In Conversation with… Sabian Wilde

Marketing Lecturer. Writer. Music Bod. Claims to have coined 'Perthonality'

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Virgin Blue will have to fight Dymocks for the goat-blowing deal…

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Dedicated readers may remember that I was stuck in Adelaide recently when my friendly Virgin Blue pilot noticed there was a crack in the windscreen on my Melbourne-Perth flight…

The Adelaide grounding was supposed to be about an hour, ended up taking 4-6  from memory, which felt like much longer as delays always do, especially when doled out in hollow, friendly increments.

By way of apology, Virgin provided free in-flight entertainment on the Adelaide-Perth leg of the journey, although satellite reception is intermittent over chunks of the Bight, the desert and the ocean…

Additionally, we were provided with $510 credit. Sweet.

Yesterday, I tried to book a flight with this credit.

Ironically, I’m going to Adelaide.

Nowhere in the online booking process could I find an option for using the credit code to pay for the flights, so today I called the call centre to make my booking.

Sure I can use the credit, but I have to do it over the phone — “for security purposes”.  WTF?

In other words, the security of the online booking process is good enough for their customers, unless of course they’re trying to spend Virgin’s money.

Then I’m told that telephone bookings incur a $15 surcharge… despite the fact that I can’t make this booking online. I grumble, but continue…

You may be surprised to learn that I don’t want to stay in Adelaide, so I’m booking a return flight.

Or at least, they call it a return flight: They slug me the $15 surcharge on each flight…

Am I annoyed?  Well, hell yes.

It’s not about the money — these days, $30 is two pack of cigarettes if you forget to buy them at the cheap places…

It’s about poor customer service — by not allowing me to access the ‘credit’ online, I’m forced to use the phone, incurring a surcharge for my booking. Yes, call centres cost money — but hitting me with the surcharge twice for making one phonecall is just a bullshit policy that creates a negative perception about the ‘service provider’.

And let’s not forget that the only reason I’m in this situation is because Virgin Blue, the service provider, has already fucked up.


It is always better to provide ‘credit’ over a ‘refund’ — It assists in the management of cashflow and it gives the disgruntled customer the perception that you care about them and will ‘make good’. What it really does is force the customer to use your service again…

If you are serious about ‘making good’ on your errors, make sure that the experience of claiming the credit is a positive one. This does not mean instructing your receptionist to wish me ‘a really excellent day’ at the end of a conversation in which it is blatantly apparent that I am pissed off.

Make the experience simple and convenient for the customer, capitalise on the  goodwill you created when you offered to make restitution in the first place.



Written by Xab

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm

IN CONVERSATION WITH… Sea Shepherd (a pirate fantasy shanty)

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Before I get started… I just want to say that I wish nothing but the best for the whales…

I hope some of you will remember – or at least appreciate the merit of – the graffiti that stood proud on Carrington St for what feels like most of the ’80s, near the corner of Leach Hwy (Fremantle, Western Australia), sending a message that made it clear that even ramming Japanese whaling ships doesn’t absolve us of our domestic concerns and our great failing, as a nation, to secure “Land Rights For Gay Whales”.

I also want to say that I wish nothing but the best for my friend and former housemate who is actually on board the ‘Steve Irwin’ trying to do her bit for nature. It’s just that I don’t believe that the Captain isn’t a lying, self-aggrandising media whore who will stop at nothing to promote himself, and (to be fair) the cause… sorry, I meant his cause. Having said that, if she’d answered my questions instead of asking for the chords to Black Boys On Mopeds, maybe I would have left this topic alone… maybe.

Old pic of Capn Watson, but great gravitas

Old pic of Cap'n Watson, but great gravitas

And on with the shanty!


