Archive for the ‘ Digi-vigilantism ’ Category

My email to Hoo haa Bar

Earlier this month, two young women tried to get into a venue on Melbourne’s Chapel Street by the name of Hoo haa Bar. They happened to be partners. They happened to be holding hands.

The women say that they were not permitted entry, and suspect their sexual orientation had more than a little something to do with it. Several witnesses support their claim.

Of course, it’s all “alleged” at this stage.

What’s not alleged is Hoo haa Bar’s Facebook-page response to the ensuing furore. It’s real and you can read it here.

I get confused, flustered, but ultimately excited when private enterprises show a willingness to respond to questions and criticism. And I feel like I have cola-activated Wizz Fizz in my underpantal region when they choose to play the woe-is-us victim.

This, combined with the fact that I recently found myself a  patron at this particular establishment, meant that the following email flowed as easily as hypocritical drivel out of Kyle Sandilands’ mouth:

Dear Hoo haa Management Team,

I’m writing to seek clarification on an incident that took place at your establishment earlier this year. In hindsight, and in light of recent events, I now consider the event in question to be enormously distressing.

On Saturday the 26th of May, I travelled to Prahran to attend the birthday party of a friend at Hoo haa Bar.

I was let in.

This is causing me great consternation and I desperately need to know why it took place.

The obvious answer, of course, is that I am now one of Melbourne’s A-list celebrities and should be granted access to every single establishment in the city. But this doesn’t really cut it, when you consider that I have earned my reputation as a bloggospherical deity by working almost exclusively as a semi-anonymous cyber vigilante. Despite the fact that most Australians know and adore me, very few know what I actually look like.

And what I look like is really at the crux of this matter.

Recently, it’s alleged, your door staff denied entry to two women on a Saturday night at around about 9pm. Their names are Kay Girardi and Ari Missikos. Now, the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder generally holds true, but let’s be honest here: unless the Herald Sun has gone into a PhotoShopping frenzy and given Kay and Ari’s faces a complete digital reconstruction (and we are talking about a News Limited publication here, so I concede that anything’s possible), these were not unattractive people you told to bugger off.

And even if you wanted to mount a case that they had been given a couple of lashings with the proverbial ugly stick, everything is relative. Relatively speaking, these two women are smoulderingly, wickedly, incomprehensibly sexy hotties. Relative to what or to whom, you ask?

Relative to me.

While I may be the world’s most promising and precocious literary talent, this doesn’t change the fact that I am as ugly as sin. And I’m not talking about one of the spurious Catholic ones like “original sin” or one of the piss-weak Deadly ones like sloth or gluttony; I’m talking about the absolute shockers like wrath, Avada Kedavra and, by far the worst of all, vanity. (I absolutely abhor arrogance and conceit, and as the owner of a Chapel Street night club, you undoubtedly do too.)

I’m so unattractive, my wife employs a Perseus-style mirror-plated shield when conversing with me. I’m so unattractive, I’m reluctant to have children because I fear that if my son or daughter got my face genes, I’d be dragged to The Hague and charged with crimes against humanity. I’m so unattractive, when I sent an email to Ben Polis earlier this year implying that he looked like “a rodent with mange…a loathsome mouse-dog… a repellent maggot… a rosy-faced cretin… a small, podgy dipshit and an angry little gerbil [resembling] Jake King… a dead carp’s slowly disintegrating prolapsed anus and an unctuous, ulcerous semi-human” I feared that he would respond with “I know you are, but what am I?” and his case would be water-tight.

(Speaking of emails to famous people, last year I sent an email to the well-known human/dinosaur hybrid Margaret Court (she still hasn’t responded – RUDE!) and told her that a boy at school once described me as looking like a pig with Down’s syndrome. His jibe, though cruel, was excruciatingly accurate.)

What I’m getting at is that if you want to argue that the two women you didn’t allow into your alcohol-serving-sauna-with-very-loud-music are not aesthetically pleasing enough, you have to take into consideration me. Not as an arbitrary point of reference, but because just a few Saturday nights before you told them they weren’t what you were looking for, you told me I was!

Now maybe you’ll argue semantics: it wasn’t so much what they looked like as their look. Again, I’m the hurdle that will make that argument’s finishing line very hard for you to get to.

To be fair, I don’t know what Kay and Ari were wearing on the night in question. But you do. So perhaps you can tell me: was it a pair of off-white cargo pants purchased in the late 1990s, a blue and red Melbourne Football Club tie with an old-school AFL logo on it, an ill-fitting white Rivers shirt with uneven stripes or a beanie of a similar vintage? Did they at any point produce a multi-coloured, multi-textured wallet with a small cowrie shell embedded in it?

