We hadn’t used Moneybookers before, having always preferred PayPal. Until one of our recent clients who had used them in the past – and really liked the system – asked us to incorporate on-line payments into the site we built for him. The client offers airport transfers in Lanzarote, and he was keen to find a low cost and reliable merchant account option through which he could accept credit cards.
Moneybookers has in the end turned out to be an excellent choice – as always opening the merchant account took a bit of time, they wanted to see the working site, and of course – lots of bits of paper related to the business – as anyone company working within the law is bound to do. It took a bit of time to get going but the way the system work it doesn’t stop working on the site as you can add your buttons which apply to the standard account and the credit card options are added when the merchant account is approved.
Opening the merchant account was FREE (always a good thing), and Moneybookers commission rates are low at only a 1.9% compared to PayPal‘s 3.4% (plus a €0.35 transaction fee) that saving alone was enough to persuade us to open an account!
On the downside – As web designers we didn’t find their site either particularly user friendly, there’s a learning curve when you are used to using PayPal – and support wasn’t particularly quick when needed. However, the advantage outweighs these minor gripes, the reduced fees are enough for us to suggest that anyone give them a try….
Seems I spend a lot of time on this topic – and I suppose the upside of it is that plagiarism is a form of flattery – but hell, it is annoying when we put so much work and time into our business and our website content.
It’s a small island – so plagiarism isn’t that hard to stumble on here…
This one completely takes the biscuit for bare faced cheek – it’s lazy, it’s unprofessional and frankly – pathetic. (I’ve twice contacted the site owner without a response…) Continue reading
Today we got spammed – nothing new about that in Lanzarote, or anywhere else with the address lanzarotesociety-dot-com… We also had some complaints, and questions from clients – relating mostly to the fact that they had used the address elle@ as their Playa Blanca contact. Our clients were questioning whether we were involved in any way. We decided to do some digging.
Before I go any further with the results of that digging, let me state categorically we have not, will not, and will not ever have any dealings with the site or those behind it.
Apart from being a really shabbily designed website, it;
The whole site and its related domains are written in a style of language many reading this will be familiar with… It includes the phrase “Simon says” throughout…
Yes, you guessed it. It’s an old favourite – it’s the inimitable Simon Harris again. Simon and Jenny Harris and Quills Wills may be down and unable to trade here (his words on the Gazette forum as I recall), but it seems they are not out.
The name of the domain owner – Melanie Ross (click on her name for the Google search which demonstrates clear link)
Companies House information…
LANZAROTE SOCIETY MANAGEMENT LIMITED
Company No. 06661107
THE QUILL GROUP (1986) LLP
Company No. OC328567
There’s plenty more where that came from – but I think you’ll agree it’s pretty clear as to who is pulling the strings on this baby! Of course, I have emailed and asked that any links they have included on there to our sites be removed – we have absolutely NO association with this venture.
The really worrying thing is that on the site it says that one of their aims is to represent the island and it businesses… Think about that one!
A note to tourists who may be reading this at this point – there are many good sites in addition to our own Lanzarote Nightlife if you are looking for information on the island – just Google, you’ll find plenty. And you certainly don’t have to pay to feel a part of the community – you are always welcome on sites like our own forum at Canary Nightlife, the forums on Discover Lanzarote and at the Gazette.
Now, of course, I’m not saying Simon Harris is a conman – I do however have an opinion based on all I’ve seen and read about him. What I would strongly urge anyone who is reading this – if you are thinking about doing business with him, or any of his companies, make sure you do thorough research – hopefully there’s enough in this post to get you started. That research may end up saving you thousands…
As web designers, and marketing professionals we don’t rest on our laurels. It’s important to us to prove to our clients that we can deliver the kind of results they are looking for. How better to do this than to establish some decent web properties of our own. Since moving to Lanzarote we have established a couple of hugely successful sites. Without divulging our statistics it is safe to say that both sites generate a lot of hits.
Canary Nightlife (launched in February 06) – is a site promoting bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants in the Canary Islands. It’s a very busy site (hits are measured in the many hundreds of thousands every month) which we have proven delivers business to our clients at a very reasonable cost. It also includes a busy forum.
