Sunday, December 9, 2046

Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To My Blog?

I served my country in the United States Air Force for over 20 years and have visited 41 countries over the last 35 years, most without spending over $75 per night for a nice hotel room and dining in excellent restaurants for well under $25 per person. How do I do it? Through diligent research, exploration, trial and error, and local knowledge.
Would you like to stay in a central, 3-star hotel in a major city for under $20 per night? How about a room with a balcony and view of the Himalayas while attending teachings with the Dalai Lama for just $5 per night? Or a beachfront hotel for $13 per night? Maybe a meal prepared by a 5-star chef for less than $20? Well, you have come to the right place ...

Having several popular travel blogs and received numerous accolades from several of the top travel and restaurant websites/apps (Yelp, TripAvisor, Zomato, Tabelog,, you can trust my opinions. 
Unlike many reviewers who are either afraid to tell the truth or have personal relationship with businesses and biased views, I reserve 5-stars (10 Bombs on my blog) for only the most flawless restaurants, accommodations, businesses, attractions and destinations, those where you absolutely and without a doubt get the most “bang-for-the-buck”.

I try to remain as objective as possible in all of my reviews, providing the pros and cons as I see them and a rating based on the overall “value” as compared to similar entities in similar locations. I accept no "freebies" and only identify myself as a critic after having been a customer and paid the bill, so you can trust my reviews.

Here is a breakdown of my ratings both on my blogs (where I use a ten point scale) and on travel and dining websites (that all use 5 point Likert-type scales) ...

If I hate a place, they get 1-2 Bombs (1-star)

If so-so with numerous”issues", they get 3-4 Bombs (2-stars)

If average (the vast majority of businesses fall into this category if you look at the distribution of my ratings), they get 5-6 Bombs (3-stars)

If above average, they get 7-8 Bombs (4-stars)

If they are one of the very rare “best of the best” values in my experience, they get 9-10 Bombs (5-stars – I always round up from bombs to stars because I use a 10 point Likert-type scale in order to be more discernible). 

Now that you understand my philosophy and ratings, on to my reviews …


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Title: Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To My Blog?

Key Words: combatcritic, travelvalue, travel, value, combat, critic, review, reviews, objective, restaurant, hotel, attraction, destination, Italy, USA, India, Asia, Europe

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ford Retaliates Against Disabled Veteran After Complaints Of Lying And Unprofessional Behavior By Dealer's Staff

Damerow Ford
12325 SW Canyon Road
Beaverton, OR 97005
Southwest Portland
Phone number (503) 644-1131
Prices: $$$$

I usually do not write about businesses without some sort of connection to travel and travelers, but I felt an exception was needed here. You will not believe what this Portland Ford dealer did!
Several Midwesterners I have talked to about our upcoming move to Portland, Oregon and familiar with the area have told me: "they don't like military/veterans out there" and "as a retired military officer moving to Portland, you will not be welcome there, they're way too liberal". I took it with a grain of salt because I have not experienced any negative attitudes during my visits, but I have also not spent a lot of time in Portland and I do not readily advertise my military background. After the experience I am about to tell you about, I am actually starting to have some concerns.

When you see a business on yelp* with 117 reviews and an average rating of less than 2.5 stars out of 5, there is something definitely rotten in Denmark or, in the case, Portland, Oregon. It is called Damerow Ford and here are some comments by their customers ...
"Absolutely the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my entire life."
"I will never return to Damerow Ford for anything. What a bunch of unprofessional, idiots."
"Landmark was very easy to work with and much more trustworthy, don't bother with these guys."
"Damerow Ford is the worst company I have ever dealt with. I regret buying my car from them."
Check their reviews on yelp*, it is all there in black and white. Now on to my experience. As a Ford shareholder, I expected much, much more from a company I own stock in.

Their salesperson and management wasted countless hours of my time over two months while TRYING to buy a car from them. They lied constantly, failed to read my emails or answer my questions, then had the nerve to REFUSE TO SELL ME A CAR because they were afraid of a poor review and retaliated against me for well making well substantiated complaints.

Ford provides incentives for good reviews or docks dealers for bad follow-up reviews from "customers", those who eventually purchase a vehicle. Thinking that I would give them a bad review because of their deceit and unprofessionalism, even though I gave my word on my honor as a retired Air Force officer that I would not if they FINALLY followed through with their promises, management decided not to take the chance and their general manager called me this evening and REFUSED TO SELL ME A CAR, retaliating against me for my complaints of lying and unprofessional behavior by his staff.

After complaints to management about their constant lies, unprofessional behavior, and not reading my emails or answering key questions, sales manager Kiyoshi Tsuji told me that he was hesitant to sell me the car because he thought I would give the dealership bad reviews no matter what happened. As a man of my word, I told him: "That's water under the bridge Kiyoshi. If there are no problems when I pick up my car on 5/13, everything is in order when I get there and I am happy with the transaction, I will absolutely write a positive review." Being deceitful himself (having promised to send me the paperwork by mail to complete the transaction not once, but twice, then refusing to follow through), he is apparently not used to dealing with people of honor, people with integrity. At the end of the conversation, which like all questionable phone calls I record, he agreed to "trust" me. He even offered to pick me up at the airport when I arrived and drive me to the dealership to take delivery of our new car. All he had been worried about was the customer satisfaction survey and yelp* reviews I could possibly write, potentially costing them Ford incentive money, not about making an unhappy customer happy.

