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Zyra's Circular 125-126
Newsletter for Zyra's website issues 125 and 126 including the Buy.at problem!

The truth is here to be told...

I can smell a RAT?!2009/03/13 23:53 Publication of Issue 126 of this site, Issue125 having been published on 2009/02/25

Hi to ALL!

I hope you'll take the time to read this intriguing message, as it contains some curious news, both good and bad. There's quite a story to tell, showing how the corporate mind thinks quite different to us folks. The story will unfold, but that comes later in the message. Needless to say, the picture of a cat inspecting some shopping isn't quite so much "I can smell a bargain", as "I can smell a RAT!".

Also in this double-issue: carpets, foxes, an Italian restaurant for sale, the return of Boots the Chemist, fancy fountains for posh gardens, warnings about scams, Catalonia, garden sheds, insurance policies for exotic pets, the culture of videophones, test-driving expensive cars, advice about setting up and looking after your own website, trees, a variety of children's characters, chess pieces, the future rescue and resurrection of an Antarctic explorer, Marmite, people whose hometown has been lost, advanced web-address-reading, and an unusual perspective on the Credit Crunch. (There is a picture of a dead rat near the end of this message).

First, though, a warning: If you are looking to get your company set up with an affiliate program as a merchant, you must avoid signing up to any exclusive agreement with any marketing company. If not, and things go wrong, you might as well change your company's registered office address to Shtuttsville. Imagine that, your company's shiny brass plate screwed on the wall of a new office in Queer Street, Shtuttsville? Admittedly you'd get my condolences, but are they worth as much as my online sales? More about this at www.zyra.info/exclusaffil.htm

There! That's completely baffled most people. Still, the whole "affiliate" business is explained at www.zyra.info/affils0.htm in case you're interested. It's not just a page, it's a whole feature.

Onto more down-to-earth things: TREES. You can have them delivered, you know. It's all very eco-friendly, and they are supposed to live much longer than a bunch of flowers. See www.zyra.org.uk/treetomydoor.htm

I'm still not sure whether that should be linked to/from the Florists category www.zyra.org.uk/florists.htm

 Harveys Furniture Environmental sustainability notions come to mind when browsing through Harveys, where some of the rather swish furniture is made from mango wood and other interesting exotic materials. You know Harveys; they have those television commercials where people live in very tidy homes, but at least Harveys ads don't have salesmen shouting or going on about the prices. Instead, it's just a matter of style. Anyway, we are assured it is sustainable style. It's all rather upmarket. There's more about this at www.zyra.org.uk/harveys.htm

A funny thing happened the other day, except of course at the time it wasn't very funny, like a lot of these "a funny thing happened" things, at the time it was deadly serious. Someone reported this site as a scamster! They seriously thought that pages such as www.zyra.org/efccscam.htm and www.zyra.org.uk/bankhoax.htm showed this site was involved in scams. What they didn't realise was that it's a scam-busting site. I wonder how much time it would have taken them to understand the difference. Ten seconds, maybe twenty seconds at a push. Anyway, the scamsters do not get much advantage by this, and in the end a great many scams are exposed at www.zyra.info/scams.htm

Remember, though, I can't save you from scams. You save yourself from scams by learning about them and knowing what to watch out for! The explanations on these pages are worth reading so you are forewarned. Trust me, I'm a paranoid.

Now here's some good news: The Return of Boots the Chemist! Years ago, there was a page here about Boots the Chemist, explaining how the business Boots the Chemist had diversified since the early days of Jesse Boot, and that the Boots shops had become general-purpose department stores with an emphasis on health, but also having many other lines of business, including pots & pans, cosmetics, photography, etc. There was even an offbeat mention of the famous Boots quality rubber hot water bottles off a cringeable page of content www.zyra.tv/teabotl.htm . I don't think it was that which put them off. I got the impression the reason was that as a famous purveyor of pharmaceutics, they did not like the fact that there are online other kinds of purveyors of pharmaceuticals, where "you pays your money and you takes your choice", rather than where you have to have a prescription signed by a doctor. I hasten to add, these different business-models are kept a safe distance apart on this site! And now, after years, Boots are back! So, the page www.zyra.org.uk/boots1.htm is readjusted and the logos*2 put back on, and a "Welcome Back!" is added, and the page is connected up to the Shopping Portal, and good business is resumed!