A pirate’s life is dangerous, I suppose you know that’s true
And saving whales is piracy; I saw it on YouTube
This shepherd doesn’t tend his flock, he’s out there chasing wolves
The scientific whaling ship they call Nisshin Maru

The captain is a sturdy man, Paul Watson is his name
A co-founder of Greenpeace; Direct action is his game
While certainly his aims are Green, he’s not that good at Peace
But last year he complained he got shot by the Japanese

With a bullet unlike any that the world had seen before
It was fired from concealment
By a sniper unconcerned by physic’s laws
He took sights on his target while his boat pitched in the waves
His target’s boat was pitching too, but he had perfect aim

A perfect shot in a perfect storm,
And but for the kevlar that Watson wore,

And the unaccountable way in which the bullet appears to have slowed down in mid-flight to about the speed of a small caliber hand-gun, while maintaining — with perfect accuracy — it’s trajectory to Watson’s heart, before embedding itself in his bulletproof vest, coincidentally rated to stop a bullet from a small caliber hand-gun, but not a sniper’s rifle… ummm… where was I?

Oh… yes… the shanty.

A pirate’s ship is dangerous, the way it rocks and rolls, but
Conspiracies are confounded by the lack of grassy knolls.
A documentary crew was there, but they shot nothing like Zapruder
Missing both the shooting, and of course, the shooter.

(which really only goes to prove how skilled he was)

There’s no moral to this story; it’s a question of belief
If a pirate saves a whale is he a man of integrity and good deeds?
A man of Justice, a man who says, “Yes! Trust Us!
“Our ends always justify our means.”

Or is he a liar, a wanna-be martyr of the high seas?


Check this out.

Virgins don’t get you all the way there.

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You may have noticed a news item on Saturday about a Virgin flight (Melbourne-Perth) that was forced to land in Adelaide due to a crack in the windscreen.

I tell ya, it’s surreal watching a news item about a faulty plane when you’re watching the in-flight news (Sky news, ha ha) at 30,000ft inside the plane that’s on the news.

My cheerful cries of , “We’re all going to die!” — a reference to Dogs In Space — were not appreciated by my wife. After I calmed her down, she said, “I’m glad that you’re here.”

I’m not sure if that was due to the fact that I am such a great help at comforting her or because she thinks it’s just and right that if her plane falls out of the sky, I should die too.

I have now been to Adelaide twice. Both times, it has been because my mode of transport (train and plane) broke down, forcing me to stay. I’m sure that it is otherwise a lovely place.

I’d also like to thank the Virgin staff who were sharing our fate, who handled the entire situation with aplomb.


Written by Xab

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 10:53 am

Posted in Travel

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We’d been in Bangkok for all of fifteen minutes, took a taxi from the airport
Screaming down the freeway, at one hundred and thirty kay
And the lines that made the lanes up didn’t seem to mean that much that day

My wife leans over, takes my hand and asks me, if I am afraid..
Yes I am, but no I won’t, ask the driver to slow down
I’ve got a feeling he won’t kill us just as long as we can let him CONCENTRATE

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Let someone drive, who doesn’t care if you live or die…
Why don’t you let a Thai drive…

High on our list of things to do was seeing tigers outside of a zoo
A Buddhist monk teased tiger cubs as wild pigs ran through the underbrush
The guides claimed it was safe enough to give the bigger tigers belly rubs

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Why don’t you try lying down with a big feline
Pat a man-eating feline

Our bus ride didn’t go to well, right through the night, perhaps through hell
And then a ferry to Koh Tao, it’s paradise, but before we can settle down
We’re given homework in the hope that we might learn how not to drown

We’re going to learn to dive, a husband/wife team tryin’ to stay alive
All it takes is complete trust, communication and other stuff
You’d think a marriage was made of, well here’s a way to see if it’s enough

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Take your wife underwater and pick a fight
OK — sometimes I’m not too bright

But –

I’d like to breath, under the sea,
but I’m wasting oxygen while trying to scream
It’s clichéd crap, I just wanted to see the map
While she was navigating to safety

I’m blowing bubbles and heading for trouble
Yes I am sure lucky she loves me

I guess she could have left me there, screaming and running out of air
But she did not, I think that’s hot,
I deserve less than I have got
Or perhaps I’m off the mark
She’s waiting till the next time, when there’s sharks…

If your daily grind wears your mind down, stops you living in the moment
I might have a good cure for it…
Just risk your life patting tigers, or let Thais drive
Why don’t you let a Thai drive?


