30th of December, 2006
I now have to do an extra news update during this holiday to report later progress developments.
First of all I have to report that there has been an unexpected delay completing FUN4 card orders. My order for FUN6 cards arrived in the UK on the 24th making me believe that I could dispatch orders on the 27th or 28th following Xmas. However, to my surprise then DHL has not been doing deliveries between Xmas and the New Year. So this package should now arrive on the 2nd or 3rd once they get back to work.
Being in the UK for 9 or 10 days is not at all good for a high priority shipment but that is DHL for you. The high priority service for every day of the year, except those few days between Xmas and New Year. And I paid nearly one thousand USD for their slower than common air mail service. :-/
The next thing to report is that the FUN2 card supply curse has struck for the 5th time when my supplier in Singapore dispatched me FUN4 cards by mistake. More correctly the factory supplied him with the wrong card type where he dispatched them on to me without confirming what they were first.
That package arrived in UK on the 26th and is currently subject to a clearing delay. This means that due to DHL and/or Customs not currently working then this package has not yet been processed through Customs. This package could well also be here on the 2nd or 3rd when my supplier is currently unhappy to pay the cost to have DHL return them to him and instead wants to sell these FUN4 cards to me.
What will happen there remains to be seen when I have already agreed FUN4 card supply with my supplier in the U.A.E, when to my surprise he mentioned being able to supply FUN4 cards now. Those cards could also well be here on the 2nd or 3rd, but that remains to be seen. So with two batches of FUN4 cards on the way I will have to see if market demand wants enough cards to cover the incorrectly sent ones as well.
Also I have to mention that FUN2 cards should also be here on the 2nd or 3rd when this factory has now sent out the correct cards to my supplier where they are about to dispatch them on to me. As seen from past FUN4 card supply then delivery will take just two working days where DHL outside the UK is still working for one of those two days.
I can only hope for no more FUN2 card supply problems, but what with five in a row so far then that is why I now call it the FUN2 card supply curse. And in case you have not been counting then those five are... 1) German supplier does not dispatch first order quickly enough. 2) Local supplier provides faulty FUN2 cards. 3) German supplier also provides faulty FUN2 cards. 4) U.A.E supplier fails to provide agreed and paid for FUN2 cards. 5) Singapore supplier sends FUN4 instead of FUN2 cards.
There is a record for number of supply problems, but at least all signs point to the correct cards being here very soon. There is another record here though when DHL could well deliver a record breaking FOUR packages on the same day. That would be a vast and quite expensive collection of cards when each one of these four is a vast number alone.
The last thing to report is progress in ATMEGA card supply. Getting hold of these cards is certainly not easy at this time, but I hope to very soon report that a good volume of these cards will soon be on their way here. Unfortunately Xmas has been causing some delays here as well, but then that is Xmas for you.
The only other thing to report that I have just opened two PayPal disputes with my own suppliers. The first one is to get back a small sum from one Italian supplier when he seems reluctant to return the VAT payment and to correctly process my purchase as an EC sale. And the second one is to get back the payment for those hundreds of faulty FUN2 cards from Germany, when the pending arrival of FUN2, FUN4, FUN6 and hopefully ATMEGA cards means that I need nothing else from him. He won't be happy with having to do such a large refund, but then due to these market supply problems then we have all been there.
One last thing before I forget. At midnight you will see my site do an automatic switch from the Xmas to New Year theme. As I found time to do that theme some time ago and wanted to surprise you.
So the news of the day is that these outstanding orders will be dispatched as soon as those cards get here. That has always been the case but then one person or another likes to cause me delays. This time it was DHL's turn.
24th of December, 2006
The first thing I have to say is...
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!
Now that is out of the way then the good news is that my FUN6 order is now in London. Unfortunately Xmas will delay the arrival of this package, but sure enough every FUN4 card order will now depart on the 27th or 28th. Those orders will then arrive with my customers whenever the Royal Mail gets around to it.
To remind you then FUN6 cards are replacing FUN4 cards in such orders due to the fact that FUN4 production did not happen last week due to a problem with the FUN4 die. And since the FUN6 card can run FUN4 firmware just fine, when I have many customers already doing that, then this card is a suitable replacement.
I would in fact say you are very lucky to get these cards, when they cost me 71% more than the FUN4 cards would. Not to forget that the FUN6 comes with four time the data storage area due to the 24LC1024 EEPROM. These cards also run FUN2, FUN4, FUN5 and FUN6 firmware just fine, meaning that you won't need to buy another Funcard unless it is the FUN7.
I did not do news yesterday as expected due to the fact that I wanted to make fully sure that this FUN6 order was on the way first. It did not help that this supplier did not respond to my first fax and that the tracking number they gave me when I asked on Wednesday was false. So only then I asked a second time today did they provide me with the correct tracking number, where sure enough this huge amount of FUN6 cards is now in London.
So the way things currently look is that all FUN4 orders will be competed first. The FUN2 orders will certainly follow shortly behind, when they will be shipped from Singapore soon, where only a few ATMEGA orders will remain to be done. Nothing else left at all expect for two special orders from customers wanting items that I do not keep in stock.
I have also decided to now close my e-mail system until the 3rd of January. This I usually do every year and I do not see why this year should be an exception. After all since the last time I took a real holiday was in 1996 then Xmas is the only break I get during the whole year. So to save me going insane I need to take time to relax, where what few orders remain after the FUN4 and FUN2 orders are gone will certainly be done as fast as possible if you know about it or not.
Not to forget that I won't be here much of the time to be able to answer e-mail.
The best News at least will be that I will have huge volumes of FUN2 and FUN6 cards in stock all ready for immediate dispatch later this week. The FUN4 and ATMEGA cards will follow on sometime behind, where I can mention them later on.
So enjoy this holiday as I will hope to do.
22nd of December, 2006
Just a quick update to say that the FUN4 and EMER4 cards from Singapore have now arrived. These were actually in Maidstone yesterday at 1:21pm at the Maidstone DHL depot following a direct flight from Singapore to London. Only at 2:36pm did this change to "Scheduled for Delivery", which from my company history I know means that they would then deliver it the following day instead of taking the 10 minutes trip to bring it here.
Had I been aware of this situation in time then I could have gone and picked it up, even if DHL may fight me over it saying "but you are not supposed to get it before tomorrow". Worth keeping in mind the next time this happens, when a one day delivery is possible.
The only other thing I am left wondering is if I will have to pay import tax on this package. This supplier I see used the method to devalue the card value, which about halved the invoice total. Import tax billing by DHL will soon be due you may think, even if for half of the correct total, but then this package came with a huge label over this package value. And since they did not open the documents to find out then maybe they just passed it through. In any case I will soon find this out, where any import tax I can then get back in February anyway.
