Self Storage Plus and Von Paris — Great Customer Service

Self Storage Plus Units

Self Storage Plus Units (photo by dorothyadele)

My daughter needed temporary storage for her furniture when she changed her residence. Von Paris picked up her furniture and delivered it to a Self Storage Plus facility in Timonium, Md. The Von Paris  employees were efficient, clean cut and polite. It amazed me how methodically they stacked her furniture in a 5×10 storage unit. They stacked a queen bed (mattress and box spring) long dresser, mirror, office chair, futon,  night stand

5X10 Storage Unit

5X10 Storage Unit (photo by dorothyadele)

and boxes in the unit. They left room  for additional storage.

Nick Calvert at Self Storage Plus literally walked us through the process and left nothing to chance.  Prior to the Von Paris truck arriving, Nick took us to the truck entrance,  we entered our code and he took us to our unit. He ensured that we knew how to lock the unit properly.  His demeanor and expertise relieved our stress.  The move went smoothly. I would highly recommend Self Storage Plus and Von Paris for moving and storage.  

Lady Baltimore Hardwood Floors, Finksburg, MD — Beautiful Floors, Great Customer Service

OLD STAINED HARDWOOD FLOOR AND NEW STAINED HARDWOOD FLOOR

OLD STAINED HARDWOOD FLOOR AND NEW STAINED HARDWOOD FLOOR

Lady Baltimore Hardwood Floors in Finksburg, MD installed a new hardwood floor next to my existing 12-year-old hardwood floor.  Tim Dipaula, the owner,  matched the old floor almost perfectly.

Lady Baltimore recommends three polyurethane coats while other companies suggest two poly coats or a water base. (I learned, from experience, that three  polyurethane coats make a big difference in preventing wear.) The installer placed a walnut strip between the two floors to  separate the old and new floor.  I am very happy with their quality, professionalism and customer service.

 It is a messy process. They remove all the furniture from the room. They install the floors on day one and sand and stain them on the following day. They hang protective plastic in the work area to contain as much dust as possible.  They follow with three coats of polyurethane. The job lasted five days.  We could not use the floor until the sixth day.     

PRE-FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOOR

PRE-FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOOR

OLD STAINED FLOOR ON RIGHT AND NEW PRE-FINISHED FLOOR

OLD STAINED FLOOR ON RIGHT AND NEW PRE-FINISHED FLOOR

I chose pre-finished hardwood floors for my bedrooms. Lady Baltimore laid the  pre-finished floor next to the old finished floor.  They matched those floors almost exactly too.  I chose  pre-finished for the bedrooms because it took two men four days to install it versus 12 days for unfinished floors.  Also, they shifted the furniture from one side of the room to the other instead of removing it.  For me, it was worth it.  

If you plan to add hardwood floors, call Lady Baltimore.  They are a family business with an Angies’s List “A” rating.

 

Gary Cress Cleans Window Treatments in Your Home

GARY CRESS

Gary Cress cleans window treatments where they hang in your home. He serves the Maryland and Washington, DC region.

His phone  number is 410-876-6605. He has an Angie’s List “A” rating, and I highly recommend him.

 He cleans bolted-in top treatments, jabots, swags, balloons, valances, fabric shades and more.  He also cleans upholstery and lampshades. 

 I used Gary several years ago to clean my window treatments.  He was

GARY CRESS MADE THEM LOOK LIKE THEY ARE NEW

thorough and professional. Recently, Lady Baltimore Floors installed hardwood floors in my home.  I had dust throughout my home from the sanding process. The hardwood floors are beautiful and it was worth it.

 I was concerned that I had to replace my window treatments because they were 11 years old and very dirty.  Gary made them look new.  Furthermore, he cleaned my sofa and did a great job.

Gary’s wife, Lydia, also makes house calls. She makes custom window treatments. Her work was shown in the Baltimore Symphony Show House at The Ritz Carlton Residences in Baltimore.  Gary and Lydia are a great team.

 Give them a call!

 

Annapolis Waterfront Marriott–Former Bellman Roosevelt, Missed

English: The dock or harbor in Annapolis, Mary...

