Delivering Confidence Through Recognised Certified Credentials…….

We all want to have confidence in the goods and services that we use. Trust is essential whether in the high street, the supermarket or buying as a business. How can there be confidence in the market and how can we be sure of essential standards? 

Accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is key to ensuring that consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers can have confidence in the quality of goods and in the provision of services throughout the supply chain 

It is the ability to recognise a proven, competent UKAS evaluator that ensures that selection is an informed choice and not a gamble.

UKAS accreditation means the evaluator can show to its customers that it has been successful at meeting the requirements of international accreditation standards. 

This means that the customer reduces the risk of selecting an incompetent evaluator and paying for, or more seriously, acting upon invalid results. Too many of Britain’s companies run the risk of undermining their long-term success by purchasing independent evaluations that are not UKAS accredited.

Futures Supplies’ credentials are endorsed by certification to BS EN ISO 14001 and BS EN ISO 9001 through Det Norske Veritas (DNV). 

Accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), DNV, established in 1864 is dedicated to the principle of safeguarding life, property and the environment. 

Award winning and customer focused we, at Futures Supplies, hope our consistency of approach, endorsed by recognised accredited third parties, makes us a trustworthy, dependable and credible choice to deliver both quality and sustainability throughout our business processes and services.

Downright theft….

Plagiarism or imitation it has often been said is the best form of flattery.

Coming across a website that had copied, in its entirety, a number of pages from our website however I was far from flattered.

I am shocked to discover this is a growing trend and one that is not often policed by businesses and I therefore feel compelled to share our experience with you.

As a company that prides itself on collaboration, I have personally been approached on numerous occasions to work with companies on their website development, environmental projects, PR and marketing, as well as advised on best business practice. Happy to share our experiences and ideas to help grow successful businesses alongside ours – this of course is very different from blatant larceny – ouch!

Those that know our company will know that we are passionate about our business, our partners, our people and especially proud and passionate about our website. Heart and soul has gone into the content, along with tireless hours, as anyone who has developed a website in-house will know.

When faced with such a situation a well-worded e-mail is often enough to demise stolen pages. There is certainly enough to do these days when running a business without dealing with copycats but what is certain is that we must all protect our businesses – prevention is better than cure springs to mind!

Anything that you have written that is copied without your permission is illegal. Copyright law protects you and contrary to popular belief you don’t need to have registered a copyright in this case.

Whilst it’s not possible to totally prevent the theft of your website content, knowing what to do if it does happen and how to check if you have been a victim has to be a start and ‘Copyscape’ is a good place to begin.

You get what you pay for……

It’s difficult to find much if anything to celebrate as falling house prices, job losses, price rises and the plunging pound continue to dominate the media. I did, however, read a piece in a newspaper recently – hidden amongst the articles on the financial pages, which made me smile.

It announced that household detergent group Reckitt, whose leading brands include Finish, Cillit Bang and Dettol, have posted forecast beating profits – up from a staggering 334m to 373m.

The firm says it has not suffered from customers trading down to supermarket own brands – a common trend in downturns but they are, in fact, gaining market share and believe the figures prove ‘you get what you pay for’.

I have always believed that you get what you pay for and that if something is cheaper then there is normally a pretty clear-cut case as to why. Quality can be compromised and service called into question, usage increases and what at first may have appeared to be a cost cutting exercise can have catastrophic results.

These are turbulent times financially and during difficult times one can easily call into question such principles. We all need to cut back and make savings but at what cost?

Maybe instead of resorting to poor quality or shabby service one should look at the true value being offered!

Savings can be made in many ways not least by using less through controlling usage, improved quality and considering the environmental impact. Appreciating the quality of service, reliability along with a product that is fit for purpose and delivered on time is surely what represents genuine value!

If something appears too good to be true, experience tells us that more often than not it is just that. Things are not always what at first they seem and those of us that have lived through previous recessions know only to well that when it comes down to it ……………… only ever get what you pay for!

A different kind of fuel!

