An apology, a thank you and a sigh of relief…

By | November 30, 2015
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Christmas is coming – at least judging by the mountains of mince pies in the shops.

That means lots of people will be doing Christmas shopping. And nowadays, you don’t have to fight through the crowds in the town centre – at least not for all your shopping.

If you like, you can do a lot of your shopping at home, on the internet, on your PC or tablet.

It’s handy, and I do a lot of my shopping that way – though there are some things I prefer to choose in the shop.

But there are a few things worth making sure of before you do your shopping, just to make sure your safe online. The last thing you want is to find out that instead of getting the presents you’d ordered, you have a nasty surprise and something’s infected your PC… or nabbed your card details.

So here’s my list of what to do to keep safe:

First of all, make sure you have a security (anti-virus etc) program on your PC. If you don’t it’ll probably be nagging you about it anyway, but if you’re not sure if you have one, check in control panel in the start menu that it doesn’t have big red warnings about it!

Secondly, I tend to use a credit card rather than a debit card to shop online. They used to give you more protection if something did go wrong online. Nowadays, to be honest, most debit cards give similar protection. But if you’re not sure whether yours does or not, then it’s worth being safe and using a credit card.

Next, you should make sure the website you’re buying from is secure. Now, a lot of people misunderstand this. The only part of the website that needs to be secure is the bit where you actually pay. For example, on our website, most of the website is “normal” – it’s only if you click to actually pay for something that you’re taken to the secure bit. So don’t worry if you’re choosing things to order and it isn’t marked as secure, as long as it is before you put in any card details.

How to check: well, in the address bar normally at the top of the screen, where it says www.helpfulbooks.co.uk or whatever, when it’s secure it should have a little symbol of a padlock and say https:// (s for secure) instead of just http://

But as I say, it only matters when you’re actually paying.

The last and possibly most important tip is simply to use a bit of common sense. Tesco, Amazon or Argos aren’t going to steal your card details and use them to book a holiday to the Bahamas. If you know a company and know they’re genuine, you should be fine. And similarly if a shop uses a company like Paypal or Barclaycard to take the payments (like we do), they never actually get your card details – they just get told the payment has happened.

Anyway, take the sensible precautions and you should avoid any nasty surprises amongst the good ones!

Phones – an apology, a thank you and a sigh of relief
If you tried to ring us earlier this week you may have found the lines weren’t as clear as normal – and you may have found we didn’t answer the phone as quickly as normal, either! So, first of all, an apology.

What happened was we’re in the process of switching our phones over to a new supplier that gives us a few new features on the phones that make it easier to do a good job. Nothing major, but it should be a bit easier. And Laura and I had both checked (umpteen times in Laura’s case) that there’d be no “gap” between the old service and the new. We were promised faithfully it would switch over perfectly.

So it was a bit of a shock when Laura discovered on Wednesday morning last week that the phone lines were all turned off… and because the new company weren’t ready yet and the old company had already turned them off, it would take around 10 days to get them back on. You can imagine we were, well, let’s just say “quite cross”. Oh, and to add to the fun it also meant we had no internet, so couldn’t answer emails…

Luckily for my blood pressure, Laura had already got all the phones lines “directed” to her mobile phone, Louize’s mobile and so on before I even got in to work in the morning. So at least we could still answer your calls!

It wasn’t perfect as the mobile signal isn’t that good here, so it can be a bit less clear than normal and because of the redirect, it doesn’t ring straight away. But better than nothing.

Anyway, by Thursday afternoon we’d found an office to rent nearby with internet that we could direct phones to properly, moved the computers over, set up our own PC network and installed Louize, Emma and the others in there. It means it’s all back to working as normal, albeit in a different office. So a big sigh of relief…

As I say, apologies to anyone who rang while we were using mobiles and struggled to hear or didn’t get an answer as quickly as normal and also thanks to the Network Centre for getting us into an office so quickly and thank you to Laura, Louize, Simone, Emma and Jess for coping so well while we were running around madly trying to get it sorted.

And at least now it’s all working normally again, even if we’re in a different office for a week or two…

Warehouse clearance – Find out more about your family history
The last two weeks, I’ve mentioned that we’re clearing out some space in the warehouse and we’re selling out the last copies of a few things at half price – the digital photography videos and eBay videos.

There are also some videos that help you find out about your family history on the internet – so you can do it (or at least a lot of it) without leaving your home!

