Category Archives: Views

and opinions…

Cattle Call

The National Western Stock Show is in town here in Denver, so I deem these observations quite relevant.

People really, really like to complain about airplanes, boarding planes, airplane seats, the TSA, the staff on those planes and everything else having to do with air travel.

One regular comment that appears regularly after airport and airlines articles reads something like “well soon everyone will be going through security naked.” Removing your belt and shoes doesn’t not make you naked, not even in Amish country. Plus the new full body scanners already have that covered. (And no, some rogue TSA agent is never going to download your body scan and put it on hotdesmoinesladytravelers.blogspot.com)

A second frequent comment is “Well I stopped flying – it’s easier just to drive everywhere.” This is excellent advice provided you don’t live out west, are retired or have days upon days of free time, and have no interest in ever leaving the country save for Canada.

Another regular term thrown around alludes to boarding an aircraft being akin to a “cattle call.”

CNN featured a piece today titled “Misery of Flying Reaches New Heights,” certain to spur hundreds of personal anecdotes in the comments containing the above examples. Bruce Selcraig recently penned an enjoyable article about Spain’s new AVE train. However this sentence made me roll my eyes and wonder why this hyperbole filled out of place line even needed to be included.

How do you put a price on being able to avoid the dehumanizing security lines at airports, the cattle-like boarding process, the fetal-position seating and the anxiety, for many, of takeoffs and landings?

Oh please. I don’t know when “cattle call” started being used to decribe walking onto to a plane. I think it was a jab at Southwest’s original boarding process and the stress associated with scrambling to find a good seat. But now everyone from top notch writers to part time bloggers can’t stop saying “Boarding an aircraft is such a cattle call.

This makes me wonder: How was it done BEFORE everyone decided flying sucks? Back in the 70s did people not LINE UP to get on a plane? Was there zero crowding? Did people not occasionally bump into each other as one stopped at their seat to put their bag overhead? Was there four feet of aisle space in those old 747s with pianos and cocktail bars?

United, which I fly the most often, boards in groups. Rarely is there a line of more than 15-20 deep in the jetway. Southwest boards in small batches depending on your priority number. This past Saturday afternoon I boarded a plane in Tampa, and the gate agents opened up the REAR door, in addition to the jetway, allowing rear seated passengers to walk up the stairs if they chose – thus speeding up the process significantly.

All of these were exactly what I’d expect when moving a large group from one area through a door to a smaller area.

I have witnessed two real life cattle calls. One was while driving through Western Nebraska on I-80. I was approaching a small county road overpass and saw 150-200 cows or steer being funneled over the bridge from one side of a farm or ranch to the other. The other was at a friend’s family farm in Nebraska, when I helped move about 10 cows from a barn to the pasture. We simply got behind them and and gently corraled them towards the gate while raising our hands and slowly saying “Whoooo Mooooove oooo.”

The process for both was quite dignified. For the animals at least.

The fact that in post 9/11 life airport gates aren’t cluttered with meeters and greeters makes it even less accurate of a term. Do people complain about being in a cattle call after a football game ends and thousands amble en masse through the the exits? Do people write complaint comments about crowds at Macy’s the weekend before Christmas? Those examples are far more of a human crush than boarding or exiting an aircraft with 150 other people.

I enjoy flying. I like airports, design, and infrastructure. I also like being able to fall asleep on one continent and wake up on another. There are negative things to be said about flying. Fees for one, and the TSA’s demented antics and lack of continuity is always a puzzle. But the term “cattle call”, and its overuse is just dumb, and deserves to be retired.

Photo credit by me – somewhere south of Castle Rock.

Travelocity Follow Up

Last week I documented my experience getting “stuck” after purchasing a package from Travelocity.

In short:  My airline ticket name was incorrectly entered by an agent.  The agent could not correct the name, OR refund the $1,300 price. He only offered to “exchange” it for another package. I requested a far cheaper $65 hotel “package” to get rid of the $1,300 on my card.

Read entire post here.

Joel Frey from Travelocity read my story and commented promising follow up. This week he refunded the $65 “hotel package,” (the substitute I didn’t really want,) and also sent a $100 credit towards future use on Travelocity.

In his email to me he noted my frustration and apologized. I sensed some ambiguity over whether myself or the agent entered my name, so in my thank you email back I included the following:

I do want to clarify: The name was improperly entered by the AGENT, not by me. Because my original package was declined I had called back and accepted a higher price. The package was cancelled and reprocessed over the phone, not by me on the website.