IN CONVERSATION WITH… Charlie Wilsons’ War

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Former US Senator, Charles Wilson (Texas)

Former US Congressman, Charles Wilson (Texas)

It’s strange that they should call this Charlie Wilson’s War
When Charlie Wilson never fired a shot
A US Southern Congressman
Who tried to fix Afghanistan
With Bob the Builder’s attitude
And guns that cost a lot

It’s a movie adaptation of a book that’s based on facts
Who needs corroboration when the star is Tom Hanks?
His personal integrity
And pride in modern history
Was seen in Forrest Gump,
Yes in Gump we trust and Hanks we can believe

There was a time when a Moslem with a gun
Was really a covert symbol of US freedom
Cause if your cause is just and right
Depends on who is in your sights
Moslems killing Commies
Never kept anyone up at night

This is the story of the end of the Cold War
As planned by mavericks in the CIA
Who suddenly got funding
When the Congressman was humping
A Southern socialite who thought that God had found a way to sieze the day

To kill a Commie in the Cold War you need a Russian gun
Fired by the Mujahideen, so noone suspects anyone
The US had the money, the Afghans got the glory
The Russians got their butts kicked but it isn’t end of story

Charlie Wilson bought the guns, but he couldn’t fix it
When a covert war is won you can’t expect much credit
So now Afghans are armed and free, living in war-torn poverty
While the US turns its back and celebrates its Cold War victory

There may not be a moral, but there sure is a lesson
Funding Moslems to kill commies gets the Christian girls undressing


Written by Xab

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 8:16 am

IN CONVERSATION WITH… The Darjeeling Limited

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Schwartzman, Brody and Wilson in Darjeeling Limited

Schwartzman, Brody and Wilson in Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson is back again with another modern fable
On the existential angst felt by the rich
If you have more money than dreams
It don’t mean like is peachy keen
There’s no escaping it, yeah life’s a bitch.

It’s the story of three brothers looking for their absent mother
On the anniversary of the death of their father
They board a train in India
On a spiritual quest made sillier
By a total inability to trust one another

Get on board Darjeeling Limited – Pay the price that’s ticketed
Bring along your childhood fears – And redefine what family is
Deal with death as you see fit – But never stop to question it
Realise your family ties can fray without saying goodbye

The devil has my sympathy, but then again he’s more like me
Than three spoilt brats pretending to be men
Because of their fraternity their fighting for identities
Beyond ennui, enlightenment or zen…

One is suicidal, another’s living in a dress recital
The third is hiding from the fact the wheel of life will come full cycle
Living in a family, where one and one and one ain’t three
Meanwhile mum is hiding in a Himalayan nunnery…

Get on board Darjeeling Limited – Find out where your mother lives
Stock up on prescription drugs
And keep ‘em in your dead father’s hand luggage
Buy yourself a deadly snake – or spray your brother’s face with mace
Realise your family ties are built upon secrets and lies

Who cares if your family is dysfunctional
It’s not like you’re living ‘Welcome To The Jungle
Backed up by a trust fund, and your mum’s a nun
Better get aboard the Darjeeling

Perhaps I’m a jealous socialist,
Who cares about neuroses in the filthy rich?
But now I’ve got that off my chest
I’ll say this film portrays it best
Darjeeling is a cup of tea
With Wilson, Schwartzman and Brody…

And though I tried both hard and long, to get another bit into this song
It’s just too fucking hard to find something that rhymes with Schwartzman…
(I might have had a couple more goes if he’d been a proper Coppola)

Get on board Darjeeling Limited – Pay the price that’s ticketed
It’s a journey of discovery – Of the self beyond the ‘me’
And though I hated Tannenbaums and never fear that I am wrong
Darjeeling Limited’s the ride for me….