The reason I ask is that’s what I was wearing on that chilly, and dare-I-say-it, soon-to-be-infamous May night.

Plus, my hair was as shit as ever and my beard was poorly trimmed, to the point where if you poured three litres of liquid on to the crotch of my trousers and squinted, you could easily have mistaken me for Biff Pelican.

Apparently, your hired muscle told Ari and Kay that they might consider coming back on a Wednesday night when the venue was “more liberal” about who it gave the thumbs-up to. In my experience, however, your Saturday night at 9.00pm policy is more liberal than a hippies-only Swedish key party at a vibrator factory incorporating a swimming pool filled with champagne jelly and Enya playing in the background.

So what’s going on here? Why didn’t you tell me to go back to Thornbury and put on some more appropriate clothes? Why didn’t you tell me to come back another night, even though I was there for a friend’s birthday? Why didn’t you look me up and down, smirk and tell me with undisguised disdain “Not tonight, buddy”? Why did you let me in?

WHY?

WHAT DID I DO RIGHT?

WHY?

Thanking you in advance for your considered response and wishing you all the very best in your (sensible, in my opinion) public campaign to have consumers consider the potential impact of their actions upon innocent businesses before launching their vicious, inane and destructive personal opinions and experiences out into the social media universe,

Jonathan Rivett

I’m looking forward to Hoo haa’s response even more than I’m looking forward to The Shire on Channel 10.

Haught fact of the day:

Enya’s most famous song isn’t named ‘Sail Away’; it is in fact called ‘Orinoco Flow’.

Other emails I’ve sent:
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The #FreeAnnie campaign [VICTORY]

At the end of last month you might recall that I began the #FreeAnnie campaign. If you didn’t catch the post or if the details are a bit HB-pencil sketchy in your mind, you can find it here.

In the immortal words of Professor Farnsworth, “Who likes good news? Everyone? Then: ‘Good news, everyone’.

Annie sent me this message yesterday:

Haughty-Haught-Haught… Can I take a moment to thank you for your help? I’ve just received official notice that the robots who issued my infringement notice have been reprogrammed, rebooted and have come to their senses… (Or, at very least, the higher ups were not appreciating the #FreeAnnie campaign/ my incessant letters).

My infringement notice has been officially re-reviewed and Metro Trains’ plans for world domination (one $180 fine at a time) have been derailed!

Yep, #FreeAnnie led to free Annie. Well, that’s what I’m claiming.

So if you read and ‘liked’ the post, and particularly if you passed it on, used the #FreeAnnie hashtag on Twitter (@Jay3199 – magnificent!), talked about it with friends, gave a dirty look to a ticket inspector post-#FreeAnnie, or sent me any kind of correspondence re: the campaign, consider yourself a successful public transport activist.

There’s only one downside to Annie’s emancipation: the following email will never get put to practical use:

Dear Department of Transport,

In May, a commuter by the name of Annie [surname redacted] was booked by a Metro Trains Authorised Officer after she was unable to produce a valid ticket within an arbitrary period of time. Shortly after the ticket inspectors had left the carriage, Annie’s Metcard fell out of the book she was reading.

She wrote to you, detailing exactly what had happened and requesting that the $180 fare evasion fine be quashed. Instead of responding with the reasons why this was, or was not, possible, you chose to write her a letter listing the stock standard excuses fare evaders give you when hoping to have their fines overturned. It was like a David Letterman top 10, but with even more world-weariness and more than a small touch of the snide about it.

To me, this kind of response is incomprehensible, full stop. But when you add the fact that not one of the excuses had the vaguest relevance to Annie’s case, your effort goes from budgie-attacking-its-own-reflection silly to young-people-shrieking-for-no-apparent-reason-in-an-ad-for-bourbon farcical.

Imagine if all legal systems ran on the basis that the guilt of the accused should be determined by how fed up the accuser is with the defences offered by those previously accused of the same crime or misdemeanour.

Imagine if everyday life worked that way!

Think about what would happen if this strange new convention you seem to have created could be applied by those who use your rail network.

Dear Department of Transport,

Thank you for your questions regarding my non-payment of fares. 