Is it the economic slowdown and/or a lack of credit that is leading to escalating levels of fraud?

In a time of economic uncertainty patterns of crime are also changing.

When I think of crime I usually think of a physical action or violation against a person or a thing – burglary, mugging or pick pocketing. But in recent years crime has been taking a far more sophisticated form.

One of the fastest growing crimes is identity fraud perpetrated without the criminals even breaking into your home.

Earlier in the year a study by accountancy firm KMPG revealed that fraud levels in 2008 have reached a 12 year high.

Other figures show cases of ‘account takeover’, where a facility hijacker unlawfully obtains access to a victim’s account operating it fraudulently, has more than doubled from 1,331 in the first quarter of 2007 to 3,276 in the same period this year.

That’s a massive increase of over 136 per cent and is the fastest-growing type of fraud currently recorded.

Officials say they cannot be sure why the figures are rising at such an alarming rate – well let me enlighten them.

I have always thought of myself as vigilant and savvy in such matters – following all the best advice. I cross shred everything; and sign up to monthly alerts to check my credit report for activity. I am registered with Cifas; and I even resort to eating my passwords – extreme but worthwhile having seen the chaos and distress that identity fraud can cause when my son was a victim some years ago.

But, as a recent victim of ‘account takeover’ myself, I have to tell you it is not enough. By obtaining everyday details available in the public domain – Companies House, births and deaths, and Council Tax records – criminals gathered information on my private and business account.

They were then able to make systematic calls to the telephone banking system, transferring funds from one account to the other and subsequently withdrawing substantial funds using a counterfeit passport and cheque.

It was not enough that I had never subscribed to the telephone banking system let alone had a password or that I had never drawn more that £200 from a cash point to alert the banking system that the activity was fraudulent.

The subsequent lack of interest from the police is disappointing to say the very least. Despite the availability of CCTV and transcripts of all the calls they seem preoccupied with soft crime.

Identify theft costs the British economy millions of pounds annually and has become an easy and economical way for criminals to steal money.

The ease of stealing a person’s details, coupled with the difficulty in prosecuting such crimes clearly fuels the rise in ID fraud.

You may recall that back in November HMRC ‘mislaid’ the personal details of all child benefit recipients in the UK. At the time, the banking industry released a statement to reassure its customers that sort code and bank account, national insurance number, date of birth, name and address details are not enough in themselves for an ID fraudster to access a bank account – as additional security information and passwords are always required.

I am living proof that this is clearly not the case!

Over a barrel……………

As the price of a barrel of crude oil reaches record highs, fuel prices have rocketed, more than doubling since 2007. Further increases are therefore inevitable at the pumps.

The impact is far-reaching – we are already seeing the biggest increases in food prices for generations. The disappearing age of cheap air travel is on the horizon, with ticket prices increasing to offset the rising cost of jet fuel. Energy costs have hit an all time high and bills are set to rise by 50% this year.

Diesel prices have increased by over 30% in the past twelve months fuelled by an alliance between greedy decadent oil traders, producers and speculators who have used scare-mongering to drive up prices and line their pockets.

Coupled with rising demand in China and India, the government has imposed ill-considered taxation on fuel. The UK has always levied much higher taxes on fossil fuels than the US. The result – it’s not just families that are feeling the squeeze: businesses are suffering significantly.

Any business that runs a vehicle fleet will especially have felt the pinch. With the economic climate, as well as climate change high on the agenda, there has never been a better time to take the opportunity to look for alternatives.

By exploring and embracing renewable energies and alternative fuel sources, along with new technologies, and by becoming more efficient in our activities, we might just be in time to respond to this wake up call.

If we can engender enough fear that the oil business, speculators and governments source of income may be compromised we may yet, as a result, see the oil bubble burst and demand and fuel prices start to fall.

As the nation finds alternatives and starts to defect from the pumps collaboratively we can look forward to a genuinely more sustainable future that thrives without violating the planets resources and frees us from the bureaucratic political arena that currently holds us over that very expensive barrel!!