English: The dock or harbor in Annapolis, Maryland. Dock Street is just out of the frame of the photo to the right. Folks leaving their boats tied up here would step right out into the street. The Maryland State Capitol is the tall tower in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My family  visited the Annapolis Waterfront Marriott several times over many years for lacrosse tournaments and holiday parties.  I still feel a loss when we arrive at the Marriott, because Roosevelt Sterling, the bellman, who assisted us for years, passed away in 2007. It is ironic that we visited a few times annually, and his absence still makes me sad.

Roosevelt Sterling always greeted us with a smile and  ensured that our bags arrived promptly in our room.  He used his hook hand to maneuver suitcases and bags. He was professional, personable and efficient.

According to his obituary, Roosevelt welcomed dignitaries, state legislators and sailors. He even made us feel special.

I think  about Roosevelt when we visit the Annapolis Waterfront Marriott.  I always glance at his portrait in the lobby.  Isn’t it funny how someone  you rarely encounter can make a lasting impression?

Core in Timonium, MD and Debbie Schultz

I drag myself out of my car and stumble into Core to exercise with DebbieSchultz once or twice per week.  After my workout, I sprint to my car like an Olympic athlete.  (Okay, I leave Core with more energy.)

 I work out at home regularly, but I am likely to exercise more often when I 

Debbie Schultz

Debbie Schultz

have a weekly commitment with Deb.  I also work harder than if I exercise alone. She encourages me to try new exercises and movements.

  I see a difference in my balance and muscle tone. I am stronger.  If I listened to all of her suggestions, (and didn’t drink wine and eat sweets) I would be very fit. I selectively follow her suggestions as long as they don’t interfere with my lifestyle. (I can’t give up everything.)

 Exercising with Deb is fun and challenging.  She adjusts my routine to work different muscle groups. She watches my form with each exercise to ensure that I do it correctly to prevent injury or death from lack of coordination. She also tells me which part of my body benefits from a particular exercise. This information makes the difficult exercises seem a little easier.

  After I warm up, we usually start with a plank. Often she asks me to do a backward lunge with a step platform livepage.apple.com (My platform is much lower than the previous video, and I use lighter weights.)  This is one of the more difficult exercises,  it increases my heart rate and it  tones the hamstrings and glutes.  Another exercise that I do is the wood chop,  livepage.apple.com which tones the abs and obliques.  I use the stability ball to do a bridge leg curl in which tightens the abs, glutes and legs and the dumbbell press which works my chest and arms. These are just a few of Deb’s tortures, I mean exercises.

 I also work harder if I am conditioning with a small group.  I go that extra mile because I don’t want to be the one taking a nap while the other ladies are sweating.  I burn extra calories by attempting to keep up with the group.  I attempt to look coordinated and not stumble.  Oh well, one can only try!

 Deb mixes my routine to make it fun and effective. Most of the exercises work several muscle groups at once, therefore it takes less time to get the most benefit.

 I dislike large gyms where members are concerned about their social life, attire, make up and coiffed hair. I like Core because it is never too crowded and the clients are there to exercise then leave, like me. 

Greetings and Readings, Hunt Valley, MD — Great Customer Service

We had a great experience ordering custom printing materials from Stephanie at Greetings and Readings . Greetings and Readings is located in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Hunt Valley, MD.

 The store is packed with unique merchandise. They stock cards, books, movies, music, toys, games, collectibles, candles, jewelry and numerous other items.  They even sell Ravens, Terps, and O’s gear.  They stock several name brands including Vera Bradley, Brighton and Swarovski Crystal (to name a few).  It is difficult to decide where to look first. If you want something new or need a wedding, shower, engagement, baby or birthday gift, you will find it at Greetings and Readings.

 My friend and I met with Stephanie in custom printing to discuss a print order for an upcoming event.  Of course, we needed the print order yesterday. (So what else is new?) We perused catalogs and selected our card stock.  Stephanie made printing suggestions. We proofread the material and placed an order. We hoped to receive our order within a week.

 I called Stephanie to follow up on the arrival time for our order.  She called the company (where we ordered the cards) and asked them to rush the print order.  I believe that she contacted them several times. We received the order earlier than expected without paying extra postage. 

 We appreciated Stephanie’s professionalism and follow through. She was also fun to work with! (Hopefully, we were too.)