You can probably understand that, as a commuter, I receive hundreds of excuses from Metro Trains and the Department of Transport every week. These include:

  • There was a signal fault
  • There was an ill passenger
  • There was a defective train
  • There was congestion at Flinders Street
  • One of the doors won’t open
  • One of the doors won’t close
  • Something about an overhead power line
  • One word: vandals
  • Melbourne is too small to make regular trains viable
  • There are too many new customers
  • There’s been a lack of investment (from both sides of politics)
  • We need more rolling stock
  • We need more stock that is propelled by electricity, in addition to having the capacity to roll
  • Overcrowding is slowing down trains
  • It was a very wet day
  • It was a very dry day
  • It was a very hot day
  • It was a very cold day
  • It was a mild day, but passengers were doing myki wrong
  • The system would run better without passengers
  • The system would run better without trains
  • The system would run better without the system
  • We were busy
  • We’re still getting the hang of this electrification of the network thing
  • We got distracted
  • It’s mostly your fault
  • The moon went behind a cloud
  • There was a gunman at the station
  • The dog ate our blueprint for improvement
  • Our performance statistics tell a different story
  • We thought we saw a wolf hiding in a bush and we got scared
  • Pardon our progress
  • One word: unions
  • There was a problem with the swirler thing that regulates the big machine that makes a noise like this: “brip brip”
  • Someone put an advertisement over the driver’s window and the train effectively became blind (on the plus side, we added to our monthly profit)
  • The on-board sundial was off kilter
  • Camels replaced trains at Clifton Hill and one of the camels bit some people
  • We’re moving backwards, but don’t worry, we wrote a poem about moving forwards
  • Research tells us people like sitting in the Jolimont Rail Yards for up to twenty-five minutes at a time
  • It’s the drivers’ fault
  • We thought we had enough trains, but we didn’t so we had to buy some old rattlers off a collector, who was mean and sold them to us at an exorbitant rate and now we don’t have any money left to improve the system
  • Our sextant was bent
  • A combination of factors, going forward, has meant that the system has become temporarily suboptimal across many of its key performance measures, going forward (but  we have got some good take outs from this situation and are implementing many of the learnings, going forward)
  • One word: jabberwocky
  • Our operations centre still uses computers that show chunky green text and possess 3 kilobytes of memory
  • We keep getting kerosene and paraffin mixed up
  • There are many many trains but only a few stations – you do the maths
  • A wil-o-the-whisp got into one of the engines
  • We thought we saw a wolf… again
  • Connex left the whole place in a mess
  • The Met left the whole place in a mess
  • The Indigenous people of what is now metropolitan Melbourne left the whole place in a mess
  • One word: wolves
  • Someone literally threw a spanner in the works
  • Well, hang on a second – could we at least finish our lunch?

In light of this, and having carefully read your submission, unfortunately, I cannot change my decision to ride on your trains for free at this time. 

Thank you for having me as your non-paying patron. 

Sincerely… etc


You can sniff and scoff at your customers’ “excuses” all you like, but let’s be honest, to any reasonable, fair-minded person,  “I didn’t have the correct coin change to pay for a fare that now costs $11.90” is far easier to accept than the circular logic of “Overcrowding is leading to late trains”.

Terrible things happen on your trains every single day. Passengers punch other passengers. Inebriates vomit all over seats and down aisles. Smart-alec little heroes ride between carriages screaming abuse at anyone who looks at them from inside the train. Fat slobs somehow manage to take up four seats. People barge on before anyone else has had a chance to get off. And you’re going to fine a woman because she forgot she was using her Metcard as a bookmark and not even extend her the courtesy of explaining why?

You expect as a kind of birthright an epic benefit of the doubt from Melburnians. How about giving it back once in a while?

Sincerely,

Jonathan Rivett

Or will I just send it, anyway?

Haught fact of the day:

I only made up two of those Metro/Department of Transport excuses listed above.

An ode to cant

I’m pretty sure every single blogger in Australia has had a crack at parodying the ‘Ode to can’ poem in the Commonwealth Bank TV commercial featuring Toni Collette.

In fact so many people have seen the ad, found it irksome, and decided to take the piss out of it, that there’s a very good chance the poem below has at some time been uttered, if not published, verbatim by at least four separate people in the last ten days.

But who said Haught Feelings was original?

There’s a four lettered word,
Something called a contraction,
That likes to create
‘Can’ and ‘not’ interaction.

“You can’t ride that hippo.”
“You can’t drink the sea.”
Can’t is a word that protects you and me.

She can’t throw that javelin
Inside the school hall.
He can’t ride a tank
Through the rich people’s ball.

Can’t is a word
That is good at forestalling
The death of known fuckwits
(Which can sometimes be galling).
But we all know deep down
In our hearts it’s much needed;
The directive “you can’t!”
Is why mankind’s succeeded.

Now, those four little letters
That CommBank reject
Used without punctuation
Make a word we neglect.