The not so good news is that the huge volume of FUN6 cards won't be here today, which means that the remaining FUN4 orders will only be dispatched between Xmas and New Year, when DHL come to deliver this order. That is a shame for me when I was going to stay with my brother for a few days during this holiday, but that will now have to be cut short to sort out these remaining orders.
These cards not turning up this week, as I asked this wholesaler to do, also means that I had to choose how to best use these FUN4 cards that were recently here. I decided to only complete a few early trade orders, where very many cards were instead used to complete smaller orders. So in the end my decided method to keep the most amount of people happy was to dispatch orders based on both age and size. So large early orders of up to 65 cards were dispatched today along with a large slope of orders going down to like one or two cards for recent orders. In any case since these cards only covered 21.5% of my FUN4 card needs then I did my best to make a lot of customers happy.
On to better news then it will certainly be fourth time lucky for these FUN2 cards when this morning I paid for a huge volume of cards that I make sure were fine. Not those problem Open Platform cards ths time. Not even the 'cannot be made' Galaxy type. Instead an odd sports design with a picture of David Beckham on them. An unusual design it may seem but what most counts is that they are made well with no operational problems, which is certainly the case here. And since many of these problem Open Platform FUN2 cards are still going around Europe then these cards will sell well due to being the real deal. These cards should also be here next week where every FUN2 order will then be dispatched with vast volumes of these cards to spare ready for immediate dispatch.
As to more strange things than neither my FUN5 nor FUN6 card stock has sold out yet, when like another FUN6 order to arrive early this morning has already departed. That is what I like to see. I will soon see about getting in more FUN5 cards, when they will help to last until I get vast volumes of FUN4 cards, but obviously I will have no shortage of FUN6 cards.
In any case I will do a large update tomorrow before I minimise my holiday time.
21st of December, 2006
Well I have more good news this morning when my fourth shot at getting good FUN2 cards here is now in progress, when my Singapore supplier has now mentioned his prices. I did consider getting in enough cards to complete all orders with enough cards to spare, but after checking prices I decided to go for the huge volume again.
I have once before paid for such a volume from that new wholesaler who could not supply, where that funding will now need to be mapped into something else, but since these cards seem to be popular around the points when past deliveries were due, then I am sure that I will have no problems selling these cards when I actually have lots of good cards in stock.
I am of course making completely sure that I will be receiving no more of those overly green dodgy FUN2 cards with the three letter code, but from what I can tell so far then Singapore is a world away from that problem. It is in fact nice that this Singapore supplier has a local factory that he gets these cards directly from.
So as soon as I get this supplier paid then these FUN2 cards should be here next week. That will certainly be a nice point with lots of FUN2 cards ready for immediate dispatch to new customers, but not too long following I will have to use this source to boost my FUN4 stock up to huge volumes as well.
It is of course disappointing that I have lost profit on these FUN4 sales, by having to supply FUN6 cards instead, but I said that I would certainly do my best to complete these FUN4 orders before Xmas. The biggest shame is that this Singapore supplier only offered me huge volumes of FUN4 cards this week and not last week when I really needed them. Still, at least I can make acceptable profit from FUN2, FUN4, and FUN6 sales in the future.
So the only card type I need to sort out now, beyond boosting FUN5 card stock, is the ATMEGA card. To be honest then this type is starting to annoy me, when available supply is usually much too expensive, where good value sources like this wholesaler and this Singapore supplier do not seem to have them. Although in the case of this Singapore supplier then it is more true to say that he is still looking around and has no source yet. So in the case of these ATMEGA cards I will now have to look much harder, where at least resolving all these other problems gives me the time to do so. And as I am quite sure that these cards are out there some place, then by making use of all my supply contacts, then I hope to soon report a solution to this elusive card type as well.
The best news, for me at least, is that I am now starting to get in to a position where I can supply vast volumes of Funcards to the market early next year. I hoped to have been able to do that last week, but then that U.A.E wholesaler only turned out to be a dead-end for desired cards and a money sink for many thousands of pounds. I can only hope that any future supply issue will be minor, but I think I have found a source for good reliable supply now.
As to that DHL shipped box of FUN4 and EMER4 cards then it has not arrived at the next point on its trip yet. That to me means that it is taking the long trip direct to Europe, where sometime today it will arrive. If I recall past DHL shipments correctly then they tend to pass through Germany, but for this package we will find out where it has landed at soon enough.
20th of December, 2006
I have now got a fax back from this wholesaler confirming the dispatch date, supplied card type, and tracking number. The not so good news is that this order has not yet been dispatched to me, as I had hoped, meaning no delivery today or tomorrow, but the better news is that this package will be dispatched to me tomorrow.
The card type they have provided will be the FUN6 card. I was hoping that they would supply the FUN5 type, to minimise my upgrade cost, but at least these FUN6 cards (that cost me 71% more than this suppliers FUN4 prices) will mean that you will soon get the best card in the Funcard range. After all these cards will be able to use firmware aimed for the FUN2, FUN4, FUN5 and FUN6 cards.
Since the DHL shipping time between my supplier and myself should be 1 or 2 days then I can only hope for the 1 day delivery option by being here on Friday, when with some advanced planning then every FUN4 order would leave on Friday, where at least the majority of orders would be with my customers on Saturday.
If it turns out to be 2 days then my best guess, what with the Xmas holiday and all, would be delivery on the 27th or 28th. I am hoping for the 1 day delivery though. In my DHL book delivery time to my supplier is stated at 2 days, but due to the time zone difference then 2 hours would be lost. When you reverse this trip then 2 hours would be gained instead, where since the flight time would not be much longer than that, then that is why I would give Friday 50/50 odds.
I just wish that I could confirm the exact delivery time now, but I would need to get at least one package from this supplier to know that for sure. This one is the first package and all following DHL shipments would then take the same time.
On better news then my FUN4 and EMER4 (Emerald 4) card order from Singapore did get dispatched to me today. That one should certainly arrive before Xmas, when I made sure that it was dispatched using DHL's fastest shipping option, where on-line tracking shows that this recently dispatched package has spent the past four hours in Singapore, but it has now departed the Singapore hub on its way here. The next stop in this trip should tell me if it will be here tomorrow or Friday.
This supplier has also confirmed that he can supply large volumes of FUN4 cards, which due to these two pending deliveries I now don't have a major of need of, but he has also confirmed that he can supply FUN2 cards without naming a price. That price I will soon find out, when this supply should both save the higher German supply cost, and to avoid those dodgy FUN2 cards that still seem to be going around Europe.
So by the signs of things then I should soon be paying for FUN2 cards, for what is now the fourth time, where I will certainly make sure that there are no supply issues this time. Thankfully Christian public holidays tend not to cause delays in Singapore when 76% of the population being Chinese means that they cause delays around the Chinese New Year instead. Delivery is of course somewhat more limited by certain Christian events, but they should be here between Xmas and the New Year.
