85 entries categorized "Complaints Dept."

RACV.... sooooo slow

Racv

 

So on Monday May 9 a guy reversed his car into mine while I was stationary. He said he would have his insurance company call me and sort it out.

By Friday May 14 I hadn't heard from them so I chased them up. Apparently he told his insurance we were equally at fault (?!) but after speaking with them they told me they would call me on Monday... the whole week passed. I called them this morning (Monday May 23) and they assured me they had called me (on May 17 according to their records... but they are not allowed to leave a message on machines... so how do I know if they called me???) and they posted a document to me because they can't proceed with the claim until they get a diagram from me.

They told me they would post another copy to me - as they also haven't received one back from the other party either. 

I asked how two different diagrams of the incident would help them determine what happened any better than the two different descriptions they already have. Apparently, according to the RACV representative, the diagrams will clear it all up...

Seems like it does nothing more than draw the whole situation out as I continue to drive around with damage to my car.

Two weeks so far - it looks like it will be at least another two weeks before we get even close to repairs.. 

 

Not impressed RACV. I love your roadside assist but I'm glad I'm not insured by you.

 

 

UPDATE June 20

Apparently RACV have been trying to call me but are not allowed to leave messages - so it's their word against mine in that regard - they reviewed the "diagrams" and decided that, although the other party reversed into me while I was stopped, if I wasn't fully in the lane (because I couldn't complete my U turn because the other party suddenly stopped in front of me) then I was equally at fault and have to pay for my own repairs.

Clearly, RACV is trying to save a few dollars (the repair is minor) but on principle I am deeply offended by their petty attempt at blame shifting.

This will continue as I am not prepared to accept their decision.

 

UPDATE July 11

For those of you still following this saga... I sent a photo of the damage to my car which clearly shows that I must have completed the U turn in order for the other party to hit me where he did. I sent the photo to RACV on June 21. Since I have heard NOTHING back from them after 3 weeks - I have emailed them again. 

Why am I having to be the pro-active party in trying to get this claim sorted? Or is it an intentional delay strategy on the part of RACV? I asked them in my email. The waiting continues...

 

UPDATE July 22

Frustrated.. I phoned RACV. I accidentally got put through to their SALES line within 30 seconds. When they realised I was trying to get through to CLAIMS I was put on hold for 15 minutes. The CLAIMS man said I needed to speak to LIABILITIES. He said to stay on the line and he would transfer me. After being on hold for another 5 minutes I was disconnected.

I have now emailed them and, if I don't get a reply, next step is the ombudsman.

 

UPDATE July 28

Well, as soon as I messaged the Ombudsman, the RACV suddenly called me! On Monday their Customer Service people phoned me to explain that someone from claims would call me asap. Sure enough, I got a call from claims the next day - they actually left MESSAGES on my answering machine asking me to call them back - even though they had repeatedly told me previously that they were not allowed to leave messages...

Things change once the Ombudsman is involved.

Then today they emailed me their official reply - the one I've been waiting for SINCE JUNE 21 - sticking to their original story that they are "holding both parties equally responsible for the damages to your vehicle and our clients vehicle."

Remember, their client REVERSED INTO ME WHILE I WAS STATIONARY.

Their sole basis for this claim is this:

ROAD SAFETY ROAD RULES 2009 - REG 38
Giving way when making a U-turn
A driver making a U-turn must give way to all vehicles and pedestrians.

So, by their interpretation (and in order to avoid paying to have scratches buffed off my bumper bar) I should have "given way" to a vehicle heading in the same direction that I was heading in  - after it stopped in the middle of the road and started to reverse.

Their argument is that I had "not completed the U Turn". However, I'm certain that, at the time of impact, I was parallel with the road - based on the point of impact to my car (as shown in the photo) and the fact that the other driver exited his vehicle and came up beside me and gave me his details WHILE OTHER VEHICLES DROVE PAST US ON MY RIGHT.

More to come.

 

UPDATE August 4

Since contacting the Ombudsman I have had calls and emails from several different Customer Relations departments of RACV (and their parent company www.IAG.com.au)

The latest email said they hope to have this matter resolved by end of business today.

 

UPDATE August 5

The "final decision" email was sent through today. As it turns out, the other party has chosen to LIE about what happened.. claiming that he was reversing into a parking space when I made a U turn and impacted the rear of his car.

The FACTS don't support that claim at all. There is no way my car could have hit a car in the left lane without completing my U turn, and the damage to his car was the side, not the rear. (Plus, if I was moving at ANY speed the damage to his car would have been much worse).

However, RACV instead of investigating or assessing the claim, simply put the thing in the too hard basket and through it out saying "I am unable to conclude that the incident was not in any way your fault or that our insured was solely responsible."

This will continue....

 


Are they STILL in business?

Regular readers know I am NOT a fan of MAGIC MAKERS - the magic manufacturing company that seems to profit by copying other people's creations.

When HEALED & SEALED came out, they brought out CRUSHED & CURED COLA and claimed it was based on an "old principle". We all know that was a blatant lie.

Well now they have responded to critics by trying to "credit" the creators of the effects in the instructions they supply.