When we change can’t to cant
We remove much duress.
We get licence to use words
Like “dream” and “progress”.

We say “build”. We say “run”.
We say “follow the sun.”
(That last one sounds odd
But the first two were fun.)
They’re the ad’s own directions,
They’re cant to a T.
And cant is what big banks
Do best, don’t you see?

OK, now if you’re a well-known Australian film or TV personality willing to read my version while sitting in a forest clearing, reading a pretend book of poetry in front of a massive CANT monument, contact me at haughtfeelings@gmail.com

Haught fact of the day:

Cant
noun

1. Insincere statements, especially conventional pretence of enthusiasm for high ideals; insincere expressions of goodness or piety.
2. The special vocabulary peculiar to the members of an underworld group.
3. Whining speech, such as that used by beggars.
4. The special terminology understood among the members of a profession, discipline, or class but obscure to the general population; jargon.

Other ads I formally don’t like:
The Jim Beam ad where young people make different types of shrieking noises for no apparent reason.

THE RESPONSE: My email to Metro Trains

In May I sent an email to Metro Trains. It started out as an opportunity for the Big Blue M to test their complaint response writing skills against the new public transport (and possibly the world) standard. It ended as an angry diatribe, I’ll admit. For this reason, if Metro had erred slightly on the side of conservatism in their reply, I would have given them some latitude.

They didn’t, however, err on the side of conservatism so much as put every single egg they’ve ever owned into the conservative basket:

Dear Jonathan

We thank you for your extensive critique of our running of Melbourne’s train network.

Your commentary is appreciated and we will consider your suggestions along with others, as we continue to do all we can to ensure Melburnians get the train service they all deserve in one of the world’s great cities.

We’re not there yet, Jonathan, but if you’ll pardon our progress, we’re getting there.

You have outlined a number of general observations and experiences which we are keen to address and consider a meeting would be the most appropriate forum to discuss your concerns.

Please let us know of your preferred date and time. We look forward to meeting with you.

We do ask for your patience as we seek to transform Melbourne’s railway to accommodate what we promise will be a world class service.

Yours sincerely

Angela Marotta

Customer Relations Manager

Big tick for spelling ‘Melburnians’ right. Not so keen on the “pardon our progress” line. But let’s get to the good bit: the suggestion that we meet.

Why beat around the bush? They’re going to whack me, aren’t they?

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Unfortunately we may not be able to accommodate your suggested meeting time of 2.30 pm. Can we instead organise to meet at 2.30 am at the abandoned warehouse beside the Mobil Oil Terminal in Yarraville? (It’s the one closest to the river.) 

The possibility of being killed execution style  is one reason not to accept their offer.

On the opposite side of the gangster scenario ledger, I have for a long time fantasised about reenacting the Joe Pesci “You think I’m funny?” scene from Goodfellas in a real-life situation:

Me: Anyway… so I’m sitting down with Sam Marshall, and we’ve both had a couple of drinks each, and he says to me, he says “I thought when I first came into the bar you actually would be wearing a white chiffon scarf.”

[The Metro Trains contingent laugh uproariously]

Young Metro Representative: [laughing, wiping a tear from his eye] You’re funny. You’re really funny.

Me: What do you mean I’m funny?

YMR: It’s funny. You know. That was a funny story. We love your blog. It’s funny. You’re a funny guy. [laughing forcedly]

Me: What do you mean? The way I talk? What?

YMR: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny… the way you told that story and everything.

[everyone has stopped laughing]

Me: Funny how? What’s funny about it?

Older Metro Representative: Jonnie, no. You’ve got it all wrong.

Me: Hoh – whoa. He’s a big boy. He knows what he said. What did you say? Funny how? You mean…  let me understand this, because, you know, maybe it’s me… I’m a little fucked up maybe, but… I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I write my blog to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?

YMR: Just… you know, how you tell the story, you know… What?

Me:  No, no, I don’t know. You said it! How do I know? You said I’m funny. [running out of breath] How the fuck am I funny? What the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me. Tell me what’s funny!

Unlike Tommy DeVito, I probably wouldn’t ever admit I was joking, though.

Seriously though, they must think I’m funny. So funny that I have some kind of disproportionate societal influence, enough to warrant a formal brainwashing session.  And that’s what it will be – surely.

The alternative would be addressing, point-by-point, my email criticisms:

Metro Representative: “…OK – so if you’re happy with that explanation of why our staff member spent 90 seconds blasting the contents of his bronchial tubes into an empty coffee cup in preference to doing his job, we can move on to the possibility of having a fully-platinum train in operation before 2017…”

What on earth could they possibly tell me in person that they can’t tell me via email? “Going forward” is just as hollow out of a person’s mouth as it is on paper.

