Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell

Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell

After the hullabaloo that was made out of Marilyn Hagerty’s Olive Garden review, I thought to myself, “What would make a crazier restaurant review than Olive Garden?” Fortunately, while I was driving home tonight the answer was shining at me from the side of the road. In a mash-up that should turn out a whole lot better than that comic book where Indy was supposed to meet Chewie and Han, Taco Bell has just introduced the Doritos Locos Tacos! When I saw the signs beckoning me into the hallowed halls of the FourthMeal, I yanked my car across four lanes of traffic into the Taco Bell parking lot. A lovely young woman wearing a giant foam Doritos Locos Tacos hat took my order, and handed over the powdery, cheesy goodness. (My apologies for not snapping a picture of the hat. She was quite bashful. Orange County Register’s article has a picture of the hat for reference)

Without further ado, here’s my review of the new Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell. As the slogan says, the Doritos Locos Tacos is “Taco Bell on the inside, Doritos on the outside.” And, to no surprise, there is nothing new inside of the taco. It is just a standard Crunchy Taco Supreme: just good ole’ diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese on top of sour cream and seasoned ground beef. The flavor of the much anticipated Doritos shell is surprisingly mediocre. The shell did not have nearly as strong a flavor as I expected it would. It seems that they are using a lot less of the “flavor dust” on the shells than they do on the chips. Also, the texture of the Doritos shell is much softer than regular Doritos chips or even Taco Bell’s normal hard taco shells. Isn’t a taco shell supposed to break when you bite into it? It was crispy, but my teeth just sank into it when I took a bite. Also, my taco became soggy from the sour cream and meat in the less than 5 minutes it took me to find somewhere to park. The Doritos Locos Tacos came wrapped in paper and packaged in card stock packaging shaped like a taco. I found this out the hard way when I tried to eat mine in the car while I was driving; it was quite a surprise when I bit into cardboard! This is most likely to prevent “Doritos fingers” and to help it keep its shape, which I appreciated after the initial surprise.

In summary, the Doritos Locos Taco wasn’t bad, but unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to make me want to buy it again. Although this seemed like the perfect combination of two brands’ iconic products, it turned out to about as boring as that episode of The Simpsons when Jay Sherman of “The Critic” judges a film festival in Springfield. Perhaps if Taco Bell and Doritos improve the hardness, or crispiness, of the shell and consider adding more of that yummy “flavor dust” I would consider trying it again. Until then, I’ll stick with the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

Sprint Web Chat just rocked my socks!

So, I normally don’t talk about customer service unless it stinks, but I just got off a web chat with Sprint and they rocked. Long story short, we accidentally had two phone plans on our account instead of one, and we didn’t realize it until this month. So, I got on the chat with a Bruce K. who got me straightened out in less than 45 minutes. I was ready to lay the smack down and fight to get a credit of the overcharge, but all I had to do was explain the situation. He was completely professional about it, and took care of it lickety-split. If you happen to be reading this Bruce K, Thanks again! – Ray Hollister

Shame on the the "Shoes Under" It's the classic bait and switch.

I’ve been looking forward to getting the Shoes Under since I saw them on TV. If you haven’t seen the commercials, Shoes Under is a space saving shoe organizer. On the commercial you see a nice canvas covered boxes with a zipper see through cover. In the commercial, the box has stiff inner walls that separate the unit into 12 compartments. This looked perfect for us, especially since we will be moving soon.

We picked up one at Target today, and we were more than disappointed in the product. The Shoes Under is a cheap canvas square bag. On the box, the product looks as firm as luggage, in real life it looks somebody stitched up a few reusable grocery bags from Publix.

The Real Shoes Under

My size 11 dress shoes barely fit into it, one at a time. At that rate I could only get 6 shoes into it. Also, when you do put your shoes into the Shoes Under, the inner walls are so cheap and flimsy, that they collapse over the top of your shoes, making the “zipper see through cover” really pointless.

In my opinion this is the classic bait and switch. On the box and on their website it looks like a firm and strong quality product. In real life, it looks like a grocery bag.

Here’s some pictures from their website:

Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website. Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website.
Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website. Pictures of the Shoes Under from their website.

Can I help you find something?

