General

It’s the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T!

Map

Just to clarify. Here is a map of the geographic region in which we can operate! 🙂

It’s no secret that we’ve been living in mainland Spain for the last year. Since then we’ve been extremely busy and as a result this site has been neglected somewhat. I’ve been prompted to bring it back to life…

Recently Elle was asked if we still do websites for clients in Lanzarote. What an odd question! Of course we do. Why wouldn’t we – many of our existing clients (and friends of course) are on the island. We’re also working on a couple of sites for new clients from Lanzarote as I type this.

One of the joys of the type of work we do is that we get to live anywhere, whilst working with clients all over the world. To think that what we do is location dependant misses the point of what we do entirely. This is the Internet, the age of no borders, the age of remote working, We communicate by phone, by email, via Skype, and through social networks. We have many clients we’ve never even met in person.

So in answer to the original question, to make things clear we continue to work with new and existing clients in Lanzarote, as well as our clients on the other Canary Islands, in mainland Spain, the UK, France, Germany, the US, and Australia

Will we be back on the island? We’ll be back periodically of course – so many clients, and so many good friends. Permanently? Who knows what the future holds.

Video of Lanzarote

Here’s an excellent video that’s been doing the rounds amongst Lanzarote residents and fans on Facebook the last couple of days. Made me feel a little homesick for the island. Looking forward in summer, if time allows, to getting back over to the island for a period this summer.

The Lanzarote Effect from Lea et Nicolas Features on Vimeo.

Converting files into a list

Recently I wanted to be able to list all my ebooks into an editable list in Excel. The only way I could see to do it was to type the titles out by hand – not really practical when you have thousands of the damn things! Continue reading

Buying a Spanish SIM in the UK

It’s been difficult to register a Spanish SIM as a visitor or traveller since the changes in the registration process a few years ago. We’ve often been asked by friends and users on the Lanzarote Relocation site how to go about it. However, there is an easier way as I found out when I looked into it properly when my dad visited last time – why I’d never checked before I don’t know!

There’s a number of companies in the UK who now supply Spanish pre-registered SIM cards which will save holidaymakers or regular visitors money. If you are looking for local options I suggest you take a look at the likes of the ‘0044’ website which offers a number of options including PAYG for voice and data.

 

My next little stroll…

It’s likely that anyone who has read this blog regularly may know that last year I walked the length of Lanzarote, and in doing so managed to raise a reasonable amount of money for a couple of charities we actively support. In spring of 2012 I’m planning doing something similar, but a little more ambitious.

I’ll be walking the ‘Siete Islas’, the main seven islands that make up the archipelago. If you’re interested in finding out more, or indeed following the preparations and the walk itself please follow this link to my personal blog.

“Now available on computers…”

We often laugh at the spurious claims on the island from websites looking to generate advertising revenue. Some of the bullshit is quite ridiculous. Most of them we have a giggle at and then file them immediately in the recycle bin. But the most recent really deserved comment.

I’m not going to name names, as I have nothing against the business and they are reasonably good at what they do… However, in the bullshit stakes this is a total howler! I’m going to pick out a few phrases and elaborate on them with a bit of comment, just for fun! 🙂

xxx.com is now available on computers…

Ground-breaking progress! Well done guys!

..ultimate website, in three languages, Spanish, English and German it is truly an international site

Last time I looked I thought there were a few more languages than that. Truly international – I don’t think so…

Google rates it within the top million site of the world of the billions currently online

I may have missed something somewhere, but I’m not aware Google publish such a list. Chances are they got these figures from one of the two different listings they have on Alexa.com, where indeed they are listed at 619,017  on the most favourable of the two. Which I will quote from….

There are 619,016 sites with a better three-month global Alexa traffic rank than xxx.com, and the site has a relatively good traffic rank in the city of Las Palmas (#504). About 90% of visits to this site are bounces (one pageview only)
Alexa.com

They go on to claim…

By linking with xxx.com you will automatically be at the top of the search engines

What for? Your own business name? Easily done for free… If they are talking about their site coming up in searches for “Lanzarote”, no, it’s not true. They are midway down page two – www.discoverlanzarote.com is, and has been for as long as I’ve been looking at it, number one in google.co.uk.

