Friday, November 14, 2014

USAA Federal Savings Bank ... Too Big For Britches, Strands Member In India Without Funds

It has been over 9 days since I requested help via email from USAA concerning my damaged debit and credit cards while on vacation in Dharamsala, India where I am attending teachings by the Dalai Lama, volunteering with the Tibetan refugees, and studying Budhist philosophy. My credit card does not work at all and my debit card is also damaged, but is currently functioning (although I do not know how long that will continue). I gave them my hotel's address HERE IN INDIA, but having not received them by the appointed date, I realized that THEY HAD BEEN SENT VIA FedEx TO KANSAS ... "Dharamsala, Kansas" and an Indian postal code.

It's no wonder I have not received my replacement debit/credit cards because if USAA employees had simply read my emails in their entirety, they would have realized that I AM IN INDIA AND THAT THERE IS NO DHARAMSALA IN KANSAS!!! Unbelievable! They also would have answered the questions I asked about MY DAMAGED CREDIT CARD and HOW AND WHEN TO CALL USAA AS INSTRUCTED in a previous email.

I find this all very concerning as I am half way around the world and potentially without a source of funds and USAA DOES NOT SEEM TO CARE ENOUGH TO READ MY EMAILS IN THEIR ENTIRETY, ANSWER MY QUESTIONS, AND GET ME THE CARDS I DESPERATELY NEED!

I am also EXTREMELY concerned because I specifically asked not to have my current (new) credit card replaced because I had to notify numerous auto-pay accounts of the change in cards WHEN FORCED TO REPLACE THE CARD AGAINST MY WISHES, THE SECOND TIME IN LESS THAN 2 YEARS!  USAA apparently does not understand the inconvenience caused by mandating card changes on customers THROUGH NO FAULT OF OUR OWN.  Being in India, where internet connections are slow at best, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to contact all of my account holders AGAIN to update payment (card) information, AVOIDING MISSED/LATE PAYMENTS AND POSSIBLE NEGATIVE IMPACT ON MY CREDIT RATING. If USAA cannot figure out that I am in India, how could I possibly count on them NOT TO CANCEL my current credit card and AVOID HAVING TO CONTACT MY CREDITORS FOR THE THIRD TIME IN TWO YEARS.


We will see if and how my case is handled and I will update you here. USAA has gone downhill in recent years in terms of customer service and it seems as though they have gotten too big for their britches since rolling in non-officers. I think it's wonderful that all Veterans now have access to USAA's services, but before the change we (officers) received quality, personal customer service, a thing of the past based on my experiences with USAA in recent years.

UPDATE - January 26, 2015): Three months after first contacting USAA about my damaged cards, I still have not received my new credit card even after my case was elevated to the CEO-level. I was promised by the CEO's representative that my application would be processed "personally" and the card sent to my wife so she could bring it to me when she left to meet me in New Delhi on November 21, 2014, but when I checked the status on their website a few days before her departure I found that it had not been processed as promised.

Maybe USAA's CEO should try traveling abroad without a credit card the next time he goes on vacation to see how difficult it is and possibly empathise with customers (members) like me that are left stranded in a third-world country without the proper resources.

CombatCritic Gives USAA A Dismal 3 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

USAA Has Been Added To CombatCritic's Wall of Shame

Key Words: USAA Federal Savings Bank, USAA, federal, savings, bank, banking, insurance, credit card, debit card, debit, credit, card, customer service, customer, service, travel, India, Kansas, Dharamsala

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Arlington National Cemetary (ANC) Could Do A MUCH Better Job When It Comes To America's Heroes

Arlington National Cemetary has a hallowed and illustrious past and is the final resting place of thousands of American heroes, including John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, Chappie James, George Patton, and John Pershing among many others. 

When a family loses a loved one, the very least that can be expected is for the people making the funeral arrangements to treat the mourners with dignity, respect, and compassion ... AT THE VERY LEAST. A recent experience with Arlington, while making funeral arrangements for my father, a World War II Veteran and my hero, leaves me extremely concerned that the loved ones of American heroes are being ignored, neglected, and instead of making a very difficult period easier and more stress free, Arlington is only contributing to their stress.

It is not as if Arlington does not have enough data available, having existed since 1860 with over 300,000 inhabitants, so how is it that they can virtually ignore us when we contact them to make funeral arrangements, stating "we can neither tell you when a funeral can be scheduled nor when we will even contact you to schedule it"?

We had a funeral scheduled for my father last August, but had to postpone it when our house sitter backed-out just two weeks before the service. Rather than wait until the last minute to let Arlington know, we decided that we would cancel two weeks out and reschedule at a later date so that some other grieving family could utilize the time and resources allotted for my father. It seemed like the right thing to do.

But when I contacted Arlington by email on March 20th, 2014, two months before our proposed funeral date and my father's 89th birthday (May 22nd, 2014), I did not hear a word for five days, so I called their toll free number. 

I was told that my request had in-fact been received and that we were in the "scheduling que". I asked the woman when we might expect to be contacted, telling her that we and other family members needed to make travel arrangements and that the date of the funeral would affect when my wife could travel to Italy to visit her ailing parents, but she told me "you'll just have to wait". Asking her how it was possible that they could have no idea how long it would take to contact us, she told me that all I could do is "call back and inquire from time to time".