I’ve entered my name on hundreds of web forms and have never once misinterpreted or incorrectly entered my own name in the “first name” and “last name” fields.

I’m very big on personal responsibility, and I read many travel complaints involving customer caused screw-ups and wonder how people can accept tickets and packages without reviewing the clearly printed summary and details that they selected, but in this case the error, (and lack of correction,) was on the agent side.

Joel also wrote that they will use this as additional training with agents so that names are processed correctly, especially given airlines’ strict policies. Hopefully phone agents can be more empowered to assist others who find themselves in the same situation.

My thanks for the quick response and outreach. I have a weekend in New York City coming up, so perhaps I’ll use the credit to make a dent in a hotel price – and hopefully have an better Travelocity story upon return.

Related: Travelocity Last Minute Packages

Travelocity Last Minute Packages

I refrain from writing too many negative reviews.  In my opinion most consumer complaint posts tend to read the same and ramble on about tiny details – this one included despite repeated editing.  But when a large and well known company’s process borders on fraud, it’s an issue that can be detrimental to the wallets of other consumers and put their hard earned vacations in jeopardy. I think that’s worth documenting and sharing.

Summary:  Travelocity incorrectly booked my name on an airline ticket.  They would not correct the error OR refund the money.  I should have known better, but found a interesting loophole.

When I book travel I always start with a broad search on Kayak.com, which searches multiple airlines. After selecting Kayak then gives you a list of providers, for example Orbtiz, Priceline or the airline directly.  I always, always recommend booking directly through the airline. Anytime you involve a third party, especially a large inaccessible company acting as a “travel agent,” it only creates a wall between you and your purchase. There’s ZERO advantage to buying through “CheapoAir” or similar if you can find the fare on the airline’s website. If you’re booking an eight person trekking tour to Asia a knowledgeable travel agent would be prudent, but flying yourself from A to B rarely requires professional assistance.

Earlier this year I found flights to Mexico on Orbitz, (via Kayak,) which bundled a United flight with Aeromexico for a rate cheaper than a single airline. All went smooth, and I thought I might find something similar  with a hotel. I was wanting to travel somewhere over Christmas and had been tinkering with Travelocity’s “Last Minute Packages” for a few weeks. I’d find one I liked, for example two people to Montreal with flight/hotel for $700, and after selecting it then the following page informs me, “Sorry, our packages sell so fast yours isn’t available – but here’s the same thing for $1,000.” Screw that I thought. Try it for yourself on their site:

I should have heeded that warning, but I kept searching packages until I found Puerto Vallarta for three nights, flights and hotel for $995 over Christmas weekend. That was a very good price for two people over Christmas just eight days out. Having been to Puerto Vallarta before I knew the hotel offered in the old town was decent. I was happily surprised when I arrived at the booking page with no increase in price. (As if that’s something for Travelocity to be proud of.) I entered my details and credit card information.

An hour later my confirmation email had not arrived, so I called the special “Last Minute Package” number: 800-255-1068. I was connected to an international call center and a nice gentleman explained to me that the airline could not provide the fare I had just purchased. I begrudgingly listened to his recalculation, which brought the price to $1,300.  I should have simply declined, but I was excited about going, sick of searching online, and $1,300 while not a great deal anymore was still acceptable to me. (Though the practice of arriving at that price was deplorable and I should immediately ceased all contact with Travelocity.)

This time I received my confirmation email providing the flight info and hotel confirmations. I hopped on the US Airways site to double check, and found my first name was listed as “JamesVan,” and “Dellen” as the last. This was due to the agent re-processing the package himself via phone, rather than me via the web. Wanting to mitigate any problems, especially traveling internationally, I called US Airways the next day to fix it. They said Travelocity must to change the name.   I called Travelocity, who said there was no way to change a name without booking a new package, (for a higher price.) I asked for a supervisor, and spoke to Valentino who confirmed the only thing they could do was “Cancel and Refund.”

The next day I searched flights on Kayak and a few airline websites and realized now, (a day later,) I could purchase flights for now under $1,000.  A quick call found my favorite condo in Puerto Vallarta was available, which I preferred over Travelocity’s hotel. My outbound flight was non-stop, so I booked flights and the condo on my own.