They claim an average stay onine of 7 minutes (cherry picked from the other of the two entries on Alexa – which incidentally ranked them at neared 2 million). The one I looked at stated….

…and the time spent in a typical visit to xxx.com is approximately three minutes, with two minutes spent on each pageview.
Alexa.com

Which, if the bounce rate of 90% is to believed makes their traffic pretty much worthless.

My personal favourite though is the strapline…!

The most visited site on the Canary Islands

A couple of points here…

  1. There’s no way of knowing
  2. If the Alexa figures are what they are using as evidence of their popularity bear in mind that discoverlanzarote.com is ranked at 6,726 as opposed to their 619,017. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist does it? There are MANY busier sites.

As I said, bear them no ill-will, nothing against them, for the most part it’s a very professional company. However, it’s a perfect example – as I have discussed before on here – just how some people get carried away with web statistics! Absolute twaddle – marketing bullshit!

Why it is worth chasing spammers…

Every now and then I get a bee in my bonnet about the spam we receive – though its pointless chasing the endless  farmed spam, when you can clearly identify legitimate companies its worth a shot.

You may have seen a couple of other articles on this site where I have taken spamming up with Little Chef and their list brokers, B2B Data Lists. This morning I received this response from the Direct Marketing Commission;

 

“Further to your complaint against B2B DataLists and further to our recent investigations into complaints about the direct marketing activities of B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK, the case files have been referred to the panel of Commissioners for formal adjudication and they have now reached their conclusions.

The investigation by the Direct Marketing Commission began in June this year following receipt of a number of complaints.  The Commission looked at the concerns raised by the complainants and also considered previous complaints received within the last year.

As a result of these investigations, the Commission has upheld four breaches of the Fourth Edition of the Direct Marketing Code of Practice.  In relation to your specific case, the Commissioners considered that you were not treated courteously by B2B Data Lists when requesting information about the origins of a list which had been used to email businesses for a promotion that was clearly designed for families/parents. Your legitimate questions were met with threats of legal action. The Commissioners decided it was appropriate therefore to uphold a breach of Clause 9.33 in the Direct Marketing Code of Practice which states that:

If a complaint is found to be justified, members should settle it quickly, effectively and courteously.  If a complaint is not justified, this should be politely explained to the complainant.  Where there is any uncertainty, the member should give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

Given the above breach of the Code in relation to this complaint, the Commissioners upheld a breach of 3.19 which asks that:

In all their dealings with consumers, other businesses and each other, members must act decently, fairly and reasonably, fulfilling their contractual obligations at all times.

In this case the Commissioners did not feel they could uphold a breach of Clause 3.13 which states that:

Members must accept that in the context of this Code they are normally responsible for any action (including the content of commercial communications) taken on their behalf by their staff, their sales agents, their agencies, their direct marketing suppliers and others.

The marketing messages were issued by Little Chef who were acting in an independent capacity using data from B2B Data Lists.

The Commissioners also took this into account in relation to Clause 14.12 which states that:

Unless they have prior consent, members must not send marketing communications to business email addresses for goods or services that the recipient would only purchase in an individual capacity. However, members may send unsolicited emails to staff of limited companies and plcs provided:

a) the goods and services marketed are restricted to those that the recipient would purchase when acting in a professional capacity, and

b) the recipient is offered a simple mechanism by which to unsubscribe/opt-out of receiving further email marketing messages from the sender.

Members must not send unsolicited email marketing messages to partners/staff of a partnership or a sole trader and its staff unless the requirements of paras 14.7 and 14.10  are met.

The Commissioners concluded there were unanswered questions as to list or lists of addresses supplied by B2B Data Lists. These questions centred on whether this was largely or partly a list of business e-mail addresses where the need for an opt-in depends on the nature of the businesses involved or whether this was a list of individual e-mail addresses where an opt-in is mandatory. This may have been an issue for all the parties involved but their ability to reach a conclusion was constrained by the limited information available and the limited extent to which B2B Data Lists was prepared to co-operate in the latter stages of the investigations.