Car salesmen and dealers are notorious liars and manipulators and Damerow Ford sits right at the top of the list. I have written many great reviews and a few bad ones, but Damerow Ford has earned the Top Spot on my "Wall of Shame". Shame on you Ali Bulgasem (Damerow Ford General Manager), Kiyoshi Tsuji (Damerow Ford Sales Manager), and June Jermany (Damerow Ford Salesman).

I have over 80 emails and phone recordings of conversations between myself and Damerow Ford employees, so if you doubt what I say, the pertinent ones will soon be published where 350,000 people a year read my reviews and where you will be able to see for yourself that I, unlike Damerow Ford, tell the truth.

I value honor and integrity, values that I live by every day of my life, having done so through 20+ years of military service to our great nation and ever since I retired in 2005. I simply do not tolerate liars, cheats, swindlers or unprofessional treatment of customers. 

My maxim during my many years of military service was to provide "outstanding customer service" to those who had no choice but to come to my squadron when they needed a car, to have it fixed, borrow (rent) a car or get a ride somewhere on base, or ship something anywhere in the world. That attitude earned me MAJCOM-level awards and my squadron the honor of being chosen "Air Force Transportation Squadron of the Year". 

I basically ran a car dealership, taxi/bus/car rental company, and FedEx hub all in one ... in a combat zone ... and it was much larger than Damerow Ford, with 1,300+ vehicles, 100+ mechanics, 70+ drivers, 40+ freight specialists and several administrative staff members. So, I know a little bit about running an efficient, customer-oriented organization. Ali Bulgasem, General Manager at Damerow Ford and the person who called me to tell me that he refused to sell me a car, and his employees at Damerow Ford could all learn quite a bit from my beliefs and service.

Why would a car dealer refuse to sell a car to a customer? Because they had something to lose, that is exactly why. Their "perfect" customer review rating and that Ford incentive for positive reviews were more important than following through with their promises and treating a customer professionally and with dignity and respect. They also do not like people who complain about their poor service and unprofessional behavior, so Ali Bugasem retaliated against me by refusing to follow through with a deal in which I had put more than 15% ($3,500) as a down payment on the vehicle.

Am I a demanding customer? You can bet your sweet ass I am. I demand professionalism, honesty, integrity, compassion, and to be treated with dignity and respect when I spend my hard earned money, nearly $23,000 in this case, at a business. Don't you?

I am still waiting for the $3,500 refund on the down payment I made on my credit card, having promised me they would hold the car until I got there next Saturday. That would be considered breach of contract in a court of law, but I will not even go there. Now I have to rent a car when I arrive in Portland instead of picking up the vehicle I put a large down payment on, costing me hundreds of extra dollars unnecessarily as well as more wasted time looking for a non-Ford to buy. Military Appreciation ... what a joke!
The last Ford I owned was a 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon, my first car. I have purchased mostly foreign cars over the years (Honda, VW and Nissan - all great cars), but decided to buy American-made this time, being a patriot and having heard that Ford has improved their products, safety, and reliability. Their cars may be better than they once were, but their customer service is the poorest I have seen in recent memory. Is it a coincidence that Ford's stock has tanked over 20% in the past year?

Complaints have been filed with the Oregon Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau (Northwest) for breach of contract. I also sent a letter to the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors which, based on previous experience, will likely be ignored. I could sue Damerow Ford and win, but it is not worth my time, money or energy. I will just buy a new car from another dealer and manufacturer, unfortunately probably a Japanese or Korean company. So much for my attempt to buy a domestic car ... "Made in America". Do not say that I did not try.

What a nice "welcome" to our new home, Portland, Oregon. I hope this is not a sign of things to come, but in my 60 years on Earth, I have never experienced such flagrant unprofessional and aggressive behavior at a business, particularly one where I was trying to spend $23,000. Is it a fluke or were my Midwestern friends right? I hope it is the former because we have invested a lot of time, money and emotion in a cross country move to a place we hope to spend the remaining years of our lives ... feeling welcome and happy in our new home. Welcome to Portland?

CombatCritic Gives Damerow Ford 0 Bombs Out Of 10 ... The Lowest Of The Low ... But The TOP SPOT On My "Wall Of Shame" ... Shame on you Ali ... shame you Damerow Ford ... Shame on you Ford Motor Company!