Ard

For example, THE CARTOON DECK (a complete rip off of Dan Harlan's CARDTOON) says "Designed by Rob Stiff Magic Makers, Inc. - additional crediting is in the teaching video.
Credit in this category of magic should be to the brilliant mind of Dan Harlan.
Also, credit to the original effect in the same playing card flip book format with an animated magic top hat and dove flying out from 1954 & 1959 by Educards of Canada."

The credit to Educards is irrelevant as it was not a trick, but a flipbook using cards. Magic Makers simply added that to try to make it look like Dan Harlan's creation was not original either.

Nothi

Another example, THE SECRET BOX is credited "Terry LaGerould is credited for this effect.
Terry has been performing magic & entertaining audiences for over 3 decades."

Yes, Terry did invent that effect. He called it THE NOTHING BOX and it's available at Penguin Magic. Magic Makers seem to have come up with the idea that if you credit the creator, then it's alright to rip him off!

Glov

Another example, SHRINKING GLOVE ILLUSION. Credited "This effect is based on the 1997 Incredible Shrinking Glove by Rob Stiff." Rob Stiff was inspired by his own trick apparently...

No mention of Samuel Patrick Smith who has been marketing this effect for years.

Moa

Perhaps the worst example is THE MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST. In the instructions, Simon Lovell points out it was based on an old UF Grant Magazine test. Correct. Several DIFFERENT book tests have been based on this principle- but Million Dollar Book Test is not a DIFFERENT book test, but a direct copy of Ted Karmilovich's MOTHER OF ALL BOOK TESTS. The only variation is that it includes four extra words, something the MOABT's originally had, but felt it weakened the effect so removed them. 

What makes it worse is the title MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST is the name of another Ted Karmilovich effect - one that he published but didn't circulate. It's almost as if Rob Stiff is having a jab, letting Ted know he deliberately left his name out of the credits.

That's right, according to Simon Lovell is this thread on The Magic Cafe, Simon did not know THE MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST was the name of a Ted Karmilovich effect. Simon did mention Ted in the credits but spelled his name wrong. Simon said "I had heard of MOABT but, with research and assurances, learned that it was not a new principle ... simply an application of an older one."

Yes, it was an application of an older principle, but a unique application. Million Dollar Book Test was the EXACT SAME application.

Bill Palmer added in the same thread "To be absolutely fair, I must point out that this is completely legal. Ted K. did not originate the principle used in MOAB. Although he has copyrighted the text, if someone else has written a new novel that uses the same principle, then there isn't anything we can do about it except write bad reviews of it."

Yes, what Magic Makers is doing IS legal. Some would say it's good business bring out "generic", cheaper  versions of popular tricks. But magic is a cottage industry. It's hard enough trying to make a profit after spending all the time and effort creating a new trick without someone else copying your idea and selling it to your customers cheaper than you can.

A lot of magicians understand this and strive to support the creators, which is sensational!

As for Magic Makers and their continual copying of effects and attempts at rewriting magic history... I guess we as a magic community only have ourselves to blame if they are still in business...


The Optus Merry Go Round

My wifi has been playing up. It seems to reset itself or something because frequently I have to manually reconnect my notebook, and my printer keeps going offline as does my Akruto sync that keeps my phone and computer talking to each other. 

My modem is provided by Optus,... yes, here we go again... but I already know going into a store will not achieve anything, they will tell me to call technical support on 131 344 (where I will be kept on hold until I hang up out of frustration after an hour or so) or I can go to their website... I chose the latter.

Going to their home page I see this:

 

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.24.44

 

 

and I click on SUPPORT - as you would

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.19.51

 

 

Which takes me to their SERVICE HUB where you can type your question in and you are offered a few stock answers - none of which helped me unfortunately. 

At the very bottom of the page is a link saying CONTACT US - pressing this takes you to a page called ASK OPTUS

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.29.28

 

 

where, after you ask your question again, and they provide the same answers again, you are given the options of:

  • JOIN THE OPTUS COMMUNITY (You need to register to join a forum where you can chat with other disgruntled Optus customers)
  • PHONE US  (They give a number 133 937, which they said is "General Enquiries/Tech Suport", but it's actually just General Enquiries, once you eventually get through, they will transfer you to the back of the line at Tech Support on 131 344)

At the bottom of that page you see two more additional options. Contact via Facebook or Twitter

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.33.02

 

 

I chose the Facebook account and received a fairly prompt response which ended with me being told 

"If that's the case it's best to get in touch with our tech support team on 131344 or via http://yesopt.us/chat2us to get this further investigated. Steph"

I clicked on the link she gave and was back on the website

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.19.32

 

 

I click on TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES and was taken to this page

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.19.11

 

Not exactly helpful.

I did notice at the bottom of the NEED A HAND? page was the option to FILL IN A FORM and they would get back to me... 

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.19.39

 

So I clicked that link and was taken to...

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.19.51

 

Yes, the merry go round had completed a full lap and was ready to start again!

 

I went back to Facebook and asked

"Why is there no link to tech support on your web page"

and Dave replied

"We have this one - http://www.optus.com.au/.../answer/how-to-contact-optus.... Not sure if that's what you were after. Dave"

Yes, that is indeed what I was after, but you cannot actually find that page. It's deliberately hidden.

