How Not to Buy A Mattress

Image via beddingmaster.com

I usually cringe at airing dirty laundry (even if it’s not my own) in public, but this really takes the cake and has pretty much sucked a bunch of joy out of my summer.  So I will say this now, and for the record, that if you ever decide to buy a new mattress, never, ever purchase one from Nasafoam.  I will tell you the story here, because I’m feeling really, really vindictive right now.  Sorry about that.

You may recall me mentioning that the Pie and I had purchased a new memory foam mattress through a Groupon Deal.  It was $500 for a $1700 mattress, and as broke students, that struck us as a really good deal (you can see it here).  The question was, did they deliver to Newfoundland?  Many companies don’t, so I posted the question on Groupon’s FAQ page and received a response that to ship to Newfoundland would be $225.  You can see the posting here.  You will also note, for a later point I will make, that nowhere in the fine print does it say it does not ship to Newfoundland.

Anyway, we were happy with that shipping price so we bought the Groupon and submitted it to Nasafoam.  We typed in our information, everything, and then pressed the “submit” button.  Normally when you order something online you get some form of record of your transaction, whether it’s something you can print or something that is emailed to you later as a confirmation that you actually bought the thing.  Several days later I’d received nothing like that, save the “Thank you.  Your information has been submitted” that we saw after clicking the button.

So I emailed Nasafoam and asked for confirmation that I had actually submitted the order and asked for an ETA on delivery, as well as a final cost with taxes included.  I was told simply that “delivery will contact you with final cost.”  At that point, I left it at that.

A couple of weeks went by and I started to wonder when my mattress would arrive, so I emailed again, and was told that it would arrive in 2-3 weeks from the date of that email. That sounded good.  I started making preparations to renovate my office and all that jazz in preparation for my houseguests.

Spring Shuffle
Future site of my mattress. Oh wait, no, never mind.

Five weeks after the date of that email I still had no mattress, and I was starting to get a little cheesed.  So I wrote to Nasafoam and told them that I was cheesed, and demanded a final bill and a shipping estimate.  I got no response.  I emailed twice more with no results.  Then the Pie discovered that Nasafoam had a Facebook page.  On the page they were telling Groupon customers that the wait for a mattress was 4-6 weeks and at this point I was onto almost nine.  I posted this on Facebook and Nasafoam informed me that they had not been receiving my emails.  I have kept every one of their automated receipt emails so I know that is not true and told them so.  Eventually I sent another, slightly angrier email to every email address at Nasafoam I could find.

The response was unsurprisingly disappointing.  One email response told me that my order would be shipped in 4-6 weeks, which of course indicated to me that the person I had emailed my message to had not actually read it.  I responded of course that it had been nine weeks and received simply a “I see that!  Thanks!” answer to that.  The other response I received was a very frosty one saying, essentially, that they had told me delivery would contact me and that they had no control over when their delivery company would deliver any of their products.

Think about that for a moment.  A company has no control over the delivery of its goods?  What kind of crap company is that?

And of course there was no acknowledgement that I was upset (which I mentioned in a very polite way, of course), nor any final bill (which I had requested for probably the fourth time).

The next week I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  I felt really good about this.

Nasafoam comes back with the response that I haven’t paid my final bill and that’s why they haven’t shipped.

I respond with the fact that they have not sent me a final bill.

They respond again to tell me I haven’t paid my final bill.  Which they have sent to my email address, so they say.  Which of course they haven’t.

I may have turned into Godzilla at one point in this process.  Also I know I definitely growled out “HULK SMASH” a few times as well.

Image (c) Marvel, via “Without Envy”

Rather than smash my head into the wall at the ridiculousness of this situation (and I’m in Portland at this time, mind you, so I’m using my dad in St. John’s as proxy while I try to type out all this nonsense on my smartphone), I suggest that my father call them with my credit card number and we can sort this out.

He calls.  The guy who answers, according to my dad, is an idiot.  He tells my father that  I apparently filled out the form wrong, and put in Nova Scotia as my mailing address instead of Newfoundland.  He had the form right in front of him, he said (which is nice for him.  I never got a copy of my order form).  I’d like to point out here that I have been working in the legal world for almost a decade and as such am an extremely conscientious form-filler-outer.  I do not make mistakes like that.  I double-check everything.  And the Pie was sitting next to me as I filled it out.  He also double-checks.  And, as I pointed out to Nasafoam, Nova Scotia postal codes start with B, while mine in Newfoundland starts with an A, and I sure as heck didn’t mess that one up.

Their response?  “Groupon is aware that we do not ship to Newfoundland.”

Really?  Could have fooled me.  I sent them a photo of the Groupon FAQ page where I asked them the shipping cost to Newfoundland.  Their response to that was just that I had made a mistake and should have been aware all along that they do not ship to Newfoundland.