Being a former sales rep myself, I’m usually not bothered by sales people, even when they are exceptionally aggressive. I expect a certain level of attention when I go to a department store or when I go somewhere where I know that the employees work on commission or have a quota to fill. However, I have been surprised lately by the attention that I have been receiving from sales people at normal, run of the mill places. On diffecarent ends of the spectrum, Target and Cracker Barrel have been unusual in particular. Both of these stores are places where I tend to mosey around while my wife searches intently for a pretty trinket or the latest clearance rack items. Quite honestly, I have learned to enjoy just wandering around and seeing what the latest item that has been stocked since the last time I shopped there. However, lately I just haven’t been allowed to browse.

The flavor of approach is different at each store. At Cracker Barrel, the folks working in the gift store used to just say hello, and offer to help you if you needed it. Then they would leave you alone and let you browse. Now they tend to be extra-super-hyper friendly and extremely “knowledgeable” about the price and sales of every item in the store. When I say “knowledgeable” I mean to say that they are going to share that knowledge with you whether you ask or not. If you spend more than 10 seconds looking at the Slinky® Dog, there is going to be someone next to you letting you know that all of their classic toys are currently on sale for 40% off. This doesn’t bother me too much. But when they stand there and wait until you pick up another item and then tell you how much that one costs, it does start to get a little annoying.

The worst thing that they have started doing at Cracker Barrel is quietly driving a wedge between parents against their children in order to close the deal. It’s very subtle, but every time my 3 year old daughter picks up something that is on display, one of the employees will almost always ask her “Are you having fun with that weasel ball?”, or will tell her “Oh! How cute you would look with that princess dress”, etc. That doesn’t bother me, but then the employee looks at me and politely tells me how the item is on sale right now for only blah, blah, blah. This, of course, makes my daughter want the item even more, and makes me look like a big meanie for not letting her get the piece of crap toy that she will never play with. This annoys me more than Kool-Aid and Barbie doll commercials during Saturday morning cartoons.

Once a lady made me so angry because I wouldn’t buy Zoë that blasted weasel ball that I went off on the lady and told her “I’ll have you know that children are easily persuaded to make irrational decisions, and as her father I would appreciate it if you did not interfere in the forming of my child’s decision making processes!” (OK, I didn’t really say that, but I thought it. I thought it really hard. I thought it so hard she probably heard my thoughts audibly. OK, probably not, but I sure wish she did. Err!)

On the other hand, at Target, I have noticed that the employees seem like they are hunting for you. You could be alone on an aisle looking at the power strips, and the next thing you know, someone is heading straight for you saying, “Can I help you find something?” Today when I went shopping with my wife, I was asked 5 times during the 45 minutes we were in the store. One cashier was even wearing a t-shirt with “Can I help you find something?” printed on it. I asked my cashier, “When did they start the, “Can I help you find something?” campaign. She told me that they have been doing that for a long time. Apparently this isn’t new, but I had never noticed it before. I found out that she was correct. Target’s website even mentions it! My cashier did mention that they were having an inspection from corporate today, so that may have been why there was extra enthusiasm. Maybe they thought I was undercover.

Despite their good intentions, something irks inside me when I am asked that question. Maybe I am biased from a past experience. When I worked with the loss prevention department at another major retailer, we were repeatedly told that if we saw someone who we thought may be trying to steal something, we were supposed to quickly head to that person and ask “Can I help you find something?” That way the person knew that someone was aware of their presence, and they would be less likely to shoplift.

Regardless of that, there are so many reasons why I feel Target should just stop having their employees say this. It irritates me when someone asks that question because it says to me, “Please figure out what you want, then buy it and get out of our store.” It also makes me feel as if they think I am incompetent since I can’t find what I am looking for.

I feel that a better way to ask the same question would be to ask, “Is there anything in particular you are looking for?” This communicates to the customer that you are here to help them, but they are free to browse. Plus, once something becomes a cliche it looses its power. For example, who cares when someone tells you “Have a nice day!”

Maybe I am just a skeptic that is always looking for the ulterior motive behind what seems like a good intention. Maybe the economy has me thinking that everyone is on edge and getting more aggressive with their sales tactics. Either way, it’s something that has bothered me, so I believe I am safe to assume that it has bothered other people. So, Michael A. Woodhouse, (Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.) and Gregg W. Steinhafel, (Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Target) if you guys are reading this, I don’t have the answer for you, but think about this the next time you have a board meeting. On a side not, if one of you are reading this, and you want to make me happy customer, I guess you could make up for it by sending me a weasel ball.