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

The Liberal Cup and Shaw's Lodging

By Michael Hawkins

There are some downright awful businesses out there. Most big box stores fall under this heading. Then there are smaller businesses like T’s Golf in Manchester. But one can only stand reading about these sort of disgraces for so long. It is far better, indeed, to read about the good places.

One such place, without any doubt, is The Liberal Cup. It has the best food, the best environment, and a great owner: the squash is amazing, the people are great, and the owner, Geoff Houghton (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is not a personal acquaintance), has an incredible business sense about him. There isn’t a thing I don’t like about the place.

The only establishment, I think, that can rival the Cup is Shaw’s. No, not that Shaw’s. This one is located in Monson and offers more than groceries.

Located in a town through which Appalachian Trail thru-hikers must pass, Shaw’s (www.shawsloding.com) is made for the hiker. After walking the 100 Mile Wilderness, I stopped here with friends. We found ourselves stuffed with the most satisfying all-you-can-eat breakfast ($7) we’ve ever had.

And the owners, my goodness. Dawn MacPherson-Allen and Susan Stevens bring an environment that is like visiting an almost overly hospitable relative. At no point can anyone feel like this is a business; Shaw’s is like a home.

The world needs more places like The Liberal Cup and Shaw’s Lodging.

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.