And it just went on and on, response and rebuttal through the BBB where they simply ignored everything I said and made me look like the bad guy.  I pointed out their contradictions and blatant lies and they told me I was an idiot (or at least that’s how it felt to me).  The final verdict from the BBB was that Nasafoam was standing by their decision (to do nothing) and that they (BBB) were sorry that I was unhappy.  At least the BBB apologized. I’m in negotiations with Groupon right now to get my money back, and they’re being remarkably helpful, if a little slow, which has kind of renewed my faith in business.

When we returned to St. John’s, the Pie took a screen capture of the Groupon FAQ page where they give me the shipping quote for St. John’s and juxtaposed it next to the section of the BBB complaint where they tell me that I was “well aware it was for nova scotia only” (what? It was an Ottawa Groupon!) and posted it to Nasafoam’s Facebook page with a short paragraph about how not only did Nasafoam make us wait double the shipping time to receive our order but they lied to us and didn’t ship it to us at all.

The Pie’s graphic, with this commentary: “Nasafoam made us wait 11 weeks before telling us they would not ship us our mattress to Newfoundland. They also insist that we knew they only shipped to Nova Scotia but we were quoted a price to ship it to St. John’s, Newfoundland. They refuse to acknowledge any mistakes on their part and blame us entirely. Now a refund will only get us groupon dollars back and not our money back.”

Nasafoam deleted the comment and graphic the next day and closed their page to further posts.

Long story short, the Pie and I ended up sleeping on the floor while my parents were in town so that they could have our crappy old mattress.  The day after we returned to St. John’s we went to the lovely people at Cohen’s, and, for $600, purchased a similar memory foam mattress.  Add in $50 for delivery and they brought it right into our bedroom just a scant week later.  That’s it in that picture up there.  Isn’t it pretty?

Sorry for the venting here, folks, but I really hate it when people lie to me, especially when it’s a local Canadian business.  If you’re curious to know more about the crap that Nasafoam has put me through, send me a message and I can forward you our long and convoluted correspondence, together with the BBB complaint form (as I said, I keep meticulous records).  And if you’ve had a similar experience with some company who refuses to acknowledge any wrong doing, please feel free to rant in the comments below.  I’m ready and willing to listen.

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O Canada: Nova Scotia HodgePodge with Beer Bread

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

In light of the Multilinguist’s excursions in Vega, we are making October Canadian Cuisine feature month (the Pie is thrilled because none of it involves tofu).

What better way to start us off than to take advantage of what the autumn harvest in Newfoundland has to offer us?  This creamy vegetable stew is easy and comforting (vegetarian, too, though certainly not vegan).  The recipe for the stew comes from All Recipes (with my modifications), and the idea itself comes from Delilah, one of the Pie’s classmates.  The beer bread comes from my mother’s own cookbook on Nova Scotian eatery.

For the Beer Bread:

HodgePodge with Beer Bread
Didn't have any Nova Scotia beer on hand, sorry.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups self-raising flour with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into every cup of all-purpose flour.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 1 12oz bottle of beer and mix well.  Use a commercially produced beer for a lighter loaf, or a home made beer for a denser loaf.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

This is supposed to turn out more like a batter, and you can see here that one bottle of beer has just produced a really dry dough.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

I poured in almost a whole ‘nother beer before I got the consistency I was looking for, but this will depend on your flour, your beer, the temperature/pressure/humidity of your environment, whether or not you got out of bed on the right side or the left side, whether a butterfly really did flap its wings in Brazil … you get the idea.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour into a greased loaf pan and chuck it into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

The loaf will sound solid when you tap it and be a pale golden when it’s done.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Serve hot.  Also good the next day if you have any left over.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

For the HodgePodge:

Peel and dice 1 medium-sized turnip.  Chuck that in a large saucepan.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Dice 3-4 carrots and chuck those in as well.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Trim the ends off a couple handfuls of fresh wax beans (those are the yellow ones) and cut them into 1-2″ pieces.  Do the same with several handfuls fresh green beans.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the vegetables.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Cube up 5-6 small potatoes and add that to the pot.  Let that simmer another 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 6 tablespoons butter and 1-2 cups heavy cream (we used a blended table cream here) and stir that in for a few minutes.  Soy milk would also work well here.  I have used soy milk in chowders and it provides a rich, nutty flavour that complements the vegetables nicely.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add 2-3 tablespoons flour to 1 cup water and stir that around.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour the flour water into the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot with beer bread.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Frankly, both the Pie and I found the hodgepodge a little on the bland side.  It tasted kind of like invalid soup.  But it was good.  And totally freeze-able.  Next time, though, I think I’d add an onion, some garlic, and some spices.  The beer bread was excellent and we plan to have what’s leftover with some chili tomorrow night.

O Canada Cuisine Suggestions

Toronto

One of my colleagues, the Multilinguist, is off in Vega doing research.  She has requested I whip up a feature month of Canadian food so she can impress her research participants, and it’s a challenge I have happily accepted.

