping the housekeeper. Lizzie’s advice goes as follows:

Should you tip [the housekeeper]?: Yes.
How much?: It depends on the number of people staying in your room, although $2 per night is fairly standard. Larger families, or those staying in a large suite, should tip more, up to $5 per night. When deciding how much to leave, Post says to “consider the amount of work housekeeping has to do.”
Should I tip every night or once at the end?: “Tipping nightly ensures the tips go to the people who actually clean your room,” Post says.
Where should I put the tip?: On your pillow or nightstand. Better yet, place it in an envelope clearly labeled “Housekeeping,” then leave it on your nightstand.
What if I’m staying at a B&B or small inn?: It’s up to your discretion, but feel free to ask the inn’s staff what the tipping standards are. Generally speaking, you should leave a tip if there is hired help to clean the rooms.

dreamstime_s_48685237 - Hotel HousekeeperI often get into discussions with friends who don’t tip housekeeping at all or who only tip at the end of their stay. I hope this ends the discussion for my friends that don’t tip. Follow the wisdom of Lizzie Post and start tipping!

For my friends who tip at the end of the stay … STOP IT! There are times when a different person cleans your room each day. If you tip all at the end of your stay, you are over tipping the last housekeeper and not tipping the others at all. When I stay at a hotel, I leave a $2 or $3 tip on the desk with a note that says “tip for housekeeper”. I want it to be clear to the housekeeper that it is a tip for him or her.

How do you handle tipping the housekeeper?

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

RestaurantI eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Spike TV. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was really bad. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash his hands either. Then I realized, if a restaurant does not take the time to clean and re-stock the bathroom, why would I think they clean the kitchen? If I see roaches or other critters in the bathroom (and I have), I bet there are critters in the kitchen as well. I decided a really bad bathroom is a good sign I should get out of there BEFORE I eat a meal.

Why worry about a restaurants’ bathroom? Bathrooms are used by customers. Some restaurant managers don’t care or are too busy to make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked. If a place customers see is a low priority for cleanliness, what’s the priority for places NOT SEEN by customers? It’s a red flag at least!

My sister-in-law works in the restaurant industry. She has another test. Look up at the air vents in the dining room. If they’re dirty, so is the kitchen. Do you have a test? If so, please share …

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

A Lesson Learned Booking A Hotel

© Alikeyou | - Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo
© Alikeyou | – Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo

Okay. I have a blog so I can rant. I’ve stayed at many hotels in my lifetime. I make my reservation for the stay I plan to have. I show up, check in and go to my room. At the end of my stay I check out and receive my bill. I understand that I’ll be charged a fee or even a night’s stay if I don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. It’s the wonderful relationship I have with hotels. It works.

I tried something new on my last stay. I booked my reservation using the booking service on TripAdvisor. I was surprised to find out they charged the full stay on my card before I checked in! I know people pay in advance for cruises and tours. I usually don’t pay in advance for a hotel. What if I check out early? I’ve been charged for nights I might not use.

Here’s my biggest concern with this. Go watch Hotel Impossible. There are a lot of poorly managed hotels out there. If I arrive and the place is dirty, smelly, have critters or is in poor repair … I’m history! I’ll find somewhere else to stay. I’ll pay the price of a night stay if I need to. I don’t want to have to fight to get the cost of 2 or 3 day’s back when I didn’t stay 1 day.

I know this maybe petty for some. You might even call me naive for not knowing that booking sites do this. I definitely will view this as a lesson learned.

Don’t get me wrong. I love TripAdvisor for the information. I’ll just book future reservations somewhere else.

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!