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double trouble
there are some places no one should go


Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 15:36:58 -0700 (PDT)
To: Mark Gadzikowski
From: orders@amazon.com
Subject: Your Amazon.com Order (# xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxxxxx)

Hello from Amazon.com.

We have just discovered a billing error associated with the order
number listed above.

While processing the shipment from the above order, we accidentally
charged your credit card twice.

Rest assured that a request for a refund has been forwarded to your
bank, and will be processed as soon as possible. 

You should see a duplicate charge and then an offsetting refund on
your credit card statement.

Again our sincere apologies for this error, and please don't hesitate 
to contact us if you have any further questions. 

Best Regards,

Customer Service
Earth's Biggest Selection.	

Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 19:13:18 -0700
To: orders@amazon.com
From: mark gilbert gadzikowski
Subject: Double Billing by Amazon.com

greetings Amazon order department

Amazon.com has billed me erroneously a second time, four months after my
last order was paid, an error that displeases me more than i can express in
polite email. 

Amazon's error jeopardizes the account from which i pay my daily household
finances. if Amazon was instead taking five days to repair a $2200 mistake
rather than this $22 mistake, i would be suffering irreparable damage to my
credit history, not to mention tangible out-of-pocket penalties.

your incompetence has me reconsidering ANY ongoing relationship with
Amazon. i am so appalled that i'm going out of my way to disclose the bare
facts to all my friends on the Internet, so people i cherish can decide
with full information whether they wish to do business with such a company.

please assure me Amazon has taken measures to ensure this can NEVER happen
again, or you will lose at least one customer on this day.

mark gadzikowski

From: orders@amazon.com
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 12:36:38 -0700 (PDT)
To: mark gilbert gadzikowski
Subject: Your Amazon.com Order

Hello, Mark:

Greetings from Amazon.com.

Thank you for writing back to us with your comments concerning our
recent billing error.  I can assure you that this situation displeases
us as much as it does you--we wish to insure that our customers are
billed for items as authorized, only.  I agree with you that an
accidental double billing is unacceptable.

Please know that we are in the process of taking steps to insure that
this sort of error does not happen again.  Also, be certain that we
are more than happy to resolve any situation that results from an
error on our part.

We understand that the relationship we maintain with our customers is
based on trust, and I encourage you to look past this single instance
to the consistent service we have maintained otherwise.  I hope that
you will honor us with another opportunity to prove the quality of our
service to you in the future.

Do contact us should you have any additional comments or concerns, and
thank you for shopping at Amazon.com!

Best regards,

Miriam Fitting
More than 4.7 million titles!


Greetings Amazon order department

Thank you for your response. However, it appears to be words without deeds.
If you are "more than happy to resolve any situation that results from an
error on [Amazon's] part," why has Amazon not started by correcting this
error in a timely manner? 

It has been a week since Amazon erroneously double billed my account
on 6/15/99. It has been over three days since Amazon informed me that
you are aware of your error. Despite these intervals, as of midnight
6/22/99 Pacific time, my account balance reveals no transaction in
which Amazon refunded a correction. 

If Amazon's erroneous charge is not resolved with a refund/correction
to my account by midnight 6/23/99, I shall manually stop payment on
the erroneous Amazon transaction. If I have to suffer the inconvenience
of a stop payment to get my refund, Amazon loses me as a customer forever. 

Amazon has now spent all the goodwill you have earned previously. Direct,
timely action is required to satisfy this customer.

mark gadzikowski


From: orders@amazon.com
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 18:49:17 -0700 (PDT)
To: mark gilbert gadzikowski
Subject: Your Amazon.com Order

Hello again from Amazon.com,

Thank you for bearing with us on this issue. Rest assured that our
billing department has processed the refund and the amount should be
reflected on your account very soon.  For confirmation, you may wish
to contact your bank to see if it has been processed already.

Know that we are truly sorry for this inconvenience, and proceeded to
correct the situation for you as soon as we could.  However, I can
understand your disappointment in this case. As a token of our
appreciation, I have asked that a $20 gift certificate be issued to
you.  Should you be willing to give our service another chance, please
use it toward your next Shopping Cart order with our compliments.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you have questions or
need further assistance. From our end, the refund has been processed
so do let us know if your bank says otherwise and our billing staff
will investigate further immediately.

Thanks again for your patience.


