Hard Rock Cafe Bait and Switch

Oviedo Mall MedellinI admit I am a Hard Rock Café junkie. It all started almost 23 years ago when Ron and I went to Hard Rock San Francisco for lunch. We were new at being a couple, so one of us had the idea to buy a pin to commemorate the day. This started the obsession. Each time we are in a city that has a Hard Rock Café or hotel, we have to purchase a pin to memorialize that travel adventure.

Although I am more verbal about it than Ron is, but we both are hardcore collectors now. If you have been to our home, you know Ron shaped all of our pins into a giant heart on a cloth window shade. It hangs in our kitchen.

When we were in Panama City, Panama buying our pin, we started a conversion with the sales clerk. She suggested we join the Hard Rock Rewards program since we are collectors. Membership provides early appraisal of upcoming events, priority restaurant seating, and discounts on merchandise. Membership is free, so I joined.

With my new membership number in hand, I logged onto the Hard Rock website to enter my purchase. I had all the information needed, but once everything was completed, the site refused to fulfill the request. A temporary glitch, I thought and decided to try again later. A second and third attempt only proved fruitless. Discouraged, I wondered if I would still be on the mailing list for fan-based offerings in the future.

Every successive attempt afterwards trying to add my purchases in either the store or the restaurant had the same results. My account never received credit for any of my spending. Finally, I just gave up in disgust.

Surprisingly, in early January, I received a coupon from Hard Rock! Congratulations, our records show you have a birthday this month. To celebrate your being a Hard Rock Member, we would like to present you with a coupon for a free dessert. It does need to accompany an entrée, it is good at participating Hard Rock Cafés, and you do need to show ID to prove you are the person on the coupon.

When we were in Cartagena, we went to the Hard Rock there, but I had forgotten the coupon at the apartment. Medellin was my last chance. The coupon would expire the end of January.

Laughing cow MedellinTrying to have a lazy day yesterday, we walked to the Hard Rock. So much for lazy days, it is about four miles away. Once we found it, it was too early for dinner. Ron had read about a shopping center on TripAdvisor that received great reviews, so we planned to waste some an hour or more there.  What a bust! The Rio Sur Shopping Center is seven floors mainly occupied by cosmetic surgery centers, beauty salons, a few restaurants and many vacant spaces. The best thing about this place was the bull statue outside a casino next door and their glass fountain.

Across the street, we noticed a tree sculpted in the shape of an apple. We walked over there to Oviedo Mall Medellinsee it up close and discovered the Oviedo Shopping Center. As we walked into this multilevel complex, it is immediately apparent why the Rio Sur is desperately hurting. The mall spreads out over 95,000 square meters, where 320 stores and 7 cinemas filling any need anyone could need or desire. The interior has many areas open to the sky with gorgeous landscaping and artwork. It is a pleasure to stroll around. One large section is maze like with a short staircase leading to the next level. Naming each section makes meeting others easy to identify a location as the meeting point.

After a couple of hours, we worked up an appetite. We must have walked another mile or more in the two malls. Back at Hard Rock, we decided to sit on the patio, but of course, we had to purchase our pin first. We were 15 minutes away from Happy Hour. With the cost of beers being half price, the wait was worthwhile.  I had my staple HR dinner: BBQ ribs and chicken combo. The beans and coleslaw were different from most places, but they were identical to Cartagena. Hard Rock MedellinWe did not eat at HR in Bogotá.

At the end of the meal, I sheepishly handed our waiter my coupon. Reluctantly, I gave over a photocopy of my passport. He stared at the passport copy for minutes, while I was trying to figure out what he was doing. Then he looked up and said “Congratulations, you are >> years old.” I returned his comment with a grimace, but admitted to the truth.

He left our table and turned the sheet over to the manager. I could see the manager shaking his head in a positive manner before approaching the table with the dessert menu. He offered me two choices and I selected one to share, but asked that we get it for take away. Sure, no Hard Rock Beer Tap Medellinproblem.

About 10 minutes later, our waiter, Criss, returned to our table with a paper in his hand. With an apologetic gesture, he said, “The computer rejected the coupon, claiming it was not valid.” With my past luck with Hard Rock Rewards, I could hardly be surprised. I thanked the waiter, telling him it was not a problem. He said, “Wait just a minute.”

When he returned, he had a sundae dish filled with chocolate ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a single candle was waiting for a flame. He wished me a Happy Birthday! Though my birthday was past, it was a happy birthday all over again.

Hard Rock MedellinHard Rock Rewards is a bust, but they do have some good employees.

We walked the four miles back to the apartment to work off dinner.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.