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.43.56

 

 

It appears that the only way you'll get it is by going to the ASK US page and typing in HOW DO I CONTACT OPTUS. 

Even then, it gives the same options: Optus Community, Facebook, Twitter, 131 344. Plus an OPTUS APP you can use for questions about your mobile service

But at the very bottom of the page....

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.44.05

 

It's like discovering buried treasure... those magical words... HOW TO EMAIL US. Clicking on them takes you to

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.44.17

 

But the excitement is short lived

 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 10.54.47

 

The next screen warns you off emailing by letting you know it may take several days to get a reply... and again directs you to OPTUS COMMUNITY ("Discuss your problems among yourselves please, don't bother us.") PHONE US, or us LIVE CHAT... sounds promising, but that link tells you to download the OPTUS APP, Live Chat is for Mobile support only...

So, as I refuse to sit on hold for hours at a time (again), my only option is to fill in the form and wait a few days for them to reply. (Bearing in mind, the last time I did this they didn't reply at all. I had to fill out and submit the form THREE TIMES).

 

At least I get to sit on a bench and watch the Merry Go Round turning, taking all the other customers for a ride while I wait for my phone to ring....

 

UPDATE - OCTOBER 2 - I GOT AN EMAIL FROM OPTUS-----------

Hi Tim,

 

Thank you for sending your concern to us.

 

This is in response to the email you sent on 30 September about Internet Connection Issue.

 

I'm sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you. Thank you for letting us know about this; I can see how this may be a cause of concern for you. We appreciate the feedback and suggestion that you will be providing and my apologies again for the experience that happened. 

 

I can see that the issue have not yet been raised to our Technical Support; I highly suggest to contact our Team so we can perform troubleshooting and check what's causing the issue for Internet Connection drop outs.  Just to set your expectation factors that can impact speed such as demand on the network, local conditions such as internet traffic, hardware, and the source or destination of the site being accessed. You can contact them directly by dialing 1300739407 Hours of Operation: 24 x 7 (Open all Hours).

Or you can get in touch with our Webchat team online for further assistance, you may use the link - http://yesopt.us/cu.

 

Regards,

 

Optus Email Servicing

Ref #: 1742-48915

 


Repost of 'RePop' from 2002

Healedandsealed

Magic and the internet certainly make strange bedfellows. Magic is known by it's desire to keep secrets, whereas the 'net is all about spreading information at lightning speed.

 

It only took 12 hours from the time David Blaine performed the "Beer Can Trick" on his 'Vertigo' TV Special for the secret of the trick to become available on the internet auction site eBay. The advertising read: "David Blaine - "Resealed" beer can effect from "Vertigo". Yes! As seen on TV this week."

 

As I have a vested interest in protecting the secret of this trick, I took a personal interest in this matter. The history of this effect is that Anders Moden first published it on the Electronic Grymoire on February 13, 1997. Few magicians were interested in his idea back then, I was one of the few who actually took the idea and modified and developed it further to suit my style. I even paid Anders for the right to include my version ('Soda Resurrection') of his trick ('Healed and Sealed') in the Ellis & Webster lecture notes '24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis'. David Blaine also paid Anders for the exclusive rights to perform the trick on TV until the year 2005.

 

I contacted the man who was offering the secret of the trick for sale on eBay. His name is Stephen Pellegrino of St. Louis Magic, and this is what he had to say about the effect: "My principle is based on another effect that has nothing to do with a beer or soda can, that I adapted and is over 50 years old. I literally worked this out this morning." It sounds like he watched Blaine perform, figured out how the trick was done, then released it for sale as his own creation. A colleague of mine actually bought Mr Pellegrino's manuscript and strangely enough the method used was exactly the same as Anders' original trick. The only difference is that in Anders' version, the can is also crushed, and then uncrushes itself. This is what Blaine performed, but Mr Pellegrino may not have noticed and so he didn't include that part of the trick in his manuscript, so his customers would be within their rights to accuse him of false or misleading advertising.

 

Mr Pellegrino argued that the method was "over 50 years old" and to prove his point credits several people in the manuscript he offers for sale. Richard Stevenson is credited for a trick where a soda can's pull tab is removed and restored… though it has nothing to do with resealing a can. David Harkey is credited for an effect where you appear to be eating from a can. Paul Harris and Bill Herz are credited for a re-working of the climax to a John Kennedy effect. This is close to Anders' effect however, when Anders contacted Kennedy, John said "Your effect sounds different from mine. Nice idea!" All of these credits, and the omission of Anders' name, suggest that Pellegrino was trying to justify that the effect was "old" and therefore okay for him to sell.

 

A few days later the effect appeared on one of Steve Fearson's many web-sites, all re-packaged with slick new graphics, and re-named 'Re-Pop'. Mr Fearson wasn't selling it, but offering it free to anyone who bought one of his other products. Fearson denied he was cashing in on Blaine's success, saying: "I do not claim to be selling the same method that was used on the David Blaine special, Vertigo. My ad clearly states, "Recreate the magic you saw on TV". From that, someone decided to describe my ad as saying, "Get the same trick David Blaine did on 'Vertigo' for free".