Maybe this is where I need to get creative:

Dear Angela,

Thank you very much for the invitation to meet in person. Do you mind if I bring along a couple of people I know who are just as disappointed with your service as I am? If that’s sounds fair to you, are you aware of any venues in Melbourne that seat 4 million people?

or

Dear Angela,

Yes, a meeting is undoubtedly the best way to discuss my numerous concerns. And by meeting I mean a televised debate simulcast across every single TV station in Australia, including the ABC and SBS, and all the digital ones, except that one that shows people having their fortunes told. 

or

Dear Angela,

I would very much like to meet to discuss my criticisms. Although perhaps “discuss” is the wrong word. How would you feel about addressing my concerns as part of a stage musical with your CEO as the leading lady? It doesn’t have to be original

“Trains were on time when old hacks were retired
When inspectors were kind
And our carriages  inviting
Trains were on time when profits weren’t required
And the world was a ride
And the ride was exciting
Trains were on time
Then it all went wrong

We dreamed a dream of trains on time.
When hope was high
And life worth living
We dreamed of stations in the sky
We dreamed of punters more forgiving…”

or

Dear Angela,

A meeting sounds like a fine idea. Can we do it like the Sooty Show where if I don’t like one of your explanations I squirt you in the face with a water pistol or dramatically slam my face into a full bowl of cereal, spraying you with milk? 

But let’s be honest, I’m not going to meet with them. What would be the point? What new information will I get? Are they withholding important  information from the public which they only release to smart-alec bloggers? And if (hilariously) they are – is it going to be honest and insightful stuff? Is it going to answer not only my mostly flippant questions, but also the serious questions raised by people who know the system inside out, including Metro’s own drivers (some of whom are making astonishing claims about the dishonest practices and policies carried out by their employers)?

But my main concern – my main concern by far – is that if I organised a time to meet, I would then need to catch a train to get to that meeting. And the last thing I’d want to do is turn up late to such an important appointment.

Haught Feelings would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The #FreeAnnie campaign

If you think the way Melbourne’s train system operates has to change, get involved in the #FreeAnnie campaign.

Haught fact of the day:

According to IMBD, the “You think I’m funny?” scene from Goodfellas came out of a real life experience Joe Pesci had had when he was much younger. The director, Martin Scorsese, allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene without telling the numerous other actors involved what would happen.

The #FreeAnnie campaign

As The Age reported this week Metro Trains has, over the last year, gone into a fine dispensing frenzy.

One of the people they’ve nabbed during this period of sustained blame-shifting and misdirection is a Haught reader by the name of Annie.

Last week she wrote to me about her recent experience on a Metro train and her subsequent correspondence with the Department of Transport.

Her emails were charming, vivid and compelling. (They also included brazen raunch; during one paragraph I fainted.)

It seems that some overzealous Metro Trains Authorised Officers, followed by the Department of Transport, have got the delightful Annie mixed up with a  fare-evading black squiggle non-entity, as represented in this advertising campaign.

From her emails alone I can tell that Annie is not a scribble-based
organism. And if she is, she’s probably a vibrantly coloured one. Annie, told me in her emails to me that “I never forget to buy a ticket because it matters to me to have a healthy transport system – and the only way Melbourne’s shitty system will improve is through use and investment by the people (fares).”

With this in mind, have a read of Annie’s case:

  • Annie is on the train minding her business, reading high-quality Australian future fiction
  • Annie is interrupted by Metro Train Authorised Officers, who ask for her ticket
  • Annie can’t immediately find her Metcard and begins to search her oversized bag
  • The Authorised Officers put a very short time limit on the search, as if they’re game show hosts and Annie is a nervous contestant
  • When the time limit has elapsed, one of the Officers says “Bzzz” and the other one gets out a pencil, licks it like they did in the old days, and starts writing an infringement notice
  • As the Officers walk away, Annie makes an apologetic, I’m-not-a-black-squiggle face at some of the scowling busy-body passengers around her, composes herself,  then reopens her book and sees the Metcard fall out from inside the jacket – but it’s too late: the Officers have moved onto the next carriage
  • Several days laterAnnie receives a $180 fine

Pretty straightforward, is it not?

You’d think if Annie simply wrote a polite email to the Department of Transport explaining what had happened and providing the ticket as proof of her innocence, common sense would prevail and the fine would be quashed.

But no.