I called back a few weeks later, but was told the same thing, "you will have to wait" and "we cannot provide any more information". That was when I became not only insulted, but incensed about not only the way we were being treated, but the treatment everyone else in "the que" is also experiencing. So I sent the following email to Arlington:
Case #xxxx16 - RE: PFC J. SORRENTINO, USA 
We have been attempting to schedule my father's funeral for his birthday, May 22nd, this year, but your schedulers refuse to provide any information regarding when we might expect a burial. We have numerous obligations which cannot be finalized, totaling several thousands of dollars, until we have a funeral date, including travel plans for several people to attend the funeral, house sitting, my wife's travel plans to visit her elderly and ailing parents in Naples, Italy among others.  
ANC is not new to this endeavor and should have historical information which could provide an estimate of how long it will take to be contacted by a scheduler and how far out burials can be scheduled based on those currently in the system. Keeping loved-ones waiting unnecessarily, unable to make plans only because your employees refuse to take the needs of others into consideration is unprofessional.
I realize that it is an honor to be buried at ANC and that your staff are overburdened by the number of funerals they are required to schedule, but a small amount of dignity, consideration, and foresight could eliminate any additional hardship on families already affected by the loss of a loved one. 
Chris T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret) Next-of-Kin
Here is the reply I received:
From: <>Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 1:34 PMTo: Chris Sorrentino <> 
Subject: Arlington National Cemetery - Feedback Confirmation 
We appreciate your feedback correspondence, which prompted this automatic e-mail response. Someone will be contacting you shortly with a tracking number.  Given the varying nature and types of inquiries we receive, we cannot comment on how long each specific type of inquiry should take. However, we are acting on your inquiry. Should you like to check its status, please feel free to call 1-877-907-8585 and provide your tracking number. 
Thank you for contacting Arlington National Cemetery.  Honor - Remember - Explore.
With over 300,000 data points, you would think that Arlington could extrapolate based on the number of requests, funerals in "the que", and employees available, and give mourners a rough idea when their loved ones might be buried OR at least when they might be contacted to make final arrangements. 

Three weeks out from our desired funeral date and 13 days since I was told I would be contacted with a "tracking number" regarding my email, I had still not been contacted. We had to cancel our plans for the May 22nd funeral because travel costs were skyrocketing and my wife needed to make plans to travel to Italy to see her ailing parents. We not only  wasted weeks of preparations for the event, we also had to pay an additional $400 in airfare due to waiting until the last minute to make airline reservations thanks to Arlington's lack of professionalism, concern, respect, and compassion.

The implications in terms of our lives are minimal compared to the grieving families of those who have recently lost a loved one and are stuck in the que waiting for a funeral date without hope for even a clue as to when they might be contacted. What happens to the remains of those waiting weeks or months while Arlington pencil pushers and bureaucrats sit on the paperwork, deciding when they might grace us with their presence and alleviate the suffering they have unduly caused to the grieving families of America's heroes? 

There is more than enough data for Arlington to figure out what their schedule looks like and how many requests they have in the que, providing at least a rough idea when families might be contacted and a ballpark figure as to how far out funerals are being scheduled so that loved ones can make appropriate plans, inviting family and friends to travel to Virginia and honor the deceased with the dignity and respect they deserve. Currently, they are failing miserably and whomever is in charge of our Nation's most respected military cemetery should be ashamed, very ashamed.

"Honor - Remember - Explore" ... Yeah, right!

UPDATE: MAY 11, 2014

It has now been nearly two months since I contacted ANC to schedule a funeral for my father and over 3 weeks since I was promised contact and a "tracking number". It appears at this point that one of three things is happening:

  1. ANC leaders and staff, US Army employees, are incompetent
  2. ANC staff could care less about the grieving families of US military personnel
  3. ANC is actively retaliating against me, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and future ANC resident, for having to cancel my fathers funeral last August through no fault of our own
In either case, the result is unacceptable. Again, we have only been inconvenienced in terms of plans and money lost as my father's cremated remains have not deteriorated or putrefied during the two months we have been waiting for Arlington National Cemetary to contact us with a date for his funeral. Yes, my wife has to curtail her visit to Italy to see her family so we can possibly have his funeral in August before she returns to work at KU and maybe ANC staff will contact me in time ... MAYBE?

In any event, I have experienced enough indignity and disrespect from the people we, American taxpayers, pay to manage the final disposition of our Nation's heroes and will contact my US Senator, Pat Roberts (R - KS), asking him to intervene on our behalf and on behalf of other families whom may be experiencing much more than inconvenience as a result of Arlington National Cemetery's complete lack of competence and professionalism. 

