Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Amazon - $2.99
The average American encounters eight supernatural beings in a given week. 98% of these occurrences go unnoticed. One in fifty paranormal happenings is aggressive in nature, and of these, only 5% are ever reported. As an Analyst for the Department of Paranormal Study and Defense, Tom Bell's job is to respond to that 5%.
When a botched encounter leads to aggression from the barbaric Dry Ones of Louisiana, Tom heads to New Orleans to plead his case. There he finds himself embroiled in a brutal power struggle between the colony’s two leaders: pragmatic Judge Berenger, and bloodthirsty Archbishop Hatcher. With Keda growing increasingly unstable, old threats from Tokyo rearing their heads, and the mounting tension between the Dry Ones, Agent Bell will have to pull out all the stops to get out of here in one recognizable piece.
The nightmares are back, and they're telling of a terrible power growing deep in the swamp…
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
(I sent this letter to Amtrak back in late October after an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles. It occurred to me that I hadn't posted it on my blog, and some of you might get a laugh. Enjoy.)
To whom it may concern at the Amtrak transportation company.
I am writing to inform you that I will not be using your atrocious company again under any circumstances.
I told myself once earlier this year that I would be withholding my business from Amtrak after an issue with payment caused me to be charged $400 (that’s twice for a $200 purchase) on my credit card for tickets that I never received. Through some massive lapse of judgment on my part I decided to book a train and then bus connection to Los Angeles from Modesto anyway as it seemed like the cheapest and most hassle-free option. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I’ve decided to write down a few helpful suggestions for you to consider implementing at your bus and train stations so that in the future, you don’t find yourself massively inconveniencing somebody with more money and less patience than myself.
- I intended to pay for my tickets with a debit card (i.e. fluid capital). It seems however that your company has some sort of vehement religious opposition to debit card payments and only wants to accept in-person payments via credit card. Perhaps you should spring for some ATMs in your stations, so that a customer does not need to sprint to the nearest 7-11 to avoid missing the last bus to his destination.
- It could be argued that I should have booked online in advance. This, however, is exactly what led to me being charged $400 plus tax for thin air two months previous. Additionally, from my previous run-in with your company, I’ve learned that your online booking service—which doubles as your schedule— is frequently out of commission, and was down over this entire weekend. As such it was both impossible and unwise to rely on it.
- I understand that bus and train delays are just a reality of life and that not every individual customer can be considered when dealing with them. However, to leave from Modesto at 3pm and arrive in Los Angeles at 1am the following day for what is ostensibly a seven-hour journey is pushing it, and some hotels are less forgiving about what constitutes a no-show. Granted UCLA is not exactly Compton and there was a hospital with a phone quite close by, but being dropped in the middle of a strange city at one in the morning with no taxi stands or other human beings in sight is one of those scenarios that will give anyone at least a moment of distress.
- Due to whatever payment error your computers managed to come up with at our point of origin, we were told that our return tickets were reserved and that we could pay for them at the UCLA Westwood station (our destination) upon our return. What your agent failed to make clear was that the UCLA Westwood Amtrak station is a metal pole, and that your drivers don’t carry the necessary equipment to make monetary transactions. This is a grave failure in judgment and at the very least some sort of voucher or receipt signifying the return reservation would not go amiss. Just to be safe.
- With regards to the above-- while I don’t expect each and every agent to be intimately familiar with every Amtrak station in the state, at the very least your bus drivers could speak fluent English.
- Once we got past the language barrier your driver had me call your 1-800 number to confirm my reservation while en route. First things first—please tell your automated cockatrice-woman “Julie” that when I say I’d like to speak to an agent, my working relationship with her has concluded. I applaud her earnestness and prerogative, but the phrase “Maybe there’s something else I can help you with” seems like it was mathematically crafted to make the customer as angry as possible at that particular moment. It also makes it look as though you are avoiding me.
- The point of playing music while a customer is on hold is to ensure the connection to your answering system is still active while being as unobtrusive as possible, and a period of easy listening between one’s original grievance and the moment an agent picks up the line can tend to at least somewhat defuse a customer’s anger, and give them a chance to rationally articulate their issue. Unfortunately you seem to have opted for a tape deck playing what I assume was some sort of lost Beck album, which you interrupted every ten seconds to have Julie urge me to hang up and call back so that she could help me instead, like a well-spoken Medusa of an ex-girlfriend. At this point I really did begin to think you were avoiding me.
- Given that I was on hold for the entire journey from UCLA Westwood to the Amtrak station in Van Nuys (with Julie clucking in my ear between intermittent bursts of static-drenched acoustic guitar), I didn’t get to personally deal with your phone agents as I have in the past and thus have no fresh complaints about them. Good job!
- A reminder about installing ATMs at your stations if you insist on only taking CASH or CREDIT, as I’m going to assume that not EVERY Amtrak station is within 100-Meter Dash distance of a convenience store, though I suppose this time I lucked out. You may argue that I should’ve gotten my cash out ahead of time, and I did—it’s just that the taxi fare trying to find your UCLA stop ate into my allotted bus fare, given as your metal pole with a picture of a bus on it is indistinguishable from any other in the greater Los Angeles area.
- Finally, this may seem petty, but your employees should keep the doors unlocked during broad daylight if not during all business hours. After everything else I’d dealt with on this excursion, to have the bus driver direct me to the ticket desk in broken English, only to have to ask an overweight redneck to come and get the door for me after he’d concluded his own ticket purchase, makes it seem like you’re turning inconvenience into a fucking art form.
Thank you for taking the time to read my complaint. It will be some inconvenience to take my business to SFO anytime I need to get to Los Angeles in the future, and I’m sure American Airlines has their own issues—it’s just the nature of commercial travel, and I consider myself a reasonably patient man. I’m willing to bear it, however, as I am pretty sure I would rather feast on my own shit than give money to your ridiculous flea circus of a company ever again.