On A White Charger...
*Update - Part 2 of this odyssey "Apple Juiced!" can be found here.
I love my wee iPad Pro, but jeezo, things are turning into a bit of an odyssey in trying to get Apple to swap over my faulty charger cable for a new working one.
What is it with apple chargers - the one from my Macbook Pro blew up on me - yup, flame, flash, bang and smoulder, and now this one which is only a few months old, say 26 weeks, more or less, is doing that thing where it stops charging until you either pinch it or hold it up at a certain angle to the equator and spin round and howl at the moon.
So far today i've been accompanied on the adventure by 6 different people - 1 Argos helper, then 1 Argos online chat fella and 1 Argos online chat Manager, then 1 Apple support line guy, then 1 Apple virtual reality automated robot woman, who claimed to understand full sentences, and even though she had a Scottish accent herself, she simply couldn't understand my West Coast lilt. And finally 1 online Apple twitter helper who I think was in America, Outer Mongolia, or circling the earth on the good ship 'Granny Smith'.
Let me just say here and now that each of these 'live' people were fantastic, helpful and friendly, and it's not them that i'm frustrated with, rather that Apple's system itself seems to be overly complicated to get a replacement charger. Talking to 'Mrs Robot Woman', however, was like a cross between the Two Ronnies 'computer Dr' routine, and the Burnistoun 'lift' comedy sketch.
I encountered 'Mrs Robot Woman' when I tried to phone the Braehead Apple store directly thinking that maybe someone in my own time zone rather than Mrs Robot Woman's twilight zone might be able to help me better. But each time I got her, and each time when I tried to speak in the space where i had to leave my 'complete' sentences, she would cut me off. I knew then that one of us would 'lose the rag', so i decided to head back to twitter.
"But, Why not just go to the Apple shop?" I hear you cry'.
Well, the sad fact is that I was told by the telephone support that I could go to the apple store and "if they had time they might help me". Now I use my iPad Pro every day for business and being without it interrupts my workflow, therefore the word 'might' just does not cut it with me, especially when it would take the same amount of time for an Apple assistant to sell me a new charger as it would be to swap one over. The phrase "if they have time" also rankled me - especially since i've spent, and encouraged others to spend a fair few thousand pounds on Apple products over the past few years.
I've never once encountered an Apple assistant too busy to sell me something!
I should add here that Apple support did give me a couple of options -
1. They would take money from my bank account and mail a charger out to me, and put the money back in my account when they received (and presumably tested) the faulty charger. (3 to 5 days completion)
2. I could mail in the faulty charger, and then they would mail out a new charger. (3 to 5 days completion)
3. I could go to a service centre 'near me', by which they meant Stirling. Now i'm in Johnstone and a Stirling round trip would be a good few hours to complete and i'd probably spend as much on train fares as I would to buy a new charger.
4. They could fix me an appointment in the Braehead store for the 16th of November.
It's a charger..one simple little wire! I'm not asking for one to be constructed freshly by free-range artisans out of brambles and twigs in a tumbledown cottage in Glencoe! - just one off the shelf will do me!
Since the very beginning I emphasised that I was going to be in Braehead tomorrow anyway so could be in and out the shop in five minutes flat - just put one aside!
So the stage i'm at is thinking i'll go in and talk face to face tomorrow.
I worked in retail for years and appreciate good customer service when it happens.
When my Macbook Pro charger blew up, burnt the carpet and scared the cat, I walked into the Apple Glasgow store and within 5 minutes had a replacement charger in my hand - now that's the kind of service I want to see repeated, and exactly the goodwill that promotes customer loyalty to a brand..
However, that was about three years ago now and tomorrow i'll find out if standards have fallen or if i'll be pleasantly surprised.
Tune in next time and i'll give a fair appraisal of the in store treatment I receive.
The next part can be found here - "Apple Juiced!"
Amazon's Image Theft Problem - From My Own Experience
Again, I need to stress that I am not putting the boot into Amazon. Every online marketplace has its problem with criminal counterfeiters.
Also, apart from a couple of notable and frustrating exceptions, Amazon has been quick to pull down my designs when notified that they are being sold illegally, and not by the various Print On Demand (POD's) that I work with.
What I have realised through having to have so many hundreds of products taken down (mainly pillows and t-shirts - the crooks favourite items), is that certain patterns emerge. If i'm noticing them, then surely Amazon can get their computer coders to add a little algorithm to the code to stop this at source, to recognise straight away when something is a little bit 'fishy'.
I mean, it's not 'Rocket Science' as Spaceman Jezza details below in this 'cut out and keep' artwork for Amazon coders. It's also handy for consumers too.