Are they just paying lip service…………

With almost every page of media carrying an article about a new ‘green’ environmentally friendly company or product range I can’t help feeling that most of the claims made are merely paying lip service to the whole ‘green’ trend. I have to question – are we all being led up the non organic garden path.

Unsubstantiated misleading claims fill the pages of our press and the business and political arena. Many I suspect are misguided, some even unscrupulous and made by companies out only to make a quick buck by taking good money for products and services that I fear are much less than green.

I would suggest that most people are by now positively confused and sceptical about many of these claims having been dazzled by green terminology and spurious science jargon.

Trying to sort out the truly environmental ethically minded genuine companies doing it for the right reasons isn’t easy – ‘green’ has become the new ‘black’ and companies have recognised they have to get on the bandwagon or get left behind.

I am constantly frustrated by the term ‘environmentally friendly’. Why? Because nothing is actually ‘friendly to the environment’. Whatever it is it had to come from somewhere, be manufactured, shipped or transported, packaged and will later be disposed of. It therefore has an environmental impact along with a carbon footprint.

Mass demand equals mass production which means environmental impact and damage on some scale – it is a fact that it is impossible to be totally green as green is open to many interpretations and every action has an impact.

Take for example plastics – nothing illustrates our throw away lifestyle better. We produce over 3 million tons a year using 8% of the world’s oil production. 1.5 million tons of plastic are used in the bottled water industry alone and with 13 billion bags given away a year by British retailers it’s not surprising that it’s a subject that’s been prominent in the press recently.

But is swapping from one plastic bag to another enough –didn’t we re-use all those other bags anyway? Have you checked that you are not unwittingly swapping one evil for another – substituting toxic chemical use with native species destruction; air pollution with water pollution; and energy use with human welfare violation?

Does anyone know what being ‘green’ really means? Is it all just a cynical marketing ploy – isn’t it time we asked if these companies are really concerned about global warming? How exactly is their product ‘friendly to the environment’ and can they actually substantiate their claims?

Excess borrowing and abuse of our planet…

LIVE beyond your means for however long but eventually you will have to pay back what you owe – be it to the bank or the universe.

Depleting resources through excess borrowing and abuse of our planet – I draw here an analogy between our current financial and environmental position.

Sub-prime lending leading to the recent credit crunch, fuelled by world events over the past decade postponed by a flood of money from central bankers lent in both America and Britain has plunged society into debt.

Compounded with an ever increasing un-sustainable throw away attitude – ‘have it today and pay for it later’ there is a clear parallel with our attitude to our impact on the environment – ‘have it today and throw it away tomorrow’.

Climate change, a natural phenomenon, advanced by the industrial revolution hundreds of years ago, has been accelerated by a needless waste of energy and resources, once depleted they can’t be restored – we know that.

Similarly Sub-prime lending is lending money to people you know are too poor to re-pay it – the risks to the economy were known. American house prices started to fall, sub-prime borrowers defaulted in huge numbers and banks refused to lend further. Inter-bank lending dried up and symbolically just like the melting ice caps Northern Rock were devastated.

Accelerating climate change, much like the instability in the financial markets, is both predictable and preventable. The sooner we recognise that the better we will find ways to make sure it can’t happen in the future.

As the cost of goods and borrowing increases maybe once and for all we will all start to discover the impact of our unrestrained behaviour. Our throw away actions on society and the economy go beyond what is socially or morally acceptable. Its time to rediscover the real value of goods, service and quality – reinforcing old habits of saving and making the best use of resources.

So in these uncertain times an opportunity maybe to fortify the positives and for companies and individuals to take firm control, buff up their green credentials – adapt and create sustainable long term strategies and embrace new technologies.

With the potential to elude the ‘buy now pay later’ and ’throw away culture’ conceivably, if we are optimistic and take positive sustainable action now, we can expect no more than an adjustment to the economy not a full blown recession and maybe yet avert an environmental melt down.