Lanzarote Relocation (launched September 07) – is our guide to moving to Lanzarote. It’s simply a blog of our own experiences of emigrating, our musings about life on the on the island and other general Lanzarote information, including guest articles. As far as we know this is the only independent site of its type. Again this is a very busy website and features well in Google searches.
As we have written about elsewhere both sites have been imitated – more than once – as is so often the case with many businesses on Lanzarote. But, we’re confident in our ability to stay ahead of the game – after all this is what we do for a living, we’re not doing this as a hobby or as an after thought! 🙂
Cue more insults from our friend “Bob in Cyprus”!
We currently have a number of other projects in the making – watch this space!
We find it amusing when we read guides on what to look for in a web designer, as we have on our home page, when we see the phrase “make sure your web designer can ‘hand code’. It’s quite an absurd notion really, when you take a moment to think about it…
Web design programs and the other tools at the disposal of a professional web designer are just that, tools… The phrase should read something more like “make sure your web designer understands code”. A web designer should be able to read code in much the same way as a musician might read music. However, would you expect the musician to write all his own sheet music by hand – or perhaps an author to use a pen and paper rather than a word-processor?
Here’s a challenge for you. Next time you take your car in for repair, ask your mechanic to make sure he fixes it without the use of spanners and screwdrivers… And wait for the reaction! :). Maybe he can do it, but the extra time is surely ‘going to cost you’.
We were highly amused to receive the following comments from an anonymous source…
It’s all rather pathetic, but entertained us nonetheless. Of course we could easily have deleted these messages but thought instead, for the amusement of our visitors it might be more entertaining to respond.
To set the scene here’s how ‘Bob’ came to visit our site (from a UK IP address)…
From that ‘Bob’ then clicked a link to another Blog site of ours about moving to Lanzarote, he viewed 5 pages in there over a couple of minutes, before finding a link to this website.
After hitting this site ‘Bob’ viewed 28 pages over the course of 22 minutes!
The first message was this one in response to our article entitled ‘Internet Thieves…’ (profanities have been removed, which is the only change made to the originals) Our answers follow…
Author : Bob (IP: 18.104.22.168 , 5ac226fa.bb.sky.com)
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=22.214.171.124
What a load of fu**ing rubbish. You are just promoting a poxy little business on a rock in the middle of fu**ing nowhere. How many web designers are on your sh**ty island? JUST YOU at a guess (or I bet that’s what you claim!). Jeez … little fish in a little pond slagging off anyone trying to make a living? You c**ts make me sick … if you are going to use negative marketing it isn’t a good advert for you and this sort of prose just makes you come across as a very small outfit trying to build a reputation quickly by appearing knowledgeable and smart. F*CK you’ve only been in business for what .. 18 months??? I live in Cyprus and we see twats like you arrive here all the time … big ideas, big mouths, and gone in three years. TW*T.
There’s not really much to comment on is there with the first message? Nothing more than a string of insults…. The second comment, below, was in response to an article called How not to build a website.
Author : Bob (IP: 126.96.36.199 , 5ac226fa.bb.sky.com)
E-mail : email@example.com
Whois : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=188.8.131.52
Go on then .. name a reputable competitor .. still get the feeling you are the only company there and you won’t recommend a genuine competitor…. cyprus has twenty good companies … how many you got there? Still reads like it’s just you and you are trying to stop anyone else getting a foot in “your” market … point me to a URL I can trust and I’ll get a quote from both of you. I’ve got three in mind on the island for my new estate agency … are you telling me via your page that you are the only one … or you have done a deal to get a cut from the “competitor” (who is probably a business partner of yours) you recommend .. come on … have it out on a public page not a “private email”.
You come across as protectionist and arrogrant – name your competitors so your potential clients can make a fair “online” comparison. BTW- stop bleating about search engines when your competitors seem to be higher than you (even golanzarote.com scores higher than you!)
Anyone else ?
Okay, now we actually have some comments that amount to more than a string of insults so we’ll answer the key points directly to ‘Bob’.
The big question now is, who is ‘Bob’ in ‘Cyprus’. Anyone got any ideas?
You decide…! 🙂
The simplest advice of all is if you want to protect your Intellectual Property and don’t want it to be copied, stolen or abused – don’t publish it on the Internet. Be your work words, photographs, websites or anything else that can be described as creative this is the only sure way to protect yourself. However, it’s nigh on impossible these days to run any business without making a certain amount of examples and information about your business easily available. (The same can be pretty much applied to your private life too with the prevalence of Social Networking sites like Facebook!)