These are the certain clues that i have experienced in having hundreds of products removed from the Amazon marketplace.
It's not a one size fits all set of clues, but, it's what i've come across so far in my own case.
Again, it's intended to help Amazon, as maybe they just don't realise how frustrating and time consuming it is for artists to have to spend days and weeks trying to get their own artwork removed from image thieves operating on the Amazon marketplace.
For the moment Amazon are on the 'naughty step', but i'll detail in future blog posts a couple of simple things Amazon could do to help their brand.
On a related note 'Spaceman Jezza' now has his own t-shirt on Zazzle!
When Amazon Gives Your Address To Criminal Gangs!
Below is info from Amazon's own online form, and email to me, detailing the information they will give to 'third party sellers' when you try to defend your copyright (click image to enlarge).
Now it might sound as if i'm being sensationalist about this, but it's known that most of the copyright infringements on Amazon are run by criminal gangs, rather than some fuzzy little grandma from her sewing room (see link below from the Interpol IP Conference).
Here's what actually happens -
1. I see my designs being sold illegally on the Amazon marketplace
2. I fill in an online form to let Amazon know that these are my designs and i request them to be taken down from the seller.
3. Amazon gives my email address to the 'third party seller'. (yup, these criminal gangs!)
Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But does Amazon give me the address etc of the criminal - hell no!
Love to know if anyone else has had experience of this - either contact me here, or leave a comment..
Here's a link to a speech by David M. Luna (Senior Director for National Security and Diplomacy Anti-Crime Programs, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) at an Interpol IP Crime Conference in September which shows how seriously the police take these criminal gangs and terrorist organisations operating online, and how it damages not just artists, but the country's economy too. http://m.state.gov/md262085.htm
I've asked Amazon why they need to give this information. I'll pop up their response when, if, I get one.
The Amazon Image Thieves Take Down Process - An Unexpected Twist!
So here's the deal.
I sat on Sunday and filled in the Amazon Take down form to try and get them to shift their backsides and take down my 'T-rex' character that has been posted onto 92 (at the moment - the number seems to fluctuate!) t-shirts - you know the kind of thing - a few different colours, and in all sizes, from kids, to adults, men and women - i'm only surprised they haven't popped it on a t-shirt for dogs, cats, budgerigars, or spiders yet!
If you think thats quite a lot of notices, then trust me, it isn't - it is in fact only 1 of 3 pages worth I had to submit, and that's just for that 1 design!
I've already had to submit take down notices for a few other different designs, as already explained here.
So far, all i've had is an automated response for each one - fab way to fill up an inbox, but necessary.
The funny thing about this take down process for t-rex, is that the seller on the form shows up as Amazon.com (New) (see pic).
I sent an email to the copyright office at Amazon to ask if that meant Amazon themselves were selling my image themselves...now that would take the biscuit.
Obviously I still haven't heard back.
Maybe it's time to give Amazon's press office in the UK a message.
Thanks for coming on the journey with me so far folks!
Today's been fun!
I set up my greenscreen to have a little 'dance' about in front of it to line up shots etc for the new video.
It's a video detailing what happens when you find your artwork has been stolen by 'Image Thieves' and put up for sale on T-shirts, pillows etc on the Amazon Marketplace. Some of which has been on sale for over a year! There's so much information to get through, that it may need to be split into a couple of videos. Depends how fast I talk..and trust me, with my Scottish accent, you don't want me talking too fast!
Don't get me wrong, I don't think Amazon are the font of all evil. I just think they need a kick up the backside to do what's right by independent artists.
For a global multi-billion dollar company, they could surely have better procedures in place for taking down stolen artwork. They should also have coding that recognises images going up onto their marketplace, bouncing back ones that have already been taken down.
I really do think it's time for Amazon to talk to artists about its 'Image Problem'. Trust me, we do have a knack at coming up with creative problem solving solutions, and you'll find we are always willing to talk.
In my next blog post i'll go into detail about what I think Amazon could do.
I'm off tomorrow filming, so if I don't see you over the weekend, have a fantastic one!.
T-rex Is Back In The Amazon Image Thieves Clutches!
I promised him...I mean, I really did. I looked into those teeny weeny T-rex eyes, and promised him that I would get him back to full size, now that I thought we had rescued him.
No one had been prepared for what came next, the speed of those 'Image Thieves' tentacles shooting into the middle of the group...THWACKKK!...T-rex's pillow spun upwards into the air.
SCHWIFFTT! Another tentacle had curled itself around little T-rex's wrist!
SPLIIIFFTT! Another around the other wrist!
FLIPPHHTT! One more pulling at his vest!