 

A week later, out came a booklet called 'Three Secrets Revealed' with ads touting: "Did you see the David Blaine specials? Here is a new booklet with three great tricks. Just like David Blaine did on TV." This was featured on the websites of many major magic dealers and was again seeking to cash in on Blaine's success. This also featured "The UnCanny. Another oldie, but not quite as ancient. An empty beer or soda can refills itself." This booklet was written by a street performer named Stefan Keppner. Some of these dealers, when contacted, agreed to withdraw the book from sale.

 

So why is it, that in a business where we "protect our secrets", do so many of us rush out to tell our colleagues how the latest tricks are done… especially if there's a buck or two in it as well? It doesn't even matter whether we have any legal or ethical right to the secret or not. Mr Fearson said, on the public Genii Forum on the internet: "I don't belong to any of your organizations and I haven't infringed upon any copyrights. I am doing perfectly legal and in my opinion, quite ethical business." Mr Pellegrino used Copyright Law to point out that the actual text of an idea is protected by the law, but the idea itself is not. So, he is quite within his legal rights to rewrite the instructions of any trick in his own words, and sell it as his. There is not a darn thing the inventor of the trick can do about it. As Fearson said, on the public Genii Forum: "So kick me out of your clubs and blow me out your magic circles. I'll keep working."

 

So how do inventors of magic protect themselves? On the website www.magicinventors.com Chuck Leach has a section headed 'Legal Dept.' which explains: "The purpose of the Legal & Ethics Fund will be to generate issues, information and resources to try and improve the protection of magic intellectual property." Great. However, Chuck also runs the website 'Secrets Revealed' which advertises "Did you ever wonder how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear? Or about his other amazing illusions? A magician won't tell you these secrets. But we will! These are the secrets you really wanted to know. The ones even the Masked Magician was afraid to reveal! The magicians are steaming mad about this site. But we don't care! If you want to know the secrets, we're going to tell you… everything!"

 

I asked Chuck Leach: "What rights do you have to give away the secret of Copperfield's Statue of Liberty vanish, and how do you think doing so will enhance magic?" Chuck's reply was: "Are you implying that I have no right to explain how that illusion is done? There is no patent on that illusion sir, and it is not illegal to explain the method to it. And as for how it enhances magic? The method to that illusion is one of the few secrets in magic that is actually exciting to learn. It is truly ingenious and learning it inspires a fledgling magician to learn even more about the art."

 

I also asked him: "Are the tricks simply "revealed'/explained, or do the visitors to your site have to buy the props/secrets (like the 'Twisting Arm Illusion' or the 'Balducci Levitation')" Chuck said: "I don't know what props you are referring to when you talk about those two illusions as there are none involved. The methods are revealed and explained, if it makes you happy we can call it teaching. And yes, they have to buy the secrets. As a matter of fact, you could hardly call my sites exposure sites since there is absolutely nothing exposed until you do pay. So I guess that answers your question, yes they have to pay before learning. My sites are a part of the Magic Secrets Network, run by Magicheck.com which is a site that supplies magic webmasters with the ability to create a gateway page that customers can't pass through without a password. A password costs them $29.95 for a one year period. But you must already know this if you visited my site, so why are you asking?"

 

(I wonder how Mr Leach would feel if another website were to "reveal" the secret passwords to his site for free?)

 

Yes, if you pay $29.95 Mr Leach will tell you how Blaine, Copperfield etc do their tricks. Who runs Magicheck? Steve Fearson. However, Steve won't let just anyone in. You must first read and agree to The Magician's Oath before he'll accept your $29.95.

 

His site explains: "The magician's code is a statement of ethical guidelines designed to help keep the art of magic alive and healthy. We require that you agree to our stated code of ethics before subscribing. Although the traditional magician's code is not enforcable by legal means, some of the issues regarding copyright infringement and the internet are, and we reserve the right to cancel your membership if it is found that you have purposefully violated any part of the code."

 

The code you need to agree to is "based on" one established by the IBM in 1993 and before they'll tell you how the "big boys" tricks are done you are required to agree that: "I understand that The Magic Secrets Network uses the terms "Exposure" and "Secrets Revealed" as tools to draw as many people as possible to the art through web searches and advertisements, introducing them to magic, and concepts like the magician's code of ethics as well. But Magicheck does not condone exposure for exposure's sake. The Magic Secrets Network is a learning facility. During a performance, the use of such terms should generally be avoided." Another clause talks about the need for respect within the magic community: " I agree that the originator or inventor of a trick should be credited when possible. If there is a performer who has become associated with the effect through outstanding performances, they may be credited as well. This should be done out of respect but also to encourage future inventors by letting them know that we respect their work and the community will not forget their contributions."

Steve Fearson, on the public Genii Forum, also had a word for magic inventors: "It doesn't matter what you invent, if you don't do anything with it you're not going to be recognized for it. Generally, the guy who does the footwork will get the credit. That holds true for marketing as well as performing. And you'll be lucky indeed if you find a guy like Mike Ammar or myself, who is willing to give credit once you've let it slip away."

Anders Moden should be so lucky.

 

Steve Fearson has the final word: "The fact is that unless you work harder than me, the future of magic and the net is in my hands."

 

 

The original 'Healed and Sealed' by Anders Moden can be purchased at: http://home5.swipnet.se/~w-52256/healedandsealed.html

Tim Ellis's 'Soda Resurrection' can be found in the book TIMELESS MAGIC and purchased here http://www.timellismagic.com/magicians/magic-shop/ 


Communication - how hard can it be?