Another "Welcome Back" goes to Mr & Mrs Smith, and although this might sound personal, as if the couple are being greeted upon their revisiting of a hotel where they sign the register in that classic style, it's actually a reference to Mr & Mrs Smith's Hotel Guide. Again, a dedicated page of considerable longevity www.zyra.org.uk/msmith.htm , created some time ago, later bunged up, and then recently reopened.

Considerably less welcome was the revealed fact that the website iceland.com was no longer a proper touristy travel guide to the interesting country in question,Iceland so the link to it from www.zyra.org.uk/iceland.htm was unfounded. Hence, there's now a page about Iceland at www.zyra.net/iceland1.htm , as distinct from the UK frozen food supermarket which is at www.zyra.org.uk/iceland3.htm . There's a map of the country included, and a credit given. Icelandic exports curiously include Lazy Town, which now has a page at www.zyra.org.uk/lazytown.htm

Other children's TV shows and characters are also featured quite well on this issue, and there's a new category at www.zyra.org.uk/chara.htm which tries to list them, including Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit, Roary the Racing Car, Fifi and the Flowertots, etc, but currently it stops short of linking Paddington Station with Paddington Bear and then including Marmite! However, Marmite has a page at www.zyra.org.uk/marmite.htm and this is the way these things link together. It's interesting browsing around the site and following the interconnecting links. When you do this, you'll see some pages which have been around for seven or eight years. The addresses of these pages have been reliable and constant throughout the years. Not everyone has been so fortunate in their deep-linking reliability, and there was a recent catastrophic example of this, where someone's home town was lost. In fact, everyone's AOL Hometown was lost! More about this at www.zyra.org.uk/aol-hometown.htm

This then leads on to some good advice about avoiding such troubles. You can achieved this by having a decent hosting, and having the definitive copy of your website offline (and then you publish a copy), which is much safer. This is explained at www.zyra.net/defoff.htm , which is yet another helpful piece of advice about running your own website.

There's another one: If you're not into creating webstuff, but you'd like a website creating, it's tempting to get a website-designer to build a website for you. Odd as it may seem, though, there is a strange problem which can occur to do with the division of labour, and some people have consequently ended up with a website which is devoid of any meaningful content. However, you can get around that problem too, by means of this idea: www.zyra.net/sitestuff.htm

As if that wasn't enough, there's another useful bit of advice about having your own website, which helps to avoid another problem, to do with making sure the domain gets renewed. www.zyra.at/renew.htm

Ristorante ItalianoNow, how'd you like to own an Italian restaurant? There is one for sale. You can see this at www.zyra.org.uk/lillo.htm . You don't need to be Italian, or even to be able to speak Italian, but you do need to be able to run a business, and have the time and patience to work on it. Can you take on the challenge to make a go of it? If so, don't contact me; contact the present owner, whose phone number is on the page www.zyra.org.uk/lillo.htm

I'm sure there was something about carpets, and that would be at www.zyra.net/floors.htm . It was something related to floor-coverings. There's quite a lot happened since Issue124 on 23rd of Jan, which was the last actual Circular. Then Issue125 was published on 25th of February, but there was so much going on there was no Circular newsletter. So now Issue125 and Issue126 are covered in one message, quite a long message really.

There's another affiliate network added, Affili.net , at www.zyra.net/affilinet.htm . This is how Harveys are connected up! Affili.net would have inherited NEXT from Buy.at , except instead there was some silly policy at Next about hardcoding banners, so now the pages about Next have been corked! A shame, as for one thing they are attracting customers, who are then discovering that the pages have been corked, and also there's the matter that the pages about Next were recently updated at the request of Next, anyway!