Here is the email I sent to Arlington on May 11th, 2014:
As confirmed on March 25, 2014, you received my request for a funeral for my father, PFC Joseph Sorrentino, on May 22nd, 2014 (Case #150016). I have called and emailed several times since, but here it is nearly two months later and your staff refuses to contact me. We had to cancel plans for the funeral and have incurred added expenses because your employees refuse to let us know when we can expect to schedule my father's funeral. This is unacceptable! 
I was promised a response and case number after I contacted you on April 17, 2014: 
From: <>Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 1:34 PMTo: Chris Sorrentino <> 
Subject: Arlington National Cemetery - Feedback Confirmation 
We appreciate your feedback correspondence, which prompted this automatic e-mail response. Someone will be contacting you shortly with a tracking number.  Given the varying nature and types of inquiries we receive, we cannot comment on how long each specific type of inquiry should take. However, we are acting on your inquiry. Should you like to check its status, please feel free to call 1-877-907-8585 and provide your tracking number. 
Thank you for contacting Arlington National Cemetery.  Honor - Remember - Explore 
If I do not hear from your staff by Monday, May 12th, 2014, I will file a Congressional Complaint with my US Senator, Pat Roberts (R-KS). You can read the whole story on my blog: 
Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret) - Next-Of-Kin
This is not the first problem experienced because of incompetence at Arlington as has been reported in the Washington PostNBC News, and various blogs, with hundreds of remains being unaccounted for, misplaced, or otherwise disrespected. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND SENATOR ROBERTS SHOULD ACT WITHOUT DELAY IN CORRECTING THESE GRAVE DEFICIENCIES AND THE LEADER RESPONSIBLE FOR ARLINGTON SHOULD BE ADMONISHED, REPRIMANDED, OR FIRED.

Key Words: Air Force, Arlington, Arlington National Cemetary, Army, cemetery, combatcounselor, funeral, grave, military, national, Pat, Roberts, senator, Senator Pat Roberts, soldier, unknown, unknown soldier, veteran

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dominick Campos (Kansas City, MO): "Christian" Handyman Took My Money, But Did Not Finish The Job

Dominick Campos (Kansas City, MO): "Christian" Handyman Took My Money, But Did Not Finish The Job

Dominick Campos
5022 NW Woody Creek Lane
Kansas City, MO 64151
(816) 824-1799

Dominick Campos is a handyman from Kansas City, Missouri. I paid him over $6000 in cash (IRS), a very fair wage, but he DID NOT COMPLETE the work he promised and was paid to perform.

He promised to reroute water, which had been causing damage to our roof, into a planter, but failed to complete the work as agreed. He also failed to complete replacement of the wood trim on the top portion of our chimney we had agreed on because "it was too high" and was afraid he would get hurt. He also failed to repair and paint window trim as promised. 

Because I trusted him, a self-proclaimed "devout Christian", I made the mistake of paying him in advance. When we finally met, he promised to complete the repairs and I even gave him an additional $30 for supplies, but he later backed-out, promising to return the $30, but he never did. It will cost me an additional $1,000 to finish the work Dominick Campos failed to complete.

Dominick Campos, a Kansas City Handyman, did poor to average work, took advantage of me, I feel he cannot be trusted, and his integrity is very questionable.

CombatActivist Gives Dominick Campos, Handyman, 1 Out of 10 Bombs ... More Bombs Are Good!


Key Words: Dominick Campos, Dominick, Campos, Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas, handyman, service, services, plumbing, electrical, construction, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, 66044, KS, IRS, Internal Revenue Service

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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.


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!

Key Words: Genesis Health Club, health, club, Fitness, Genesis, gym, center, exercise, workout, yoga, integrity, honor, truth, lies, membership, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator(Model # MSD2576VEM) IS JUNK!

Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM)
You may not think a refrigerator has much to do with travel or value, but in-fact, when we go away on vacation, we leave several hundreds of dollars worth of food in our refrigerator and freezer. If either fail while we are away, as ours did recently, the costs can be staggering.

We purchased a $1600 Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator (Model # MSD2576VEM) through Home Depot's website ( on November 26, 2011, just over two years ago. It is now a 250 pound door stop!

A $1600 refrigerator should last more than two years and 120 days, but this one died last week when the condenser failed, an $863.46 repair. 

When I called Home Depot to see if they stood behind the faulty products they sell, I was told "we're so sorry for your troubles, let me connect you with Maytag". I told the individual that the Maytag warranty was for 12 months, parts and labor, and that my MasterCard extended warranty added an additional 12 months to the warranty, expiring less than 4 months ago. I asked again "are you going to stand behind this product" and was told "I'm sorry, but you'll have to contact Maytag" … WRONG ANSWER!

How can a $1600 appliance fail after just two years? Because it is garbage. Why will Home Depot and Maytag NOT stand behind their products? Because they can! These companies could care less that one of their products failed just as Apple Inc. could care less that their products are junk, and only because individual consumers just do not count. If I do not buy another Maytag or Home Depot product, which I will not do, it means nothing to their bottom line. They only care about large losses and knowing that people care only about themselves, they know all too well that we will not unite and boycott their products and services, so they blow us off. Being the owner of two homes, one a rental property, I spend several thousand dollars each year at Home Depot. As a Home Depot, Inc. and Maytag Corporation shareholder (large cap mutual funds), I have serious concerns when the companies I am part owner of fail customers with faulty products and poor support. You should too!

I refuse to spend another penny, much less $863.46, to repair a two-year old Maytag refrigerator which should last at least 10-15 years. This is not the first problem I have had with Home Depot and have only continued as a customer because the nearest Lowe's is over 30 miles away. This was my first Maytag appliance, even though I had heard terrible things about their products prior to purchase, AND MY LAST.

