Nothing angers me more than hearing that Brides (and Grooms) have been 'ripped off!'.
As a designer and maker of Wedding Stationery it angers me even more when I know that people in my own industry are doing it. What I found out both shocked and upset me!
It upset me more because they are cashing in on the most vulnerable of people, usually with a tight budget and little money to spare. I have deliberated long and hard about writing this post, but hopefully by putting words to blog post, I can at least educate couples, so they can make a conscious decision on where to buy their stationery, who to buy it from and more to the point what they are actually getting for their money!
This isn't a post about me getting you to use Inspired by Script to make your Wedding Invitations and Stationery for your big day....(although it would be nice if you did!) but more about looking into the people and companies you are going to give your hard earned cash to and avoiding expensive mistakes.
Let's start at the beginning.. I wrote this blog post in October 2012. That was my first encounter with a Bride getting ripped off! Since then, I've made it my business to look at quite a few of the most popular Wedding Stationery websites and dig a little deeper into them.
Anyone offering a service has to also be a bit clever and savvy when it comes to marketing their goods, especially on-line. I love and admire creative people and have a fascination with design... this led me to look at companies offering Wedding Invitations and Stationery. So... here's what I found:
1. BESPOKE/PERSONALISATION SERVICE
Most offer a personalisation service. Now... at Inspired by Script we class personalisation as fully personalised... NOT JUST THE INSIDE!
Most of these companies do little more than take a mass produced card and print an insert which is then glued (but machine and fully automated!) into the middle. The postcard style invitations are little more than a re printed card with an area where you typeface will fit into.
2. 'WE' PERSONALISE YOUR CARDS FOR YOU!
Really? Ummm.... no you don't! The client fills out a form which sends this to a computer and the cards are then automatically printed, boxed and sent out, without even a second glance!
There seems to be some kind of unwritten guideline when it comes to pricing. £72 for 20 seems to be industry standard somehow... hey! but hang on a minute... it says FROM £2 each! How does that work? Well it's quite simple... they ARE £2 each... providing you want 100 or more! I'm sorry... but I've never met a couple who need 100 invites... but if do... get them to get in touch with me! More likely most want 30 - 40... But hey... it's eye catching and sends their website rocketing up the search engines! Comparing prices with the real, life, stationery makers and shakers you'll easily see that actually they are charging MORE for something that's shot out of a machine than the people like ourselves at Inspired by Script are charging for goods that really are tailor made for you! In a nutshell you are paying one-of-a-kind, bespoke prices for something that's mass produced!
4. MADE FOR YOU
Well... in a way... yes they are... if you class 'made for you' meaning the inside is printed with your details and nothing more... then they are indeed. But it's not what I class as 'Made for You'.
5. THE COMPANIES!
One of the most known Wedding Stationery companies in the UK has really upset me more than any other company EVER! Mainly because their marketing make you think that you are ordering from a UK company. It quite clearly states MADE IN THE UK on their website. On digging deeper I in fact found out that the company director is actually based in America and is the director of no less than 26 other companies... and this doesn't include the ones which have been 'dissolved!' He is the director of a printing company in India... and one in China and the only part about the UK claim is... he had a UK PO BOX number and 0800 telephone number... which is answered by... someone obviously working over here with an Indian accent! Did I mention the company is also £7.5 MILLION (yes MILLION) pounds in debt? It's no worry to these companies though (and there are more), because they simply shut down their websites and trade and something else!
6. SURELY A .CO .UK WEB ADDRESS KEEPS YOU SAFE?
Absolutely NOT! web addresses can be bought by anyone an just because is has .co.uk after the url means nothing! In fact... many companies based in China use this ploy as a way of fooling the client into thinking that they are in fact buying from the uk. Beware, beware! Beware!
7. BUYING FROM FACEBOOK!
This is another great concern for me, especially as Facebook makes no effort to trace people who have conned money out of folk by setting up facebook pages... taking a lot of money and shutting them down just as quickly... Vanished without a trace! I'm surprised by how many couples get caught out this way, but then everyone's looking for a bargain and soon to be Brides and Grooms seem to be an easy target for scammers!
