Thursday, April 24, 2008

I went for a internet marketing conference, not a sales meeting

Today I spent almost three hours of what I consider my valuable time at what was supposed to be a conference on Internet marketing for retail websites. What I was actually at was a presentation focused on telling me I could make lots of money on the internet, but I need to use this companies store front that is included in their hosting package. Come on people, I could not believe what I was put through. The worst part was that if I wanted to get the actual course for marketing it was included in the package as part of a full day of how to be successful using their store front and hosting company, but I had to pay the one time fee of $25.00 right then and there (which is $199.00 any other time, don’t you know!)

They tried to pressure me by telling me that I must not being doing everything I need to do in marketing my web store Medieval Magic, because if I were I would be rolling in money and would not be there. Um, actually I was expecting to have spent my time learning about other methods of online marketing and had hoped to find some new ways or better ways. I am always looking for a way to positively market our product and web site. Only a fool thinks that they know everything and does not understand that there are new programs and methods developed all the time. I am not a fool and did not like being treated as one.

What I did find shocking is the number of people signing up and handing their $25 for their new website. They don’t even have an idea of what they want to sell or who their market is, but they have a web site. Next week they are going to this full day course on how to be successful with their stores. These are set up to hold them by the hand and show them what to do step by step, including giving them a list of drop shippers and some one-on-one time with someone who is going to help them do it all.

The basic idea is that they are getting an out of the box web site, a list of drop shippers and instructions on how to market the web site. As this wonderful company pointed out, if these people are not making money they will not keep their website up and they will not get their $24.99 a month. They want people to succeed. They also want people to have multiple web sites as diverse income streams. All good ideas, except I feel it has more to do with the $24.99 they get each month for each site you have. The more sites you have reaching out to different markets, or using different branding strategies the more money they make off of you.

I may or may not be going as a guest with one of the people who signed up. It depends on them right now. For me it is just to make sure they don’t get pulled into the, "oh by the way to be successful you need to add these add-on’s to the original shopping cart." The company has already indicated that you need $5,000 of add-ons but they are selling them for $3,000 but they are willing to give you a deal on the day of your training. The sad part is that up until I heard about the add-ons I was actually comparing their price and service favorably to other companies I did research on when we were looking for a new shopping cart. I don’t like any company that said here is a web site and hosting fee, oh but your going to need to buy all this other stuff to succeed. I don’t think they are going to have much to add to my online marketing strategies, or at least not ones I am willing to use. It will be interesting to see what they have to say if I end up going, but I would not be upset if I don’t go.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Medieval Magic web site dealing with unexpected issues with hosting company

We were contacted by EWD Hosting to find out if we were going to renew our contract with them in June. James replied that we had already found another hosting company and would be transferring our web site to them. Within an hour our web site was gone and our account with EWD was closed, a month and a half early. So our slow building of the web site on our new hosting company has just gone into overdrive. Thank God James had just done a back up of our website so we have some of the data and pages. Gone is our record of sales. That was to be down loaded just before we switch over so it would be right up to date. Nice shock. Good thing we printed off the invoices. Now we have to do a year’s worth of accounting manually. Nice of them to let us know that they were going to do this. Oh wait; they did not let us know that they were going to close down our account a month and a half early just because we were not going to renew our contract in June.

The best part is that because our web designer did the contract in his name if there is any refund (and there should be) it goes to him, not us. We suddenly have no web site, and no shopping cart. It is a good thing that James has been building our new website for the last month and we at least have a home page up and some information pages. Suddenly we have to try and get our new shopping cart installed on a Friday night. I don’t know if we are going to be able to have it installed before Monday. I don’t know how long before we work out any bugs and can transfer the inventory over. We had expected to have some time to make sure the new site was complete before the other one was shut down. Now we are scrambling around trying to get every thing done fast. We are going to have to work out any bugs live. It is going to be interesting to see how things go and how people like the changes we have made. I just hope that we get the shopping cart up and running sooner then later and can download the inventory data successfully. Then all we have to do is put the pictures in and clean it up a bit. Otherwise we are going to be spending a lot of time redoing our inventory.