In any case it is at least good news that soon enough no FUN4 card order will be left outstanding. And for new customers then it currently appears like I will have plenty of FUN6 cards left in stock. Well I did already have spare FUN5 and FUN6 cards in stock yesterday, where apparently only one customer ordering two FUN6 and one FUN7 cards yesterday evening had their order dispatched today.
Also I just have to point out that any customer ordering the FUN4 type before Xmas will be receiving the FUN6 cards instead. As that is no doubt the lowest price you can currently buy a FUN6 card for then it seems almost a crime to not obtain this card with the huge 24LC1024 EEPROM. Atmel made EEPROM of course, when Microchip does not go above the 24LC512. No doubt that explains why my wholesaler could provide FUN6 cards now.
As these two orders will soon both be in DHL shipment then I will let you know their progress. The FUN4 and EMER4 cards have now left Singapore, where the FUN6 cards will leave the U.A.E tomorrow. Hopefully all the FUN4 orders can be with my customers before Xmas, but that is now up to DHL and the Royal Mail.
19th of December, 2006
Well I am more than happy to say that more good news now follows. As I just got that fax back from this new wholesaler confirming that he can indeed provide me with FUN5 or FUN6 cards. And due to his vigorous circling of the "yes" option then he certainly wanted to make that confirmation clear.
As the only other thing he added to this fax was "by DHL" then I currently have no idea if following my previous fax to say to send me these cards he has already dispatched this order or not. If he read my previous fax then he should have certainly done so, when I told him to go and send me these cards urgently, but no clear dispatch confirmation is clearly unhelpful.
My best guess is that due to the ecstatic circling, and the "by DHL" comment, when he would have been aware that I am well aware that he uses DHL, then this is a clumsy confirmation that this order has already departed by DHL. This would mean that this order would be here either tomorrow or on Thursday.
I am certainly going to get confirmation from him, when I have grown tired of trying to guess his dispatch dates, but the one thing that is clear is that all outstanding FUN4 card orders should very soon be completed. I will soon have to make a note to be dispatched with these orders pointing out that FUN5/FUN6 cards have been supplied instead, when FUN4 cards are currently hard to obtain, and where FUN5/FUN6 cards are a fine replacement.
Since these cards could well be here before that FUN4 batch from Singapore then customers will have to let me know if they would prefer to wait for the FUN4 type. I would recommend customers to go with the FUN5/FUN6 cards, when after all they are a more expensive and functional card type, which you get for no extra charge, where they work just fine with FUN4 firmware (I have other customers already doing that), and are bound to be more useful in the future. Not to forget being with you before Xmas if the Royal Mail does well.
Not to mention that I could then have lots of FUN4 and FUN5 cards spare in stock.
So getting all these FUN4 cards completed before Xmas is very good news. The FUN5 and FUN6 card orders are now already gone, with spare cards now to sell it seems. Then the FUN2 type is likely to turn up one side or the other of Xmas, which now just leaves ATMEGA card supply to sort out.
So I am now officially happy. The failure of factories to produce new FUN4 cards around the 15th, due to this Atmel die problem, was very unfortunate, but my plan to upgrade the card type will soon pay off. And it will be nice to go into this holiday with a nice volume of spare card stock.
In any case once this wholesaler has provided a confirmed dispatch date, or tracking number, then I will be able to tell you when these FUN4 orders will be dispatched. It could even be tomorrow, but we will have to see.
Well I am pleased to say that the FUN5 and FUN6 cards that I ordered last week arrived today. As this package arrived even before my unstated estimate then it is good to see that EU mail is going faster this week. In any case there will be completely no customer orders requiring these card types left at the end of today and even with cards to spare.
As these spare cards are not that many, when last week when I ordered these cards I had hoped to have FUN2, ATMEGA and even FUN4 orders all gone by now, then I will reserve these cards for existing customers looking to upgrade rather than supplying them to new customers. I will certainly soon get in more of these cards though for new customers.
In any case these are very good quality cards which mean that this German supplier is good to provide many more cards. That includes the FUN2, FUN5 and FUN6 cards, but for new customers I would have to increase my prices slightly. This I can say is likely to happen for FUN5 and FUN6 cards, but the FUN2 cards remains to be seen.
More good news is that this FUN4 card order from Singapore will now be dispatched to me within hours. The not so good news is that due to some communication problem his end then the quantity will be 10% less than expected. Very unfortunate but then these things tend to happen.
The other goods news is that he is now looking into supplying me with other card types. These are only likely to be here between Xmas and New Year, but this would indeed be a good source for these cards. In any case he is currently asking the factory where by tomorrow I will know what they have available.
So things are at least starting to move well now. The supply of FUN2, FUN5 and FUN6 cards should be resolved soon, where hopefully the FUN4 and ATMEGA will soon follow. It is just too bad that I wasted the past two weeks trying to get loads of cards from this new wholesaler to be able to last well into January, when his stock soon vanished once he had my payment. This wholesaler is of course trustworthy, even if elusive concerning available stock, but like my other problem suppliers this one will now need sorting out.
That wholesaler at least received my reminder fax today, where hopefully I will soon know about FUN5 and FUN6 supply, but if not then I will keep sending him faxes until I get this yes / no answer. It is of course helpful for suppliers to keep in contact with their customers, when customers tend to do undesirable things when not. And that also reminds me to get my own e-mail sorted out when the past few days have caused delays here due to my need to get this mess sorted out. Well Xmas is only days away now, but in any case customers will soon get their replies.
Well as you can see good progress is already being made. Having spare FUN5 and FUN6 cards in stock is nice, but they of course won't last long. Having spare FUN2, FUN4 and ATMEGA cards would be better, where maybe soon I can report good news there as well.
18th of December, 2006
The first card type I am going to sort out following the failure of my new wholesaler to provide cards last week will be the FUN2 cards. Interestingly enough these card are not that hard to obtain, but following two cases of being supplied with faulty cards, and then one new case of non-supply, then traders buying these cards sure have to make completely sure what they will be getting.
Also getting in lots of this type would help keep sales flowing more smoothly when currently it has been more off and on around when new stock arrives. The only question at this time is who to obtain these cards from? I have a couple of options for lower cost supply, one local and one not so local, but the back-up option is to import more expensive cards from Germany.
The problem with the German option is that I would have to increase my prices to compensate. This would not affect existing customers, when only new customers would have to pay the new prices, but I have been thinking recently that a second price increase could prove useful to help resolve supply problems. After all I would then have more choice in terms of where I can buy these cards from. You could say that my prices would then match the current lowest on the market.
The same can be done for FUN5 and FUN6 cards. Enough of those types are already on the way from Germany to be able to complete every outstanding order and with cards to spare, but I will need more cards here to avoid supply delays.