More than 4.7 Million Titles


Date: 24 Jun 1999
To: orders@amazon.com
From: mark gilbert gadzikowski

greetings Amazon order department

my bank reports that Amazon's credit has finally arrived. thank you
for resolving the erroneous charge to my account. 

i appreciate the gesture of the $20 gift certificate. this
thoughtfulness has improved my attitude towards Amazon and
assured me that Amazon viewed your error as having a serious
impact on my customer satisfaction. i remain uneasy only about
credit card purchases, and not about Amazon.com customer
support philosophy.

mark gadzikowski


the third estate
speaking out


   this morning i discovered an internet technology that alarmed me. it still does, but for entirely different reasons.
   a company called ThirdVoice makes a free product that allows people to put virtual Post It® Notes on anyone’s website, anywhere. the webmaster has no say about the content of these notes.
   at first i thought the technology allowed hackers to alter the content of a website against its maker’s will: virtual vandalism. icky. turns out ThirdVoice is a browser plug-in that allows annotation of web pages that can be seen only by the people who downloaded this browser plug in.
   obviously, people of a certain disposition will be threatened by this flavor of free speech. there’s already a misguided web site dedicated to the abolishment of ThirdVoice technology.
   Consider: ThirdVoice technology enables communication amongst a group who chooses to participate, without forcing anyone else to overhear. such technology is no more threatening to a web publisher than a bunch of demonstrators outside a building are threatening to its occupants.
   last time i checked protest demonstrations were still legal in the USA.
   matter of fact, free speech via virtual annotation is less threatening. with Third Voice, virtual protesters aren’t able to commit violence against the virtual occupants. it’s free speech without the problems of assault or physical harm, plus we don’t have to bring any sleeping bags and painted signs to let others know we’re there, opinionated, 24/7.
   Third Voice is a good thing. if you don’t want to read it, turn off your plug-in. as long as you live in America, you have that unalienable right.