Opt

With the internet, SMS, tweets, texting, MMS, mobile phones... it's getting so easy to communicate with anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

Unless they happen to be a communication company... like Optus.

 

A month or so ago I noticed Optus advertising a new plan which bundles your internet and home phone for only $90 a month. As I was already paying Optus $115 a month for the same deal (well, a lesser deal actually. The cheaper new deal also included bonus items like Fetch TV and Netflix) I was surprised they hadn't contacted me offering to change plans (as they usually do) or even just automatically switching me over instead of letting me pay $25 a month more than everyone else.

I tried to change my plan online, as their website says to do, but the website then said it couldn't allow me to do that online.

 

So I popped into the Optus shop.  #Optus

After waiting for quite a while I finally collared a staff member who told me I need to phone Customer Service and offered me a chair I could use while I call them from the comfort of my own phone. I explained I have tried calling but the wait times average an hour and include frequent disconnections. She gave me a special phone number and assured me I would get through in 2 minutes.

 

So I went home and called the special phone number... it put me through to the Optus main switchboard and, sure enough, it only took two minutes to select each of the various options to guide me through to the right department. After two minutes the automated service switched me through to customer service and I was placed on hold where, after about an hour of waiting.. I was promptly disconnected.

 

A friend assured me that I should try the Optus Live Chat. He said he always get through to technical support. I spent about twenty minutes on the Optus site trying to find live chat, then eventually he sent me a direct link. Optus live chat was down.

 

I posted on the Optus Facebook page (as their main webpage recommended me to). However, my comment was never replied to.. nor were the five or six subsequent messages answered either.

 

I got on my Twitter account and posted a public complaint about Optus and, lo and behold, an Optus rep responded within about 5 minutes! He sent me a link to a form I needed to fill in on the Optus website.. where a staff member would then call me back within ten days.

All I wanted to do was change my plan!

In about a week I was finally called and the lady was very helpful. She changed my plan and emailed me a confirmation and reference number (at my insistence).

 

So three days ago, the internet here was suddenly ridiculously slow. Speed checks came in at 12-21kbs.. KBS not MBS.

Screenshot 2015-05-18 11.03.58

It took 18 hours to upload an 8 min video to YouTube. I tried to upload one to Vimeo but the frequent "connection lost" crashed the browser and restarted the process from scratch every time.

 

Again, I attempted to communicate with Optus. 

 

Phoning them was a fruitless exercise - 2 hours plus on hold and hung up on again.

Posting on their Facebook page is pointless as my posts (about 30 this time) were lost amidst a sea of literally thousands of complaints.

Their website offered a box into which you could type your question - but it never gave a reply - and the suggestion to register for 'Optus Community' (a long registration process) and ask other consumers what they think the issue might be.

I couldn't find Live Chat anywhere.

Again, Twitter was the answer. I tweeted about the 12kbs speed I was experiencing and got the reply "Sorry for the wait Tim. Did you speak with tech support though? Tris". 

I explained that I was disconnected and another guy tweeted to help "What speeds do you typically see on the service? Can you confirm how it's connected? Dave"

This made me very cross. A multinational company trying to do tech support through a series of tweets. The ultimate example of cutting costs at the customers's expense. That was all I heard from Dave.

 

Last night I went online and submitted an online complaint to the Telecommunication Ombudsman #TIO. 

Well, I spent 20 mins filing out the form and when I finally pressed SUBMIT.. nothing happened.

This morning I tried calling them (otherwise it's deliver your complaint in person or "send a fax" lol) and I was met with the recording "Due to the overwhelming number of complaints we are experiencing at the moment, you will experience long wait times." They then advised me to submit my complaint on their website...

So, out of curiosity, if you have NO INTERNET AT ALL and your PHONE is out of service... the only way to complain is to visit the TIO office in the city personally... 

Communication - how hard can it be?

I mean seriously... why is the communication industry in Australia so incredibly BAD at communicating with its customers???

 

This morning I received an email from Optus confirming that my new plan starts today. Remember, I switched from $115 to $90 a month? I had them email me to confirm it

"Confirming your rate plan change for your home phone and broadband service. Unlimited home phone and broadband bundle. $115 at $90 per month for 24 months."

This mornings email said:

"The Monthly plan for Username, timellismagic, will change from: Optus 'yes' Fusion $110.00 Unlimited to $115 Entertainment Bundle"

Seriously Optus.... 

 


Mass murder

In 2006 the US Government approved the use of firefighting foam to kill chickens en masse in the case of an outbreak of bird flu

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15590706/ns/health-infectious_diseases/t/foam-approved-kill-chickens-pandemic/

 

Now the use of foam to kill chickens quickly and cheaply ("mass depopulation" they call it) has become common place.

 

http://www.worldpoultry.net/Broilers/Processing/2013/7/Gas-foam-The-humane-euthanasia-method-1297207W/

 

The practice is spreading worldwide as demand for cheap "product" (as chickens are referred to) rises. 

If you can watch the video below and not be absolutely abhorred at the treatment of these animals... maybe it's too late for humanity.