Compare that with Harveys. No such messing-about there! Hence, they are still making money here, whereas places that have snookered themselves are not, at least not until they sort themselves out.

Garden sheds. I heard that one of the reasons for having a shed is so you can site there inside it and have some solitude, and thereby you can shed your troubles, and that's why they are called "sheds". I doubt that etymology, but it's a nice story. Anyway, if you want to give that a try, of if you just want to store your lawnmower, or to set a trap to ensnare thieves who steal lawnmowers, here are some contacts: Shed Store www.zyra.co.uk/shedstore.htm , Taylors Garden Buildings www.zyra.org.uk/taylorsgardenbuild.htm , and the interestingly-named Two Wests and Elliott www.zyra.org.uk/twowestsandelliott.htm

Other things for gardens: Water Features. Note that a water feature in a garden has to be something interesting, not just a bucket with mosquito larvae. Water features are generally very snazzy, either fountains, or unusual sculptures, and there's even something that looks like a giant stainless steel sphere. More about this at www.zyra.org.uk/ukwaterfeatures.htm , and further afield than the UK, there are some of the other places linked from www.zyra.org.uk/garden.htm

Where's that?Here's a nice water feature, but that's taking things to extremes:

For a larger image, see www.zyra.net/i2771.htm

Now, insuring exotic pets. How exotic? Well it seems according to some pet insurance policies, exotic pets refers to any kinds of animals other than cats and dogs. However, according to Pet Plan www.zyra.org.uk/petplan.htm , who insure cats, dogs, rabbits, and horses without even getting into the "exotic" category, and then they go on to talk about insurance policies for parrots, reptiles, rats and mice, and they don't even need an exclamation mark before getting as far as hedgehogs.

Yet again, the affiliate programs were with Buy.at, but after the problem, the links were moved elsewhere.

Where is Catalonia? Isn't it an independent republic that declared secession from Spain in the early 2020s decade? Well it might be. Spanish elections have already been rigged to remove various independence-movements of various regions from the elections on the basis that they are "terrorist groups". Imagine if the British parliament banned the Scottish National Party from being on the ballot papers on the basis they are "terrorists", eh? Anyway, Catalonia, Cataluña, Land of Castles, is the region around Barcelona, and if you'd like to go on holiday there and find out what it's really like, there's now Hoteles Catalonia www.zyra.eu/hotelescatalonia.htm . I've heard it's a lovely place!

Here's another Spanish-speaking company, the t-shirt company Pampling, that is: Camisetas Pampling www.zyra.eu/pampling.htm

Remember I said I'd talk about the Credit Crunch? Well, the thing is, although there are some problems that banks have lent money to people who can't afford to pay it back, that doesn't mean everyone's got to panic! The irrationality is losing more companies that the problem itself, a bit like the way in a minor earthquake, more people die because of mass panic than because of problems with buildings. Here's a page about it: www.zyra.org.uk/credit-crunch.htm . Also, in the Credit Crunch, there's no shortage of money at the top end. Places like Dubai are still doing well (as the oil hasn't run out yet), see the entry at www.zyra.org.uk/taxhaven.htm , and if you want to test-drive expensive cars the market is still good (see www.zyra.me.uk/mytestdrive.htm ). The shops that sell on the basis of quality are still selling as much as they did. It's the places that advertise on the basis of being cheaper that are having problems.

Of course it could be said that the whole Credit Crunch could have been avoided if the governments of the countries involved hadn't been waging futile wars and meddling in affairs that they should have kept out of. Don't just take my word for it; look at a map of the world and see if there's a correlation between the most belligerent government countries and the impact of the credit crunch on their economies.

Time will move on and the balance of power will move around. That's what happens in future history.

