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ZoneManhattan.com: A Full Review and a Giant F You

22 Jan

I have been trying to lose weight in anticipation of my wedding in June. At the end of August, I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a meal delivery service that would help me control my calories during the week.  I was struggling with Weight Watchers for a few months and decided that it was time to realize that my self-control was not as good as it needed to be, and it was time to step it up.

I did a lot of research, and talked to a few people who had done something similar, and eventually decided to go with ZoneManhattan.com.  I wrote about my first 4 weeks here on NYC Nom Nom.  I saw great results: 11 pounds in 4 weeks.  The food was pretty damn good and I wasn’t hungry throughout the day.  I couldn’t deny that the weight was coming off and it was easy and enjoyable.  10 weeks into the program, I was down a full 20 pounds (I hit 25 pounds off at my low. YES!)  But then I had to start dealing with their customer service… that is when it all went downhill.

It started with issues with peppers. I had emails to remind them that I had received peppers (which I am allergic to) a few times in my meals. They said they would credit me for the mistakes at the end of my program.  It happened a few times more and I finally called before renewing, afraid to renew knowing that peppers were showing up more and more.  I was told that they would talk to the kitchen.

And then for a few weeks it was fine, but then the peppers came back.  Each time it came up to renew, I hemmed and hawed about it, knowing that the peppers were a constant concern, but wound up going through with it because I couldn’t deny that it was working, it was convenient, and I was satisfied with the food. They also said they would credit the value of the mistaken meals

Each time I called to say something, I was greeted with customer service that made me feel like an idiot and was, at best, rude. I tried to shrug it off.  I had a few issues with their site, where I would try to renew, and then my food just wouldn’t show up. Turns out, I was supposed to call to renew, but it didn’t say that anywhere on the site when I signed up… so how was I to know? Also, they say they don’t keep your credit card on file so you need to call each time. I never had to chase a company so much to give them my business.

Then I went to pay my credit card bill and suddenly it was $1K more than I was expecting. I looked it up to realize that the charge came from ZoneManhattan. I called them up and was greeted with yet another rude customer service person who told me that it was probably my fault… Um… Okay. He looked it up to find that they had charged me for MY meals in September, but not for Mike’s meal (we were using the same Credit Card) so they had charged it when they realized the mistake. I calmly told them that I would have appreciated if they had called me to inform me that this mistake had happened before charging the card. At that point, the man on the phone said “Well did you think you wouldn’t have to pay for it? You bought it, you have to pay for it!”  I was quite taken aback by how obnoxious he was being.  (Not to mention I thought they didn’t keep credit cards on file? Hmmm)

When the next renewal came up, I decided to do it for one more week just to get me through the New Year. I confirmed that I would be credited for the mistakes and asked them to  let me know how much credit I would be receiving. He said he would let me know.

He never did.

I emailed the last day of the scheduled service to inquire and they asked me to list out the days that were a mistake. I listed out 12 days and informed them that I had called on 3 separate occasions in addition to these 12 and was told I would be credited.  They then informed me that they had already credited 2 snacks to me in October.  I then realized that there was one day in October that I received 2 snack 1s and 2 snack 2s and didn’t know why. I had called them that day and they told me it was a mistake, and since I didn’t want to eat extra calories than my daily allowance, they wound up going to waste. Now those somehow were the credit I received.  I was not pleased that this was their policy and told them so.

Their response?

Basically… “too bad.”

They also informed me that they had given me credits along the way… so I requested that they inform me when those credits were, since I was not aware of it and was told they would be at the end of my subscription.

Their response?

Still waiting 3 weeks later to find out.

Oh and those 3 times I called them and was told I would be credited. Turns out, those don’t count, because I had to put it in an email. Even though they never told me that when I called. I also told them that I disagreed with this policy.

Their response?

See above.

Today, 2 weeks after talking to Richard about how upset I was at their customer service, I called and spoke with him again.  I told him that if I had been credited, then all I wanted was to know what days they were. He said that he was not going to go back to previous times and tell me when I received credits because I could look for myself which dates were extra. Excuse me? He said he would look into only this previous one and figure out those credits.