 


Is Fiverr even worth five bucks?

More out of curiosity than anything, I decided to give the website FIVERR.COM a try. I thought it might be fun to see what other graphic designers could come up with as a new logo for The Melbourne Magic Festival.

Our current logo, designed by Carl Knox, is this:

Hatmmf

and we like it... so I scoured some of the people listed under the category GRAPHIC DESIGNERS and found a lot with heaps of 5 star listings so, I assumed, they must be worth a shot.

The first one I tried was CAROLINEW who claims 

I will do professional and eye catching logo for $5

Her samples looked quite good

Tophat5

But when it came to delivery she sent this

Fiverrmmflogo1

When I pointed out that all she had done was find free clip art on google and I was hoping she would actually "design" something as promised, she sent this

Fiverrmmflogo2

More free clip art... Okay, so maybe I got a dud designer despite her 60 five star reviews... I tried another "graphic designer".

COOLINTROTOMY had great five star reviews and good looking samples

Tophat4

and said

I will design Eye catching Logo in 24hrs for $5

Great! I sent him the brief, all the examples of what we have had in the past, how we want to avoid cliche images etc... he sent this:

Tophat1

The same clip art that CAROLINEW had found! Different text of course, that accentuated MELBOURNE over the more important words MAGIC FESTIVAL... I pointed this out to him and he responded by sending me a totally new design

"I create your logo design , I feel this is better than the previous and looks professional than it. So PLEASE complete the order with your positive feedback (5 STAR) for my job." 

Jpg

My reply... "So you took the free vector clip art from here http://cdn2.qvectors.net/downloads/images/vector/misc/12502-free-vector-magic-hat-full.png and put text next to it and you consider that to be a logo?"

His response "Thank you bro"

JPG (1)

After this effort I posted a review (as you must do once any FIVERR order is completed, and gave him a very generous two stars.

His response was to call me a fake buyer and tell me to cancel the order, take my review down, and he'd give me the $5 back. 

I pressed DECLINE on the cancel order button, and he just kept sending me the 'Cancel Order'  request over and over and kept DEMANDING I remove the review and take my money back. The bad thing is that, if I don't press the DECLINE buton, after two days the order is automatically cancelled and the review is taken down.

So this constant email game began with him sending a CANCEL ORDER request, me pressing DECLINE and him sending another CANCEL ORDER request.

 

In the mean time I had sent the same brief to some other "graphic designers".

LOVELY DESIGN

I will design Eye Catching LOGO for you for $5

This person sent two options. The first (which is actually the logo for DISCOUNT MAGIC but altered slightly by adding stars)

THEMELBOURNEMAGICFESTIVAL1

THEMELBOURNEMAGICFESTIVAL2

I gave her a reasonable review, at least she tried with the second one, but again she messaged me demanding I cancel the order and remove my review because it wasn't FIVE STARS.

She even tried to explain why her work was not up to the standard of her samples saying:

"Sir please accept my request. Sir I tell you reason why I not send you your update. Sir I was in high fever and I was admit in hospital and my friend do working on your logo. I'm still in fever but feel better. Sir I apologize for it."

 

I also tried a guy called GRAPHICS123 who offered

I will design a beautiful flyer, poster or brochure for $5

He had 1138 FIVE STAR REVIEWS and an amazing selection of professional samples. He sent this:

Timellis305_V2

Not something I would use but at least he put a bit of effort into it and I was impressed. The only drawback was that he delivered it a few days later than promised and didn't communicate accordingly. Even FIVERR automatically emailed me to let me know he was late on delivery and did I want to cancel. So when I wrote what was an overall positive review, the rating ended up 2.5 stars.

So... he wrote to me asking for me to cancel the order as well....

 

It seems that FIVERR is all about getting nothing but FIVE STAR RATINGS. 

Obviously, there are some genuinely talented designers on the site, but unless they are prepared to harass and badger people into giving them ONLY five star reviews, they get relegated to the bottom of the page while people looking to get art work done end up dealing with the "TOP RATED" designers who send them rubbish.

I message CUSTOMER SUPPORT, as you are supposed to do if there is a dispute, and explained that when I gave COOLINTROTOMY a negative review he accused me of being a fake buyer and Kevin from Fiverr replied "After reviewing the order I can see that the seller has sent you a mutual cancellation request in order to refund you. You may go back to the order page and accept that refund."

Seems to be the way FIVERR operates...

Sure, it's only five bucks, and many would say "What do you expect for $5?" But the point is there are many talented graphic designers on that site who simply can't even earn $5 because of the hustlers and hucksters exploiting the system.

I went to FIVERR to get some logos designed and ended up being harassed (I got A LOT of emails demanding I remove my reviews... and I am STILL getting them) 

Is that worth five dollars? Not in my book.

 

 


Why spammers spam

Last week I got an unsolicited email from an SEO company - you know the sort, "We can improve your web rankings on Google". The thing that stood out for me was the fact that this company, CELLSIX listed their address as

Headquarters: Office 7003 X2 Tower, Cluster X, Melbourne Vic. 3000 Australia
Other Branches: Sydney | Perth | Brisbane | Adelaide | Hobart

Obviously, this is NOT a Melbourne address. It is, in fact, the address of

United Search Engine Optimization: Office 4003, X2 Tower, Cluster X Jumeirah Lake Towers, United Arab Emirates.