I am of course trying to get lower cost FUN5 or FUN6 cards to complete FUN4 card orders, but if that cannot soon be achieved then the second option is to offer an upgrade. I did send this new wholesaler a fax late on Friday to enquire about these cards, when fax has so far been the most productive communication method, but as of today I have got no reply. As a result I did try later today to send him a second fax, with a simple yes / no selection, but this time the fax send did not complete. As it seems that this wholesaler's fax machine is out of paper then I will try again in the morning.
That latest batch of FUN4 cards should certainly be here this week. I am currently trying to find out exactly when, but first it has to go from the factory to my supplier, where he then dispatches it by DHL to me. Two days later it then will be here.
What to do with these cards will leave some people happy and some unhappy. Traders came first wanting hundreds of cards, but then my smaller non-trade customers got stuck behind them.
Hopefully I can soon get in a nice big batch of FUN5 cards to complete every FUN4 card order, but if not then my orders from Belgium, Germany, Italy and now Singapore should highlight that plenty more cards will soon be coming. The only problem here is the delay involved in locating yet more FUN4 cards and getting them here.
Beyond trying to put the finishing touches to FUN4 card supply then the only card supply problem I have yet to resolve is for the ATMEGA cards. The problem here is that possible suppliers seem to have higher prices than mine, sometimes even much higher, which is no help in trying not to loose money supplying cards. Still, since I have been trying to get the other types sorted out first, and to do the last of my pre-Xmas work this past weekend, then my next job will be to have a really good look into this supply.
I should however not need to remind customers that Xmas is now only days away and where the postal system at this time will be in heavy demand due to late shoppers. So new orders turning up between Christmas and New Year, or even later, would not be unexpected. I have of course been trying to get cards shipped by DHL recently to get them here ASAP, but following the non-supply of last week then it looks like my own Xmas holiday will be on hold this year to work on resolving these supply problems. All I can say there is that any outstanding orders will be dispatched during this holiday when possible.
Well the one thing I can say is that this Funcard demand is now the worst supply shortage that my company has ever had the misfortunate to deal with. On the one hand there is record breaking demand and on the other hand this Atmel die problem means that there is no new card production to meet this demand, which is kind of like chewing at old bones. Then this event only happens in the lead up to this biggest public holiday in this country. And of course many customers in their quest for instant gratification lack understanding.
Also I can say that my own suppliers have caused five supply failures, which just happens to be another record. This is made up of three cases of agreements to provide cards where once payment has been agreed then expected supply does not happen, then two cases of the supply of faulty goods. I should also mention that other suppliers would also be facing such problems, which goes to reflect that market supply is not currently that good.
That reminds me that I dispatched that order of faulty FUN2 cards back to Germany today. Since this supplier did not respond to my last e-mail pointing out how these cards were faulty, then I thought that these cards would be better at his place for Xmas. How he can miss the public problems I don't know, but he can also ask Atmel about their die problem if he is still doubtful.
Yet another example of my funding being wasted on suppliers who cannot provide working cards, but at least in this case this supplier should be able to provide other working cards to replace them.
And before I finish my moaning then from what I have seen during the past few days then PayPal is foul stinking horse crap. I have had totally no problem refunding my other refund seeking customers by NoChex, PPPay and Bank Transfer, but sure enough PayPal wants to make itself a problem. The main fault here is that they take 7 to 9 working days to move funding into my PayPal account to be able to issue refunds, which just happens to be the 29th of this month. Until that date then PayPal does wonderful magic in blocking me issuing any refunds. The point here is that every outstanding refund on this account could be done, except for one, but since that one too many exists then PayPal block all refunds. A moron system if you ask me.
And sure enough customers do not understand this situation. Well except for one trader who has encountered this problem in the past and knows that I am already working on sorting it out.
This is such a serious problem that I am going to have to write new code for my Order Forms that will ban customers from ordering items subject to supply problems via PayPal. That will have to be done so that if such an annoying supply failure happens again I can actually refund my customers without two weeks having to pass.
And sure enough PayPal likes to give you 10 days to resolve a transaction dispute that requires 14 days for them to be able to move funding into your account to able to issue the required refund. Certainly they could do this transaction instantly had they desired, but then they could not enjoy torturing suppliers could they?
So maybe by January the 1st customers will be banned from buying Funcards by PayPal. That would make for a second PayPal ban after the Standard Postage option was dropped. I have recently considered disposing of PayPal completely, but for now as long as this dragon can be handled, then that should not be required.
Anyway, at this time I would appreciate customers paying for new orders via PayPal, when that immediate funding method would help to clear this blockage. This problem would eventually resolve itself, but those customers would not appreciate the delay. I have never seen this situation before and I hope to never see it again.
Well as you can tell I am currently annoyed. Had those cards arrived last week as expected, and stated by this wholesaler, then there would be no problems now when I would currently have had tons of cards currently in stock and all ready to go. Instead this week I now have to start again with even less funding. Not a problem of course when I do not need to buy four or five time the required volume every week! And hopefully this week will be the week when I can resolve these supply problems.
My final thing to say is that since my e-mail replies were a bit patchy near the end of last week then between today and tomorrow I will catch up. Hopefully some more positive news will soon follow, but that depends on the offerings of my suppliers.
15th of December, 2006
Moving on from earlier news then once again I am seeking out alternate supply options. Funcard supply these days may be more unreliable than the train service, but as long as I still have orders to complete then there is still work for me to do. Certainly such a large set-back is annoying, but there are still cards out there.
My first check is to find out if this wholesaler can currently provide FUN5 or FUN6 cards instead. After all just one batch of cards from this source would complete every outstanding FUN4 card order. As I have said plenty of times before then FUN5, FUN6 and even the FUN7 cards can run FUN4 card firmware just fine. I already have customers doing that as it happens. So since the supply of FUN4 cards won't stretch far enough, even with those pending from Singapore, then the best option at this time seems to be to switch to a higher card type.
I should know the answer to that "easy out" option by tomorrow morning. My second option though would be to see if my Singapore supplier can provide other Funcard types. I have only asked him about the FUN4 cards so far, where those FUN4 cards will soon be on their way here, but the supply of FUN2, FUN5 and FUN6 cards may also be possible.
My third and more costly option is to import more cards from European suppliers. Enough FUN5 and FUN6 cards are already on the way from Germany to complete all those orders next week, but there are many more cards available here if I want them. The only problem with this route would be to once again increase my prices to compensate for this higher expense, which I see is the option that my rival suppliers seem to have picked. That is why that is my last current option, when I would prefer not to have to increase my prices again.