I called back Travelocity requesting Valentino in order to cancel. Valentino told me that “Cancel and Refund” did not apply, but my money could only be applied to a FUTURE package. I told him “You just said I could CANCEL, because I don’t care to fly with an incorrect name and nobody will fix it.” “Yes” he replied, “Cancel and apply to a new package.”

I became irritated, but Valentino stuck to his script and repeated the same points. Stalling a bit while considering my options I started Googling Travelocity and found head of customer relations Christine Bullock.  I could take my problem to P.R., who might eventually issue a refund if badgered with my emails, calls and a blog story like this. Or I could dispute it with my credit card. Being a busy time of year though I wanted NO extra work and simply wanted to be done with it as quickly as possible. And I wanted the $1,300 hold off my card.

I then had light bulb moment and asked Valentino, “If I book a cheaper package is the difference refunded?” He confirmed is was, so I said, “I’d like a package to Colorado Springs.” He asked if I’d need flights, car and hotel, to which I replied, “Hmm, just hotel I think.” He found a Days Inn for $75 and offered to change it.

I laughed out loud. I couldn’t tell if bureaucratic Valentino, simply following the directives of his job, realized how completely asinine that concept was. Travelocity will not REFUND a package of $1,300 but they can EXCHANGE a package for a fraction of the price. If I bought a hotel for $75, which I won’t even use, I could just call it a “stupidity fee” on my part and eat the loss.

I then remembered I have an early morning flight out of Chicago this January, which means leaving my family’s house in Michigan in the middle of the night, or staying at a friend’s place or motel in Chicago the night before. I asked Valentino to check hotel “packages” to Chicago O’Hare vicinity, and he found one all in for $65.  

$1,300 to $65, and it’s something I can use.  Boggling.

While still annoyed, this was an easy solution to my “refund.” I’m still shaking my head at the logic of that loophole. It was a solution I happened to think of on the spot, but what about other people who have butchered packages and are offered no assistance?

I probably could have flown US Airways with my name jumbled up on the ticket, but I didn’t want to. Travelocity’s response to THEIR mistake was to “Too bad, you can only cancel with no refund.” When a traveler says “I do NOT want to fly under an incorrect name” a complete cancellation and refund should be offered if unable to correct. Period. Someone less astute might not think to change their package to my “$65 O’Hare Special” and would be stuck with $1,300 held in the Travelocity bank.

I would love to hear a response from Travelocity. I don’t even care why it’s acceptable to “sell” a package then make the customer call in to find the price is higher. I’m sure there are pages of legal for that. (And in my case I even accepted the higher package price.)  I’d like to know why no assistance is given after information is entered INCORRECTLY by Travelocity. All I wanted was my name corrected. Had that been done promptly I would still be traveling under my original Travelocity package.

I don’t know whether to congratulate myself for thinking of that idea or to kick myself for letting it get to that point.  I’m tempted to just dispute the $65 charge and forget the hotel too.  After reading Travelocity’s guarantee above it’s clear that the terms of agreement were not met:

“Everything about your booking will be right, or we’ll work to make it right.”

Using this article as documentation I’m certain my credit card company would agree. 

A lesson to everyone including myself in this case: If you don’t like the way a company does business, DO NOT give them your business. Hopefully this post will inform and educate others.   In the end I had a great Christmas weekend in Puerto Vallarta, put together on my own.   I’m curious how others would have handled Travelocity’s response.

A Travelocity reponse, (including a $65 refund for the Chicago hotel I don’t want,) would be welcome.

How Northwest 253 Affects You

Does anyone remember that BEFORE the Christmas Day incident of Northwest 253 people were told not to congregate in any one area of a plane?

Now that people are told they have to be seated for the final hour, (of a two or three hour flight,) there’s suddenly no problem with 20 people lining up like kindergartners to pee and freshen up. I say kindergartners because on this flight, (inbound from Mexico,) the FAs actually encouraged us to “make things go quickly,” – as there was still a line down to the exit rows approaching the one hour cutoff. Lucky me in the back row…

The fact that four days ago it was BAD for everybody to be up milling about the cabin, but NOW it’s ok provided it ceases 60 minutes prior to touchdown – it just shows how REACTIVE the entire process is… And the people that stopped the potential attack, the PASSENGERS, are the ones being treated like children.

