Don’t do business with Bill Groome of Madhatter Magic Shop

I’ve never been a fan of douchebag businesses and the entitled twits that run them. That’s why in 2009 I wrote about T’s Golf of Manchester Maine, run by Rawn and Judy Torrington. I even wrote about them in print (in addition to a number of other subjects), making sure they received a copy of my publication. I know for a fact that I took business away from them and I’m damn proud of it. Nobody likes to pay for services when the person doing the serving is a colossal sac face.

With that in mind, I’m glad that Jonathan Kamens wrote about asshat Bill Groome of Madhatter Magic Shop in Columbia, S.C. Here are the basics. Kamens asked Groome specific questions about a product. That information turned out to be incorrect. Kamens sent two emails asking for a refund. Both were ignored. When he sent a third email where he said he would initiate a disputed charge claim with his credit card company, he got this asshattery-laden response:

This is the first email I have seen from you since your purchase. I am very busy and I give information to the best of my knowledge. I get over a hundred emails per day and try to reply to all of them personally. My reply below was accurate and gave you the information on how the trick worked. Now I have more important things to deal with than a little boy crying over a $5.00 trick. I am sorry it did not fit your needs, but I described it as accurately as I could. Feel free to send it back in new condition and we will refund it per our return policy.

There are more intricate details that can be seen here, but the gist is that Groome only offered a refund when he was told one would be forced upon him. And that’s hardly an offer at all. Moreover, the comments Groome has left on Kamens’ blog makes it clear Groome is a liar. He claims that he did give a refund, except the way the charges appear on Kamens’ statements are such that only the credit card company could do it.

To make matters worse, Groome went after Kamens’ for being Jewish. I’m not familiar with Kamens’ blog or writing, but him being Jewish is irrelevant. This is a disputed business transaction. As silly as all religious beliefs are, Groome is just being mildly anti-Semitic.

But it gets worse. You see, whereas the idiots at T’s Golf were, well, idiots, they managed to keep their stupidity confined. Had they been dumb enough to respond to me, I would have done all I could to make the biggest stink possible about them. Christopher Maloney knows that all too well. Groome, on the other hand, went ahead and left a number of responses, as I have been showing. But now he has taken it one step further and threatened to sue.

This is all impressively dumb. Not only has Groome ensured that his online presence continues to be tarnished, and not only did he do damage to his reputation by race-baiting and calling a customer a ‘crying little boy’, but he has no case judging by his inability to demonstrate a single false statement on the part of Kamens.

So remember: Don’t do business with Bill Groome of Madhatter Magic Shop in Columbia, South Carolina. He’s a douchebag.

via Popehat

I told you he read FTSOS

Jack Hudson is a bit like Ken Ham. Both are Christians. Both are creationists. Both routinely fail to defend positions. Oh. And both refuse to link to those who criticize them.

Anyone who regularly reads Pharyngula knows that Ken Ham and his Creation ‘Museum’ people will not link back to PZ’s articles. It’s a cowardly passive-aggressive sort of thing. They have made a habit of referring to PZ as an “atheist professor”, a “professor from Minnesota”, or some other similar name, but they won’t mention him directly. Now it looks like Jack Hudson has taken out a page from that play book for use on me.

After getting up in a huff over something someone else said to him, he left FTSOS, vowing never to return. Okay. But it has been clear that he still lurks around here. His articles have often been based upon links posted here, and his remarks have often been thinly veiled responses to comments made here (and a couple times even to comments made on Facebook…sort of like how he referenced his Facebook discussions when he texted my cousin).

You know, I can’t deny that I’ve had conversations with friends that have resulted in posts here. It happens from time to time. Of course, if I’ve made specific responses to a person, even if written in a generalized voice, I’ve always sent on a link to the person. It’s just common courtesy. And really, why would I want to hide from what I’ve said? I said it in the first place because I want people to listen.

Jack has had at least three responses to FTSOS. The first was an update to a post of his that was pro-bigotry while vaguely featuring some infantile libertarianism.

An Addendum:

It’s a bit of a myth that this wouldn’t have happened to a heterosexual married couple; in fact, this does happen to elderly married couples.

This was in response to my post about an elderly gay couple that was separated by the state. The two men had about as much legal documentation as they possibly could so as to avoid the hardships of current end-of-life care in the United States which disregards their humanity. But it didn’t matter. They were separated and had their belongings stolen and sold by Sonoma County in California.