I just hope that people like the changes enough to forgive the time it is taking to change it up. I don’t like being thrown to the wolves like this by a hosting company that we had paid for our space till June. I am so glad that we started looking into this before Christmas and then actually started working on it in January. Otherwise we would have been completely hung out to dry and SOL with out any type of web site. We would have just vanished for a few weeks. Something told James that he needed to have what he needed for the new website months before our contract with EWD was up. He was in the process of getting the new shopping cart installed next week when this happened. So we are doing much better then we would have if he had not done all this work.

For those who love checking out what we have, please have patients and know that we are trying to get the shopping cart up as fast as possible.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Identity theft is everywhere, even my home

My husband received a phone call a few days ago from Canadian Tire. They had received an application for a Canadian Tire card that just did not seem right. The lady who was to process it decided to contact the person whose name was on the application. She took the time to do some research and found our phone number, which was not the same one on the application, and called us.

Yes, someone filled out an application for a Canadian Tire card in my husband’s name. I have no idea what caused the lady at Canadian Tire stop and investigate this one application but I am glad that she did. You see my husband was not the person who did this, though he had applied about 4 months ago. It seems someone went into our mail box and took out the "I am sorry but we cannot give you a Canadian Tire card right now but you can reapply in 3 months" letter with the form to reapply. Someone did so, but used their own address and phone number. We have no idea who’s SIN # they used, but it was not my husbands.

We are so happy that the lady at Canadian Tire felt there was something off with this application and put the time into finding our phone number and contacting us. I know that we would have found out eventually that someone was using my husband’s name, but it much better to find out before they use it. The good thing is that this lady also reported this to the police. The person can be charged with attempted fraud against Canadian Tire. I don’t know what kind of punishment that will get them but at least something will be done, even if it is just a slap on the wrist.

We are going to be keeping an eye on both of our credit records for the next little while. I am sure if they tried at Canadian Tire, they have tried using his name and maybe mine for other things. We are not sure if they actually got our name from our mail, though that seems to be the most likely place. They could have just picked a name out of the phone book and picked up an application at Canadian Tire.

I guess it is a good thing that our credit is to the max right now. I doubt that anyone is going to give more credit under our names at this point in time. That may change as we lower are debt load, but we are going to continue to be very careful. If someone has tried it once, they will try again. I never thought I would be happy about being in debt, but I guess there is good in all things if you look hard enough. I am thinking about looking into the Identity Theft Shield provided by Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., or Lifelock, or a similar service provided one of the many companies that seem to be popping up everyday. Protecting people’s identity is turning into a booming business.

Here is one tip that might save you some money and time: Do not sign your credit cards, put please request photo ID this means that before someone can use your card they must provide photo ID showing that they are the same person that the card is made out to. The first thing you are going to be surprised about is how few people even notice that you have that and not your signature. They will just ring it through. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy knowing anyone can use your card and the cashers don’t even notice. Second this will not stop someone from getting fake photo ID made in your name, but it will slow him or her down, add another step to the process. Anything that makes it harder on a thief is a good idea. It may give you enough time to realize your card is gone and report it before they use it. I am not so fond of the automated card swipes showing up all over the place, now there is nothing to stop someone from clearing out your account. There is no one checking to make sure it is his or her card. I think this is just going to make it easer for thieves, and harder for us to prove we did not buy something.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How safe is your identity?

I have been seeing the commercials, TV shows: fiction, documentary and talk shows about identity theft and how it is destroying people. Identity theft is a growing industry both the prevention and repair as well as the actual fraud. People are making money at both ends of this. You have to pay to keep yourself safe or to fix it or you end up with someone else’s debt in your name and your bank account cleaned out. There are books and websites telling you how to prevent it, and how to steal someone’s identity. This is a big issue, the fear of having your children or your own identity taken. So now you have to ask yourself how safe is your identity?

You may not think you need to worry. You are not rich so why would anyone target you? It is not a crime done to the rich but to the average person. It is more often a crime of opportunity. The people doing this don’t care that you only have $1000.00 or $300.00 a month to live off, they want whatever money they can get and will take it out of your bank and use your credit to get more. So if an opportunity comes up that they can get your information they will use it. What information about you is already out there, and where can someone find it?

Your mail and garbage is one of the more common ways to get your information. If you have an open mailbox or garbage area I can guarantee someone is going to look into it to see what he or she can get. What do you receive in the mail that has your important information on it? Have you ever not received a bank statement, or a credit card bill? Did it get lost, or did someone take it? What do you put into your garbage? A credit card application you did not want, a pay stub you don’t need anymore, old bank statements, credit card slips, a paid invoice or bill? All of this can be used to get information that can be used to steal your identity. What can you do to protect yourself?