Now, here’s a short story for you by way of example; After a somewhat ‘entertaining’ evening I knocked together a little t-shirt design for a bit of fun on a site I use – I am not going to mention the site here, for the simple reason that despite feeling let down by them, it remains one of my favourite sites and I have no wish to get myself banned… Continue reading
It never ceases to amaze us how many people get sucked into the American style Internet scams. There are so many of these shady ‘companies’ it beggars belief. If it wasn’t for knowing these things exist BECAUSE they would be really rather comical.
We can only assume that there are always vulnerable, willing newbies, still with notions (based on articles they have read about the Silicon Valley success stories of the past) that the Internet has made many millionaires in the heady .com boom. It still does. But nowadays it takes imagination and originality to really come up with something new and lucrative.
We stumbled across this one last night and haven’t laughing since, it’s called Smart Money Websites. It’s hilarious, and in the usual style of these thing full of absurd claims and ludicrous ‘I love’ you testimonials like this…
“I absolutely LOVE Smart Money Websites. For the first time in my life I’ve been able to do my own websites, squeeze pages, record audio, split test, Oh my gosh it’s all so easy….”
This ‘business’ was started by a “Wayne van Dyke” who claims to be a venture capitalist, supposedly involved with highly profitable technology start ups.
1. A search on Wayne van Dyke leads only to stories about Dick van Dyke thus burying him if it is his real identity in Google (we suspect so you don’t find the truth!).
2. If he’s so damned smart why doesn’t he name his past successes.
In the usual hard sell direct marketing style, the text of this ‘site’ if you can call it that, has lots of repetition, lots of numbers ($50,000 is the favourite), and lots of buttons to suck you into the $1 trail.
So, what are they selling. Well, that’s our point, it’s not really clear. It’s either an MLM (Multi Level Marketing) sell this same business onto others idea, or they are selling pre-build affiliate marketing site. But lets be honest, who cares what they are selling. it’s the way they are selling it that is just plain wrong. They prey on the ill informed.
Here’s some numbers for you – apparently in their view this is the yearly cost of a website.
How to make your first $50K (home study course) – $297
(Reality: Chances are completely worthless if their site is anything to go by!)
Hosting – $240
(Reality: $83.40 if you use someone like Hostmonster)
Site Builder – $250
(Reality: FREE, assuming they mean a basic site building package as is often bundled with hosting accounts, but they are not clear)
Email Autoresponder – $200
(Reality: FREE with any sensible hosting plan)
Split Testing – $249
(Reality: FREE, but, creating similar gateway pages runs the risk of getting you banned from Google, and is no substitute for a little common sense)
Squeeze Page Generator – $480
(Reality: FREE, but, again considered as spam by search engines)
Ad-Tracking – $199
Webstats – $348
(Reality: FREE with any hosting plan, or you can use a service like StatCounter)
Audio – $348
(Reality: FREE, they simply don’t know what they are talking about)
Dashboard – $1200
(Reality : FREE, probably little more than a host’s control panel or a well designed Admin panel within a custom site which would have been purchased with the build)
Webmaster @$50/hr. x 400 hrs – $20,000
(This is our favourite, the sites we build for people don’t often take more than a few hours – if any – to look after. If you look at our client list you’ll see that if that this was the case we’d be semi-retired now! Yes, it does cost to build a quality site, but a good web design company should be delivering you, at this level, a site you can completely manage and maintain yourself)
Here’s the good news, you only get to pay them $647 a year for all this! The only thing missing from this to truly convince us that this was a scam was a photo of the founder on a Hawaiian beach with a cocktail in hand just to show how they are enjoying spending your money. As the old saying goes, “if it sounds to good to be true – it probably is”.
We did send them a polite (okay, polite is stretching the truth a bit) email to ask what they were ACTUALLY selling, but needless to say have not as yet got a response…
You may have heard the phrase before, but we’ll clarify anyway. Social Network Marketing is using social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace to market your business or services by creating profiles for brands or companies, and using the communication tools they provide.
It sounds like a great idea, but there are some major pitfalls to be aware of… Continue reading