The Great Down-Sell

Some of you long-time loyal readers might recall Jason English's funny/sad saga back in 2007 about the time his cellphone provider over-billed him for more than $600. Sure, we've all had bad experiences with big companies. Maybe not as epic as Jason's - but for each of us, these moments (those smite-your-brow-in-horrific-disbelief moments), when you feel like it's little old you against the machine, feel epic enough that we often never again use the product or service the machine provides.

In my four decades, I've definitely had more than my fair share of such situations. However, recently, I had one with a customer service rep that was SO positive, it almost felt like I'd won the lottery! It almost made up for all the poor experiences I've had over the years and inspired me to want to tell the world about it. (If this were a musical, about here is where we'd burst into song.)

It all started when I got an e-mail from AT&T saying that my wife and I had exceeded our texting limit last month and we were going to be charged extra for every text over. Now, I'm not a big texter, mostly because I've got thumbs the size of kielbasa, but I also don't like spending more than I have to if possible. The e-mail said there was a solution: call up AT&T and pay an additional $5 per month for the all-you-can-text plan. The $5 was much less than paying for the overages per text, so I figured, okay - especially when they said they'd back-date it to the beginning of last month.

Here's where the story gets juicy. Without being prompted, the guy then offers to look at our rate plan and see if we're using all our minutes. Next he starts telling me that we're paying too much per month based on the amount of minutes we're using. I repeat: he says we're paying TOO MUCH! And then proceeds to down-sell me on another plan that not only includes the text-until-your-thumbs-fall-off plan, but costs $20 less per month! I was stupefied!

Has this happened to anyone else? Where I come from (aka, Earth), customer service never offers a lower plan unless you specifically ask for one. In fact, I don't think I've ever been down-sold in my life. Saving money in this economy is awesome, but it was his personable service and friendly "let-me-fix-that-for-you-sir" attitude that really got me excited. I'm telling you folks, AT&T! They may have a helluva lot of dead spots across the country (the area between Rite Aid on Crenshaw and Olympic and my house, for example, leaves a lot t  b  de ired, if you're monitoring this AT&T social media people), but WOW! I'm a customer for life now, thanks to that down-sell.

Any companies you guys wish to laud for their customer service? Ever been down-sold? Leave your interesting stories in the comments below.

(cartoon via

The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess

Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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