Thursday, 13 May 2021

Scam delivery emails and texts - what to do...

I'm willing to bet you've had at least one or two texts or emails over the last few weeks from delivery companies telling you that there's money to pay before they can make your delivery. Or perhaps asking you to contact them so that they can rearrange a delivery. Yep, me too - lots of them. I like to think I'm pretty savvy when it comes to this kind of thing, but I confess there's been once or twice when I've received a text and found my finger hovering over the link ready to click before I realised what I was doing. 

Here's an example of a text I received two days ago:


The trouble is, fraudsters know that we're all ordering more online these days - and that means that most of the time, when you receive one of these messages, there's every chance you are actually expecting a delivery. It all makes sense... and that's how they get us!

So, I wanted to give you a head's up about these scams to try and help you avoid getting tricked.

  1. These messages can look very official - they will mention Royal Mail, Hermes, DPD, DHL, etc etc. Very often the link that they're asking you follow even looks sort of right - they'll have things like 'royalmail' as part of the address in the link (see my example above!). Emails will look as though the sender is one of these companies. They will do everything they can to make it look right and proper. My advice, whenever you receive one of these texts or messages, is to pause for a moment before you click. When we're in a rush, worried about the delivery of a parcel, or distracted, it's very easy to just quickly click on these links. So stop and take a moment to think! Hovering your mouse over a link or button in an email without clicking on it will show where it's taking you, and often reveals an address that won't look right.
  2. Things to look out for in scam emails or texts: 1) Poor language, gramatical errors, spelling mistakes; 2) the greeting might look strange, eg 'Dear customer', 'Dear Sir/Madam', etc; 3) a strange looking email address; 4) you will be urged to follow a link or click on a button and the link might also look slightly 'off' when you view it.
  3. Very often, these texts and emails will be asking for a relatively small amount of money. There's good reason for this: it's because fraudsters know that tiny amounts won't make people pause and question quite so much. People are busy and can be so easily fooled into thinking "it's only £1.09". But that's not the case. When you pay that £1.09 that could reveal your personal information to the fraudsters: you may find more money disappears from your bank account, or your information is cloned. 
  4. Royal Mail will only send service update emails or texts to customers, they will NEVER ask for any payments. If an item has been underpaid or there's a service charge they will let you know by posting a 'Fee to Pay' grey card through your door - they won't contact you any other way. (The only time this is different is if there's a customs fee due for international deliveries, although they would also leave a grey card too.) Royal Mail will never ask for your credit card or bank details, or for personal information - and they don't ask you to phone them to arrange delivery of an item being held for collection. If Royal Mail have an item they couldn't deliver, they will post a red 'Something for you/Sorry we missed you' card through your door. You can find more help and information, including scam examples, on the Royal Mail site here: https://www.royalmail.com/help/scam-protection?iid=HP_M2_3_SCAMS
  5. Don't call any number as it's likely it will be a premium rate phone call or you will be asked for personal information or your bank details.
  6. Courier companies such as Hermes etc, have a similar arrangement to Royal Mail. They will never ask for payment for non-delivery or underpayment of an item.
  7. If you receive a text or email, and you think it might be real and referring to a delivery you're expecting, contact the seller of the item you're expecting BEFORE clicking on any links and ask for their advice.
When you receive scams like these delete them, and if you can, block them. However, if you'd like to go one step further and report them to the authorities you can do that:

  1. Forward texts to phone number 7726 (it spells SPAM on your keyboard). This will forward the message to your mobile phone provider and is free of charge. All providers collate this information and can block the number to prevent it being sent to you again, or to others. For more information, visit the Which site here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-deal-with-spam-text-messages-axsG54B0mH0H or the Ofcom site here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/problems/tackling-nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts
  2. Forward emails to email address report@phishing.gov.uk which will forward the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). For more information visit the Gov website here: https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing
  3. If you think you have already been scammed, visit the Action Fraud website here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing and contact your bank or credit card company straight away to tell them you may have been a victim of fraud.

If you'd like more information, visit cyberaware.gov.uk and getsafeonline.org

Stay safe!

Sarah

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Celebrate the Superheroes!

