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whatzitsnameWe have borrowed RhodesTer for the weekend – again – to complete a series of tests that we implemented the first time around. We are QUITE fascinated with his brain, and therefore we’re trying to extract particular DNA strands for the purpose of behavioral modification in our domesticated house pets.

Just before he went under and we inserted the probes, RhodesTer requested that we contact JOELY BLACK, the author of THE AMNAR SERIES to have her fill in. We were hesitant at first, until RhodesTer informed us that she goes by the moniker “The Charm Quark” on Twitter.

There’s just something about a human who has a quark in their name, so we forged ahead – the title of this guest posting is, “The Tony Soprano of Amazon.”

We don’t get it.. who’s Tony Soprano?

ZORQ, the Magnificate of Zenus 12-46.t3

The other day I got my very first death threat.

I called a friend, ostensibly to ask what I should do about it, and he asked what it was all about. So I had to explain.

“Well, you see,” I said, “I tried to buy Painter X on Amazon, only I bought it from one of the marketplace sellers for £20 and it turns out this is a bad idea because what they do is they send you a re-writable DVD with a copy of Painter X which isn’t for Mac that they downloaded from Pirate Bay for nothing but they made me pay £20 for it. Plus postage and packing.”

“You’re talking in run-on sentences,” he remarked. “Did you contact Amazon about it?”

“I did, but Amazon said I had to talk to the seller first, and give them three days to reply,” I explained. I’d given them time, and they came back and offered me a bunch of other software, which pretty much exactly matched what was currently available for Mac at Pirate Bay. “They weren’t very good at writing English in their emails,” I added.

“It’s a shame it wasn’t about Amnar,” my friend pointed out. We commiserated over the fact that my fiction had not yet caused a storm of angry people to burn my books for a bit, and then I explained about the death threat proper.

After receiving the email back with a selection of software from Pirate Bay that they could download for me (saving me the bother, I suppose), I replied asking for a refund. I thought this was fair enough. If they’d said in their product description that it was “just the disc” I’d have stayed well clear, but they just said it was new and that it would be available in 24 hours. Obviously, I didn’t expect them to write “This product has been illegally downloaded from the internet for the cost of exactly £0 but we’re going to charge you £20 because we figure that’s what our lives are worth if we get arrested for it. Which we won’t because there’s almost no way anybody can catch us doing this anyway.”

The next day I received an email back, in rather broken English, telling me that they had been more than reasonable and would “punish anybody who stood in the way of their business.” They had mouths to feed, apparently, and families dependent on the income.

I decided to call Amazon rather than email the seller again, because obviously I was wasting my time. Amazon very politely said that they would refund me the money immediately and deal with the matter themselves. I sent them copies of the emails. A couple of days later, I received an email from the seller, or the seller pretending to be somebody else:

“You have to excuse my pal Al, he couldn’t talk and type so good, we could have grabbed your balls by now

We have given you all the reasons, but you don’t seems to appreciate it, which makes me very sad and angry

Although I have got the ok from my capo, I wanna make sure that you are the right asshole we are going to pinch

Our proposition is plain and simple, we need the money to eat, you can go crying to your moms or the cops, as long as we keep the dough, there’s no problem

Otherwise the contract will be carried out, and you will a very nice early Christmas

*If we don’t see the claim being removed within the next 24 hours, the contract will be carried out, and you will face all the consequences

This conversation is now final

Kindest regards,”

I called a friend and asked how much it would cost to have me killed. “About £100,” he said. “Life is cheap. Also, they don’t understand basic gang slang.”

Let me remind you, this was over £20. And postage and packing. £3.95. So my life was in the running for about £23.95. At least, however, he managed to be polite at the end.

At this point, I was actually slightly annoyed. I wanted to email them back and point out that they would be losing £80 they clearly desperately needed if they attempted to have me killed, and that anyway, I’d already discussed it on the podcast and with Amazon so everybody would know exactly where to look if I did show up dead. Furthermore, I wanted to say, I have so many more important things to be scared about than you. Please go away. P.S. I have a battle-ready sword and know how to use it.

My favourite part was the ‘kindest regards’ at the end. “We’re going to kill you, love and kisses.”

As you can tell, I managed to survive Christmas and nothing happened. At least, not yet. I thought that was pretty much the end of the whole affair. I was refunded my money, and life went on as normal. Nobody attempted to kill me. I didn’t wake up one morning in the middle of a movie directed by Guy Ritchie starring a babbling Brad Pitt and Jason Statham’s accent.

About a month later, Amazon emailed me about the transaction. “Dear Amazon User, We hope you are satisfied with your recent transaction with X. Please leave feedback on their seller page to let them know what you thought!”

I was astounded. What does one say in feedback to a death threat?

“Highly disappointed. Seller failed to deliver on threat and I am still alive. Was not offered refund. Recommend you do not deal with seller again as their threats are highly disappointing in both style and content.”

RhodesTer on Twitter/Facebook/Subscribe to this mess

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