Overall, the Direct Marketing Commission concluded that the company had breached key provisions of the DMA’s Direct Marketing Code of Practice on a repeated basis, that data was sold without proper regard for whether it met client requirements, that the company then sought through unacceptable terms and conditions to absolve itself of responsibility for this data, that refunds were refused or offered in last resort and clients and complainants treated poorly. It was a particular concern that this seems to be happening with considerable regularity with four separate cases and two earlier cases resolved informally and with three or four further approaches  to DMC by people concerned over the company’s practices or/and with complaints that might justify further formal investigations depending on circumstances.

In these circumstances the Commission decided that the appropriate sanction would be to recommend to the DMA, that B2B Data Lists/Data Providers UK are removed from DMA membership. This of course is subject to any appeal.

May I thank you for raising this complaint as it is only through cases such as yours that we can fully monitor the direct marketing practices of companies operating in this industry.”

 

I’d call that a result… Thank you to the Direct Marketing Association for demonstrating that there is a body out there that care, and will take appropriate action when necessary!

Little Chef and b2bdatalists.com’s response to my compaint about spam…

I recently wrote about some spam email I received from Little Chef. I wasn’t going to publish this email exchange, but to hell with it – this is dedicated to the Head of Marketing for B2B Data Lists Group who sold Little Chef the list that they used….

A personal word to the list broker – think very hard before threatening me with legal action for ‘harassment’ (or for that matter threatening me in any way) – My simple request to be informed where and how the email address in question was gathered is perfectly reasonable.

Frankly, my bet is that you’d get laughed out of court for describing my request as ‘harassment‘.  Your lack of understanding of the law can only be rivalled – in my humble opinion – by your complete and utter lack of professionalism. My complaint is against your business. Do you feel it either appropriate or professional to bully or make threats because I say something you don’t like about your business practices….?

Have you learned nothing in your “15 years of experience” (which you do so like to repeat)…?

We are all plagued by spam, most of it we can not trace – but when one like this comes along and it’s possible to research it’s origins and make a stand I will… I appreciate that I can be a bit anal (some may also say cantankerous or bloody minded) at times – but why the hell do you feel I do not have the right to know from where, and how you, your supplier and client took my email address without my consent?

Here’s the email conversation I’ve had with both Little Chef and the list brokers to prove my point so readers can make their own mind up…


From: Kids Eat Free [kidseatfree@littlechef.uk.com]

Sent: 11 April 2011 17:24
To: webmaster@xxxxxxxxxxxx.com
Subject: Kids Eat Free

Hello friend,

Why break the bank over the Easter

Holidays when it’s Kids eat Free at Little Chef?

It’s a brilliant deal…a grown-up buys a main course…a kid gets their main course free. Simple.

No vouchers to collect, no coupons to cut out – just turn up and tuck in.

It’s empty plates not empty pockets this Easter at Little Chef.

Pop in…we’d love to see you.


From: Alan Gandy [alan@xxxxxxx.com]
Sent: 14 April 2011 11:04
To: ‘customer.services@littlechef.co.uk’
Cc: ‘xxxxxxx@littlechef.co.uk’
Subject: FAO: Tracey Mulligan: Does the left hand know…

I have to say, I am more than a little perplexed by the amateur nature of your current email marketing. In addition to having virtually no targeting it breaches Data Protection legislation. Very surprised at that behaviour from a major brand such as yourselves.

http://www.lanzarotewebdesign.com/little-chef-puts-spam-on-the-menu/

Alan Gandy

PS: Receipt of this email does not imply any for of consent to be added to any of your mailing lists!


From: Helen Strang [xxxxxxx@little-chef.co.uk]
Sent: 14 April 2011 14:35
To: alan@xxxxxx.com
Subject: Letter from Tracey – Email Spam

14 April 2011

Dear Alan,

First of all… sorry. But let me thank you for bringing to my attention the fact that we sent you an email that you would have preferred not to receive.

As part of our marketing campaign to tell potential customers about our new restaurants and the “Kids Eat Free” promotion during the Easter holidays, we did buy a database of email addresses from a list broker which included business people as they become families during holiday periods and therefore may be interested in visiting a Little Chef whilst travelling throughout the UK. However, I appreciate that living in Spain, the information was of no interest to you.