I hope I can save at least one person the same grief and expense we have suffered at the hands of Home Depot and Maytag by writing this review. Hopefully, enough people will read it and Home Depot and Maytag will get the message, but I am not counting on it because THEY DON'T CARE, THEY DON'T HAVE TO!

No surprise, BOTH REVIEWS (Home Depot and Maytag) WERE REJECTED! "Your opinion is very important to us, but ...". Give me a break! Here are the emails I received:
From: Maytag <>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM
To: Chris Sorrentino <>
Subject: Your Review has been Rejected


Hello CombatCritic,

Your opinion is very important to us and the Maytag community. We appreciate you taking the time to write a review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment. Unfortunately your review did not meet ourguidelines for posting on our site for the following reason(s):
  • To protect your privacy, our publication guidelines do not permit the mention of such personal information as your name, phone number, email address, or postal address. Also, it does not permit the use of derogatory comments or profanity.
We encourage you to review our guidelines and resubmit your review on Side-By-Side Refrigerator with Beverage Chillerâ≥¢ Compartment.

Thanks for being an active member of the maytag community.
Team Maytag

From: The Home Depot <>
Date: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:34 AM
To: Chris Sorrentino <>
Subject: Your review has been rejected

Your community engagement helps other customers get the right products for their projects
Please add to your address book. Learn how.
Home Depot

Hello CombatCritic,

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback about 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel. Your insight is very important to us and the other Home Depot customers who will read about your product experience. Unfortunately, your review did not meet our guidelines to be eligible for publication on our site. We want to post your review, so please remember to omit references to other websites and do not include URL links.
We encourage you to look over our guidelines below and resubmit your review regarding 25.3 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Monochromatic Stainless Steel.

Writing Guidelines
We want to publish your review, so please follow these writing guidelines:
  • Focus on the product
  • Avoid writing about customer service issues - instead, contact us to discuss your concerns
  • Do not mention competitors or the specific price you paid
  • Do not include any personally identifiable information such as your full name or address
Thanks for being an active member of The Home Depot community.
The Home Depot Team
If you have questions regarding the submission and approval process, please call us at 1-800-466-3337 (1-800-HOME-DEPOT).
Please do not reply to this email. To contact us, click

"I am sorry to inform you Maytag and Home Depot, but" ... 
CombatCritic Gives the Maytag MSD2576VEM Refrigerator, Home Depot, and Maytag Corporation 1 Out of 10 Bombs … MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: Home Depot, home, depot, Maytag 25.3 Cubic Foot Side-by-Side Stainless Steel Refrigerator Model # MSD2576VEM, Maytag, Side-by-Side, Stainless, Steel, Refrigerator, Model, MSD2576VEM, CombatCritic, combat, critic

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Apple, Inc: Poor Products, Customer Service, and Judgment

Letter to the Editor, MacWorld

I switched to Apple products after years of cursing Windows and Android-based systems, spending $3000 on two Macbook Pros and an iPhone 5c within the last year. What a mistake!

My Macbook crashed on me after less than 6 months, taking me 8-10 hours to read forums, reinstalling the OS, and recovering from a Time Machine backup. Next, my iPhone 5C froze while on vacation. After finding our way back to the hotel using non-technological resources (asking for directions and following signs), I spent much of the next two days on the phone with Apple support (Adranna) instead of relaxing on the beach or taking in the sights. Restoring the phone did not work, so Adrianna told me I needed to have the phone replaced when I got home.

Long story short, she told me I could upgrade to a 5S due to the fact that I lost confidence in the 5C, but Apple refused to honor her promise, stating "policy prohibits a from exchanging to another model even when the customer offers to pay the difference", which I was. After talking to numerous employees, being called a liar, and expressing my disappointment about Apple's products and customer service with senior customer service reps, I have up and had the iPhone replaced.

Over the past month, I have spent an additional 50-60 hours on the phone partitioning my Macbook's hard drive, backing up my data, wiping the hard drive clean, and reinstalling MacOS and transferring my data after the piece of junk locked-up again. I had to deal with chronic slowness and THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH on my PC, but NEVER HAD A COMPUTER CRASH in the decades of using non-Apple products!

I hag expressed my dismay with each of the 10-15 Apple employees I have spoken to over the past few months and they only confirmed my concerns ... APPLE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERS AND REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN PLACATE ME. As an Apple investor (owner of $25,000 to $50,000 in Apple shares at any given time) and American consumer, I am appalled by the lack customer service and support I have experienced at the hands of another institution that terrorizes consumers with impunity. Needless to say, I will never spend another penny on Apple products. All consumers and shareholders should be warned and concerned.

C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
aka CombatActivist

Read more detail about my experience:

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico to film a travel video and review hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, my iPhone died mid-trip. Using my phone for navigation on an island well known for difficulty locating addresses, taking photos and filming video, uploading them along with check-ins, reviews, and tips on Yelp (where I am an "Elite '14 member), TripAdvisor (I am a "Senior Contributor"), Foursquare, and Facebook pages, and locating attractions, restaurants, parks, and beaches, our visit literally came to a standstill when my 3-month old iPhone 5c (unlocked for Family Mobile - $600) stopped responding.