Not only was her appeal fruitless, the response email was a catalogue of irrelevant drivel. Rather than explaining to Annie why the fine would be upheld, the letter veered off onto a bewildering tangent,  listing the most common excuses the Department receives from those wishing to have their fare evasion fine overturned:

“I was running for the train”, “the queue was too long”, “I did not know it was a coin only machine”, “I was going to validate at the end of my trip”, “I forgot”, “I did not understand the zones or system”, “I only had a $20 note”.

What the Department of Transport appear to be doing is not only dismissing perfectly legitimate claims, but responding to these claims with about as much tact, professionalism and intelligence as the “Computer says no” woman from Little Britain.

Imagine if this approach to justice was conventional in the wider legal system.

Judge: “The prosecution’s case was flimsy and there is no substantial evidence to suggest that the defendant killed his mother. The defendant is obviously a model citizen and numerous people have, under oath, declared that they were with him in Melbourne at the time his mother was murdered in Brisbane. Here are some of the reasons convicted murderers have previously given this court for taking the lives of close family members: “I was acting in self defence”, “I slipped… repeatedly”, “I forgot that murder was a crime”, “I don’t know my own strength”, “I set fire to the house believing it was vacant”. I find the defendant guilty and sentence him to 35 years in prison.”

Now, I concede that I don’t know Annie personally. I concede that she may be telling fibs. I concede that she could have somehow acquired a Metcard valid in exactly the right time period and zone after being legitimately booked for fare evasion, and sent it to the Department of Transport as dodgy proof of her innocence.

That seems about as unlikely as Metro’s performance statistics, though.

Low blow? Yeah, well, here’s the problem: if Metro and the Government want to adhere to a policy of cynicism, mistrust and never giving the benefit of the doubt, they have to understand that two can play at that game.

If the best they can do when justifying individual fines is let out a great big sigh about how weary they are of bad excuses, they might want to think about tightening up their own material.

“Due to a signal fault…”, “due to an ill passenger…”, “due to congestion on the network…”, “due to a defective train…”, “due to an unprecedented surge in passenger numbers…”, “due to chronic underinvestment in the system…”

Are those ad nauseum excuses somehow less tiresome than the ones detailed in the letter Annie received?

If you can detect a little bit of hypocrisy here, and think a $180 fine for not producing a ticket hiding inside a book is excessive, start talking about it.

How good would it be if we could get #FreeAnnie trending on Twitter. How good would it be if we caused such a stir on Facebook that the Department of Transport were forced to withdraw their arrogant dismissal of her letter? How good would it be if, by sharing, commenting and discussing we made some change – however small – to the way train passengers are treated in Melbourne?

Want to give it a crack?

UPDATE:

The campaign worked!

Well, Annie has been freed and there was a campaign. And the campaign came before Annie’s fine was waived, so…

Read all about it here.

VINTAGE HAUGHT: My email to Gasp Jeans

In September last year Gasp Jeans received an email from a customer disgusted with the service she’d received at their Chapel Street store. It was the perfect opportunity for Gasp to punch out some Marshallian brilliance and then tan themselves in the intense light of the public goodwill that would inevitably have followed.

That, of course, is difficult without some pretty special response-email talent in your customer service area, so an alternative might have been a sincere apology, an “any inconvenience caused” template reply, or to follow medium/large-business best practice and just ignore the email completely.

Instead, they flew to Fuckwitery, Texas, went into a gun shop called The Customer is Always Wrong, purchased a semi-automatic email response weapon and fifty kilos of ungrammatical ammo, returned to Australia and proceeded to do the online equivalent of “going postal“.

The exchange got the social media virus and soon just about everyone had it.

You can – in fact, you must – read (or relive) the full story here.

Here’s what I wrote to them a few days later:

Dear Gasp,

I’m just going to cut to the chase: can you please abuse me by reply email?

I’ll be brutally honest (I know you goddamn respect that): your clothing doesn’t really do it for me – diamante encrusted denim isn’t my thing. But by Christ I love your approach to customer service via the written word.

I find the style of your (recently much-publicised) email correspondence nothing short of mesmerizing. The gloriously specific examples, the beautifully restrained sprinkle of Latin, the extravagant defense of your staff… truly exhilarating stuff.

I want one of your emails  to call my own.

I want you to make brazen assumptions about me. I want you to be patronisingly didactic. I want you to make concessions about things that weren’t up for debate in the first place. I want you to bolster your case by citing “A-list” celebrities who I only know of because I once glanced at a New Idea while lining up at a supermarket check-out.

But most of all, I want you to throw grammatical convention to the wind, and use “whom” like it’s going out of fashion – pardon the pun.