You mentioned that we used an old e-mail address, if it is not too much trouble, could you let us have it so we can make sure that it is permanently removed from the database we used. We have already requested that your current e-mail address be deleted if it appears on any list used by our broker.

Again, please accept my apologies for having offended you and I am sorry that we didn’t get it right on this occasion. We strive every day to do it better and get it right, and your commentscan only help us.

Thanks for your time once again.

Best Regards,

Tracey

Tracey Mulligan

Managing Director


From: Alan Gandy [alan@xxxxxx.com]
Sent: 14 April 2011 15:04
To: ‘Helen Strang’
Subject: RE: Letter from Tracey – Email Spam

Dear Tracey,

I do appreciate your apology and thank you for that.

Clearly your list broker has been harvesting email addresses from the internet. By definition buying such a list and sending unsolicited email constitutes spam – which to the best of my knowledge breaches data protection legislation as outlined here

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/electronic_mail.aspx additionally I would also imagine it may well constitute a breach of the terms & conditions of your ISP.

For this reason I do not want my address removed of the list. I would instead prefer it to remain in the hope that it can not be used again in this manner. As if I receive any more I will be reporting this to the ICO.

Please don’t take this action the wrong way Tracey, I quite like Little Chef as a brand. Most of us have some happy memories of our past travels associated with the company! If anything I’d like to think I am trying to protect the company from itself… In all honesty Tracey I can think of 101 better ways to get your message across via online marketing.

Regards

Alan


From: Tracey Mulligan [xxxxxx@little-chef.co.uk]
Sent: 19 April 2011 12:19
To: alan@xxxxxx.com
Subject: Reply from Tracey Mulligan

Dear Alan,

Thank you for your reply and I am pleased that you like the Little Chef brand.

As you will appreciate e-marketing is just one element of the marketing mix and it gives us an opportunity to communicate a simple message to consumers who may be interested. Clearly not everyone will be and they are invited to opt out from any further communication.

Our list broker has assured us that your email was collected in accordance with data protection rules. They work closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure that they do not do anything illegal on behalf of their clients and we have also contacted the Commissioner’s Office to make sure that this is the case.

If you would provide us with your old email address we will make sure that you are not contacted again.

Yours sincerely,

Tracey Mulligan

Managing Director


From: Alan Gandy [alan@xxxxxx.com]
Sent: 19 April 2011 13:45
To: ‘Tracey Mulligan’
Subject: RE: Reply from Tracey Mulligan

Dear Tracey,

I happen to feel very strongly on the issue of spam.

I have no wish to be a thorn in anyone’s side. But please allow me to reiterate how extremely unlikely it is that the email address in question could appear on a legitimate list.

1. It is a long standing domain name which has not been in everyday use for quite some time.

2. The email address is only in one place on the Internet, and the specific address was only set up about a year ago for this one purpose.

3. Even if it was in regular use (or I have made a mistake and used it), I always click the no subscription and no third parties options on any website.

4. I have not elected to receive email from Little Chef directly, so this email is by definition spam.

It’s my belief that you are a reputable company and would not knowingly break the law. However, it would seem to me that your list brokers are likely being untruthful about the source of this list. Unless they could identify how the list was sourced and prove my suspicions wrong I could not possibly even consider changing my view on this matter.

I won’t be providing the email address for the reasons I gave in my last email.

Regards

Alan


From: Tracey Mulligan [xxxxxx@little-chef.co.uk]
Sent: 28 April 2011 09:10
To: alan@xxxxxx.com
Subject: Response to your email

Dear Alan

We do take your comments seriously and I think at this stage I need to involve our list broker so that they can explain how they compile their lists.

With your permission I would like to give Steve James from B2BDatalists the contact details you supplied to us and asked him to contact you directly. I hope that they will be able to respond to your concerns.

Please would you let me know if this is OK with you.

With best regards

Tracey

Tracey Mulligan

Managing Director


From: Alan Gandy [alan@xxxxxx.com]
Sent: 28 April 2011 10:27
To: ‘Tracey Mulligan’
Subject: RE: Response to your email

Yes, you do have my permission Tracey.

