Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LUNCHTIME DEALS, SCHMEALS.....

If you've had the chance to take a look at the Akron Beacon Journal's "Beacon Deals" link, it seems there are some pretty decent deals to be had here. They offer gift certificates for local eateries at 50% off. This week I noticed that a new downtown restaurant "Rubber City Grill" was featured and since I'd eaten there last week and liked both the food and the experience, I decided to give the 50%-off-deal-thing a try.

Let me state here that I've been a customer of the ABJ's Newspapers In Education coupons for a couple of years and have been happy to be able to use the certificates purchased through the program and have always received the full value of my certificates. I expected the same with this program as well.

I thought I was very careful in reading the terms and conditions as stated on the web page before agreeing to make, what seemed like, a good purchase. For $25 plus $2 handling fee I received five $10 "gift certificates". Ostensibly, that's a $50 value for only $25. Sounded good eh?

So Monday I suggested to friends that they try out RCG for lunch with me and we happily made our way through the meal (even though our waiter managed to drop one of our lunches on the floor, the food still came to us fairly quickly). The food here is mostly good although don't hold out for anything that looks remotely like their website. Compared to the steak sandwich on the site, mine was anemic in size, but fairly tasty (take a look at this photo of the remaining half of my sandwich then go to their website to see their version at http://www.luxakron.com/rcg/specials.html).


One gal ordered the burger special and claimed it was small but "pretty good". The sandwich wraps, in contrast, are generous in portion - one friend had a Buffalo Wrap that was quite good, but one had the Mediteranean Wrap that she thought was very bland. Overall, the food is not bad and because the service was pretty fast for a downtown location, I figured this would be a regular spot for lunch.

So, lunch was over and it was time for me to use my "Beacon Deal" coupon. I presented my $10 certificate for a $7 meal and was expecting that there would be value left on the certificate for use at another time. But, no....that's not the case. After a couple of attempts to explain that I wasn't expecting "cash money" back, only a residual value on the certificate, I was told by the manager of Rubber City that I had only the one chance to use this certificate, no value was to be given back and that, in effect, I'd just given them $3 because I didn't order $10 worth of food.

Basically he came out and told me that I was stupid (his word, not mine) because (1) I expected cash back (when in fact I stated that was not the case multiple times) and (2) I should have read the terms and conditions before buying the certificates (which of course I did, carefully). Gee, nothing like being told you're an idiot by the 20 year old manager when you've just brought 3 people for lunch on your recommendation to their new restaurant.

Lessons learned here all around I think. The gals I had lunch with will probably not be back, not because the food wasn't good, or the service poor, but because of the way I was treated by the manager. I will only be back at all because now I'm stuck with $40 in certificates that I refuse to just toss in the trash.

And, although the "terms and conditions" of the Beacon Deals seemed clear to me, I obviously was trying to interpret them using my past experience with the NIE program. They've lost me as a customer and lost any recommendations to friends that I might have made. Perhaps this was just a bad day all around. I'd had high expectations of both the program and the restaurant, and it certainly appears that I should have set that bar down several notches.

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