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July 2000

"Dot Com---ing My Way To An Easier Life"
New Internet services in Atlanta deliver necessities, luxuries to your door

By Jan Butsch, Editor

I was brought up to do just about everything for myself - in the domestic sense anyway. My mother even starched my father's shirts herself, using a sprinkler top Coke bottle. So I started out doing my own cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even wallpapering.

Then I discovered how much more fun it is to let someone else do things for you. I gave up wallpapering long ago, and am trying to work my way down the dreary domestic duty list. Now, with the addition of several dot.com delivery services in the Atlanta area, I discovered a whole army of people who will bring me magazines, ice cream, fresh strawberries, even a gourmet dinner. All it takes is a connection to the Internet, a little time, and oh yeah, a credit card. I recently tested out a few of these companies.

Dinner Is Served

In one of life's more delightful ironies, ever since we endured a major kitchen renovation, I cook less than ever. In fact, I once went an entire day without fixing a meal.

Prepared and take-out meals are wonderful, and barely a week goes by without a rotisserie chicken or Fellini's pizza at your family dinners. But sometimes you yearn for something a little nicer, or maybe you're entertaining the in-laws or the new boss.

There's a new Web site that will deliver a gourmet dinner right to your door. Heat, plate, and eat and you can look like you're spent hours in the kitchen.

We tested out GourmetStation.com for ourselves. After spending a few minutes on the Web site deciding between the Parisian, Asian, Italian, or Baja Lines, I made our selections, entered shipping information, and was done.

The next day UPS delivered a cooler to my house. I placed the food in the refrigerator. Later that night I set the table for two on the porch, followed the instructions included in the package and served our four-course meal. (Actually it was only three courses because we were too full for dessert.)

We had sundried tomato bread, corn & green chile bisque and chicken tortilla soup to start. The entrees were grilled, stuffed chicken breasts with green chile and cheese tamale, and a Baja pork chop stuffed with sausage and apples, both with red pepper sauce. Our side dishes were chipolte beans and Baja rice in ranchero sauce.

The servings of soup were large, only outdone by the pork chop, which was the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Everything heated up beautifully, and we had leftovers for lunch the next day, as well as the dessert - two slices of key lime cheesecake.

The meal came with a floating candle, matches, mints, your choice of coffee, and two lovely dinner napkins, way nicer than the kind we usually use.

I'd give this site two well-fed thumbs up, although for the price, you would probably want to reserve its use for special occasions, or a gift for someone you really want to impress. The basic meal for two was $49.99 and with shipping and handling it came to $60.

indulge Thyself

Ice cream, magazines, CD's, videos, Pringles, and chocolate-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. All these and more incredibly self-indulgent items are available from Kozmo.com.

Whether you're house-bound by illness or inclement weather, recovering from a broken heart or just too lazy to head to the video store yourself, this is the site for you.

I had a blast just cruising the site checking out the selection of books, magazines and junk food. The prices on these items were reasonable, and sometimes below market. I paid $2.95 for an issue of Talk magazine, which has a cover price of $3.50. You can also request videos to rent for $3.99 and return them to a location in your neighborhood, or for an additional fee have them picked up the next day.

The site carries household items as well, although I found these prices quite a bit higher. The detergent was about twice what I normally pay. Although I am no longer in the market for diapers, this site could be a lifesaver for some moms stuck in the house. Currently Kozmo only offers one size of diapers - up to 10 pounds - which would only fit tiny babies. An e-mail inquiry to their customer service department about the availability of other sizes was answered quickly, however.

In addition to the magazine, I ordered a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream ($3.79) and a CD for my daughter ($10.99). Although strongly tempted, I resisted the Krispy Kreme doughnuts. As promised, delivery was within an hour.

A potential dream site for teens left home alone, you can choose to set parental controls and require an additional password.

My only warning is that this site could become addicting, and truthfully, did I really need any of these things?

Van of My Heart

In my neighborhood the beige Webvan vehicles have become as prevalent as contractor's trucks. This Web site is new to the Atlanta area, but seems to have already accumulated many devoted fans. After using it once, you can count me in.

Webvan delivers groceries. You do your shopping online, select a delivery time, and - voila! - a delivery man brings your groceries into your kitchen and prints out a receipt right there.

I found the site fairly easy to navigate, and although the first time took a while, you can store your lists there and just update them each time. The selection was impressive, and there is a search option if you can't figure out where the Frosted Flakes are.

Although I don't always mind the trip to my local Publix, and often catch up with my friends there because I always run into people, I have never like the carting-to-my-house part of the shopping experience. It's nice to have someone else lugging those gallon jugs of milk and orange juice to my kitchen. The delivery man was very nice and they are not allowed to take tips.

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