0 Bombs Equates To "Lower Than FUBAR" ... Look That Up In Your Funk And Wagnalls Or Simply Visit My Blog. Just Google "CombatCritic"!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie - Over  1,890,733 Review And Photo Views

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Read Chris S.'s review of Damerow Ford on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Portland, Oregon: Ford Retaliates Against Disabled Veteran After Complaints Of Lying And Unprofessional Behavior By Dealer's Staff

Key Words: Damerow Ford, Damerow, Ford, Portland, Beaverton, Oregon, 97005, lies, liar, lying, unprofessional, disabled, veteran, TravelValue, travel, value, product, business, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Vancouver, WA: Quiet, Clean, Private, And Affordable Airbnb Apartment Or Room

Chris and Michelle's Clean, Quiet and Safe - No Cleaning Fee - Full Bed
Vancouver, WA
Airbnb Link
Prices: $$$$

I found this quiet, comfortable place on Airbnb short notice after "The Nightmare On Lombard Street" and Michelle and Chris were more than happy to oblige. They welcomed me warmly and I soon had a new home ... for five nights.
The house is in a residential neighborhood FAR from any restaurants or shops, so a vehicle is recommended. It is a nice 1950s home with lots of brick and wood floors. Chris and Michelle live in the mother-in-law apartment in the basement, leaving three bedrooms, a bath and a half, large living room, dining room, and remodeled kitchen.
There was just one other couple there, for one night - they were asked not to extend, during my entire stay, so with Chris and Michelle spending the vast majority of time downstairs, I pretty much had the place to myself. The kitchen is fully stocked with plates, pots, pans, silverware, Keurig coffee maker (and coffee), fridge. gas stove, microwave and dishwasher, everything you need to self-cater if that is your bag.
The living room couch has Lazy Boy style pop-out foot rests on each end of the couch, but the TV only gets over the air broadcasts (no cable/Netflix/HBO/Etc), but the Wi-Fi is fast and dependable, so I enjoyed Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO, CBS All Access, and Sling since we went cable free (like they did) on my computer or tablet.
Smoking is allowed (hey, it's Washington, so ANYTHING goes), but only on the back porch where you will find a table with ashtray and two comfy chairs overlooking a massive backyard.

I had the smaller of the three bedrooms, but it was plenty big for me with a double bed, small dresser, nightstand with light, and small closet (empty - I have stayed places where the hosts pack the closet with their own stuff, making it impossible to hang clothes). The bathroom was right across the hall, but is shared by three guest rooms if all are booked. 
I spent most of my time in the house spent in the dining room where I set-up my computer during most of the stay (Chris and Michelle had no problem with it) and living room where I watched the Super Bowl and news on Fox or streaming movies or series on my tablet.

It was very quiet, comfortable and relaxed. Chris and Michelle chilled in the basement most of my stay and had no rules other that you "smoke 'em if you got 'em" out on the back porch. Otherwise, I felt at home with no stress or interference from my wonderful hosts or other guests.

The only negatives, if you want to call them that, are the remoteness of the house from restaurants and shopping (which I did not mind because I had a rental car) and the lack of cable or streaming video services. Otherwise, this Airbnb is top notch and an excellent value smack in the center of Vancouver and just a few miles from downtown, malls, restaurants and shopping.
CombatCritic Gives Chris and Michelle's Clean, Safe, No Cleaning Fee, Full Bed 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Vancouver, WA: Quiet, Clean, Private, And Affordable Airbnb Apartment Or Room

Key Words: Chris, Michelle, Clean, Quiet, Safe, Airbnb, room, hotel, accommodation, apartment, Vancouver, Washington, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH = "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Washougal, WA: Our"Bar" Not Set Very High And Small Plates Left Me Somewhat Unimpressed

1887 Main Street
Washougal, WA 98671
Phone number: (360) 954-5141
Prices: $$$$

Little place, little plates, a little more imagination. I met some friends in Washougal to admire the pouring rain and grab a bite to eat. I wanted to try a place in Camas, but they took me to OurBar.
Biscuits And Gravy?
The menu is very limited and you order at the counter, then fight for a table. I guess I missed the side of the menu with sandwiches, so I ordered the quiche. A bit too light and fluffy for my liking, the consistency and flavor was more like a souffle than a quiche, but it was not bad. The tiny plate held the not so big slice of quiche ($7) and a mini smattering of fried potatoes.
My friends ordered the Sopa de Fideo ($9) and Egg in a Basket ($5) and we shared an order of biscuits and gravy ($8). I tasted the sopa and it was pretty good, but the basketed egg looked a little underwhelming, even on a small plate. The bacon and cheddar biscuits were good, but not what I expected with the wild boar (swine/pig) gravy. The biscuits were not big by any stretch and the brown (not white and country) gravy came in a teeny tiny little bowl.
Sopa de Fideo

Egg In Too Small A Basket
The food was pretty good and seemed fresh, but the service was non-existent, and the ambiance lacking any character. If you are hungry and looking for traditional breakfast fare, this is not the place to go. If you want something very different and on the lighter side, OurBar could be the place for you.

CombatCritic Gives OurBar 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!

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Read Chris S.'s review of OurBar on Yelp

Our Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Washougal, WA: Our"Bar" Not Set Very High And Small Plates Left Me Somewhat Unimpressed

Key Words: OurBar, our, bar, Washougal, Washington, Main, Camas, Portland, Oregon, breakfast, lunch, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"