Similar to other flights we were also told not to retrieve items from the seat back or engage in any entertainment other than books, and that our hands may not be covered with clothes or a blanket.

Plot may have been foiled, but the knee jerk reactions creating nonsense and inconvenience are astounding.

Mass Rep Ed Markey’s Travel Protection

I found this article buried in the weekend news, and I’m unable to find much more on this obscure proposed bill.  Even though I doubt anything will come of it I still find interesting and somewhat bizarre.

Massachusett’s representative Ed Markey is proposing a bill to establish the “International Travelers Bill of Rights Act,” which would require travel companies to provide State Department warnings and related info on their websites. I assume this would include airline websites, in addition to big names like Orbitz and Expedia.

I am against it:

1. The state department already provides travel warnings, which are easily accessible to anyone. Those that book travel of any kind are adults, and thus capable of doing the necessary research on their destination. The government doesn’t need to hold their hand, or meddle into how companies handle a simple task like booking a hotel or flight beyond our borders.

2. Travel sites are already cluttered enough; littered with agreements to accept, ancillary promotions, and page after page of offers to accept or decline. This is in addition to the required process of making your reservation. I don’t want more pages to muddle through, simply to book a ticket from A to B.

3. This bill would make the U.S. appear even more of a nanny state paralyzed with fear. We’re supposed to be getting over that.

Reading the below bullet points it would seem HR 3099′s list of requirements are geared towards hotels and resorts, but that’s not specified.  Below are some general points, but they’re ambiguous and lack any sort of context.  I’m sure Costa Rica has a nurse or defibrillator SOMEWHERE in the country, but specifics aren’t found:

-State Department travel warnings and travel alerts
-Whether the destination employs a physician or a nurse
-Whether the destination has an automated external defibrillator and employs personnel trained in its use
-Whether the destination employs personnel trained in CPR
-Whether the destination employs a lifeguard, if there are swimming areas

Again, what is this referring too? Is Priceline required to know if EVERY hotel they partner with outside of the U.S. meets these factors?

If Markey is concerned about our U.S. citizens lacking the ability to research their destination in advance, then why not also include domestic information as well? Perhaps those traveling to Chicago from Boise should know about the recent uptick in crime. Why is it necessary to provide pages of “warnings” for Uruguay, but not Gary, Indiana?

Lastly, why does this only apply to the internet? Why shouldn’t a local company like “Dottie’s Travel Bee” be obligated to give the same info? Answer: It’s unenforceable, so why bother.

It’s unneeded, intrusive, and insulting to basic intelligence.

If Ed Markey or his crew reads this I would love further details. Perhaps he himself had a bad travel experience which is what brought this on. Fortunately I suspect we won’t be hearing much more of it.

From the Victora TX Advocate:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey has announced legislation intended to force Web sites that sell international travel to Americans to offer information about the health and safety conditions at their destinations.

Markey says the International Travelers Bill of Rights Act would keep Americans informed before they book a trip online.

The Democrat is a senior member of the House energy and commerce committee, which has jurisdiction over consumer protection. The required information would include State Department travel warnings and alerts, whether the destination employs a physician or a nurse and whether it has an automated external defibrillator and employs a person trained to use it.

Photo: Grace McCarthy/Webshots.

Related: Extreme Eating in the Nanny State
NYC to Ban iPods.

by James Van Dellen . Denver

Newspapers are Dying

The plummet of newspaper sales and readers isn’t news, but I’m not sure if the front page of today’s Denver Post is the REASON for their demise, or a finally hail mary hand reaching out of the quicksand hoping somebody will latch on as their head slips lower and lower under the muck.

Read for yourself Douglas Brown’s compelling local piece on sexy 40somethings and the younger generation they chase:  “Cougers on the Prowl

A comment by “Mike 8″ pretty much sums up my thoughts…

Front page news? Are you kidding me? No wonder the Post’s circulation is dropping like a stone. As to the “human interest story” that somehow pushed a Supreme Court nomination and the demise of the US auto industry off the front page, well, just another blow for feminism, eh? Rah, rah, raw. Sheesh. Mike

I also noticed that the “news ticker” is something about lottery doings in Aurora.