This latest FUN2 supply failure once again means that I will now have to obtain these cards from a 4th source. As the supply of these cards have been a disaster to-date, with five supply delays recorded so far, then that is why most of the customers currently wanting a refund is for this type. No problem there beyond the fact that the transfer I issued this morning will only be in my PayPal account on the 29th, due to the combination of their 7 to 9 day transfer time and the Xmas holiday. In any case I will see about obtaining yet more FUN2 cards this weekend.
The supply for the other card types has not been too bad. Plenty of FUN4 card orders have been completed now, where this batch from Singapore will move yet more orders. The FUN5 and FUN6 cards have been doing well enough so far, excluding the recent delay due to simply being too busy with the other card types.
The ATMEGA cards have done great up until the start of this month, when there is no outstanding order for November, but of course this card type has now suffered two recent set-backs. Well life goes on and sure enough I will now have to obtain these cards from elsewhere, where maybe this weekend I can sort out new supply.
Well as you can see Funcard supply is a problem these days. I just wish those firmware guys had wrote their firmware for the SILVER cards, when I have thousands of that type all ready to go. The ultimate Funcard truth is that since this demand begin on the 21st then no new cards have actually been made. Those cards that were made early on have all been faulty, where we can now see that this fault goes all the way back to Atmel. No new cards can be made until this is sorted out, where the market now lives on what currently exists.
At this time I am still hoping to complete most if not all outstanding orders before Xmas, but of course since there are not many days left now, then I can only try my best.
Well it seems that today's news is one that will soon reach the ears of everyone currently buying or selling Funcards when this morning I received important supply information from my wholesaler.
The more minor news for today is that my vast volumes of FUN2 and ATMEGA cards won't be here today, as I had much hoped, and even prayed for, when unlike what my wholesaler mentioned late last week, then these two orders have not yet been dispatched. That little fact alone is going to lose me a small fortune between now and Tuesday, but that is really minor compared to the reason why my two orders did not get dispatched as planned.
First of all let me quote what my wholesaler just said...
ATMEL is investigating the chip operational problem. Once it is sort[ed] out they will ship the chips and cards go into production. We regret very much. Your money can be transferred back any time. We want to give you right cards.
Now as it happens this mentioned reason for this unfortunate supply problem must rank high in my top five worst reasons for why delays can happen. The reason for this is that getting these cards from this wholesaler will now take several weeks, where January now comes to mind.
The second factor here is that if Atmel is currently unable to produce there smart card dies then you won't get new Funcards. End of story. As I want you to be perfectly clear in your mind that suppliers get cards from wholesalers, where wholesalers get cards from the factory, where the factory cannot make these cards if Atmel do not supply them with working dies. No cards from the factory, then no cards with the wholesalers, where all suppliers will soon run out as well.
So this is very much a global supply problem involving all Funcards and the ATMega card. There are still some cards around here and there, but they won't last long and in light of this supply problem market prices will soon get a lot higher. I have already seen evidence of large price increases with other suppliers during the past few days, when they have obviously become aware of this Atmel supply problem.
What I find most annoying here is that I made completely sure with this wholesaler beforehand that they could provide good cards where their reply was "We explain the factory about the operation problem in microchip and they confirmed us that there is no operational problem at their end. You might have received the cards from some other manufacturers who some time copy these cards". So they would have only become aware that this problem only after new cards had to be made and a problem with the Atmel dies cropped up.
On a more wider footing then the Open Platform card types were the first to be hit with this problem, which is why the market quickly switched to supplying the Galaxy type instead. And since the spare stock of Galaxy cards quickly sold out then more had to be made and where this problem soon cropped up here as well. Obviously only after I had questioned this wholesaler about it.
From what I have seen then market supply is not good. Currently there could well be some of those faulty Open Platform cards going around. The Galaxy type should all be good, but obviously now very limited and I would expect all market stock to be sold out during the next few days.
Then the market will be completely out of Funcards from end to end. No Atmel dies and no card production whatever method suppliers use to obtain them.
As to myself then only these FUN2 and ATMEGA cards are currently affected. The FUN2 card supply would have been four times current customer requirements and ATMEGA cards five times. The FUN5 and FUN6 supply from Germany should currently be good, but spare cards here will be minor. Also those FUN4 cards from Singapore will be fine, where I am already working on investigating if this supply can obtain other card types.
Well my conclusion at this time is that my plans to complete every customer order before Xmas have now been completely messed up, where unlike some customer desires then I have no magical wand to produce Funcards out of thin air. I am sure to be able to obtain more cards in the near term, but supply choices will become harder. For example my prices are currently the lowest I have seen on the UK market, where one option is to increase prices again in order to buy up what is currently available on the market. I will have to look around this weekend to see my best option though before going this route.
The other thing I have to mention is refunds when some customers I am sure will now desire to pay some other supplier's higher prices in order to buy elsewhere, even if that won't last more than a few days. And since most customers paid by PayPal then there will be an issue refunding you. The reason for that is that a larger number of refunds would put my PalPay account into the negative. Due to the sales decline for not having cards in stock for nearly two weeks now, then the only way to recredit my PayPal account would be transfer funding from my bank account into my PayPal account.
That transfer is already in progress but the problem here is that this transfer will take 7 to 9 days before my PayPal account is credited. Certainly PayPal could credit my account immediately had they wanted, but since they make money from card payments, then that explains why this funding delay exists.
And since you can rest assured that PayPal will use 9 days, which they will manage to stretch into 10 days, then go now check on your calendar when that 10th day actually is. So anyone now desiring a PayPal refund is likely to only get their refund sometime between Xmas and New Year. Certainly I could do cheque refunds if desired, but on-line transaction refunds will happen through the service in question, when then I can get back the original high transaction charges. In other words I make no financial loss when providing your refund.
I have certainly been trying hard to avoid that situation this week where getting even one card type in stock would allow sales of that type to fund my PayPal account. This week has been borderline with new sales just about meeting desired refunds, but from today until new funding arrives between Xmas and New Year it will be negative.
Those customers wanting to wait on will certainly get their orders as soon as possible. The worst case situation is that Atmel will soon resolve this problem and sometime during January the factory in question will make new cards, where at least my outstanding orders will mean that I will be the first in the queue for new cards. I should certainly be able to complete many orders before then though, when like this pending batch of FUN4 cards prove there are still cards out there once I contact more and more of my former supply contacts.
In any case during the next few days I will buy up all stock of whatever card types I can obtain. More news when I know something, but for now this now known supply delay means that these cards will be marked "Out of Stock". I am of course sorry that many orders cannot now be completed before Xmas, as I had planned, but when Atmel has issues then the whole market will suffer as a result.
14th of December, 2006
Well currently it is early Thursday morning and today I am feeling lucky. So as this day progresses then let us see how much good news I can provide to you.