Jack thinks that’s the same as another older, heterosexual, married couple who was forced into a nursing home. While that is superficially similar (the gay couple was also forced into a nursing home), the fact is that this all hinges on marriage. Someone blinded by pure bigotry dressed up in lies isn’t likely to see this: the gay couple was separated and not allowed to see each other, despite the lack of any sort of conviction for alleged abuse (which was alleged by known liars), much less the presence of any charges. A married couple would have been given better than that. And, in fact, the married couple in the second story, while in a deplorable situation that was and is an abuse of power by the state, were not separated, the only reason being because they were married. Honestly. One friend (who will be getting this link, incidentally) recently told me that this whole thing is about “the legitimization” of gay relationships, suggesting that there are ways gay couples can get rights “without calling it marriage”. That’s crap and this is just another piece of evidence that separate but equal can never be equal. Oh, and gay relationships already are legitimate, gays already act as the heads of households and families, and no denial of equal rights is going to change that fact.

But that isn’t the only passive-aggressive attack.

To that end I need to make clear a few simple rules I have here – one’s that I have always had, but didn’t feel the need to make public before, but now feel compelled to.

First off I filter foul language – if you can’t say anything without dropping the f-bomb or referring to a body part in the crudest of terms, then it won’t get posted here. It is a pretty simple rule for most to follow, but some can’t seem to help themselves.

This is in response to posts of mine which occasionally have featured th-th-th, gasp!, the F-bomb!

There are three reasons I don’t stop anyone from saying “fuck” all they want on my website. One, I’m not a child. I can deal with it. Two, censorship is mostly crap. Three, it is an immature view of language to think it a good thing to curb any of its use. Words should be elastic, allowed to move and flow with the times, context, and even emotion. Sometimes a good go fuck yourself is the best available terminology; the magic is in its simplicity. I often intentionally use very simple, straight-forward titles for my posts to get my point across. Was anyone confused about what I was saying when I titled a post Andreas Moritz is a stupid, dangerous man? Was anyone befuddled as to where I was going when I said Deepak Chopra is not an intelligent man? I like to think I was pretty clear. And that was the whole point behind those titles. Sometimes simple words are needed when what’s behind the meaning is simple. There is no need to be an obtuse, pompous douche when there is so much more clarity in being short. But then there are times when a pretentious title is needed. For instance, when I wrote about the tenability of unsourced claims as they pertain to objective morality, I wasn’t trying to convey that an easy read was ahead. Philosophical styles differ markedly from most other ways of writing – and not in a way that makes them a breeze to peruse. For anyone who actually gives a rat’s ass about writing, it is abundantly clear that it is a mistake to unnecessarily corner language and only allow what feels good. Language is expression; express it.

Secondly, I don’t post personal attacks or responses to them.


You know Michael, I almost never feel compelled to deal with anyone physically, but you are very lucky your puny little bank teller body is in Maine, because i would kick your butt from one side of the room to the other if you said that to my face. Of course you wouldn’t because you are a coward.

And along with that readers should know I never call or email strangers or people who I interact with online.

Again, Jack is directly responding to material from FTSOS, but he’s pulling the ol’ Ken Ham. He doesn’t want to link others here and get any exchange moving between users, I suppose. Fortunately, while Jack has a handful of creationist milling about his page, I have a bit of a larger audience. I encourage everyone reading this to venture over to Jack’s site and start leaving comments. Don’t spam the guy’s stuff, but make him actually response to something intelligent. I recommend starting with this incoherent post about atheism, but feel free to tear apart whatever seems appealing. Unlike Jack, I don’t want to pretend I’m your boss.

And finally:

Recently I saw an atheist claim that ‘spiritual beliefs do not equal religious beliefs’. This may be true, but for an atheist to say so is a bit like a vegetarian lecturing on the best way to prepare a steak.

Surprise, I’m that atheist.

This analogy is just so awful. First, an atheist has no religion. That does not mean an atheist has no knowledge of religion or is unable, like Jack, to tell the difference between a real world phenomenon and a nebulous term that always needs to be defined before being used. Second, aren’t theists always claiming that atheism is a religion? In Jack’s bad analogy, atheism is very unlike religion. Isn’t it amazing just how often these people undermine their own silly claims?