It all happened so fast. Those 'Image Thieves' polluting the Amazon marketplace. They seemed to be pulling T-rex in all directions at once...
"Help!" he shouted as he was jiggled, and piggled, and stretched. The more he yowled, the more my heart broke!
"I'm going to bu-r-s-t!!" he yelped, and just at that moment, Poooommphh! - he exploded into lots and lots of even teenier T-rex's.
Tentacles writhed together forming a cage, and before I knew it they had gathered all the little T-rex's and slithered off into the undergrowth.
"Oh T-rex", I thought to myself, "I will find you again buddy. I will not rest!"
It's a sad fact that there are 'Image Thieves' operating in the Amazon Marketplace.
What is absolutely vile however is the lack of help from Amazon when the rights owner of the design (that's me folks) tries to get the product taken down.
Amazon demands that you send a different form in for each time the seller/criminal lists a product with the design on it, and yes Amazon do know that these people are infringing copyright - so what does that make Amazon in turn - profiteering from stolen goods - Amazon still get their cut.
Am I, as the creator of the artwork, getting a bean from this - not at all...Amazon is though! Amazon will still be getting their seller fee for any counterfeit product sold.
So, what stage am I at now - well this one particular seller had listed the image on 2 t-shirts. I sent in two forms to Amazon to get the products taken down. To which the seller responded by putting the image on 93 other t-shirts! Seriously, they cover 5 whole pages!
That means sending in 93 forms to Amazon to get them taken down.
I emailed Amazon's copyright email address, and have been getting back messages of complete and utter indifference.
It's almost as if they are intentionally making it hard for copyright owners to get their work taken down.
Anyway, it's getting late at night now. I hope you enjoy the illustration and little storyline so far.
Got a few ideas rolling around my head on how to kick things up a gear. Don't want all my video, documentary skills going to waste now, do we.
Sleep tight guys, and don't be letting the Amazon marketplace 'Image Thieves' be giving you bad dreams!
Amazon's Image Theft Problem...The Story So Far!
Ah-harr me hearties, come with me, Davy Brodie, a Scottish Artist, Illustrator, And Film Maker, on a tale of corporate greed, and Image Thieves operating on the high seas of the Amazon marketplace.
It’s not for the lilly-livered! Along this journey you’ll find danger, thrills, and some damn funny illustrations. But beware - the tentacles of the ‘Image Thieves’ are wriggling around waiting to trap you at any moment!
'Tis the story of one plucky little guy facing off against a Global Multi Billion Dollar company, whose fine silky words about protecting the individual rights of artists, are far removed from the actions that they take.
Read on, ship-mates, and together we’ll defeat the ‘Image Thieves’ and force Amazon to take copyright seriously…or make them walk the plank!
Here follows the illustrated adventure so far (these will also be animated into a short film)
The lighthearted sketches highlight a serious subject of copyright theft, and of course, each time I have to report a copyright infringement on Amazon, it eats into the time I should be working on creating new products, developing new work.
I'm only too happy to meet with any journalists etc to speak more on this subject. You'll get a first hand experience of a Scottish storyteller, who's just not going to let a global multi-billion dollar company facilitate thieves to steal his original work.
As you'll see from my CV i've also made short films on social justice, environmental issues etc, and was also shortlisted for the Scottish Documentary Institute's 'Bridging The Gap' scheme.
So, join the adventure, let's sail on and make Amazon do the right thing!
I Can Still Roar!
Alfie had just stood up and dusted himself down, when out the corner of his eye he saw a pillow begin to move.
It zig-zagged away for about half a metre before Fox put his foot in its path to stop it..
"Rooaarrr!" squeaked a little voice.
"Pardon", said Fox,
"I said Rooaarr!"
"A talking pillow!", exclaimed Alfie!
"Don't be silly", I said, "Pillows can't talk, never mind roar!"
I turned over the pillow, and there, blinking up at us was the tiniest little T-rex you ever did see!
"T-rex! Oh buddy, what did the 'Image Thieves' do to you? You look so...so"
"Tiny!" squeaked T-rex. "They shrinkified me!"
"Oh no", said Alfie.
T-rex shrilled, "Not only that, but they piximillated me..i'm..blurrificated!" his head lowered, "What shall I ever do? You know me, I love to work out to be big and strong! Isn't it me that always says 'Good News It's Leg Day!'?"
"Don't worry T-rex", I said. "We'll find a way of getting you back to full size, I promise!"
Fox piped up, "You can snuggle down in my bobble hat on our journey home!"
Alfie added, "You know T-rex, it doesn't matter what size you are, it's how big your heart is that counts!"