The first good news is that I got that FUN5 and FUN6 card order paid for late yesterday. Like most EU companies they now owe me a VAT refund due to having no option to remove the VAT while using their on-line payment system. My own system is of course EC trade friendly, as one of my regular Italian traders proved late yesterday with their VAT-less order for WHITE and FUN7 cards. That order will leave today, but in any case these FUN5 and FUN6 cards should be here next week. As these cards are quite expensive then these are just enough cards to complete all outstanding orders with a few cards to spare, but I would really need to find a cheaper source before recommending customers to buy these card types.
The best news today is that this largest batch yet of FUN4 cards has now been agreed and paid for. They should be here early next week and where I am now awaiting the dispatch date and DHL tracking number. As mentioned yesterday these will at least take a good 20% bite out of these outstanding orders, where with a little luck maybe soon I can get the other 80% with lots of cards to spare.
Thankfully I paid that Singapore-based supplier by PayPal. No transaction costs and PayPal's sell rate of 1.921 USD to 1 GBP beats both Thomas Cook and Western Union. I got rid of my USD balance in the process and converted some GBP to make up the spare.
Well as that is all the good news so far for today then let me see if those FUN2 cards will arrive later today. And hopefully some luck will continue into tomorrow as well for an expected ATMEGA card delivery. I just wish that supplier would provide dispatch dates and tracking numbers, when trying to estimate these deliveries is very difficult without them.
Well as it happens the only thing to arrive today was my two new black toner cartridges for my OKI C3200n colour lazer printer. This while vital in getting this printer back into action, even if my other three cartridges are now down to 17%, but this is of course no help in explaining why this huge volume of FUN2 cards is not yet here.
The odd thing about this situation is that these cards should be here right now when the last I heard about these cards was that they were available and that this order would be dispatched once they had picked up my payment. That should have made for a dispatch on Monday, which when combined with a two-day DHL delivery estimate, makes for delivery on Wednesday. So no delivery now on Wednesday or Thursday now needs a good explanation to avoid saying that these are now officially overdue.
As it happens I may actually have one when I was thinking not too long ago that maybe this FUN2 supply delay is due to the fact that they decided to combine my FUN2 and ATMEGA card orders into one dispatch. After all if this first order was due to leave Monday when I had already told them the previous Friday that I would be paying for this ATMEGA card order on Tuesday, then maybe they had decided to delay this FUN2 order one day to combine it with the ATMEGA card order. Then due to the delays in getting them paid on Tuesday then this combined order would have only been dispatched on Wednesday.
So if my theory turns out to be correct then both types will arrive tomorrow, which would create a minor dispatch nightmare when some orders would leave tomorrow and the rest on Monday. If this combined order is the reason for this delay then I will certainly tell them not to do that again when every day that passes means more upset customers and lost income.
If my theory is wrong then on Saturday I will find out why. Patiently waiting for their delivery is one thing, but this time I am making sure that they will account for this delay. That is already in progress, but since tomorrow is their day off, then only on Saturday should I get their reply.
So it seems that tomorrow is the big day when ATMEGA cards should be here if FUN2 cards arrive at the same time or not. I see no reason why this second type should suffer delay when not that long ago they wanted to know when I was paying so that they could prepare my order ready for dispatch.
The other question I am now pressing them on is FUN4 card supply, when so far the purchase of these cards is one subject that they have been ignoring. So I am now looking to have them spell out if I will be getting these cards soon from them or not. I certainly hope so, but this close to Xmas requires a back-up plan. In this respect I think the best idea would be to complete remaining FUN4 card orders using FUN5 cards instead, when not only do these run FUN4 card firmware fine, but this supplier should have no problems supplying these cards in large volumes.
Customers can of course opt out if they prefer to wait on for this FUN4 card production, but something certainly needs to be done if this FUN4 card production is behind schedule. That production unfortunately did not arrive early this week, but more than one source said the 15th where that date now happens to be tomorrow.
In any case I sure hope that FUN2 cards do now arrive tomorrow, when they would be overdue if not, which would then make that the 4th supply delay in a row for this card type. Still at this time I would be thankful to have any of these cards in stock, when FUN2 and ATMEGA are pending from this main supplier, FUN5 and FUN6 from Germany, then that batch of FUN4 cards from Singapore. Nice but having them here makes for happy customers.
Well the only thing to do now is to see what turns up tomorrow.
13th of December, 2006
To begin with then yesterday proved to be a very busy day but not for the expected reasons.
The morning involved getting this ATMEGA card order paid for, but that was easier said than done. The first problem that was encountered was that due to this extra large debit from my bank account then my bank wanted very good proof of ID. Apparently even signatures and passports were not good enough for them yesterday, where they also wanted proof of residence, which meant that three trips to the bank were required in all before they were happy enough to cough out my money.
Paying in money is sure a lot easier than trying to get it back out again with my bank.
The second problem was that my calculation for this payment was a bit off, when apparently Western Union's service charge goes up the more you want to send, so even though I predicted spot on that their sell rate would fall to 1.90 USD to 1 GBP, then the much higher charge was £50 above my allocated amount. So that also took a little time to correct.
The end result was that by the time all these problems had been corrected then it had gone 3pm before I could inform this supplier, which meant that it had gone 5pm in his country. So this delay meant that dispatch yesterday, and receipt on Thursday, was not possible when he would not even see my payment information until the morning.
The goods news at least was that when I checked to see if he had collected payment at just after 11am this morning then sure enough payment was collected. So since he has all afternoon to dispatch this order then there are goods odds that this ATMEGA card order will be here on Friday.
The other subject that I expected to be busy with yesterday was FUN2 cards, but unlike what I had expected then this first order did not arrive yesterday as hoped. After looking into why then I have located the reason, when the only way it would have been here yesterday was if it was dispatched on Friday, where I now see that this supplier works between Saturday and Thursday, but unfortunately no Friday.
What this means is that after I paid this supplier last Thursday, where Thursday was too late to get things done, then they were off Friday, DHL do not collect Saturday and Sunday, which means that the first dispatch day would have been Monday. And a Monday dispatch would mean delivery here today. Today is of course far from over, where I sure hope for delivery, but due to possible supplier delays then tomorrow also seems viable.
Tomorrow is not the best day for me though when as I well pointed out to my supplier then I really want these ATMEGA cards here on Friday so that my customers will get their orders on Saturday. And since a later in the day delivery would make for orders dispatches over two days, then FUN2 dispatches and ATMEGA card dispatches can run into conflict. No doubt this can be resolved by working extra long hours, but please keep in mind that like most days this week I am extremely busy getting things sorted out.
I also have some good news concerning FUN4 card orders when very soon I should be agreeing to the purchase of the largest batch of FUN4 card I have yet received since this huge demand began on the 21st. And since I am having these shipped by DHL then once this supplier has confirmed this sale, then they should be here early next week.