Best Buy Timonium, MD, “One Stop Shopping” Failed

Best Buy in Timonium, MD

My husband, Doug, purchased a television and installation services from Best Buy in Timonium, MD. The install date was Thursday, January 19, 2012.

After the purchase, the salesperson took my husband to the Comcast -in- house center to purchase a HD box from Bob. Bob indicated that he had just given the last HD box away, but he told Doug that others should arrive soon.

Bob took Doug’s phone number and told him that he would call when a HD box arrived. He also gave him a Comcast phone number into the Best Buy store.

Doug did not receive any calls on January 16, 17, or 18. He called the Comcast in- store number about 10 times, there was no answer machine and no one answered the phone.

My husband called the store and waited on hold for about 25 minutes while a kind saleswoman tracked Bob down.

Bob told my husband that they did not have any HD boxes. He added that Comcast would not pay for an answer machine.

On January 18, my husband spoke to a woman from Best Buy who confirmed delivery for January 19, between 8a.m. and 12 p.m.

On January 19, I had a question about the cable, and I called Best Buy. During the call I learned that we were not scheduled for delivery that day.  I changed plans to ensure that I was home. They told me to call dispatch. Don’t you think that it was their job to resolve the problem?

I eventually spoke to the Best Buy assistant manager Dave. He set up delivery for nine days later.

On the second delivery date, we never received a call to confirm our delivery schedule. We were skeptical. My husband called Best Buy and spoke to Becca. She told him that the store manager Mark would return his call to confirm delivery. He never called.

We eventually received the television, however, Best Buy’s “One Stop Shopping” failed.

Has anyone had a similar experience at Best Buy?

Harry and David, Towson Town Center – Great Customer Service

Towson Town Center from Dulaney Valley Road

I needed a hostess gift for a special luncheon. I thought about flowers, guest soap, and wine. I stopped in Harry and David in Towson Town Center, that sells gift items like fruit, cheese, chips, salsa, crackers, dips, smoked salmon, candy, and more. I browsed and searched for something that could be enjoyed during cocktail hour.

The sales staff gave me some gift basket ideas. Tabitha made suggestions, and Christine added her ideas.  I could not have asked for better service.

They assembled and wrapped my unique gift basket that contained flax seed – tortilla chips, salsa, organic – water crackers, and bruschetta spread.  I will return because the staff was pleasant and provided excellent customer service.

Hotel Commonwealth — Comfortable Luxury

Hotel Commonwealth Lobby

When I return to Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, it is like going home.  Hotel Commonweath is located at 500 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. It is a small-luxury hotel.

When you exit your cab at Hotel Commonwealth,  conscientious doormen greet you. We visit often, and some of the doormen greet us by name. It is a special feeling.

As you enter the hotel, you are struck by the rich reddish-gold carpeting with gold, blue, green and rose colored-mosaic patterns. As you ascend the  staircase,  you arrive in an elegant lobby. I love enjoying my coffee and reading the paper in the lobby, during the morning, and watching people.

The Green Monster

The rooms have views of Commonwealth Avenue or Fenway Park. You can see the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park from the Fenway rooms. From the Commonwealth rooms, you can watch the cars and pedestrians on Commonwealth Avenue.

Comfortable beds with light-weight-down comforters and four medium-firm pillows furnish the rooms.  I usually don’t sleep well in hotel beds, but I sleep great here.

The amenities in the bathroom include lemon-scented-soy shampoo, shower gel and body lotion from Fresh. They also offer pomegranate hair conditioner.

The hotel has two popular restaurants. Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar. At Eastern Standard, you can dine on the patio or in the restaurant. If you choose outdoor dining, you can enjoy people watching on Commonwealth Avenue. If there is a Boston Red Sox game, baseball fans pack the bar and restaurant. One of my favorite appetizers is the steamed mussels prepared with white wine, tomatoes and fennel. It is served with crunchy bread for dipping. I also love their clear chocolate martinis. One of the bartenders gave me the recipe. If you want it, let me know.

Island Creek Oyster Bar is new, but it is known for delicious, fresh seafood. They rely on local farmers and advertise that they use the freshest ingredients. They have a great reputation.