What T-rex meant by 'shrinkified', 'piximillated', and 'blurrificated' is that, yet again, the 'Image Thieves' had stolen one little 72pixel per inch picture from my Zazzle store, so when they tried to enlarge his image to full size for selling on Amazon, then the image would go all blurry..there would not be enough information in the file! Of course the customer would only see a small image on the Amazon site, so they wouldn't know the image would turn out so poorly when made.
If you'd like to see T-rex in all his majestic glory, then click on the buttons below - and when you get to the page he's on..give him a little roar to show him your support!
Thanks for joining us on our little adventure..hopefully only a couple more friends to rescue before we can return home to put our feet up and drink hot chocolate!
None of us had noticed the 'Image Thieves' tentacles wrapping around the branch.
Fox had just previously tip-toed towards the nest in which Alfie had been held captive.
"I'll get you out Alfie", he said calmly, "I've a good sense of bal.."
The branch shook ferociously. Fox finished his sentence as we all went tumbling downwards towards the gound.
We had landed on a huge pile of pillows!
At first we were thankful of the soft landing, and then I started noticing the designs - they were all mine! My 'T-rex loves Tickles', my 'World's Best Teacher', even the one with little Fox on his rollerskates!
We were grateful of the soft landing, but why, you may ask, were there so many pillows lying there in the Amazon place?
Well, if truth be told, it's because many times, customers had ordered, paid for, and waited expectantly for their pillows to arrive...not noticing that they were shipping from China. Weeks would pass, but a lot of the time the pillows still would not come.
Those poor customers parting with money, but getting nothing in return to show for it.
Sometimes the pillows would eventually arrive, but again the fabric would look nothing like in the picture the 'Image Thieves' had stolen. No vibrancy of the original file, and again, with them only getting a 72 pixels per inch picture from the internet instead of 300 pixels - well the pillows were a huge disappointment.
Of course they could return those pillows - but...to China? How much would that cost in shipping fees?
No, no, no...I couldn't let those pillows remain in the clutches of those Image Thieves' operating on Amazon. I would endeavour to get them all taken off the site.
If you'd like to buy a plumpy, comfy, plush, vibrantly coloured cushion, then please order through the store links on my little shop page. That way I'll be able to afford to keep designing, and the 'Image Thieves' will just have to sit scratching their heads with their tentacles and wonder how we, together, have confounded them!
Thank you for journeying with us on our adventure so far.
See you in the next episode!
Little Alfie Shocked To The Core!
It had been two hours since i had managed to break the chain that was holding Fox to the boulder.
From the shoreline we had spotted a forest of trees. Maybe some more of our little friends would be sheltering within. We had to take the chance. Onwards we journeyed, not knowing what we would find!
I could see some spaces in the undergrowth where artists images had been, and were then removed. It gave me hope that all my little pals could be freed from the clutches of the 'Image Thieves' operating in the Amazon place.
It was Fox who heard the call first.
We peered upwards, trying to see through all the leaves and branches.
Even with Fox's good eyesight we couldn't make out who was calling.
"Who's there?" we shouted.
"Me!" they hollered back.
"Me who?" fox giggled, albeit nervously.
"I..I..don't know...th-they've took my name away!"
Fox and I were silent for a moment.
In the quiet we heard a little sob.
"We can't see you!" Fox yelped.
"I'm in the nest..they p-put me here, and I can't get down!"
"Don't worry, we're coming!" Fox and I shouted together.
It was fox who had started climbing first. Even with his sore arm from the chains, he still managed to climb faster than me.
As I clambered out onto a sturdy branch, I saw for the first time who it was...sitting there in the 'Image Thieves' nest was a little boy holding the biggest, reddest, juiciest apple you ever did see.
Before I could even say hello, the little chap asked,
"Wh-who am I?"
I gulped with emotion as the words choked in my throat.
"Alfie", I said. "Your name is Alfie!"
You see, dear readers, when the 'Image Thieves' stole Alfie and his apple from my Zazzle store, they knew that his design could no longer be personalised. Amazon doesn't have that function yet. He can only be personalised in my Zazzle store or in my CafePress store.
Usually Alfie is given to teachers as a little present, and it's always fun to personalise the gift with the teacher's name. Alfie loves sitting in a classroom, whether it's on a tote bag, a teachers t-shirt, or a chalkboard alphabet cushion - he feels as if he's really getting a fantastic education when he's there too!
You can see him in action by pressing either of the buttons below (the page will open in a new window).
Thank you for following us on our adventure so far. Here's hoping we can free some more of our friends tomorrow!
Welcome fellow creative!
I'm Davy Brodie, and art is my passion. I live a creative life, through art, photography and film, and I really believe the act of creating something new everyday truly enriches our lives!