I notice that your use of “whom” has received a great deal of attention post-“Good-luck-at-Supre”-gate, most of it grossly unfair. I mean, for goodness sake, we live in a postmodern age – some say a post-postmodern age; the rules of grammar have never been more fluid. In fact, I would go so far as to say they’re now gaseous. If you want to completely ignore irrelevancies like the difference between a subject and an object, and smash out a dozen “whom”s in five paragraphs, you should go ahead and bloody well do it. And be applauded for it. And perhaps be given the institutional equivalent of an Order of Australia for it.

Speaking of postmodernism, I particularly admire the way you’ve melded an almost aristocratic superiority with an unashamed embrace of the tawdry and vulgar. I know you love a really good metaphor – “dead flamingo”: superb – so I’ll put it this way: it’s like you’ve built an Ivory Tower, sprayed it with Clag and then blasted sequins onto it with some kind industrial strength leaf blower. And thank fuck for that, because goodness knows this world needs more sparkly elitism.

On the subject of “fuck”, my only criticism of your email correspondence (on the basis of exposed form, at least) is that if anything it’s too subtle. It doesn’t include enough profanity or, for that matter, explicit reference to the fact you hope the very worst for your erstwhile customer. In my humble opinion, the only thing missing from the email response to Keara O’Neil on 28 of September was “fuck off and die” – I mean it was clearly there as a subtext, but why leave it at that? So if, at some stage during your reply, you could call me a cunt or threaten my family, I’d be most grateful.

You are truly mighty iconoclasts and I look forward to your reply with the anticipation of a genuinely repentant sinner awaiting the drop of the (taffeta adorned) guillotine.

With more reverence than you could possibly imagine,

Jonathan Rivett

I did receive a response. It didn’t quite have the same edge to it as the one Keara O’Neil received, and was conspicuous for its absence of dead flamingoes:

Many thanks for emailing us with your enquiry.

It has been passed to the relevant department and rest assured that we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

While you are awaiting our response, why not become a fan of our GASP Facebook page?

Kind Regards,
______________________________
GASP Online Customer Care
P: (03) 9421 6812 | F: (03) 9421 1720 | W:  www.gaspjeans.com.au

I didn’t become a fan of their Facebook page.

Haught fact of the day:

I posted a poll on my Facebook page asking what you wanted to see next for the blog. “My email to Kyle Sandilands” won easily. But what would a blog entitled ‘Haught’ be without a total disregard for the wishes of its fans and followers?

I might post the Kyle Sandilands email next week – and promise it will make a bit more sense when seen as a kind of ‘sequel’ to the email above.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“I never say half the fuck horsehit that Hoff blog fuck say I say.”

“Haught. It’s pronounced Haught.”

“Ah! I no fuck care what you pronounce it. I never fart on Enzo’s car. I piss, yes. Of course. We all piss -”

“We do. We all piss on his car.”

“But I no frangivento!”

“I know, mate. I know. It’s bullshit.”

“It fuck horseshit. I start my own blog.”

“What now?”

“Yes. Fuck now.”

“But what about the fuckin’ grapes?”

“Ah! Fuck the fuck grapes!”

___________________

Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
___________________

THE RESPONSE: My email to Yarra Trams

You may have noticed by now that I believe sarcasm is the second highest form of wit (lavatory humour being the first). Today, however, I write without even the slightest hint of it.

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted an email I had sent to this mob:

If you didn’t catch it, you can read it here.

I write the emails I send to well-known people and organisations, imagining very different reception scenarios. In the case of the Jim Beam email, for instance, I imagined a chimpanzee being slightly surprised by the noise of the email chime, making a little noise of distress, then (inexpertly) pressing the delete button with his long index finger, just like he’d been taught to.

In the case of the email I once sent to Kyle Sandilands, I imagined Jackie O phonetically reading the email on a tablet computer out loud from the side of a pool in which Kyle was lolling, and giving up after the second paragraph (and the fifteenth time Kyle called her a “dumb, illiterate moll”).

In the case of the email I once sent to Margaret Court, I imagined Margaret herself hissing at the screen and then escaping into the night through the window in the form of a bat.

When I sent my email to Yarra Trams, I imagined an overworked 21 year-old on their ninety-eighth email of the day (at ten past nine in the morning) scanning my email, seeing the word ‘poo’ and bringing up the “excrement-fouled tram’ template.

I imagined wrong.

What I got was nothing short of genius. Not a template at all – a real letter written by a real person.  A talented person. A person I now want to meet and drink beer with and possibly give a little kiss to at the end of the evening (and I fully realise Sam may well be a man).