Talking of things futuristic, here's a plan which is ahead of its time. It's to do with the rescue of an Antarctic explorer. It's important to understand that this is a two stage process, the two parts being separated by many years. It's not like "Let's refloat the Titanic", where it's a big project that is to be done in a singular manner. It's more like "Let's invest in sustainable fuel development so that when the oil runs out we'll be able to continue having a civilisation". However, in this case, the project to RESCUE CAPTAIN OATES has the background of Cryonics www.zyra.org.uk/cryo.htm where people who can afford it and who are alive today can hopefully be resurrected in the future (if they can afford that too). The idea of the Captain Oates Rescue Fund is for people who hold that heroic character in high regard, to save up for a cryonic ticket for Captain Oates, so that when the body is eventually found, it can be salvaged and stored cryonically, so Captain Oates can be resurrected at a later stage in the ongoing future! See www.zyra.org.uk/corf.htm

Here's another futuristic notion: The Culture of Videophones. Although in sci-fi movies, people talking to each-other on their videophones seem toMultiphone stare rather uncomfortably at each other in an almost militaristic style, there is a cultural development now where having a video-natter is much more informal, in the sort of way you might confer when having guests in your lounge, or when you're talking with someone outdoors as you're both walking along. More about this at www.zyra.net/vidcall.htm

Did you know, retail therapy doesn't need to be expensive? See www.zyra.net/retail-therapy.htm

How many horsepower does a horse have? The answer is not quite what is expected: www.zyra.org/horsepwr.htm

Foxes? What links have been cunningly added to the page www.zyra.org.uk/foxes.htm ?

If satellites stay up in orbit by going around and around, then how can dishes for satellite TV be fixed bolted to the wall rather than having to track them across the sky? This apparent anomaly is explained at www.zyra.net/geostat.htm

And now a bit of advanced web-address reading. There was a spam message that came in, nothing unusual in terms of being a ridiculous scam phishing attack message pretending to be one of the well-known banks, but what was interesting was the web address. I realised now was a time to write a page as a sequel to the page "How to Read a Web Address" www.zyra.org.uk/read-url.htm , thus producing "Advanced web-address reading" www.zyra.net/read-url2.htm . The page includes a carefully stuffed and mounted piece of e-mail taxidermy, and then the web address reading part is explained in detail! If you can read a URL, you can foil almost all bank hoax messages as well as being able to confound various other devious plots hatched by scoundrels.

A few more items before the finalé:

The BBC Shop has been on this site for a long while, but only recently has the ITV Shop also started having an affiliate program. See www.zyra.org.uk/itvonlineshop.htm

Anything by the name "Regency", at www.zyra.net/regency0.htm , now includes Regency Chess Company where you can get very fancy chess sets www.zyra.org.uk/regencychesscompany.htm

The Fish Society www.zyra.org.uk/thefishsociety.htm extols the virtues of edible piscatorial items.

You know where you are with a GPS. See www.zyra.org.uk/garmin.htm . Some people have a Garmin in their car, but some have a Garfield in their car, with its claws hanging onto the inside of the glass, which isn't quite so helpful from a navigational perspective.

NSPCC is a worthy children's charity, now with a dedicated page at www.zyra.org.uk/nspcc.htm

Plus there are at least eighty other items I could have included here, but if you'd like to see them all, you can visit the What's New Index www.zyra.org.uk/nindex.htm

And now the finalé. It's not good news, but it is interesting:

As a background to this it's worth considering that this website has over two thousand affiliate merchants, and is a member of over twenty different affiliate marketing networks. There are agreements which are usually well thought-out and are mostly to establish promises made by both sides to run business in a fair way. Occasionally an agreement is offered which isn't agreeable, for example there's a clause in the contract of Stanley Gibbons www.zyra.org.uk/stanleygibbons.htm which says they are allowed to change the contract to anything they want to and it comes into effect four hours later. Obviously unacceptable because the affiliate could find they've agreed to give up all their worldly goods to the company while they are asleep. So, I refuse to sign.