We were 50 miles from our hotel in San Germán when my nearly fully (80%) charged phone went dark. Having used Waze's navigation and social media app to get there, we were suddenly stranded in an unfamiliar area with no way to get back. Unsure how to return to Rincón where we were staying, I called Apple iPhone customer service using my wife's phone. Over the next 30-40 minutes, I was told that there was no Apple Store in Puerto Rico and that I had to connect my phone to my computer (back in the room), connecting to iTunes to see if I could get the phone to work.

We figured out how to get back to the hotel on our own and I plugged the iPhone in to my computer, but nothing happened. I then plugged the phone into the adapter and electric socket to charge it overnight and went to bed. When we awoke, the phone was back on, but it quickly went dark again and would not respond no matter how long I pushed the start button. It was time to call Apple again.

The iPhone technical support representative's name was Adreana and she was very nice and helpful. She told me to hold down the "on/off button" and "back" button simultaneously for 10 seconds and low-and-behold  ... the phone came on! Why did the rep I called from San Germán not tell me about this "hard start" feature, allowing us to possibly navigate our way back to Rincón using Waze instead of winging-it?

I spent over an hour-and-a-half on the phone with Adreanna, finally having to reset the phone from a back-up I had fortunately made on my computer two days earlier. Because the reset was taking so long, she told me she would call me back before going home to see how it went and determine whether or not the problem was resolved. It was not. The phone had again gone dark shortly after resetting it. Adreanna told me that I would have to have the phone replaced, but because it was a Friday night and nothing could be done until Monday (???) I would have to wait until I got home to go to an Apple Store to get a new phone.

Adreanna made the appointment for me the day after our scheduled return at the Leawood, Kansas store, the closest to our home in Lawrence and a 40 mile drive each way. I told her that I had wanted a 5s originally, but because I needed a phone and because there was an unknown wait-time for the new 5s, I had no choice to get the 5c. I also told her that I was displeased with the 5c and lost all confidence in the model after what we had been through, asking if I could upgrade to the 5s instead of replacing it with a 5c, EVEN OFFERING TO PAY THE DIFFERENCE IN COST! She told me that would be likely and would call me at the store at my designated appointment time (12:50pm CST - January 15, 2014) to explain to "The Genius" what had been going on and to help me get the phone I needed. I sent Apple the following message before departing Puerto Rico:
"My phone is still shutting down, it has ruined my vacation, and my travel video I am producing. I am a food and travel critic, yelp Elite member, and TripAdvisor SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR and depend on my phone for photos, videos and to write reviews of places I am visiting. This is not just inconvenient, it has ruined my vacation and disrupted my livelihood.
C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret) 
Arriving at the Apple Store for my appointment the following Wednesday, I was passed around like a volleyball from genius to genius, finally ending up with a guy named "Chad" (who looked like the actor who plays Spock in the new Star Trek movies, also a star of the hit series "Heroes"). Chad was not a good listener and the volume on a video they had playing for an in-store workshop was so loud we could barely hear ourselves think.

Chad had me go through the entire very lengthy story again even though Adreanna and the other reps had made extensive notes in the case they had created about my problems. I told him that Adreanna would be calling any minute to explain everything, telling him she had told me I could probably upgrade to the 5s ... WHOAH ... HOLD IT RIGHT THERE PAL was the response I received as Chad quickly squashed that possibility by stating that "Apple only makes model for model exchanges, there's no way to upgrade according to Apple policy". I told Chad that Adreanna explained that it was possible and asked if he could check with a supervisor, which he did, only to return to tell me SORRY BUB!

I asked him how it was that their employee, Adreanna, could tell me one thing only to drive 80 miles and wasting an entire afternoon to be told it was not possible? I would have had them ship a 5c to my house so it would be there when I returned if I had been told "it was not possible" in the first place, but he could obviously care less. He then asked me to tell him the whole story again, as if he were trying to catch me in a lie, but his only solution was to "call iPhone support, talk to Adreanna, and see if they would upgrade my phone to a 5c". I left the store a very unsatisfied customer to say the least!

Extremely upset and distraught after getting the runaround from a company I had heard so many wonderful things about and wasting so much time trying get help I deserved, I waited until the next day to calm down before I called Adreanna. At 12:50pm on the nose, the phone rang and it was her, having noted the wrong date in her calendar even though she had made the appointment. 

I told Adreanna what had occurred at the Apple Store and she told me "I will inform my supervisor, we will call the store and get this fixed, and I will call you back soon and let you know what happens". I waited ... and waited ... and waited, but Adreanna did not call. Odd! I waited a few days, thinking that it was more complex than I had realized and believing that Adreanna surely would not just blow me off, Apple would not do that to a customer who had spent $3,000 over the past six months on their products ... OR WOULD THEY?

The following week I called Apple again, having to explain the whole situation again, but got the same answers ... "Adreanna? We have no idea who she is and she never should have told you those things. You cannot upgrade to a 5s, simple as that!" I asked to speak to a supervisor to find out why I had been told I could upgrade, why I had wasted so much of my time on the phone and driving back and forth to the store if it were in-fact impossible ... "Don't you care about integrity? Don't you care about customer service?" I asked.