Why am I still speaking about it? It speaks for itself:

Dear Mr Rivett,

Thank you for what is, by far, the most entertainingly written feedback I have ever received. Your recount of events that occurred on the evening of 13 April 2012 was at once concerning and humorous.

While I have attempted to respond in a manner befitting the feedback we received, I do not wish to give you the impression that your observations and concerns have been disregarded or taken lightly.

When I read the first of the drunkard’s ramblings, I took his question to mean ‘Is it to be that we are engaged to be married?’ As I continued reading, I attempted to jam his square peg outbursts into my round hole understanding of his first question. I soon realised I couldn’t make any sense of it, but I feel better knowing that you were equally confused. Also, I agree that “screamed he” is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances.

Notwithstanding my concern for Mr Pelican’s disruptive behaviour, I would like to think Biff was bowling his baked goods from somewhere near the centre of a B-class tram towards either end – there is a hatch in the floor at each end just behind each of the driver’s cabins. While hitting the sides of the hatch would send the unsliced wholemeal delivery off towards point or square leg (or in real terms, and annoyingly for all parties concerned, getting lost between seats and the legs of other passengers), pitching the loaf on the front or rear edges of the hatch could certainly be regarded as landing it in a ‘good area’.

I also hope Biff Pelican’s name is not indicative of what he does in his spare time. But I digress.

Getting back to the crux of the matter, a call was indeed made by our driver to our Fleet Operations Centre (FOC), logged at approximately 6:35pm, alerting them to the behaviour being exhibited by Biff’s arch-nemesis. (Not “control room” or “HQ”, I’m afraid, but I hope this name still appeals to your Dick-Tracy-esque ideals). After attempting and failing to deter the drunkard with an announcement via the public address system, FOC contacted the police. Four times. After the fourth request to have police meet the tram, a Yarra Trams Response Unit (is that ‘Dick Tracy’ enough?) became available and was instructed to intercept the tram (ok, so Response Unit might not have hit the mark, but surely ‘intercept’ is a winner, no?). After our Response Unit arrived, our Fleet Operator received a call at 7:16pm from a Senior Sergeant of Fitzroy Police who advised that no other police were available to attend, and that as such, he was on his way himself. He arrived four minutes later at 7:20pm.

Please accept our apologies for what you and your wife experienced on our Route 86 tram. Just as your questions are based on the predication that the police could not have possibly taken so long to respond to our call for assistance (and the cause for delay must have been within Yarra Trams), our Fleet Operator also believed that police would be available to meet with the tram in a timely manner. Regrettably in this instance, there were no police officers available to attend to the tram until 7:20pm, which contributed to the negative experience of those customers onboard the first Route 86 tram.

I appreciate your good-natured approach to this incident, and I thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your wonderfully written feedback.

Spare a thought for the Yarra Trams Response Unit staff who drove the drunken man home.

Should you have any further queries or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me directly via reply email, or by calling me on 9619 3311.

Kind regards,

Sam Marshall
Customer Relations Officer

I am tempted to call Sam as offered, but know I would get shy and giggly and have to hang up quickly.

I can’t believe Yarra Trams received an email that ended with “…if you could respond as entertainingly as I have complained, I would be most grateful” and didn’t put it in the “arrogant fuckwit” outbox AND had a crack at responding entertainingly AND consummately nailed it AND found a balance between humour and facts AND satisfied pretty much every one of my concerns.

Brilliant.

If Jim Beam want to know how to make something go viral they can put aside their  incomprehensible, cacophonous clusterfuck of an ad and take a leaf out of Yarra Trams’ book. Confound expectations, ignore corporate cliches, respond to cricket references with cricket references.

If you don’t recommend, refer, repost or retweet another of my posts ever in your life, do it to this one and give Yarra Trams the widespread adulation they deserve.

Haught fact of the day:

I once sent an email to Gasp Jeans’ Prahran store and within a few months it had closed down. Coincidence?

Yes.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

“It’s fuckin’ April, you stupid fuck!”

“…tooooys in every store…”

“Eh, you hear this fuck?

“…but the prettiest sight to see…”

“I think he has pretty good voice, actually.”

“… is the hobby that will be…”

“Hobby? You silly fuck. It’s holly. Holly.”

“…on your oooown front door.”

“Leave the man alone. He got voice of angel.”

“But he doesn’t even know the fuckin’ words. Why would there be a hobby on your front door? It’s not even… a thing. It’s a fuckin’ abstract fuckin’ noun. And it’s fuckin’ April. AND HE’S FUCKIN’ WEARING SLIPPERS!”

“You are grump. You are grump man.”

___________________

Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
___________________