Now bearing in mind that affiliate marketing networks are well clued-up about affiliates, and know they can be funny folk to deal with, very rarely does any network ever expect affiliates to sign up to a contract that's silly. However, it has happened, and this is not the first time that an entire network has had to be bunged-up at this site because I refuse to sign the agreement.

I have a philosophy that I don't sign things which I disagree with. This may sound a bit picky, but it's a matter of honesty, chivalry, honour, and truth. It goes beyond what's legal, or what a person might be legally called upon.

What happened recently was that the affiliate marketing company Buy.at was taken over by AOL. Then the affiliates were expected to sign up to the new contract. I took a look at the new contract and pointed out that it was silly. When I was asked to point out in what ways it was silly, I wrote a helpful critique of the contract, and I expected that a new contract would duly be written, or that it would be foregone rather than going to a lot of trouble. However, I received a formal notice to quit, giving 14 days.

That was surely a poor strategic move, as it then meant that the merchants were going to miss out. It's not just a matter that the affiliate was going to miss out, but that some multi-million pound companies would be minus one of their most successful affiliates.

I took the threat of being expelled from Buy.at seriously, as I had no [picture of a dead rat*]reason to suppose they were joking. So, on Issue126, all of the merchants links that were still stuck at Buy.at were CORKED. Also, in all honesty, I felt it only fair to tell the merchants, so I talked to them and some were horrified that they had been so mucked-about by Buy.at

Remember, it's not the merchants' fault, and this fact is represented on the pages. You can see this whole scenario and the intriguing details explained at such pages as www.zyra.eu/buy-at3.htm (list of merchants with explanations), www.zyra.tv/buy-at.htm (the ongoing story), and such revealing pages as www.zyra.org.uk/saga-corked.htm and www.zyra.org.uk/lx-corked.htm which show an insight into this.

The merchants responded favourably and most were very helpful in trying to get a new arrangement negotiated. However, short of abandoning Buy.at and moving to one of the many other networks, there was not much the merchants could do as it was largely up to the people at Buy.at to come up with a sensible agreement.

My sympathies go out to Littlewoods Shop Direct Group, Aviva / Norwich Union, Saga Insurance, ASDA supermarket, Nokia, the Financial Times, the AA, and many other companies listed on the page www.zyra.eu/buy-at3.htm with the word "corked" next to their entry.

At the time of completing this Circular, 19th March, there had at least been the start of actual negotiations with Buy.at, and so there is in theory at least a chance that something will be resolved. However, in the meantime, all the Buy.at-only programs are corked. I decided it was cheaper in real terms to cork all those pages and forego thirty-six thousand pounds per year of affiliate income (a quarter to a fifth of the total income) than it was to worry about it and let it affect my life. Freedom is more valuable than the commission, and so if it eventually turns out that there's no agreement, we just move on and advance with the other networks instead, and with multiple independent programs. No-one shall be allowed to have a monopoly of the business!

I invite other affiliates to write in and express their opinions and tell of their experiences regarding the takeover of Buy.at by AOL, and their opinions of the contract.

I hope there will be better news on Issue127.

< And Still It Moves! >Kind Regards to ALL!



* Picture of a dead rat www.zyra.tv/deadrat.htm used for illustrative purposes to demonstrate the use of a picture of a dead rat for legal purposes to define a yardstick of objectionability. This was defined in a previous instance of a problem with a legal contract at another affiliate marketing company. Although the use of rats in legal discussions is rare, it has been shown to be effective in a previous instance.

*2 Boots Logos. These were on this e-mail newsletter and on the page about Boots the Chemist, and were there until 2010/01/15 when they seemed to lose the plot again and so the logos have been replaced again with generic no-boots logos!

If you'd like to receive interesting messages like this, you are welcome to sign up to the Circular List here.

Note that the problem to do with buy-at3.htm was resolved in the end, when Buy.at was acquired by Affiliate Window.