I was put on-hold for close to 30 minutes before a Customer Care Supervisor came on the phone and while telling out of one side of her mouth how concerned she was about my "customer satisfaction", insisted in a rather snotty tone of voice that I was "lying" out of the other. "Our reps would never tell you that you could upgrade, it's not our policy" she said. I said "so are you calling me a liar", to which she replied "I did not say that". No, she may not have said it in those words, but her comment left little to the imagination regarding her opinion of my character.

As a disabled-Veteran and retired Air Force officer, I take great pride in my character, my integrity, and my honor. When she questioned my integrity, the conversation was over as far as I was concerned. I was so upset that I told her "you win, I am done wasting my time on a company that has so little concern or respect for their customers as is the case with Apple".

I went to the Apple Store in Colorado Springs to replace my 5c with a 5c "PER APPLE POLICY" in early February. After telling the young "genius" my story, for the 6th time at least, she brought the manager over to talk to me. He said "we'll make an exception to policy based on your experience and upgrade your 5C to a 5S. You'll have to return the new 5C, get a refund, and purchase a 5S for an extra $100." I asked him WHY HE COULD UPGRADE MY PHONE WHEN I HAD WASTED 30-40 HOURS AND DRIVEN OVER 100 MILES ONLY TO BE TOLD IT WAS "IMPOSSIBLE"? I thanked him for his kind offer, but by that time I was so fed-up with the way I had been treated, I told him "thanks, but no thanks … I will not give another penny of my hard earned money to Apple after the way I have been treated". I left the store with my new 5C.

Now, my Macbook Pro 13" (mid-2012) is acting up again! I had to reset the computer from a backup about 4 months ago following instructions on the Apple Support site after it would not boot no matter what I tried. That seemed to solve the problem, but Safari would not work (along with a couple other programs), so while at the Colorado Springs Apple Store I asked them to taker a look at it. They ended up keeping it overnight to reinstall the operating system which I was told was "corrupt". Safari was working again, but the other programs still had issues.

Two weeks ago when I could not boot the computer or get past the grey screen with the white Apple and the endlessly revolving wheel, not even in Safe Mode. Again, I tried to solve the problem using Apple Support instructions, but was unsuccessful, so I called their 800 number. The woman on the phone said I would have to partition my hard drive, which she helped me do, reinstall the operating system on the new partition, then follow the instructions after the computer restarted. I and a doctors appointment and could not stay on the phone, so she told me to call back if there were any problems.

The computer started after reinstalling the OS on the new partition and I followed the instructions as she had told me. It appeared as though the computer was setting-up as if I had not used it before, which I assumed was because of the new partition (which was eating up much more of my 500 GB hard drive by the way). When it asked me to select a backup to restore from, the recent backups from the week before (when the computer had last been working) were nowhere to be found on my 4TB network drive where I had safely stored them for months. The only backups listed were from May 2013, shortly after I bought the computer, so I assumed it wa again an issue with the new partition.

Once the backup was installed, I immediately went to Microsoft Outlook to check the emails I had not been able to view for nearly 6 days by then. When I checked my folders, all of the emails between May and now were gone … my work and personal email history was nowhere to be found, including those from three large lawsuits I am involved in, my father's funeral arrangements at Arlington National Cemetery in May, and documentation from our (very challenging) tenants in Kansas City (among many others)! All of our photos disappeared and the video on Puerto Rico I had spent dozens of hours creating for my YouTube (CombatCritic's TravelValue) channel was gone!

I called Apple again on March 12, 2014 to find out where my Outlook (.olm) file went as well as the backups from two weeks ago so I can get back to work, recover critical emails, and locate my Puerto Rico video that disappeared in iMovie during this process.

I spoke with Andrew who helped me get permissions to the old partition of the hard-drive where the missing files supposedly reside. Because the process took so long, he had me call back later so that I could get some work done, promising to make "extensive notes" so I would not have to explain for the umpteenth time to an Apple Support Representative. Before I hung up, Andrew tried to sell me the "extended warranty" because my warranty was to expire in 61 days. I told Andrew that I have spent $3,000 on Apple products less than a year ago and WILL NOT SPEND ANOTHER PENNY ON PRODUCTS THAT SHOULD LAST MUCH LONGER THAN 12-36 MONTHS ... thanks, but no thanks!

When I called back a few hours later to continue with the next step, backing-up both partitions of the hard-drive so we could then wipe the hard-drive clean and restore the computer from its original (out-of-the-box) state with the files and programs I need from the two partitions, Melissa #1 answered the phone.

Even though Andrew had made "extensive notes", Melissa #1 acted as if she had nothing to go on and made me explain most everything. She was obviously clueless, making me wait on-hold while she asked her supervisors what to do next. I had to guide her through the process even though she is supposed to be "the expert". She finally decided that we should back-up the hard drive my 1TB external hard drive (Western Digital - My Passport), but because it would take several hours, I had to call back and go through the next step with another technician. I explained again how disappointed I am in Apple products, that I have wasted 40-50 hours of my time (between these problems and the debacle with my iPhone 5C in January and February), and that I am at wits-end. She placated me, as all other Apple employees have done, with words of sympathy, but zero action or follow-through. We made an appointment for 7:15pm to have a technician call me back to complete the next steps (clear the hard drive and reinstall from back-up).

