Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wednesday 15th October 'Blog Action Day'

I had to get up very early as I had to cycle to the station with all my gear to get a train at 7.40 to Huddersfield, to attend Science Week at Paddock School, where I was performing 3 one-hour 'Professor Fiddlesticks Fun Physics' shows for Key Stage 2 children, with circus tricks being used to explain and demonstrate various maths and science subjects. I did 2 before lunch and one after, they all went brilliantly and the audience/participants were wonderful. We all enjoyed ourselves a lot.

I got driven back to the station and was soon on a train back to York, I tried to read my NewScientist but kept on dozing. I cycled into town to visit Craft Basics on Gillygate to replace my peacock feathers which are getting a little ragged because of all the use they've been getting. I also called in to Country Fresh to pick up compostables, got 2 carrier bags and a large box, somehow balanced these on top of the unicycles on the trailer and took them home.

Gill had done some pasta for tea and we had yesterday's soup on top of it as a sauce. Lovely!

I'd been thinking about a Blog Action Day post for this blog, and although it's not about abject poverty but people on low incomes, I want to tell you about a scam which has been directed at me, as a small business owner.

Many businesses are suffering right now and some might be thinking about taking on some extra advertising to drum up more work and generate more income. But beware, entertainers and perhaps some other businesses are at risk of being taken in by a scam which could mean that you lose money, and at these times, no-one can afford to do that.

About 3 months ago I was phoned by a company offering to place an advert for me in a Child Safety Directory. The concept was that the directory would have a load of info in it about lots of child safety issues, such as roads, online safety, 'stranger danger' etc. I said it sounded like a reasonable idea and I might consider placing an advert in it. I asked them to send me the paperwork, a sample booklet and advertisers rates. Nothing came and I forgot about it. Then a few weeks later, I got another phone call with a persuasive person telling me that I'd agreed to an advert and the options were £399, £299 or £199... and remember they cover the whole country... I was sure I hadn't agreed to anything, especially as I'd not seen anything in writing, and was careful to not agree to anything, as a verbal agreement can be legally binding.

I have been contacted a couple more times and after the last conversation, got the company address and contact name, and I contacted Trading Standards, aka 'Consumer Direct' (telephone 08454 04 05 06) to discuss this issue. They were able to confirm that there have been many similar scams, aimed at ripping off small businesses who are well-meaning, kind and perhaps just a little gullable.... Their website gives good advice about how anyone can avoid being a victim, lose money, experience identity theft and therefore potentially lose even more money.....

Now this experience, even if I had paid for a non-existant advert, would not have landed me in poverty, but it would have reduced my available income, and once someone has been taken in by this type of scam, their details are sold to other scammers who try to take advantage of them as well. So beware, take care, and be careful.

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