It’s very popular, I know – one survey I saw said it was the second most popular hobby in the UK – after gardening (and given the weather I can see out of the window today, maybe a better hobby for this time of year!)

In fact I know a little bit about it because my Mum and Dad have done quite a bit of research – it’s interesting to see where the family comes from and what the background of our different ancestors were.

Anyway, there’s more information about the videos, what they cover and so on here. Since we’re clearing them out, we’re offering them at half price – while they last. But once they’re all gone, we won’t be reprinting them.

Oh, and if you know anyone who might be interested, they could even make a good Christmas present!

Read the full info here.

7 thoughts on “An apology, a thank you and a sigh of relief…

  1. CHRISTOPHER FLETCHER

    IS THERE ANY BODY OUT THERE CAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO ABOUT MY E-MAIL PAGE WHICH IS FILLING MY ENTIRE SCREEN WITH THE SIZE OF THE TEXT, I HAVE TRIED VARIOUS ‘BUTTONS’, BUT NO SUCCESS, THIS HAPPENED ONCE BEFORE AND I SOME HOW MANAGED TO GET IT BACK TO NORMAL SIZE, I KID YOU NOT, I HAVE TO SCROLL LEFT TO RIGHT AND UP AND DOWN JUST TO READ A SINGLE ENTRY, SOMEONE PLEASE HELP A FRUSTRATED OLD MAN, CHEERS, CHRIS.

    Reply
    1. Trevor

      Christopher, It sounds as if you may have unintentionally enlarged the page. If that is the problem, you can usually get it back to normal size by holding down the Ctrl key, and then pressing the 0 (zero) key.
      You can also increase or decrease the level of ‘magnification’ by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the + (plus) or – (minus) key; or by scrolling the mouse wheel while holding down the Ctrl key.
      Hope this helps, Trevor

      Reply
  2. Trevor

    Tim, You talk above (para. beginning “Secondly, …”) about the added protection of using a credit card rather than a debit card for transaactions. And you also talk of the advantages of using PayPal, so that the retailer does not see your card details. I agree with you on both points, but what you don’t mention is that using PayPal can negate the protection afforded by using a credit card – because the credit card is charged by an intermediary (PayPal) and not directly by the retailer. (See also my comment at http://www.pcinnercircle.co.uk/index.php/clubroom-2014/comment-page-35/#comment-1638732.).
    TD

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Good point – and yes this is an important difference if you pay via PayPal. PayPal offer some protection themselves, but in some cases where you have the choice to pay direct by card or via PayPal by card, you may get more protection paying direct by card.
      Tim

      Reply
  3. Trevor

    Tim,
    You mention in your letter above (paragraph beginning “Secondly, …”) that the use of a credit card – as opposed to a debit card – when paying on line (or indeed anywhere else) can give you more protection if something goes wrong; namely that you can – in certain circumstances – get your money back directly from the bank which issued the credit card.
    You also mention that using PayPal to effect payment can be safer because the retailer does not actually see your card details.
    I agree with both of those statements – and also follow similar practices myself.
    But what you don’t mention is that (if I understand the current legal position correctly) the use of PayPal can negate the extra protection otherwise gained by using a credit card (as opposed to a debit card). This is because – when using PayPal – the credit card is not charged directly the retailer itself, but is charged by an intermediary, namely PayPal.
    I’m certainly not suggesting that one should not use PayPal – and I usually do – but that slight difference in legal protection may be something to bear in mind. The downside of this is that the very time when you might want to use PayPal in order to keep your card detailers from the retailer (such as when buying from a small unknown company), is also the very time when you may want the extra protection afforded using a credit card directly with the retailer! 🙁
    Regards, Trevor

    Reply
  4. Trevor

    Just to explain why there are two items from me above about PayPal.
    I wrote the first one on 1 Dec, but it seemed to go awol – it didn’t appear immediately, and it wasn’t there when I looked earlier today. I assumed that it had disappeared into the ether, so I wrote the second one
    because the first one. Now the first one seems to have re-appeared from the ether?!

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Yes, for some reason our computers thought your first one might be a spam comment (I suspect simply because it mentioned Paypal more than once) so it put it in a “suspected of spam” queue which means it’s hidden – when I looked at it the next day I could see it was genuine so approved it and it would then have reappeared. I hadn’t spotted that in the meantime you’d written it again – and I have no idea why the second comment didn’t get put in the suspected spam queue…
      Anyway, at least that clears the mystery up!
      Tim

      Reply

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