Dispatch from Mexico: A Local’s View on Swine Flu and the Media

In March I visited Puerto Vallarta for a few days.  My friends stayed at the Hotel Mercurio, a small hotel in the heart Puerto Vallarta’s old town.   I stayed at a nearby condo because I wanted a kitchen, but since I exchanged a few emails with the Mercurio I wound up on their email list.  Although I didn’t stay there I enjoyed their pool/bar with friends.

I received this email today from manager Paul Christ.  I’m posting his correspondence below because I think it’s important to hear an alternative to the mainstream barrage of pig flu “news.”    The non-stop coverage may have fallen since last week, but unfortunately the economic damage has been crushing.   There are thousands of people like Paul who own businesses or rely on tourism dollars, a great percentage of it from Americans.

Whether or not you agree with the technical aspects of his note I think it’s very well worded and worth reading.  He also references this biting editorial from Alternet, which provides some less heard opinions too.

In light of the current international fixation on the spread of the Type A virus, H1N1, I have decided that it is time to communicate a few facts to friends of Hotel Mercurio. We have, like all hotels and businesses in Puerto Vallarta, been hit with a rash of cancellations in the past week. New reservations are almost non-existent. The situation is dire. We are struggling to avoid layoffs. If you’ve stayed with us, you know that our employees are a family, and we are responsible for their well being. And while we understand the abundance of caution, it is also important to us that you know the real situation regarding the flu in Puerto Vallarta.

Just as the U.S. media has done with regard to border area violence, they have painted Mexico with one broad brush. It seems incredible to those of us in Mexico that the U.S. seems so oblivious to the immense size and diversity of Mexico. All the major TV media outlets depict Mexico as a uniformly dangerous, violent place, source of illegal and undesirable immigrants, and which is now “plagued by contagious disease.”   The fact is, most of Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, is peaceful, safe, and healthy. The violence is over 1,000 mile away. Puerto Vallarta has a lower crime rate than MANY U.S. cities…perhaps even yours! The nearest case of H1N1 virus is some 600 miles away.

To CNN and other 24/7 news outlets, we say this: Please check your map. Mexico is somewhat larger than Rhode Island, and Mexicans resent being depicted generally as gangsters, victims, or dying of illness.  U.S. media treatment of Mexico is neither accurate nor fair.
So, here are some facts.

There have been no confirmed or even suspected cases of H1N1 flu in Puerto Vallarta. In fact, there have been no cases in the state of Jalisco (which includes Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico), where Vallarta is located. If you live in a U.S. state or city where H1N1 has been confirmed, you are more at risk of contracting the virus at your local grocery store than you are in Puerto Vallarta. But even going to your grocery store, your major risk would be an auto accident on the way… not catching a case of the Swine Flu.

The Secretary of Health for Mexico has announced that the number of cases in Mexico generally, is beginning to decline. This is in keeping with epidemiological models that predict the rise and decline of contagions based on a number of factors such as the season, general health of a population, population density, etc. Thus, it’s no surprise that this is turning out to be much less of an “event” than the U.S. media has made it out to be during the past week.

There is, to date, no scientific evidence that the behavior of this particular strain of flu is any different from normal, seasonal flu virus. It seems no more contagious, and does not seem to have a higher mortality rate than normal, seasonal flu (which may kill over 30,000 people per year, but this doesn’t make the news!).

All the aforementioned being said, the response of the Mexican government has been both rapid, and admirable. Not because there was any certainty that this could become a vast and deadly pandemic, but out of an abundance of caution. The most recent indications are that, in Mexico, the worst is over, and it wasn’t nearly the big deal that the media made it out to be. Bars and clubs that were ordered closed in Puerto Vallarta are re-opening today. Schools will be opening this week. It is time to get back to normal (because, in fact, nothing abnormal has occurred).

Most of the public does not understand the scientific community’s use of the term “pandemic.” It does not refer to the deadliness of an outbreak of illness. It means merely that the outbreak is spread across multiple countries, and is spread from human to human, thus has the potential for many cases to develop. The fact is, we have a number of pandemics of flu every flu season, but it doesn’t become the #1 item on CNN round the clock for weeks on end.

The airlines are not refunding, but are allowing re-scheduling. We feel no obligation to offer more than the airlines are offering. This is particularly the case given the utterly unfounded fears that have become rampant this past week. This situation is not YOUR fault, but it isn’t OUR fault, either. If anyone might be blamed, it seems the MEDIA is responsible here.