Now despite these cards being about 20% of my total needs then I will have to see early next week how best to allocate them, when if I do the first in the queue system again, then these cards won't even complete the first three orders in this queue. The problem then was that during these first few days other suppliers wanted to buy cards by 50, 100 and above volumes. The more tempting option is that these same cards could complete about 50% of outstanding orders if used more selectively.
That I will only decide once they arrive depending on how further FUN4 supply goes. As currently I am trying to get my main wholesaler to sell me enough cards to complete all outstanding orders in one go. As replies from this supplier count as very rare, including requests for dispatch dates and tracking numbers, then in this case I will hassle him on a daily basis until I get some reply concerning FUN4 cards. In any case this now pending 20% supply goes to highlight how this card type is now starting to become available, then it should not take too long to obtain the other 80% plus as well.
As to FUN5 and FUN6 cards then I tried to buy them yesterday as planned, but for some reason their system did not like my debit card. Why I cannot say, when I can see no reason to explain this, but maybe my bank is having one of those issues with letting me spend my own money again. So the end result there is that I will try again today and if it still does not work then I will switch to a different card.
One thing that did arrive yesterday was my new board backed envelopes, where they turned up in the darkness at 5:30pm as it happens. I will try these out in a minute to see just how many cards can fit into these envelopes without bunching up. Then they will soon be used with order dispatches.
One other matter to report is that I am currently trying to return these dodgy FUN2 cards to my supplier in Germany. He is currently saying that these cards do not have problems, but we of course know differently. So as soon as we reach a conclusion over if these cards work fine or not then will these cards be dispatched.
The only other thing to report is that all this currently heavy demand is killing my two lazer printers what with the unusually high number of print outs they are now doing. My colour lazer printer is currently claiming to have run out of black toner and as a result now refuses to print. I will have to open up this OKI C3200n printer and to give that toner cartridge a shake for now, but new toner should be here soon enough when I ordered two high volume cartridges last night.
More concerning is that my older Brother HL-1250 mono lazer likes to now report a general error. What the issue is here I cannot say, but every now and again I have to reset this printer to get it back into action. I am just hoping that no more serious problems happen here before my new toner arrives when then I would have to start writing order forms by hand. Unlikely but as you can see this large printing demand is currently starting to put my lazer printers out of action for one reason or another.
In any case despite problem after problem then all these card types are currently bunching up to arrive over just the next few days, which means that I will be very busy during this time. No sign of these FUN2 cards quite yet, where I mentioned above why this is, but I will let you know just as soon as they do arrive.
11th of December, 2006
Well there is more good news today when I have now found a supplier who has confirmed that he has FUN5 and FUN6 cards in stock, which means that these cards should be on their way to me tomorrow. When they will turn up remains to be seen, when items from Germany seem to take a week to arrive at this time, no doubt due this Xmas holiday, but I am currently finding out if this supplier can do a faster postage method.
We will also have to see if I make any profit on these cards, when I just got them to complete orders for these card types long before Xmas.
Other good news is that this supplier of this order for a huge volume of FUN2 cards has now picked up this payment. When he did that I cannot say, when there is no mention, but sometime between Thursday and now. This supplier of course does not mention tracking numbers and dispatches dates, when these are not vital in his quest to sort out more vital matters. I found this information out using the Western Union on-line tracking system, where only this afternoon did I wonder if they actually had one.
No sign of these FUN2 cards today of course. Today was possible but I considered it unlikely that this supplier could have both collected payment and sent off my order all on Thursday afternoon. Tomorrow is much more likely, where we will have to see about that tomorrow, but the latest day should be Wednesday. After all we know he now has this payment, where he previously mentioned that this order would be dispatched just as soon as he did.
If these FUN2 cards arrive tomorrow then tomorrow will be a very busy day. After all in the morning I will be sending off this payment for these ATMEGA cards, then in the afternoon most if not all FUN2 orders will be dispatched.
I have already asked this supplier to collect my payment and to dispatch this ATMEGA order quickly tomorrow, where with more reminders due we will have to see if he does. That is why I say that these ATMEGA cards should be here on Thursday or Friday.
At least this time I will know that my Western Union payment can be tracked on-line, where if I check often then I should know the day of collection in this case.
That second receipt would then make two card types where I had plenty left in stock. Then maybe tomorrow I can get this FUN4 order sorted out as well, when this supplier likes doing one type at a time. If not tomorrow then maybe this supplier is waiting for these FUN4 cards to arrive before taking orders. We will soon see on that one.
In any case as soon as these FUN4 cards are available then I will quickly be buying them. That is the type I most need and the only one now to be sorted out.
In a minute I think I will ask DHL if they have a package for me. No dispatch date or tracking number won't make this easy, but I may get lucky and find out these details.
Well as you can see things are currently on track to get everything sorted out and here this week or at worst the start of next week. I still have tons more work to do to geting everything I need to do before Xmas sorted out, but as you can see early work is already producing good results so far.
10th of December, 2006
During my few breaks in my Xmas shopping today I have resolved two current issues.
The first of these issues is that I have to get in more Emerald 4 cards. I took a look around the Net yesterday and as these cards are quite rare then I could not find a supplier. Worst still is that after I had checked my invoices then the web site of my previous supplier was no longer on-line, which made me wonder if he had ceased trading.
My only real option left was to contact this supplier using his phone and fax numbers. And since this supplier lives in Singapore then sending him a fax seemed like the best idea.
The reason for this is that even if he had ceased trading then he could still have cards hanging around. So this morning I dialed up this number in Singapore while thinking that if this fax number does not work out then I may have to discontinue this Emerald 4 card type. I of course brought the Emerald 2 card back to the market a few years ago, where this type still goes around, but this is the only trader I have seen to go one step further to make the Emerald 4 type. So no trader and no Emerald 4 cards.
I can say that this fax went through fine. I did wonder if some other business had taken over this location, where they would be left wondering what Emerald 4 cards were, but I am pleaded to say that this supplier has now e-mailed me back saying that he can still supply this card type. So all should now be good for further Emerald 4 card supply for the following three or four years.
The other problem I have now resolved is to reclaim my smart cards rightful place in the letter class band. What I mean is that in recent weeks I have been doing battle with the Royal Mail over if my size 000 bubble-lined mailing bags fit into the letter class band or the large letter band. Since I actually measure them to be sure then the letter band it is, but the Royal Mail seem to assume that these belong in the large letter band instead, which has been dropping my 1st class mail into a false 2nd class dispatch.
The solution to this Royal Mail confusion is to make my letter class dispatches more letter like. Since a normal envelope is no good for sending smart cards then my ideal new type appears to be board backed envelopes. And after seeing that my usual supplier does not supply any that fit in the letter class band then I soon found one trader who does.