It's Superhero Day today! 🦸‍♀️🦸‍♂️ Admittedly probably not something you have written on your calendar, but a very sweet and oh-so-positive day for celebrating heroes of all sorts - and over the last year there's been quite a few of those: from key workers keeping the world turning, to kids and parents dealing with lockdowns and home-schooling, to friends and neighbours helping each other out and supporting one another - and everything in between!

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes - not all of them wear a cape: some are in disguise and look just like you or me! Easily mistaken for a totally normal mum or dad, friend, colleague, teacher... Not all heroes have lycra suits and wear their pants on the outside!

Superhero Day is all about reminding everyone that heroes can come in any guise - superpowers can be something as simple as valour, bravery, heart, kindness and compassion.

If you know someone who's been an absolute hero, my personalised Superhero print will make a perfect gift for them. Custom made to order, as well as their name it also includes their own personal superpowers and what makes them truly awesome! (A brilliant present for Dad's on Father's Day too.) You can also select skin tones and hair colour for the print, to make it completely bespoke for your personal hero.

Superhero Day first launched back in 1995 when Marvel Comics asked children around the world what their superpowers would be if they could choose. Since then it has become an annual event, highlighting the fact that superheroes are often just normal everyday folk, some are facing difficulties with brave determination, some are helping others by protecting people or looking after us. It can be as simple as just putting an arm around someone when they need it.

Today is the perfect day to keep your eyes open for superheroes in disguise (I bet you know one!), and giving them some recognition. Who do you know who just might be a hero? Who would you like to honour, or say thank you to?


Sarah :)



Friday, 9 April 2021

The changing face of retail in a time of Covid...

Non essential bricks and mortar shops are reopening on Monday after months of being closed - but if feels as though they’ll be opening their doors to a much changed retail landscape. So many high street names have gone permanently. It’s so sad to see household names like Debenhams go, but in a way, for many of these retailers it isn’t a huge surprise. Some of these businesses have been slow to realise that it isn’t just about making cold hard cash, it’s about putting the customer first and in the front when they make decisions about how their business evolves and behaves. Shopping nowadays is about adapting to change, realising what people want - it’s about conscience , responsibility, being fresh and innovative.

Covid has forced retail to change or die. Old established retailers going bust makes us all sad because we have a connection built through years of tradition. I still think the most shocking closure in recent years was seeing Woolworths go, and I still miss it!

My local Woolies in Dereham before it closed

I think many of us still feel a bit nervous about going back to shopping on the high street - we’ve spent a year training ourselves to stay safe, be precautious and careful, and I think a lot of us will be feeling naturally reticent about wandering around shops like we used to. Plus, of course, we’re still going to be wearing face masks and social distancing, and that makes the thought of browsing casually around shops still feel pretty impossible and gloomy for the time being.

As a small business owner, it’s hard to feel confident when you see huge, established retailers struggling to survive. It takes nerves of steel not to run for the hills sometimes! But it’s important to remind yourself that being successful isn’t just about the big numbers: lots of shops, big profit margins, a huge staff. Now, more than ever, it’s about putting the customer first, thinking about what they need and like, helping them, and being responsible when it comes to the planet. 

I’ve seen a complete shift over the 12 years since I started PhotoFairytales - we’re all so much more mindful about what we bring into our lives. Buying conscientiously rather than impulsively, being deliberate in our choices. What we buy is a commitment. It’s about buying things we love from retailers we care about, rather than just ‘stuff’ (for want of a better word!). With so many people losing their jobs and having to watch what they spend over the last year, this is more important than it ever was.

I believe that customers now don’t buy ‘from’, they buy ‘into’. We’ve all done it: buying from Shop A because it makes us feel good (better service, nicer shop, better buying experience, more ‘quality’ feeling…). Sometimes it isn’t all about cost, even in times of austerity. It’s more complex than that now. Customers are far more aware of how a business conducts itself, how in touch with it’s customers it is, with changing styles and trends, with the care and attention it puts into earning your custom.

In theory, it should be much easier for a bricks and mortar shop to be able to look after it’s customers: after all, it sees them face to face. But all too often that’s not the case. My very first job was working on the shop floor of Laura Ashley. We were told that when a customer pays using their credit card we should surreptitiously read the name on the card, and then say “thank you Mrs X” as we passed it back to them. Call me a rebel (and I did get told off more than once), but I NEVER did that - apart from the fact that it felt weird and a bit stalker-ish, it wasn’t remotely natural! It felt fake. And despite it trying to make it feel more personal for the customer I thought then (and still do) that it made it more impersonal. Was I right? What would you feel if a member of sales staff did that with your card?!