So, if you have vacation plans for Puerto Vallarta, we simply ask you to look beyond the hype, and come to enjoy our beaches, our friendly people, our vibrant nightlife, our endless variety of gastronomic delights, and the natural beauty of our area.

We’re here to serve you, and look forward to your visit!
Paul Crist and the entire team at Hotel Mercurio

Hey More Phone Books

Thanks DEX. Today must be my lucky day.  FOUR crisp new phone books delivered to my doorstep.

So in addition to documenting the absurd quantity of waste and trash the Yellow Pages creates, I took my own little unscientific sampling the morning after the big dump.  

I live in a nine unit townhome complex.  My neighbors are mostly 30s and 40s professionals like myself, which a few older folks retired or approaching retirement, plus a few guys in their 20s renting a unit.  One of whom seems to think my flower pot is an ashtray.

Before going to work I did some scouting:

Three phone book packages were in the recycle bin, including mine thrown in just after I took this photo. 

One bag was in the dumper. 

Three were still on the doorsteps.  (One unit is vacant, so that counts as trash.)

Two must have been brought inside, because I didn’t see them out back or on the steps.

So assuming the two remaining bundles will be picked up and brought inside (like an unwanted baby at a fire station,) that still is only FOUR out of NINE homes will bring the phone book inside.  A meager 40 percent!  And I’m erring that the two remaining bundles on the doorsteps will even be brought inside. 

Over in Albany they’re consideration legislation to ban the distribution of phone books on public property, or leaving bundles of them in building lobbies and such.

Hung up on how many phone books you receive?

A hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Albany City Hall on a proposed law regulating phone-book distribution. The law proposed by Common Council member Joseph Igoe would require the books to have a toll-free number on the cover for opting out, which would mean no book delivered to your address for a year. It also would bar dropping the books on public property, in rights of way or at vacant buildings.

With all the economic turmoil and what not what business is it of a local government and stomp on private business?  Number one phone book crusader Ed Kohler and his readers agree explain multiple times that when a business fails to be a responsible member of a community, or more to the point makes its business by littering and heaving trash all over a city, that leaves little choice but for a local government to step in.

Good for Albany.  Hopefully more towns will follow suit!  When it comes time for a Denver city council meeting I’ll have every one of my blog posts, (with photos,) in hand.

Phone Book Legislation?

Maybe… Today The Consumerist featured Ed Kohler, one of my favorite bloggers. He writes “The Deets,” a Minneapolis based blog featuring local news and issues. He’s covered the phone book battle more than anyone else I’ve read, and deserves the recognition for taking to task the issues of waste and unwanted deliveries.

Also featured in this article is a story by Minneapolis TV station KARE – about, get this – possible state legislation to reduce deliveries by the masses of publishing companies, and treat unwanted deliveries as they should treated: As trash.

If I throw something on your lawn, it is called littering. If the phone company does it, it’s called marketing.

Related posts:

The Life of a Phone Book
I Am a Termite
Phone Books, Blogs, and New Media
Dear Phone Book Publisher
More on Phone Books
Phone Book Follow Up
More Phone Book Pontification

The Life of a Phone Book

Remember last week when I saw this truck piled high with the yellow pages? – and lamented yet another dumping of these wasteful dinosaurs?

I’m sure my regular readers are sick of weekly posts bitching about phone books, so here’s something more exciting: Another installment of Future Gringo TV. Many of my favorite bloggers are now making videos: Vinny at Insignificant Thoughts produces short commentaries voicing his opinions on culture and politics. The beautiful diabetes blogger Kerri at SixUntilMe.com is video blogging from her car. (Don’t worry she’s not living in it.) The only videos I’ve posted are of me sniffling in the chilly weather while biking around Amsterdam.

So here’s my latest short film: La Vida de Las Páginas Amarillas. (It sounds more important if its foreign.)

Although the quality is far less superior than the above bloggers, and the onset of darkness at 4pm virtually blacks out the climax, (the heaving into the recycle bin,) it still carries a strong message: Prompting advertisers to realize that many of these phone books are simply unwanted, considered unnecessary by a large demographic, and go unused.

I may recut this tomorrow afternoon, but only after hiring a professional light crew and sound person. In the meantime visit these related posts for info on opting out and reducing this wastefulness.

I Am a Termite
Phone Books, Blogs, and New Media
Dear Phone Book Publisher
More on Phone Books
Phone Book Follow Up
More Phone Book Pontification