Well F you too, ZoneManhattan.

I have never seen customer service like this. If I treated my clients like this, even once, I would have been 100% fired.  I would have been their customer all the way up through the wedding, which is not an insignificant amount of money by any means, but this has just been too much.

So last week I took advantage of a GiltCity deal and tried FreshDiet.com for a week.  The first week was decent. I lost about another 2 pounds (from the 5 pounds I had put back on over the holidays) this first week and only felt ever so slightly hungrier than I was on the ZoneManhattan diet.  I didn’t love all the food, but some of it was actually very good (and nice portions too!).

Their oatmeal came with a lovely edible flower (and tasted damn good):

Oatmeal

And I really loved the lamb chops they sent (filled with flavor and eating a chop off the bone certainly doesn’t make me feel like I’m dieting!)

Lamb

I don’ t think they use as high quality ingredients as ZoneManhattan does, but it isn’t that much of a difference to make up for the trade-off.  FreshDiet allows me to pick which meals I want (instead of whatever is on the menu that day, as ZoneManhattan does) and is a bit cheaper. They have a promotion going on where it’s 31 days for $29.99 per day right now (more than $10/day less than Zone Manhattan) so I just renewed. And when I called them up I talked to a very nice customer service person who actually made me feel like a human being.

How novel!

More updates to follow.

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ZoneManhattan Week 4 Weigh In

24 Sep

I am down just over 11 pounds. The weight loss has obviously slowed down, but I’m glad to be seeing progress continue.  And then there’s Mike… Mike is down 19 pounds! He’s looking slim and trim and I can’t help but feel a bit jealous of how easily men lose weight compared to women. But I’m proud of him!

Unfortunately, ZoneManhattan has screwed up twice now by putting peppers in my food. It’s frustrating because we pay a lot for the service and it’s really the only food we have. So if I can’t eat one piece of it, I am super hungry (and cranky).  As long as I can eat each meal, I don’t find myself hungry at all, but having to skip one sucks.  I called to complain, so hopefully they are more careful in the future.

ZoneManhattan Week 3 Weigh In

17 Sep

10.8 pounds down even after eating our weight in meat at Meatopia last Saturday!  I tried on wedding dresses this weekend and was amazed how much of a difference 10.8 pounds makes.  I also am down a full size in pants. WOO!

ZoneManhattan Week 2 Weigh In and Update

9 Sep

Week 2 has me 9 pounds down and Mike is 8 down!  We have both noticed that our clothes are fitting better.

For the first few days, we both had headaches.  But we realized we were both taking a supplement and when we stopped, headaches for both of us ended.  Now we’re feeling good, though Mike seems to be a bit hungrier than I am.

We ran into a snag with the site, however. Turns out, even though they seem to have the renewal process fully online, Mike’s 1st day of the renewal came with no food delivery. He called to find out that they didn’t store our credit card info and needed it again to restart the program.  I called (my renewal was set for the next day) and was told the same thing.  There was no way for us to know this was an issue had we not spoken to them.  Why no one called us about this, we have no idea, and the woman that answered the phone didn’t seem all that concerned.  I even wrote to their help desk to mention that this was not a good user experience, but they also seemed to care very little.

It’s a shame because we’ve really enjoyed the rest of the program.  Customer service should be on top of that. It can be as easy as putting a note on their site to call them once you submit the renewal.  Right now it just says “Thanks for renewing. A nutritionist will be in touch shortly.”  But we heard from no nutritionist.  I also find this weird… why wouldn’t they call to check up on us? See how it’s going? Ask if we want to keep our calorie count the way it is?

It seems they have a great product and delivery has been good so far, but their customer service could use some fine tuning.

Luckily, we don’t need to deal with that too often, so 1 more month is ahead of us!

ZoneManhattan Week 1 Weigh In

1 Sep

Officially a full six pounds down after week one. Woohoo!

ZoneManhattan Days 3 & 4: Everyday is like Xmas!

30 Aug

So far the diet is going well. I don’t find myself overly hungry during the day (though I can’t say I really feel full). The one problem is that both Mike and I have been having mild headaches on the diet. It could be withdrawal from all the sugars and salts that we usually eat, or just getting used to have less calories each day.  Whatever the reason, it seems to be getting a bit better, and I hope we get used to it very soon. 