Laura Ashley in Norwich... as was

Face to face retailers don’t have the monopoly when it comes to looking after customers. That’s because it’s not all about the transaction, it’s about service, care, aftercare, advice, expert knowledge, giving people time, being approachable and helpful, letting people know you’re there if they need you (and making sure you get back to them in a timely fashion when they do!). Excellent service can be replicated online - and it’s your right to expect it! 

I suppose essentially what I’m saying is that every pound spent is a vote - and we should all vote wisely! Imagine for a minute if every retailer only had 4 years, like a government. After 4 years they only get to stay open if customers vote for them. And in a way, that’s basically what we’ve all been doing: voting, with our hard earned cash! So, here’s my bit of ‘electioneering’!:

  • My manifesto is: Better gifts, better experience - to make shopping enjoyable and friendly. Customers are my community, people with a shared philosophy. The distance between me (Sarah) and you (lovely customer) should be tiny (especially when compared to the big high street retailers).
  • My philosophy is: Happy customers, happy business. It’s that simple. 
  • My mission is: To help people find a gift that they will love giving, to make other people as passionate about gift giving as I am. To consistently work hard at adapting, evolving, to follow styles and trends whilst maintaining the sense of quality, detail and longevity.

My business has to be sustainable for me too; I have to be able to sustain my family, keep the orders rolling in. Tiny independent businesses like mine (run from our family home, no staff, no warehouse, no ‘departments’, just me) don’t have the money, staff or advertising budgets that large companies do. But what we do have is agility. We can adapt with speed to offer people what they want: quickly, efficiently, with flair and personality. Businesses like mine remember customers, they have a friendly personal way of doing business - so many people that I count as friends were once customers. It’s about building relationships, not reading a name of a credit card as you hand it back.

There’s always going to be a place for high street shops, of course there is. All I ask, on my behalf and all of those other micro online businesses out there, is that you keep us in mind over the next 12 months. We kept going through all 3 lockdowns, with a cheery (mostly) disposition, adapting to the weird fluctuations of the retail world during coronavirus (zero orders one week, sales up 200% the following week, post office counters not always open when we thought they’d be, people suddenly needing to buy face masks rather than meals out!). We’ve adapted, cared, invented and evolved - and whilst it’s been stressful and meant a lot of long hours or hard work, it’s also been a hell of a lot of fun: long may it continue!

Stay safe, stay well,

Sarah x


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Brand New: Personalised Door Hangers

Time for some spring newbies!... This is a project I’ve been working on for weeks now, an idea I’ve had in my head that I simply had to put into action: introducing my new personalised wooden door hangers! 

Personalised Do Not Disturb Door Hanger

I wanted to introduce a line that was practical and would prove to be a really useful gift idea for people. I’ve created 9 different designs for the range, with something for all ages - from baby’s nursery to mum’s home office. 

Personalised Door Hanger Wooden

The hangers are really robust, made from natural birch wood. Although they’re strong, they’re also really light so if you want to take it with you on your travels it will slide easily into your work bag. Each door hanger features the natural wood grain, so every one is unique. They’ve been very carefully sanded for a really smooth to the touch finish too. 

Personalised Door Hanger Craft Room

Each design is available in simple, classic black - I wanted to create something that would fit into any surrounding, with a modern smart feel.

Personalised Baby Sleeping Door Hanger

Each door hanger is handmade to order, and comes with free UK delivery (of course)! Visit the website by clicking here to view all nine designs.

Hope you like them, 

Sarah x


Friday, 18 December 2020

Goodbye 2020!


In, oooh about 20 minutes, I'm going to be shutting up shop for another year and heading off on my Christmas break. But before I go, I just wanted to wish you a VERY merry Christmas - eat, drink, enjoy, and say goodbye to 2020 with joy in your heart. It might not be the Christmas you'd planned, but may it be wonderful and magical, whatever you're doing. Thank you so much for all your support over the last 12 months - old customers, new customers, yet-to-be-thinking-about-it customers: each and every one of you. 

Have a great time, and see you all in January! 

Sarah x

Popular Posts