a memorable day, weekend
what i did for my pre-summer vacation


   Delicious Blue, one of the bands for whom i do sound reinforcement, played a Chico bar Friday and the Chico street fair on Saturday night of memorial day weekend.
   although the band musicians chose to skip work on Friday to make the 7 PM show that night, Deb and i drove the four hours up to Chico at a leisurely pace on Saturday, missing the bar gig, but arriving in time for an afternoon snack before the 6:30 setup for the 8–10 PM Saturday street gig.
   the Saturday show went great; setup was smooth and there was time for a sound check before the event started. the acoustics of the street allowed me to angle the main speakers. this prevented any echo off the buildings across the way from reaching the musicians, distracting them.
   all our equipment was working well, pa and instruments both, which let me set up and wander around a bit during the show, rather than be locked behind the console, monitoring the equipment every song. the musicians could hear themselves well enough to play with solid confidence; they could pay attention to their flourishes and fun, instead of mundane concerns about how they sounded.
   of particular note: outdoors, our drummerMark could play as loud as he wanted. he played so hard that he broke a stick, which hasn’t happened in the 18 months i’ve been doing their sound work! he was grinning a lot afterwards, even though we had an incident that would normally leave him quite unhappy...
   during one song in the middle of the second set, a guy leapt on stage and started playing Mark’s bongos. “i would have kicked his ass except he was keeping in time.” said drummerMark later. the aspiring bongo player left the stage only after Ziad, the bass player, said, “you really don’t want to do that.” perhaps this stranger sensed that our drummer is a martial artist, and is known somewhat for an expressive temper.
   although the street fair organizers paid us to play only 8–10 PM, they asked us to stay until midnight if we wanted. however, at 10:28 a bicycle policeman kindly informed us that we were playing our last song. so we broke down the equipment and collected our fee without hassle. just as well. after three ten-song sets, we had played nearly all the original songs and covers in our repertoire.
   breakdown went smoothly, although when we left the event manager was still on the curb babysitting the stage flats, waiting for a second truck to haul them off. the only real difficulty was that barely before the bars closed, keyboardPaul had to collect the fee from the Friday gig, which was a surprising piece of unfinished business. the fees were better than average pay, but the real reward was still to come.
   Ziad’s parents have a ranch property outside Chico with two houses. his parents are generous and welcoming folk who understand their son and his friends. they understand us so very well enough, they had a pork rib barbecue ready, at 11:30 PM, when we arrived back at the ranch!
   it was just like a daytime barbecue, with all the fixins. Ziad’s folks prepared a whole lot of food, drink, and plenty of good conversation on all sorts of topics. i think there were perhaps 18 people there over the course of the meal, and all of us had a fantastic time. everyone, even the adults (uh, uh, those parents and friends of Ziad’s family over 40...) stayed up talking past 1AM.
   when eight of us youths retired to the small house, Ziad broke out his brother Zamil’s second bottle of Cuervo tequila. Deb and i had heard a tale about the Cuervo shots that had been consumed late into the night after the Friday night show. our lead singer, Wendy, had apparently never done the tequila shots with salt, lime and quality beverage. Ziad is a patient teacher.
   Ziad had limes and salt for another lesson on Saturday. Deb and i were not spared, nor were any of the others except for Paul and his fiance. they retired early, about 2AM. the rest of us prepared ourselves for battle against sobriety.
   hear me. never do shots of tequila with a salt grinder. it’s too hard to rotate the grinder one-handed holding it steady over your other hand. it#146;s too hard when sober, and impossible after a few “shots.” i eventually let Ziad run the grinder when it became hard enough to track the sequence: lick salt, drink Cuervo, suck lime. order is important, very important, to endurance.
   “shots”—why the quotes? since we didn't have any shot glasses, we used tumblers. you know, the glass you use for orange juice in the mornings. the kind of glass that holds perhaps eight ounces. Ziad would cover the bottom of the tumblers with Cuervo, and liberally keep going. of course, we killed the bottle.
   in the process, for only the second time in my life, i lost track of my alcohol consumption. was it 4 or 5—or 6? i'll never know. luckily, my own defense mechanisms kicked in before i was damaged. William Blake said, “you never know how much is enough until you know how much is too much.” i knew, even before i lowered my last tumbler to the counter, exactly when too much happened. i may not know what number it was, but i knew when to stop.
   i’m a lightweight. others had more, or lots more, as their constitutions allowed. we had only one true overdose that night, and Ziad was very kind, showing effective concern for the wayward. further descriptions remain unspoken to protect the reputation of any lead singers involved.
   so the group of us talked our way into the lightening skies of the dawn. alcohol is a wonderful truth serum. in vino veritas, my father reminded me, reading of this adventure. as is the way of such things, people dropped off as their interest in the wonderful candor of the conversation was overpowered by the attraction of their pillows. only two others were still chatting when i turned off the last light in the room, and very soon i was paying attention to the awakened world no more.
   Sunday morning i opened my eyes at 10:30 AM, early enough to fall asleep and re-awaken later while still being the first to shower. did i mention that this farmhouse had but a single bathroom? i rushed in to cleanse myself before the others had awakened, but speed was not required.
   i was dressed before anyone else wanted to use the bathroom. the others woke and straggled to their toilet with such spacing that only one person had to wait. the group started a conversation on the porch, some going out into the sun, others treating the light as a vampire would. by noon we were ready to see what food awaited us at the main house.
   breakfast was another huge success. fourteen of us prepared, ate, and conversed from noon until 3 PM. pancakes, sausage, OJ (prepared by yours truly), fresh fruit, and more. ten people were still seated when we excused ourselves to drive home at 3.
   although we saw many officers of the law patrolling the Californian freeways, some heading our way, none was interested in inhibiting our travel. we arrived home un accosted by anything other than bugs on the windshield, and rested the remainder of the day.

   Monday morning, my friend Don and i shopped for a replacement bicycle wheel, using a $100 American Express gift check i received as a bonus. my 14-year old bicycle rear wheel proved too difficult to replace on a holiday, so i instead bought only a $34 replacement rear gearset and a sprocket tool to install the gear.
   the old gear had a funky manner of removal compared to modern bikes, a manner which lead me to tear metal on both the gear and removal tool over the last two years, through applications of brute force and ignorance. with a new tool, i installed the gearset after replacing a spoke where one had broken, and then i trued the wheel. looks like i didn’t need to replace my rear wheel after all. having the right tools for the task is paramount. i was able to perform all these repairs while Don was changing into his riding clothes and biking to my place.
   Deb and Don went with me on a test drive. we planned our route to scope out some pedestrian bridges over larger roads in our neighborhood. the graffiti was impressive despite great exposure on all sides. i mentally choreographed a chase scene for a novel, in which criminals in a car were shooting at bicyclists, who used their advantage to escape over a pedestrian bridge: a moment of great risk.
   seven miles into the ride we also scoped out a new parking ramp at a shopping mall. thinking of the sushi restaurant inside, i realized that since i had not yet spent the entire $100 milestone for the day. to meet victory conditions we needed to purge my wallet of the remaining funds.
   we met the challenge handily, seating ourselves at the sushi bar, where we could watch the fresh newly-prepared fish trays float by on little wooden boats. victory was so complete, i had to add an extra $10 and Don had to add $3 to the tip. we rode home very slowly, like people who were carrying too much.
   again, when we arrived home, Deb and i rested for the remainder of the day, retiring to bed before dark.
   this was my memorial day weekend, 1999.

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