So a quick wrap-up (because this post is way longer than I ever intended): Jack is a creationist like Ken Ham who refuses to link back to those who criticize him; he does not understand how to parallel socially important issues because (also like Ken Ham) he is a bigot; and finally, he apparently does not pay close enough attention to FTSOS. Say something stupid loudly enough, like Christopher Maloney or Andreas Moritz, or cross me in a magnificently stupid way like Rawn and Judy Torrington or Lt. J Christopher Read, and I have no issue posting and posting and tearing apart what I see as a wrong on my website (and for all five of those people, publishing and distributing stories all around my hometown, including Maloney’s own neighborhood). I mean, honestly. Have I not been clear? Has there been confusion as to what I am willing to do to get my point across? Do people not realize that to do something for the sake of science does not simply mean to act in a way that shows passion for science because science is good, but it also means to stand up to bad actions, bad behavior, lowly thoughts, and dishonest methods?

Bad Behavior and T's Golf

By Michael Hawkins

We shouldn’t have to accept bad behavior.

We all see it. We’re waiting in line at the check-out and there’s that person. (In an effort to avoid politically correct grammar, let’s say it’s a guy.) The cashier double-scanned something. Or an item isn’t priced correctly. Or there’s an unexpected fee. Whatever it is, that guy is there. You can see the anger in his eyes. He’s been waiting all day to lash out at someone, and this particular $8-an-hour employee is the unlucky victim.

No one says anything because, hey, who wants to join the public scene? It’s awkward. But is that so acceptable? I don’t think so.

Society has become accustomed to allowing people to act out like this. It happens every day, from Wal-Mart to Shaw’s to convenience stores to delis to restaurants. People love to treat each other like crap. Let’s get one voice together and just say ‘no’ to that sort of behavior.

Okay, that item didn’t scan in correctly and it’s taking awhile for someone to get you the right price. At no point does it logically follow that you should offer up a dish of immaturity topped with pettiness. Most of us get that, but too many have no concept of what kindness means.

And this is a two-way street. It’s usually customers treating low-level employees like hell (mostly because they can), but it comes the other way. Have I ever got the example of the century for you.

I recently went to T’s Golf in Manchester to try out a new club. I wanted to literally hit 4 balls into an empty field, using an empty tee, at a business that had literally no other customers. It didn’t take long for the owners to come out an give me an earful.

Rawn and Judy Torrington ripped into me, telling me I “should know better”, yelling at the person with me who wasn’t even playing, whining with fists clenched that I had such audacity to hit free balls into a field.

Okay, they aren’t giving things away for free. Fair enough. But let’s grow up a bit. First of all, these people charge for use of their buckets of balls, not their range. They weren’t even aware of the policies they put in place. Second, while they have an argument that I shouldn’t hit 4 balls into their empty field at their commonly empty place of business, my actions were not so unreasonable. But third, even if they were, it doesn’t matter. That sort of behavior is unacceptable. It’s a demonstration of selfishness, greed, bad behavior, horrible business sense, and immaturity. We should never accept any part of that list.

Fortunately, there’s always All-Steak Hamburger on Hospital Street, not to mention a dozen other places run by good people more than willing to take the business Rawn and Judy Torrington, in their self-centered, greedy little world, don’t seem to want (or know how to keep).

But this isn’t about my bad experience with a couple bad apples. This is about ALL the rotten trees ruining the otherwise healthy orchard.

We can solve some of our problems with businesses by not going to them (and literally every person with whom I’ve spoken refuses to go to T’s Golf). But that doesn’t solve the deeper issue. People still behave badly. Let’s stop accepting that.

If you see that guy in the supermarket or at the deli or in the retail store, don’t let him get away with it. Let him know, sans the anger he displays, that it isn’t the end of the world. He’s making an inconvenient situation into a debacle. He’s encouraging and spreading disease throughout the orchard. He’s making the world a worse place.

Let’s not accept bad behavior.

It seemed so innocent

I wrote this for the purpose of a Facebook note, but I would love to make it more public. So, here ya go.


As I returned to town with girlfriend in company, I had a sudden idea. I had recently purchased a new driver from Play It Again Sports on Bangor Street. Good investment from a good business. The employee there – almost certainly still in high school – went so far as to virtually insist on carrying out my other, bulkier purchases for me. If not a good business sense, then he at least at a solid grasp on common decency. So in my desire to complete the satisfaction around my recent acquisition, I decided to stop by T’s Golf in Manchester to hit a couple balls.

It wasn’t far from closing time and I didn’t want to make anyone wait around for me to hit a full bucket. Besides that, I had a lovely lady to entertain. As such, I only wanted to hit 3 or 4 balls. Purchasing a full bucket wasn’t in my plans.

Upon arriving at the range, I noticed the empty lot. I always wondered why I rarely saw many vehicles at this business. This night I chalked it up to the late time and gloomy weather.