Regards

Alan


From: Alan Gandy [alan@xxxxxx.com]
Sent: 16 May 2011 16:30
To: ‘Tracey Mulligan’
Subject: RE: Response to your email

I can’t say I am surprised – but I have not heard from your list broker.

Alan Gandy

Subject Unsubscribe
From Steve James | B2B Data Lists Group
To alan@xxxxxx.com
Sent 18 May 2011 10:17

Hi Alan,

Further to your recent correspondence with Little Chef your details have been forwarded for my attention on behalf of B2B Data Lists since we are responsible for the sourcing of data and any claim you feel appropriate should be directed towards ourselves. I have tried calling you a few times with no success.

To confirm, I have requested all emails to alan@xxxxxx.com are “unsubscribed” from our suppliers, however, please be aware that we are not a “data owner” and only have contracts with a few major providers in the UK and there’s well over 100 companies who could be selling your information as you can imagine.

Speaking from over 15 years industry experience, rest assured all legislation is strictly followed and no laws are broken when emailing a business email address such as this for a businessproduct/service. Your details do not require “opt‐in” (unlike consumer legislation) and you can be removed at any point in time by simply “unsubscribing” which I have now done for you and removed this record from the particular supplier’s database involved. Again, we cannot be accountable for other providers.

Could I request any future correspondence be directed to myself, although as far as I am concerned this is an end to the matter which I trust is acceptable since you are now officially unsubscribed from our suppliers database to receiving third party promotions.

I appreciate it is very frustrating and please accept my apologies on this occasion on behalf of this particular data provider.

Kind regards,

Steve


Subject RE: Unsubscribe
From Alan Gandy
To ‘Steve James | B2B Data Lists Group’
Cc ‘xxxxxx@littlechef.co.uk’
Sent 18 May 2011 14:53

Steve,

I don’t know if you’ve read my original emails to Tracey Mulligan. It would appear not.

Had you read them you would know that this email address is not the email address in question. You might also have read that my concerns were as follows;

1. It is a long standing domain name which has not been in everyday use for quite some time.

2. The email address is only in one place on the Internet, and the specific address was only set up about a year ago for this one purpose.

3. Even if it was in regular use (or I have made a mistake and used it), I always click the no Subscription and no third parties options on any website.

4. I have not elected to receive email from Little Chef directly, so this email is by definition spam.

Let me add to this, that the site from which the name appears to have been taken has NOTHING on it to indicate that it is a business website – it is simply a blog. Which I can only assume would make this matter fall under the consumer legislation you refer to….

This is not the end of the matter you might wish for in your email. I feel I am within my rights to ask where the original list was sourced, and the refusal to accept any responsibility both from Little Chef and yourselves in this matter is I feel at best unprofessional.

Regards

Alan

 

Subject: RE: Unsubscribe
From: Steve James | B2B Data Lists Group
To: alan@xxxxxx.com
Sent: 18 May 2011 23:48

Hi Alan,

I am sorry you feel this way, but I have to say you are wrong in your assumptions and B2B Data Lists is not in breach of any laws speaking from over 15 years industry experience and also after consulting our legal representative.

From a legal prospective, I think any judge would agree that Little Chef have bent over backwards to try and please you over an issue that is quite honestly not their fault since the responsibility lies with B2B Data Lists as the provider, but again no offence has been committed here.

We have apologised on behalf of both Little Chef and B2B Data Lists and given you the benefit of the doubt for any upset caused along with the agreement to unsubscribe you from the suppliers database. We simple cannot do any more and you are now in the eyes of any court seen to be unreasonable and therefore suggest that if you wish to take this matter further, it be done through the legal system since any further correspondence from yourself by email will be regarded as harassment and we will take the necessary courses of action against you for upsetting our client over a false claim, which tarnishes our reputation moving forward. Believe me, this is a far stronger claim.

This is my final email to you and as far as I am concerned this is the end of the matter. I hope you can be equally as reasonable and in return apologise to my client for the upset you have caused. If you persist in this manner, it will potentially backfire on you as I am sure you are now aware.