8. NO CONTACT DETAILS?
I've noticed more and more how companies are only offering a form when you click their 'CONTACT US' button! Many couples are oblivious and simply fill out their details, ask their question and perhaps go back and click the BUY ME button.
If they are disappointed or there is a problem, only THEN do they go back on the website and look for a phone number and/or address! Sometimes there is no phone number or address! You may be wondering why? I certainly would be!
By the way... it's LAW that a company displays a trading address and telephone number on their website! If it's not there DON'T TOUCH THEM WITH A BARGEPOLE!
9. KITCHEN TABLE COMPANIES
Sadly... lots of couples are looking for a bargain. There are thousands of websites selling Wedding Invitations and Stationery an unlike Inspired by Script most do not have a walk in, bricks and mortar shop... so this one is a difficult one for me to write about.
Having a website, guarantees nothing! Anyone can make a website these days... it's easy peasy! (I know this because I help many businesses make their own website). Unlike the olden days where a website would cost you a minimum of £1,000, it's also cheap! So much so that people can easily be fooled into thinking that a website must mean you are a legitimate business and registered for tax! Not true! Many people who don't advertise their trading address or phone number, do so because it's to easy for the Inland Revenue and Customs to track them! AND what's more, because they aren't a real business... you don't have a leg to stand on if something goes wrong!
Yes... they may be able to undercut all legitimate businesses on price, due to their low overheads and tax savings... but are you willing to risk losing your hard earned cash?
HOW TO AVOID BEING CONNED!
Do your research BEFORE you part with any cash!
Check out the company - COMPANY CHECK is a FREE check of all Ltd. companies, their assets and liabilities, who the Directors are and how many other companies they own! WARNING! This is a real eye opener! NOTE: Unlimited companies (like ourselves) do not need to be registered.
Check out their postal address! - All companies have to display on their website their trading address... even if they work from home. Go to GOOGLE MAPS
Check they have a land line number! - OK... so this is not foolproof. Nowadays you can dial an 0800 or 0845 number and get India right? But at least check they have a land line! Mobile numbers only should be avoided like the plague. They can be disconnected at a moments notice!
Check out reviews of the company on Google! A simple search with Reviews of (followed by the company name) will throw up websites where the company is mentioned! Don't trust reviews on people websites... these can be tailor written and fake!
It's likely that smaller companies won't be reviewed as much as larger one (if at all)... but it will throw up any likely problems with the larger ones!
If you are ordering from a large Wedding Stationery company... it's likely that they are at best a printer and nothing more. You may be better to have a chat to your local printer and very often this will turn out far cheaper too! If you really don't mind spending £3.50 for a mass produced invitation, then this does not apply to you!
SHOP LOCAL! There are oodles of Wedding Invitation and Stationery makers out there. I mainly (and prefer to) work with couples from North Yorkshire, Cleveland, County Durham and Cumbria... why? Because not only is it easier to meet my couples and get a handle on what exactly they want, but it also gives my couples confidence that I am not here today gone tomorrow.
Shopping local usually means you can get something extra special to suit your needs, dreams and ideas. It also means you are actually treated as a person, not just someone with an open purse! Many of us work long hours and are fighting a battle against the big boys, we make smaller profits and appreciate the fact you are spending your money with us.
Would you rather be a one-click-to-buy Bride, where you don't actually count?
or do you want the company you choose to be as much a part of your day as your wedding florist or photographer?
Would you prefer to help support a small business... or line the pockets of some large corporation?
Do you think that Wedding Invitations and Stationery are not important and are just disposable pieces of card? I can tell you from experience they are not... many of our clients tell us that their guests actually keep them as a keepsake memento of their special day.
By shopping local and using a small company you can be sure that you get the very best of service, meet the person who makes it and most of all, get someone who is dedicated to making your Invitations and Stationery stand out and be as original as you are.
At the end of the day... the choice is yours but at least be informed and aware of what you are buying and who you are buying from.
If you are worried or concerned about a company or you are having problems with one, contact your local trading standards office for advice.