Abroad, don’t you know?

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I feel kind of guilty for not having updated sooner, and as a result, I continue to put off doing it, but then again, if I don’t do it soon, I’ll miss out on writing about what is happening now on account of not having written what happened then and in as much as everything isn’t worth anything anyway it’d be a shame of some kind for some people and so…

We started by missing the plane.

For anyone who’s interested in getting cheap flights around Australia, please note that Jetstar stop letting you in 30 minutes before take off — 15 minutes earlier than on any other airline. Ray was furious.

So, she has to pay more money to get us on the next flight and it’s another two hours before they’ll let us check in our luggage and another four hours before the next flight.

We’re waiting (with our luggage) near the check-in when my friend Josh walks past, so I call him over and have a chat about what’s going on with his band — ask him what he’s doing and he tells me he’s on his way to the ARIAs to play with Missy Higgins, who soon walks up (she has perferct skin) and they head off to the Gold Club to get breakfast. Soon afterwards, Kate Ceberano walks past, so I say ‘hi’ and decide that’ll be fun to just spot all the Melbourne musos heading up to Sydney… but we don’t. Ray is still furious.

Eventually we’re at the Launceston airport, and soon after, driving in our hire car, looking for Launceston until we realise that we just drove through it. Ratty had told us that it was about the same size as Freo and upon reflection, I guess it is — probably even bigger. Things just seem bigger when they’re familiar and imbued with memories and meaning, I guess.

We spend the next couple of days driving around while staying at a pretty amazing chalet that has a door at ground level and a balcony about 20ft above the ground. There’s no TV, no radio, no mobile phone reception, no nothing… it’s a bit of a shock to the system for me.

On our second day there I interview Brendan Gallagher about the new Karma County album, which I’m only able to do because the hotel’s manager lets me borrow her office for about an hour.

Went as close to Cradle Mountain as time and my rolled heel will allow — highlight for me is reading about this Dutch guy who built the Waldheim chalet to encourage people to check out the rainforest and the mountain, especially how he would treat visitors with his specialty dish ‘badger stew’ — made with wombats and garlic.

Day three is a massive drive around Cradle mountain and the Plains…. amazing how diverse Tasmania is really, some of what we expected, but much more that we didn’t. Queenstown is quite possibly the ugliest place in the world and it really makes you appreciate how violent open-cut mining is… especially when you drive around to the other side of the mountain and see a lake that is quite beautiful, with the best half of what remains of the mountain facing it.

Eventually, we move to the Launceston Country Club, which is luxurious enough, but has no sense of place about it. There’s in-room cable (AUSTAR), but we’re constantly surprised to find ourselves finally settling on something interesting and then realising its the ABC. Sweet. There’s a casino, but I walk two steps in, see my fave number come up on the roulette wheel and decide to turn around immediately and not return… it’s an itch best not scratched.

Best part of Launceston is hanging out with Ratty (Ray allows us a whole day of one on one geekdom while she tracks down the house of Senator Bob Brown). Watching his production of The Golden Age was fun, especially having seen the play so long ago and being better able to understand the subtext and the use of language now. I find myself surprisingly moved when Ratty immediately introduces me as his ‘best friend’ to the people he actually spends time with on a daily basis. Talking talking talking — fucking brilliant!

Home again, home again (sorry about the lack of detail/commentary, but I’m just trying to plough through this so I can get back to my life, and commenting on that) and we suddenly have an unexpected houseguest in the form of Jo Marsh, a theatrical type (which in this instance, means: one who works in theatre) whom I look forward to doing some work with once I get back to Perth.

My buddy Chris Fuller is staying with us at the moment… but seeing as that brings everything up to date… more later!