However, I do enjoy responding every now and then so I replied to Jia saying I will be in Melbourne on Monday and will pop in for a visit. I asked him to let me know what time suits him.

Obviously, I got no reply.

However today, Tuesday, I had a phone call from an SEO company in Sydney who were "following up" my conversation with Jia and wanted to help me with my SEO.

As I explained that I would not be doing business with a company that has such a blatantly false address, they explained they had bought the "conversation" from the other company.

So the spammers like CELLSIX send out mass spam emails, and if anyone replies AT ALL they then add that email to a list (in this case of people interested in SEO) and onsell it to other SEO companies.

The second company continued to ask if they could help me with SEO and I told them that I would never do business with a company that buys email addresses from spammers.

Fascinating the lengths people will go to to get a "lead"....


It probably looked like a toy...

Taurus_TCP_380_SS_Pink

Earlier today the website 'Ammoland' proudly announced "Other states, like Georgia and Idaho, have greatly expanded the locations in which guns can be carried for self-defense."

A few hours ago the news we read the tragic news "A two-year-old boy in an Idaho Walmart accidentally shot and killed a woman Tuesday, authorities said. Early reports of the incident said the woman was the toddler’s mother."

The woman had a concealed carry permit for the weapon - the weapon the toddler accidentally discharged while reaching inside her purse.

How a two year old, with very limited strength, could trigger a handgun is beyond me... unless it was a semi-automatic.

From 'The Well Armed Woman' website "Revolvers and semiautomatic firearms have different trigger pulls and these can vary model to model. Semiautomatic guns tend to have lighter, quicker trigger pulls and revolvers will have a longer harder trigger pull. A double action revolver will have a very long and hard trigger pull. Revolvers typically do not have external safety mechanisms so the long, hard trigger pull acts as the safety. You must really intend to pull the trigger to fire the gun."

 

If this sort of incident had ocurred in ANY OTHER COUNTRTY there would be an immediate investigation and re-assessment of the laws that allowed this tragic accident to take place. Instead websites like Ammoland post artlcles like this claiming gun control is a war against women, intimidating women into gun ownership with statements like "where gun control is stringent, crimes against women rise."

Less than a month ago another mother was shot with her own semi-automatic handgun by her three year old in Oklahoma. Could more stringent gun control or better training have prevented this tragedy? (The argument that keeping a gun locked away in a home gun safe defeats its purpose as a tool of self defense against home invasion. Lobbyists say it must be loaded and accessible at all times).

Unfortunately, the gun manufacturing industry in America has very deep pockets (they spend almost 20 times the amount the gun control groups spend at elections). In 1990 the NRA established the TAX EXEMPT NRA Foundation in order to continue promoting their agenda of guns for everyone.

 

Tighter gun control? No way! Ammoland is proud to report (also today) that yet another state (Ohio) has just passed "comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation."

HB 234 makes a number of positive changes to Ohio’s firearm laws.  HB 234, as signed into law:

  • Improves the concealed handgun license process by (1) reducing the number of training hours required from 12 to 8 hours, (2) eliminating minimum length-of-residency requirements, (3) allowing non-residents who work in Ohio to apply for a CHL in the county or adjacent county in which they work, and (4) makes special provisions for members of the military who have been honorably discharged or retired, extending their competency certification from six years to ten years after honorable discharge or retirement.
  • Expands concealed carry reciprocity to visitors and persons temporarily in Ohio who have valid out-of-state licenses, regardless of whether the license-issuing state has entered into a reciprocity agreement with Ohio.
  • Repeals the prohibition on Ohio citizens buying and/or selling long guns or ammunition from only the five contiguous states of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Citizens of Ohio can now purchase and/or sell rifles and shotguns in any state as long as the firearm laws in both states are obeyed.
  • Includes a “shall certify” provision which requires a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) to sign off on an application to transfer an item regulated by the National Firearms Act, once the application procedure and requirements are met.  This provision eliminates personal bias towards NFA-related items, requiring CLEOs to sign off and process the application in the same way they do a concealed handgun license.
  • Allows for the use of firearm sound suppressors while hunting in the Buckeye State.
  • Brings Ohio’s definition of “automatic firearm” in line with the federal definition, limiting it to only any firearm designed or adapted to fire a succession of cartridges with a single function of the trigger.



The pro-gun movement continues towards its goal to arm all USA citizens, with as many guns as they can sell, with as little training as possible, no pesky waiting time and ideally with zero background checks.

Concealed carry permits are now obtainable in every State with the pro-gun lobbyists now pushing for these permits to .

Six states, the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia fully prohibit the open carry of handguns. On the other side, twelve states permit open carry of a handgun without requiring the citizen to apply for any permit or license. Thirteen states require some form of permit (often the same permit as allows a person to carry concealed), and the remaining seventeen states, though not prohibiting the practice in general, do not preempt local laws or law enforcement policies, and/or have significant restrictions on the practice, such as prohibiting it within the boundaries of an incorporated urban area. Illinois allows open carry on private property only.

As of August, 2009, four states that currently restrict open carry as a remnant of the post-Civil war Reconstruction era (Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas) are considering making it again legal.