My family visits Boston often, and we stay at Hotel Commonwealth. My daughter played lacrosse at Boston University and we would come to watch her fall and spring lacrosse games. Now, I visit whenever I can.  I can’t think of another hotel where I would feel as comfortable.

Hurricane Irene, Power Outages and BGE

Hurricane Irene knocked out power at our home on Saturday, August 2, about 11:00 p.m. Today is September 1, and we still do not have electricity.

The most frustrating issue is, we were given 2 specific times when power would be restored. (My neighbor had a side bet on these times.) Tuesday, September 30 by 11:00 p.m. was the first date that I received from the BGE hot line. The second date was Wednesday September 31 by 11:00 p.m. I owe my neighbor dinner because he bet against these dates. I wish BGE would have been honest and definitive. I think that they should pay for this dinner, don’t you?

I had a positive experience today. I saw a Baltimore Gas & Electric  truck about a mile from my home. I told  the men my street name. I asked them to please check into the problem. Twenty minutes later they drove down my street and found my home because they saw my car. They drove into my driveway to give me an update. They found the issue and believed that it was a quick fix. They called the location into BGE. I appreciated their follow-through.

 We are without power, and there is no sign of any BGE trucks. There was something positive that resulted from losing electricity.  We spent quality time with our wonderful neighbors Cheryl, Jeff, Ruth, Charlie and Trevor. We shared delicious grilled meals, wine  and humorous stories. That was a blessing.

Cafe Troia, Towson, Maryland, Our Top Restaurant Choice

When you want  an authentic Italian meal, is your first thought Little Italy in Baltimore? I love Little Italy, but my first thought is Cafe Troia in Towson.

The Troia family, from Naples, opened Cafe Troia in 1986. They feature chicken, beef and lamb that are naturally and humanely raised in addition to fresh clams, shrimp, calamari, and fish.

When my husband and I visit, if we don’t dine in the restaurant or outside, we eat in their, elegant cherry-wood bar. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing.

I enjoy  their Caesar salad because it crunches and they toss it with a creamy Caesar dressing that has a mild garlic flavor with a slight punch.

Their grilled eggplant accompanied by whipped goat cheese is one of my favorite appetizers. Grilling enhances the eggplant’s pungency and goat cheese balances it. In addition, they occasionally serve a nice beet salad with goat cheese and apple slices in a lemon dressing.

One of my favorite entrees is usually one of their specials, Branzino, a Northern Italian sea bass.  They serve it many ways:  in parchment paper, pistachio encrusted or with tomatoes, capers and olives.  You can’t go wrong with any of these preparations.

The spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with salmon, shallots, dill and cream is tender and melts in your mouth. The smooth sauce complements the smoky salmon and is not too heavy.

For dessert, their Creme Brulee is excellent. The custard is sweet with a crispy-caramel top. It is the perfect finale.

If you want to celebrate an event or just prefer a good meal, you should try Cafe Troia.

Update – Daytime Route 54 Construction Halted Until Labor Day

Map of Delaware/Maryland Route 54

Daytime construction was halted on Route 54 during the summer months. According to an article in the Coastal Point, business owners on Route 54 met with  Delaware state officials to discuss the detrimental impact of construction on their businesses. 

The new hours of construction are as follows:  Monday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. I give the state of Delaware credit for listening to the business owners.  Hopefully it is not too late to for these businesses to recoup some of their lost profits.

How does this change affect us?  We can patronize businesses, like Harris Teeter, Smitty McGees and Mio Fratello on Route 54. We can also drive the Delaware Route to Fenwick Island and Ocean City.  This route is shorter than using Route 50 and we will avoid major traffic delays.

ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS! WAKE UP!

I am pleasantly surprised when I receive great customer service.  This is a blog about  dining, travel and my customer service experiences in the Maryland/Delaware  area.  

Kudos to the businesses that care about us,  however,  I hope that some of the local business owners wake up!

Have you ever been ignored by store personnel and left the store?  I am amazed that in this economy, companies aren’t more customer oriented. What do you think?

Should The Department Of Transportation repair roads  that lead into crowded resorts during the summer?  These repairs can cause major delays,  frustration and  affect tourism.  Untimely road construction can guarantee a poor customer experience . What are your thoughts?