I certainly seem to be losing weight (full report Saturday after week 1 is complete).

Our plan is to do the diet during the weekdays and then eat well on the weekends.  I’ll be in Pittsburgh this weekend to visit my college weekend and celebrate her birthday, so I’ll have to be good with both eating and drinking.  With so much progress in a week, however, I really don’t want to slip so soon.  

One thing that is really cool is that every morning is like Christmas. I open our door and there waiting for me is our coolers of food!  I have no idea what will be in it each day and I love the surprise.

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When I open it up, it’s all neatly packaged and ready, having been made fresh the night before, and our menu is on top.

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Here were the menus from the past two days:

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I am continually impressed with the flavor and quality of the food. The portions are small, but there is so much flavor packed in that I don’t feel like I’m dieting.  And then there was the apply-cherry strudel today.  SOOOO good!

ZoneManhattan Day 2: Dinner and Portion Sizes

28 Aug

Our dinner tonight consisted of Herbed John Dory with asparagus, baby pattypan squash, and red quinoa. It was quite tasty, with a bit of a pesto-like sauce.

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But our servings got me thinking about portion size. Too often I fall into the trap of eating just as much as Mike does. But he is much taller and, well, a guy! One thing I’m hoping this diet does is help me better control my portions. I know how much I should eat, but I always wind up clearing my plate anyway and splitting everything pretty much on half. May this be a lesson learned.

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ZoneManhattan Day 2 Breakfast

28 Aug

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Cherry Waffles with Roasted Nectarines and Turkey Bacon. Small side of cottage cheese.

Was worried that the waffle heated in the microwave would be gummy, and the lack of any syrup/sauce would make it dry. But the flavor was so great, none of that mattered.

Can “diet” food really be this satisfying?

A New (diet) Adventure

27 Aug

Boy… nothing like a diamond ring and a promise of ever after to motivate you to shed the pounds!  I spent a few months on Weight Watchers about 2 years ago, where I successfully lost 17 pounds before they changed their system (and I got lazy) and I gained over 20 pounds back.  I even tried a crazy juice diet, but that didn’t go so well.

I’ve always struggled with my weight, which probably is in direct correlation to my love for food.  Especially fatty, sweet, and carb loaded food.  

But now it’s serious… and I mean business.

A friend of mine was looking awfully svelte one day and I asked him how he did it. Turns out, he started one of those NYC chef delivery diets, Zone Manhattan, and lost over 30 pounds.  This seemed like a good solution for me because it came with his seal of approval (and he loves food as well) and because it would really force me to control what I eat.  Also, it’s cooked fresh and delivered to your door.

I was nervous about how expensive it would be, and it certainly is NOT cheap. But it’s more affordable than most at $38-$46 per day. (Please pull your jaw up off the floor).  My goal is to be on it for a few weeks, drop some pounds (just in time to go dress shopping), and then use that to snap me back onto Weight Watchers where I can maintain the weight loss progression. And if it works, I’ll jump back on it right before the wedding to see if I can shed some more.

So Mike and I embarked on this diet today (Monday, August 27th) and we’ll see how it goes. We’re trying it out for just a week at first, and we’ll go from there.

The food so far has been incredibly tasty.  You are meant to eat about every 2.5 hours, so it’s 3 meals and 2 snacks. Here’s my menu today:

Breakfast: Coddled Egg of Spinach, Sweet Potato, and Turkey Bacon

Snack 1: Broccoli and Smoked Gouda Salad

Lunch: Tuna-Avocado Wrap with Lemon Vinaigrette  

Snack 2: Bread Pudding

Dinner: Herb Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Asparagus, Sweet Corn and Red Rice Pilaf

Every meal was exceptionally good.  And while I’m on the lowest calorie amount per day (1,300), I wasn’t too hungry throughout the day.  I don’t even like salmon, and I really enjoyed the dinner.

Color me impressed.

I’ll be posting pictures on weekdays and keep you posted on my progress.