Pro gun websites are filled with false statistics, claims that gun control in Australia was a failure and our murder rate has increased, and even claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged by the government in order to pass tighter gun control measures.

As guns become more freely available, acceptable and almost compulsory in the USA, expect to see more and more reports of accidental shootings and gun tragedies over the next 12 months. Think I'm exaggerating? Here is a list from 2013 of 11 deaths over 5 months where the shooter was 3 to 6 years old.

Contrary to the pro-gun lobby's claim "Guns save lives, more guns save more lives." The reality is, the more guns out there, the more chance somebody is going to get shot.

Currently, 80 million Americans own 223 million registered guns. Undoubtedly there are many, many more unregistered guns out there too. 

America will never become gun free like Australia - but I would love to see a day when the people can see past the manipulation of the gun manufacturers and the fear mongers who scare them into arming up and they institute some form of responsible gun control. 

One accidental shooting is one too many in my book.


6 EASY STEPS TO BECOME A WORLD FAMOUS AND VERY RICH MAGICIAN

Mag

 

 

1 - UNBOXING

Buy a magic set and upload yourself opening it to YouTube.

 

This will be a good first video for your YouTube channel and a wonderful documentation of the very start of your magic career. Sure, you will inadvertantly expose some effects, but you're keeping it real and that's what people want to see.

 

2 - TUTORIALS

As soon as you learn how to do a trick, explain it on video and upload it to YouTube. This let's others know that you're a magician too and they will share their secrets with you too.

 

As you can see, even this simple tutorial has over 70,000 views already. This will really help build up a following for your YouTube channel and start you on the road to being a famous magician. Don't forget, upload new tutorials as often as you can. The internet is always hungry for more!

 

3 - CREATE A WEBSITE

Once you have uploaded a few tutorials and others have shared yours, you can create your own website by compiling all the tutorials together like this one http://www.learnmagictricks.org/

 

You can even add a torrent sharing section to your site so others can upload the latest magic DVDs to share with each other and you'll never have to spend money buying a DVD again!

After a while you may prefer just to focus on gather YouTube followers, after all, becoming a YouTube sensation with a milion hits will not only earn you revenue from ads, but it will also validate your status as a genuine master magician.

Remember, just performing tricks doesn't get a lot of views, revealing them is by far the easiest way to get tens of thousands of hits.

 

Even better, if you can offer your viewers the chance to make out with pretty girls or even more!

 

 

You'll be a hero to all your subscribers and most importantly, keeping magic relevant and classy.

 

4 - GO VIRAL

If you choose to take the next rung up the ladder and create your own magic, film your tricks "on the street" and get some friends to pretend to be random people as they will act ultra amazed by your trick. If you really want to get big hits, have them dress up as police and pretend to sell them weed but make it disappear. Have them rough you up a bit too to gain sympathy, after all, no-one likes cops.

 

This clip has already had over 14 million views and has established Calen Morelli as one of the top stars in magic today!

Just remember Dynamos rules of filming magic:

1 - The camera can't be misdirected like an audience can, so feel free to edit frames out, cut away at crucial times or use cgi to erase objects digitally when they are supposed to disappear.

2 - People will replay the video to try to see how it's done, so if you can have a spectator sign a duplicate card that's going to appear in an impossible location, or prearrange that they will say a name or a card or a number in advance... do it. That will really make it impossible for viewers to figure out how it was done.

3 - Don't do tricks that people don't want to see. Just take a look at what other magicians are doing on video and do them too. Why take a chance on a trick from a book when you can easily copy someone else? After all, he probably didn't invent the tricks anyway.

 

Don't get overconfident. If you do get very popular doing your magic on video where you can do take after take until you get it right, think very carefully before attempting a trick in real life. After all, not everybody should do live magic.

 

 

5 - SELL YOUR OWN MAGIC

Lots of magicians make big bucks by selling their tricks to other magicians. You don't even need to be creative, just go through the old books like Tarbell, 13 Steps to Mentalism, or Mnemonica and release the trick as an Instant Download DVD. 

If you can create a cool looking gimmick, not only can you sell it through Ellusionist (just make sure your promo video features lots of slow motion throwing of cards in the desert) and you'll sell thousands.

If you are lucky, you could even get a website like DUDE I WANT THAT and sell your magic tricks to the much larger market of the general public. Sure, they won't be interested in keeping the secret and will most likely show their friends how the trick works just as soon as they finish doing it - but they have A LOT more money to spend than magicians.

If you do live shows - then make sure you have a merchandise booth in the foyer selling every trick you do in the show. After all, as the pros says, METHODS MEAN NOTHING, it's all about presentation. That way you make money TWICE on the same trick: once by performing it and a second time by selling it!

While you're at it, add a shopping section to your website. You can sell magic online via wholesalers but you get an even bigger profit margin if you get sell magic from one of the many Chinese manufacturers who make MUCH cheaper versions of the original products. Sell them at the recommended retail prices and your profit margin could be up to 2000%!

After all all.. it's showBUSINESS!

Why should the creator of the trick be the only one to profit? 

 

(This article is satire. Sadly, I have to add this disclaimer because I'm afraid a large proportion of the current generation of magicians are already following at least 3 of these 6 steps).