At 7:oopm, I checked the back-up to see if had finished, but it still had 22 hours to go! I then realized that Melissa #1's instructions were inadequate and the back-up was not being made to My Passport, but to my 4TB network drive, exactly where she told me it should not be saved. So at 7:15pm when Melissa #2 called back, I told her what had happened and that I had initiated another back-up, this time to My Passport, and that because it would take severel hours, I would have to call back in the morning to proceed with the next steps.

March 13, 2014 - 10:21am (CST): I will update this post after the next phone call.

I am done fighting with these social cretins, will use my iPhone and Mac until they die (which should not take long based on my experience), and will go back to a Windows or Android-based phone and a non-Apple computer when they do ... FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU; FOOL ME TWICE ... AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN APPLE!

CombatCritic Gives Apple, Inc. 1 Out of 10 Bombs for their poor products, customer service, and judgment ... More Bombs Are Better!

Key Words: Apple, computer, Mac, iPhone, 5c, 5s, Macbook Pro, Macbook, poor, customer, service, integrity, honor, character, Institutional, terrorism, InstitutionalTerrorism, CombatCritic

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lawrence, Kansas: Terravest Homes - Bait And Switch Cost Us $600

Terravest Custom Homes
888 N. 1928th Road
Lecompton, KS 66050
Phone number: (785) 691-6088
Prices: $$$$