I grabbed my clubs, a few balls and set up at one of the deserted tees. It didn’t take long for Rawn “Misspelled-Name-And-All” Torrington to come out with his wife Judy. When he asked “Are you hitting your own golf balls?”, I naturally assumed the best in him, thinking he was making some friendly chit-chat. Just imagine it. The local proprietor seeking quality relations with his customers. It happens all the time, every day. As much as I’ll rag on Hannaford or McDonald’s or any other lowing-paying retail location, they usually higher good people who usually treat customers with kindness; if not always great service, then at least kindness. But we all know what happens when one assumes. It makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

Rather than being the savvy owner I expected, Torrington instead showed a complete disregard for good business sense, not to mention common decency. He opened by chiding me for daring to use his facilities for free. “I have $200,000 invested in this operation!” he wailed. Okay. Let’s hang on a second.

It’s fair enough that he wouldn’t offer his services for free. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to let a person take a whack or two on range where a roaming tumble-weed may be expected, especially if said person is using his own equipment. There’s no gain or loss, regardless of the operation being worth $2, $200,000, or $2,000,000. But again, it’s fair enough. It’s his business and he isn’t supplying anyone with a free playground.

That isn’t the problem.

The problem is that Torrington’s blood was virtually boiling. He had no justification for his reaction. He was perhaps only rivaled by Mrs. Torrington’s immaturity.

I say without embellishment or revision, our reaction was nothing if not mild. I briefly explained that I just wanted to hit a ball or two to try out a new club. Judy Torrington tore into us, foam not far behind her lips.

“You should know better!”, she screeched.

Know better than what, Torringtons? Than to innocently hit a few balls into a field? I’ll concede that asking would have been prudent. But whether or not I should have known better or done differently is far from the point. The point is that bad behavior is rarely justified. This falls under no exception of which I can imagine, if there even are any.

In the interest of full disclosure, I let fly some colorful language. I regret ceding the high-ground, though not the sentiment behind the words.

We packed up our gear, constantly reminding these two horrible business owners that we weren’t maliciously attacking their livelihood. They seemed convince that any action which does not result in profit for them must also be a personal slight.

And here’s the kicker. Had either of these individuals simply explained, with calm and composure, that they didn’t allow people to hit their own golf balls, I would have asked how much a small bucket cost. I assumed at least $5, not to mention the time it’d take for me to hit them when I arrived. As it turns out, according to their website, I could have gotten 10 balls for a buck fifty. I have no doubt that I would have made the investment.

As a result of the – to be frank – dumb business practices of T’s Golf in Manchester, they have forever lost my business. In reality, I didn’t contribute an arm and a leg in the first place. Independent of all this, I’ve always thought their mini golf was one of the worst I’ve ever played; it has no pop, no pizzazz. What’s more, they don’t provide the clubs for their driving range. T’s Golf, regardless of the poorly customer-versed owners, is not a good facility from the get-go. This recent debacle only ensures that even less of my money – precisely zero dollars – ever gets spent there.

But the story doesn’t end here. And I’m not alone.

Immediately following this incident, I headed over to All Steak Hamburger on Hospital Street. It was there that I spoke with the owner (whose name I missed).

Because he has a driving range (as well as a restaurant and batting cages) I asked him what he would do if someone wanted to hit a couple of their own golf balls from his tees. He said it didn’t matter to him. Anyone who does it will obviously lose anything they hit, but people can bring entire bags of golf balls for all he cares (and they have). That’s good business sense.

After he explained his casual position to my scenario, I told him that I had just come from T’s and…his laughter quickly cut me off.

“Well, there’s your problem.”

As an anecdote, he told me that he gets about 1 customer per week as a result of Rawn and Judy Torrington and their bad business sense. I believe it. In speaking with further friends and family, that anecdote seems to be slowly morphing into a pattern.

So let’s break down what happened. I went to hit a few balls into a field. Rawn and Judy Torrington not only said no, but they practically cried it. It would be fine for them to kindly object to what I was doing. My actions were reasonable, but quality justifications can certainly be made against them. But, again, that isn’t the point. It’s the reaction to my actions which deserve the attention here. The bad moral and bad business decisions of the Torrington’s forever cost them my dollars. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it has cost them the dollars of anyone reading this. Furthermore, it damages their reputation. Granted, the anecdotes appear to indicate that they already have awful reputations, but this certainly doesn’t help.

I guess I can’t just blame the rain for their empty parking lot. After all, All Steak Hamburger had both of their parking areas filled. Funny that.