And what a challenge it will be!  Canada is a country of vast natural resources, which include lots of fantastic things to eat.  It’s also a country of immigrants, which means that much of what we eat is flavoured by influences from other countries.

That said, I can’t do this without your help — what stands out in your mind as being distinctly Canadian cuisine?  I’d like to take a culinary journey across all Canada’s provinces and territories, but I just don’t know enough about all of them do it alone.  Not to mention that many dishes from many provinces (like the prairies, the territories, or the forever intertwined-and-annoyed-about-it Ontario/Quebec) tend to blend into each other in terms of available foodstuffs.  Your suggestions will be most helpful.

Is there a place you visited/lived/read about that had something tasty to offer?  What kinds of food do you think about when (if) you think about Canada?

I’m looking for main courses, desserts, beverages — anything you can come up with.

Here’s my opening salvo into this Canadian menu.  I’m really just spitballing here.  We’ll start out west, then zig-zag north and south as we work our way east, shall we?

CANADIANA — ON MY PLATE:

British Columbia

Smoked salmon on cedar planking.  Nanaimo bars for dessert.

BC has a large number of residents of Asian descent, so maybe smoked salmon sushi?

I also remember driving past a number of llama farms there as a child.  I wonder what llama tastes like?

Yukon Territory

All that comes to mind here is Robert W. Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee, which is not particularly helpful, I know.  But what did the gold-diggers eat (aside from their sled dogs)?

From a little bit of research I see that the Yukon has a thriving wheat growers’ association.  Perhaps some hearty hearth bread?

Northwest Territories

Caribou stands out as a traditional food here.  In fact, you can see all the useful bits of a caribou and other local fauna here.  I’m pretty sure I can get caribou in St. John’s, if I do some looking around.

Bannock is also another possibility, or a wild berry tart.

Alberta

Alberta beef is a dear, dear thing to us.  It’s not something readily available to me in Newfoundland, but I can probably make some substitutions.  Alberta also produces a large number of elk and other large livestock.

Saskatchewan

Most of the recipes coming up here involve home-grown grains, like rice, barley, and lentils.  Lots of pilafs and stews.

They (and all the other prairie provinces) also grow a hardy little berry called the saskatoon.  I am pretty certain I can’t find that this far east.

Nunavut

Because Nunavut is Canada’s newest territory (c. 1999), it’s gotten a lot of press in the past decade and so it’s all over the internet.  Nunavut recipes involve caribou, arctic char, and seal.  Please don’t ask me to cook seal.  It is such a strong, oily meat.  I’ll try anything twice, and seal has already reached its limit in my tummy.

A quirky adaptation is the Nunavut bar, a modification of the Nanaimo bar with a snow-white centre.

Manitoba

I really know nothing at all about prairie cooking.  I’m pulling all this stuff off the internet.  Pork, poulty, and mushrooms seem popular here.  Please fill me in if you know anything different.

Ontario/Quebec

This massive conglomerate has the same sort of food availability as the prairies.  You can get good Ontario produce all throughout the summer and fantastic Quebec cheese from tiny hamlets all across the province.  Having lived on the Ontario/Quebec border for a long time, I’m a little muzzy on who “owns” what kinds of food, but I’m definitely thinking poutine, which originated in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, as well as the ubiquitous beavertail pastries you can pick up on the banks of the Rideau Canal.

New Brunswick

Like the other Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick cuisine features glorious amounts of seafood.  Man do I love seafood.  And New Brunswickers can do their seafood with an Acadian twist, which makes their dishes just a little bit different from the rest of the ocean provinces.

Nova Scotia

All that’s running through my head is lobster lobster lobster lobster apple crumble lobster lobster blueberry picking lobster lobster lobster.  Though I do remember cooking an egg on the sidewalk in Lunenburg when I was little.  And the fact that lemon meringue pie is considered a maritime staple, despite the fact that lemons don’t grow on the east coast.

Prince Edward Island

Despite being Canada’s smallest province, PEI is BIG on potatoes.  I can definitely work with that.

Newfoundland and Labrador

We’ll finish off our tour at home, which will be a little bit less of a challenge.  Starting a blog while living here has made me a bit more conscious of what’s going on, food-wise, than I had been about the other places I lived.  Aside from the usual seafood and the absolutely vile seal-flipper pie (as I said, don’t ask me to cook seal, I won’t do it), there’s a bunch of scoffs (that’s Newfoundland English for a meal) around here with local flavour.  Fish ‘n’ brewis, scrunchions, any form of salted meat, moose pizza, toutons, and not to mention famous Newfoundland berries such as partridgeberries, blueberries, and bakeapples.  I’m sure I can arrange something outta that.

In Sum,

basically what we have to work with here are a wide variety of grains, fish, shellfish, livestock, berries, and fruits.  How can we make them Canadian?