Regards,

Steve

 

Subject RE: Unsubscribe
From Alan Gandy
To ‘Steve James | B2B Data Lists Group’
Cc ‘Tracey Mulligan’
Sent 19 May 2011 10:04

Steve,

I find your command of the English language (prospective) almost as absurd as your blatant disregard for my concerns in this matter, this being compounded by your threats of legal action . I am more than happy to provide my address to you for your lawyers should you wish to pursue me on this ‐ good luck with that one!

However, I think you know as well as I do that the case for ‘harassment’ you may have suggested is spurious to say the least. I will not be intimidated by your threats.

No, I do not see this as the end of the matter ‐ I believe I am perfectly within my right to request details of from where this list was sourced and how I received spam from yourselves and/or your client, for all the reasons I have outlined to both you and them already.

Your threats bear no weight with me…. I find your attitude with this both threatening and unprofessional. Your representation of your clients reflects on their brand. Tarnished reputation: Your own doing. As for your demand for an apology, I have nothing to apologize for in highlighting the misuse of my email address by yourselves and your (apparently misguided, or ill‐advised) client.

Regards

Alan

End of emails (I have omitted email addresses as a courtesy!)

In conclusion: I have to say, I don’t really have that much of an issue with Little Chef – like so many institutions of its type I think they have little real understanding of how to use the online world for marketing, though perhaps it is time they got themselves up to date on best practices in my opinion.

I do however take serious offence when a company who deals in information and boasts (according to their website) clients like Asda, Audi, Toshiba, Honda, Axa and Volkswagen might be a little more professional… At the risk of repeating myself 🙂 I do not think it unreasonable to know where and how this list was obtained. And, I certainly do not think such a request warrants puerile threats of legal action….

I await my Super Injunction with bated breath…

 

Using Google Alerts

Create a new account

I came to web design many years ago from a public relations background – I worked as Account Director at a couple of agencies and also ran my own PR company. In those heady days we billed our clients a small fortune in costs incurred from press clippings services. Unless you are seriously interested in traditional hard copy media coverage for most small to medium size businesses this isn’t necessary.

You may not even be that interested in seriously

Login...

promoting yourself via public relations… However, it would be very reckless not be aware of what’s being said about you online on this small island where reputation matters so much (or anywhere else for that matter)! Especially if it’s FREE to monitor.

This is where Google Alerts come in. Totally free and

Create!

absurdly simple to set up! Using Google Alerts you can monitor names and phrases and receive emails letting you know what’s being said about you, and also letting you know what your competitors are up to online.

  1. If you don’t already have a Google account – open a new account – extremely simple to do, fill out the form and follow the instructions.
  2. When you have opened the account you will be logged in (or if you have already got an account with Google login from the home page). Click on ‘My Account’.
  3. On that page you will find ‘Alerts’ under the heading My products. Click on it!
  4. Fill in the form with your chosen keyword or phrase like in this example – and viola. It’s that simple.

You can create as many alerts as you like to gather information on what’s being said about you, your competitors, your industry or even your hobbies….

 

 

Missing person – Vincent Bosq

Vincent BosqA few days ago Elle posted a piece on our Lanzarote Relocation site about missing Frenchman Vincent Bosq. We spoke with Vincent’s sister earlier today – and Vincent is still missing.

It seems that Vincent was able to contact his sister via the Policia Local in Arrecife, so there is a little more information. She tells us that Vincent has had his identification papers stolen and has no money. The family tried to send him money via Western Union, but having no papers or passport he was unable to collect it.

The family think that Vincent has been living on the streets of Arrecife somewhere around the Police station or El Charco de San Gines. If anyone sees him can you please let us know on 663 603 345. Obviously after several months on the streets Vincent may look somewhat different.

Also, if you have shop premises, or friends in Arrecife can you please help by circulating this missing poster throughout the city. Perhaps if Vincent sees it he will then make contact with so we can help his family get the assistance to him he needs to get home safely. Obviously the family are very concerned and they are also worried that Vincent has an ongoing medical problem that might need some attention.

Click here to download the PDF

Please feel free to pass this poster around as widely as possible!