Get a mailbox with a lock. Buy a shredder and use it on anything with your children or your own information on it. Contact your bank and find out if you can look at your statement on line or get it from the bank. Don’t have them mail it to you anymore. Contact your credit card companies and get them to stop sending out applications. You don’t need more credit right now, and if you do you will contact them about it. There are just a lot of simple things we need to do to try and prevent someone getting access to our information.

There is a lot of work involved. It seems that you have to contact your credit card companies every 9 months to request a credit freeze. Credit reports cost money and you should look at them every 6 months, for both you and your children. To make sure your not being taken you have to keep on your toes and know what is in your name. I am thinking that it is easer to let a company like lifelock deal with all the calling and paper work. I don’t have to make it easy at my end by having a mailbox with a lock and shred my paperwork, but I am the type that would forget to re-freeze my credit every 9 months. I figure I will control what I can and try to prevent damage from things I don’t control.

I am not sure if lifelock is here in Canada, but I am sure that there are other companies like it. Identity theft is such a growing crime that helping to prevent it is a great business to be in right now. Lots of companies are going to start showing up with the soul purpose to be the one you hire to keep your identity yours. If I had the know-how and contacts it would be a business I would start. I never thought I would support paying for protection. It is paying person A to keep person B from stealing from you. What a strange twist.

PS: I have just been informed of Identity Theft Shield provided by Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. for Canadians. Information about this can be found at

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Let NAFTA die. We don’t want it.

Someone who lives in the US stated that they should just close the boarder and not do business with Canada anymore because we are not grateful for all they do for us Canadians. Here is what I think.

First I must say that I am not Anti-American, I am Anti-American Government; which currently does not reflect American people. I love being a Canadian, with our Canadian health care that keeps us alive even when we are poor. I disagree with policies that let US people die from lack of medical care and fresh water. Could Katrina make it any clearer? And we tried to help and were told that our boats and planes would be fired upon because we were prepared to save people and feed them. It would have been days not weeks, thank you; people did not have to suffer or die. After that we were to think the US Government was operating with all its marbles? I do not think so.

NAFTA has been one sided for a long time. Canadians did not like it when the agreement was made in the first place. I remember how angry the soft wood lumber industry was then and is now. What I find funny is that for some reason we would sell our wood to the US for a low price only to buy it back as a finished product at a much higher price. That never made sense. I remember growing up being told that we had to sell to the US because we needed the money to buy their products, and the US was our only market. So we are now quite capable of keeping our wood, oil, energy and water for ourselves and make our own stuff with it thanks to some big changes both in attitude and economy. Our Government reflects that change.

We take pride in being Canadian and have come to realize that having the US threaten us with closing the boarder is bad for the US, not Canada. What did the US Government think we would do, curl up and die, cave in and give them what ever they wanted? No we started talking with other countries. So what does the US government do, start making it difficult to cross from Canada to the US. I sell world wide, even to the US and only in the US has an item be held up for three weeks at the boarder, an item that should have taken no more then a few days to be delivered.

Do you think Canadians like having the US be responsible for protecting us? No, that is one of the worst deals Canadian government ever made and we are happy that the contract will soon be over. It is Canadian land, not US. We have increased our military, supplies and equipment so that we can provide sufficient protection for our own country when it ends in next year. We were not interested in extending that contract.

Fishing in our water, no thank you. Keep giving away our natural resources for next to nothing and say thanks for the stipend you have been giving us, when other countries are more then will to pay market price, not a special price where we loose out. Canada in the 60’s became way to dependent on the US for everything, and the US became to used to dictating to us as a country. We as Canadians did not like this, so we don’t dislike the American people, just the attitude that we should be thankful for what ever the US is willing to give us.

I know that Canadians have realized who has the real power now. We do, and we will have more if we can get out of NAFTA. US as a country needs us far more then we need them. Wake up, Canadians are making good business decisions and no longer feel we have to sell to the US. Why should we when we get treated better in our dealings with other countries that don’t think they are doing us a favor?

I am Canadian and I am proud of the stand and decisions my Government is taking with the US government.