Here is my Angie's List review dated October 20, 2013:
Company Name: Terravest Custom Homes 
Category: Remodeling - GeneralServices
Performed: Yes* More Weight is given to a review where work has been completed.
Work Completed Date: October 18, 2013
Last Modified Date: December 09, 2013 
Hire Again: NoApproximate Cost: $600.00 
Description Of Work: We asked for an estimate to build a double garage on our lot.
Angie's List Member (My) Comments: 
"We contacted J. Stewart, the owner of Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, about building a two car garage BEFORE winter. We budgeted $20,000 plus or minus 10 percent for the project, being prepared to pay $18,000 to $22,000 in cash. Mr. Stewart seemed like a nice person when he came to do the estimate, seeming willing to work with us. We told him what our budget was and what exactly we wanted, a simple 24 foot by 24 foot two car garage on a cement slab with a double door, one window, one door, and electricity. We also wanted a quote to install a sidewalk from the garage to the front door. Mr. Stewart told us that he would try to keep costs down and estimated $30 to $40 a square foot for what we wanted, bringing the total to between $17,250 and $23,000 and very close to our budgeted amount. He told us that he could not provide a "final" quote until we had plans drawn up, so he recommended an architect whom we met with the following week.
When Mr. Stewart and the architect came to the house, we went through the process again, spelling out exactly where the garage would go, the size, and other details in order for the architect to draw up the plans to submit to the city. He told me that it would cost $600 to $1000 to complete the work and, trusting Mr. Stewart, we decided to go ahead with the plans in order to finish the garage before winter. That was on September 11th, 2013. The architect said that he should be able to finish the plans in a week.
A month went by with no word from either Stewart or the architect, so I contacted both and asked what the delay was. The architect said that it was taking longer than expected and that he would go to the city to see if there were any restrictions as well as come back to the house to measure the house, lot, and other things necessary to finish the plans. We finally received the plans on October 17th, 36 days after we were promised they would be done in one week. Winter was quickly approaching and we wanted to get the project going ASAP.
With plans in hand, Mr. Stewart scheduled an appointment to come by with his quote on Friday, October 17th, he was about 30 minutes late. As I looked over the quote, I was drawn to the total which was well over $30,000, FAR ABOVE the $30 to $40 a square foot we were quoted ($30,500 divided by 575 square feet comes to over $53 a square foot). I told Mr. Stewart that we could not afford $30,000 and he said "I can suggest some metal building companies", to which we replied "we already have a quote and it is only $6,000 for a metal garage". He quickly left without saying another word or offering to make things right. 
I am disappointed by his behavior, making us wait nearly six weeks then coming in $10,000 (a 50 percent increase over his estimated price) over his original quote, but I am more upset with myself for trusting the man. We now have no garage, winter weather will arrive in a few weeks, and we spent $600 we could not afford to have plans drawn for a garage that may never be built. I should have known better than to trust a human being after what we have been through in the last 5 years, but J. Stewart seemed like a nice man with integrity, so I thought he would do the right thing. He did not, so DO NOT BE FOOLED by his friendly demeanor and empty promises. We paid and are still paying for trusting J. Stewart and Terravest Custom Homes, LLC, so we believe you should proceed very cautiously before hiring him for any project, particularly one with tens of thousands of dollars on the line."
Here is the Angie's List "Company (Terravest) Response":
"I am very sorry that the Angie's List Customer was dissatisfied with my presentation. I had as well hoped the project would have priced out at a lower price as we had hoped but the facts are not stated correctly. Several costs were presented as allowances which the client could opt not to spend. For example, we priced a $350 walk-in door with two small windows in the upper portion of the door to allow light into the garage while maintaining security and a window was added on the side of the building which again we gave the client the ability to deduct theses additional expenses. A standard 6 panel door could be selected for less expense and the window could have been deleted. When it was evident that the price was just to high for the clients we did discuss the metal building because I wanted to help them get some structure that could be affordable for them, I was willing to recommend a competitor just to still help them get a structure done before winter hit. The price they are quoting they got from someone was the metal building only with no foundation. We were asked to provide a concrete foundation, a garage concrete approach to the garage and then we were called back and asked to include 30 feet of sidewalk and an option to run more concrete to the front of the house. The person who is writing the review I have never been introduced to and dont know if I ever even met. There was a woman who showed up at the same time I did to present my presentation that I was thirty minutes late for but I had contacted the client in advance to let them know I was running behind on my schedule. The garage was also bid with other upgrades, a Heritage type 3-D roof versus a 3 tab, electrical wiring and a lighting allowance was added and a insulated garage door with an opener all which could be deducted or down graded. For example the garage door was an insulated door being installed on an un-insulated garage but this was included on the thought that the client would eventually insulate the garage. When we notified the client that we had all the bids together and we were assembling the bid we were also asked to include regrading the drainage on the lot which was also included. The cost of the city building permits were also added to the actual cost of the garage. The architectural drawings were suggested because there was a historical concern mentioned and more importantly it was explained to the client that the client would own the plans and they could therefore use the plan to get alternative bids from other contractors if I was unable to meet their budget expectations. Because the client worked directly with the architect, I was unaware of the delay in getting the drawings and I should have checked on this and did so the minute the client called me with concerns of delays and I did get the proposal to the client within ten days of receiving the blue prints as I had originally promised. When the client called and asked for additional drainage work around the garage, it was also determined that the sewer line for the house ran under the foundation for the garage and additional steps to taken to remedy any this problem as well is the removal of the line of trees along the alleyway and the pad that needed to be built up so that we could correct the rest of the drainage issues for the client. We even included an allowance of $250 for fine grading and seeding of the rear lot after the work was completed. Leaving in the cost of regrading the lot and removal of the trees but removing the additional upgrades the cost would have been at $48 per foot which was still too high for the clients budget and we apologize that we could not meet the expectations of the client but this is why we went through the bidding process to insure the client of what we could do and if the client feels that we have intentionally over priced the project, they own the plans and are free to do the project with another contractor of their choosing and we would be happy to provide any of our bids and estimates to the client or another contractor. We informed the client (a gentleman with a different name than the person submitting the review) before we started the process that it would be extremely hard to meet their budget expectations but we were willing to try if they wanted to have a third party draw the plans to insure that we were bidding apples to apples with anyone else that they choose to have bid the project. We again apologize for any misunderstanding and wish that we would have had the opportunity to involve this person in our discussions about the project and find it very disappointing to have these things written about our company from a person whom we have never met and this is what often happens with third party discussions and it is always good to take notes and ask the contractor to clarify any expectations in writing prior to the start of any project to make sure that everyone's expectations are equal. 
J. Stewart
My Angie'sList Review Addendum (Dated 12/9/2013)
"Very odd, but when I searched Terravest Custom Homes today, my review and grade were nowhere to be found with Terravest receiving an "A" on recent reviews.  I have had this problem with Angie's List before.  Poor reviews are either missing or the service provider lies through their teeth (as is the case again here) and I, the consumer, has little if any recourse to tell the truth.
This account belongs to my wife, Elisa F, "the woman" referred to in the 10/21/13 response, and Mr. Stewart was introduced to her the first time he came to our home and again when he dropped off his ridiculous bid.  Let me just clarify a couple points made by Mr. Stewart in his lengthy, confused, and misleading response (there are so many inaccuracies that I will not attempt to answer them all):
As far as the "grading" and "upgrades" are concerned, Mr. Stewart is lying when he said that they were "added on".  We spoke about the grading ($250), the roof, door, electrical, and roof the first time we met and the second time when the architect came to plan his drawings, so Mr. Stewart's account is intentionally misleading.  The architect can attest to this fact if asked. Even then, we are talking about chump change compared to his overall bid of $30,000. I never called and asked for "additional drainage work", so Mr. Stewart is indeed a liar.  Take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to hire him for a job.
Winter is now here and my wife and I are scraping snow off our cars and freezing our buns off because of Mr. Stewart's incompetence.  Hopefully, Angie's List will DO THE RIGHT THING  and publish my review on Terravest's page so that other consumer's will not waste their valuable time or money.  I am downgrading my review to an "F" because Mr. Stewart is a liar and as a retired AIr Force lieutenant colonel and disabled Veteran, I have ZERO TOLERANCE FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT HONOR AND INTEGRITY ... ZERO!
CombatCritic Gives Terravest Custom Homes 0 Bombs Out Of 10 ... The Lowest of the Low And A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME" ... More Bombs Are Better!
Title: Terravest Homes - Bait And Switch Cost US $600

Key Words: 66044, Angie's, Angie'sList, CombatCritic, fraud, Institutional, terrorism, Kansas, kansas city, Lawrence, List, Terravest, Terravest Custom Homes, service, Yelp, home, builder, garage, home builder