The 250 board backed envelopes that I am soon to receive have "Do Not Bend" in big red letters on the side. Useful when bending a smart card is one of the worst things you can do. No problem putting loads of weight on one, but bending these cards can cause breaks in the tiny tracks in the dies.
So hard board on one side and rip proof paper on the other should lead to a safe delivery. The other interesting thing about these board backed envelopes is that they are exactly 240 x 165mm, which is the maximum allowed size for the letter rate band. So I can now pack more cards in these than with my size 000 mailing packets. The only issue is with avoiding the cards sliding about, like with piling up at one end, when the Royal Mail would only incorrectly class it again. Still, if the hard back creates a nice firm front, then they may just keep them in line. If not then I will have to find a solution.
The other good thing is that these new envelopes are very C5 like in size. This means that my sales flyer can just be folded in half to fit along with the few cards in these board backed envelope. Less thickness, a better looking flyer on receipt, where this can also help to protect the cards.
As to the new pricing on these then my current dispatches on the size 000 is 41p [postage] + 68p [recorded] + 9p [mailing packet] = 118p, excluding the labels and labour. The new dispatches would be 30p [postage] + 68p [recorded] + 14p [board backed envelope] = 112p. So I will save 6p per dispatch, but this would rise to 8p if my recent purchase includes VAT.
So by the time I need to get in more board backed envelopes then these 250 dispatches would have saved me between £15 and £20. And as in time I will be dispatching vastly more than that number then this explains why I am fighting the Royal Mail hard to get my most thin dispatches within their letter class band.
The most odd aspect now is that anyone ordering just one or two cards will receive them in a envelope that is a lot larger than what is needed. This goes to highlight another flaw in the new Royal Mail Pricing in Proportion (PiP) system, when now both the volume and weight of these dispatches would have greatly increased. The former size 000 mailing packets were the perfect size for wafer cards and very light as well. I can only pity the extra heavy delivery bags used by postmen (and the rare postwomen) these days, but if the Royal Mail want to attack my size 000 dispatches then the new board backed envelopes come with armour plating.
Since these dispatches will now look a lot more envelope-like then this should aid the Royal Mail confusion. And in case they want to cause further problems then I will even go as far as printing a damned photo in the back showing these board backed envelopes going through one of their 5mm slots!
So the Royal Mail will soon get my extra 11p no more. It has been quite a battle, but I think that victory is now in sight.
My supplier of these board backed envelopes has confirmed that his prices include VAT. This means that at a cost of around 12p an envelope then I will save £20 once all 250 have been used. This 12p may be higher than the 9p for my former size 000 mailing packets, but the increased size still make these better value. Not to mention that this larger size can mean that more wafer card orders can fit in the letter class band. So in all they are better value anyway. Hopefully they will be here soon, but since I dispatched most orders that could have used them on Friday, then no major need for them at this time. Instead this week I should be trying to fit these piles of cards into the large letter class instead.
Anyway, roll on major card stocking week. FUN2 cards here around Tuesday. ATMEGA cards here around Thursday. Then these much desired FUN4 cards whenever they become available.
9th of December, 2006
I am taking a quick break from my Xmas shopping to report my analysis of this extreme Funcard demand.
To begin with then the most popular type at the current time is the FUN4 card. From my accounts analysis then sales during the first 9 days of this demand (21st to 30th of November) exceeded all previous FUN4 card sales for the previous 32 months. So during just the first nine days these sales exceeded the total number of FUN4 cards sold in total between March 2004 and October 2006.
This extreme demand explains why the whole market was completely wiped out by this huge demand. As I mentioned before then the UK was sold out of any low priced cards within two days and the whole of Europe followed three days later.
As to the other card types then I can say that FUN2 sales for these same 9 days exceeded sales for the previous 28 month, where ATMEGA card sales exceeded my entire company history. Then again I have not been supplying ATMEGA cards since October 2004 until recently when I obtained a few nicely priced cards from one ex-wholesaler. Those cards were of course sold out very quickly where I had to keep getting in more and more.
You can begin to see from this that the market as a whole could not handle this extreme demand surge. The entire market just did not have enough cards available. Suppliers were wiped out first and their wholesalers quickly followed.
This is not to say though that the demand cannot be met when already the factories are busy making new cards. The only real supply delay is with the time it takes them to make new cards. Well that is not quite true when due to my customers desire to use on-line payment services, like PayPal, then it takes between 5 to 7 working days just to move this funding to replace that money that has already been spent buying cards in my bank account.
In any case the hard work I have been doing during the past 18 days, or more correctly about half that time, is to simply pool my company resources to meet and exceed this demand. Like within the next week my main business bank account will be receiving funding from PayPal, NoChex, PPPay and transfers from my two other bank accounts.
This pooling of all my available resources into one location is simply to maximise my card purchasing during this week. So if supply goes as planned, where FUN2 and ATMEGA cards should certainly be here next week, with FUN4 cards hopefully joining them as well, then over just a few days every remaining order will be completed. Best of all I will have enough cards to last into January and possibly longer. And since January is another 22 days away then that is a damned lot of cards to cope with this high demand, but sure enough those cards are arriving next week.
So this week is the most important week so far to resolve card supply issues for December. The only possible supply issue in the near future would be due to manufacturing delays, but we will have to see about that.
In any case FUN2 cards should be here on Tuesday and ATMEGA cards on Thursday, give or take one day due to the unclear dispatch date, when my supplier is not into providing non-vital information. And with any luck I can sort out FUN4 cards on Tuesday when this supplier seems to like to do one card type at a time and where FUN4 cards are not quite here yet.
So the only thing I require now is for my customers, current and future, to be patient for these next few days while these card types arrive one by one and every pending order is dispatched.
Anyway, as I mentioned before I will be extremely busy next week to get in all required stock to last this holiday, getting all these orders dispatched, getting any problems resolved, finish any final Xmas shopping, getting other delayed matters sorted out, and in all preparing for this holiday so that there are no problems at the start of next year.
As I mentioned in recent news I have done my best to maximise my customer support for next week, but it will only be next week until I can see how well that will go. The one thing I can say for now is that I won't be pausing dispatching orders and getting in required stock to answer e-mail. As if you want your order then next week I have to work hard to get it to you.
So anyone wanting to try e-mail next week had better accept now that you may or may not get a reply. I would recommend waiting until after all FUN2, ATMEGA and FUN4 orders have been dispatched, which should mean sometime in Christmas week. Then on the 22nd my company will then close for the holiday, hopefully without a single order remaining.
That would be nice. No more customers wondering why after selling 32 months worth of cards in just 9 days they have not quite got their order yet. You can call that "catch-up time".
8th of December, 2006
Well I have some good news for 17 customers when that is how many more orders will be completed today. These orders involve FUN2, FUN4, FUN6 and ATMEGA cards. These cards just happen to be my left-overs in my attempt to complete larger earlier orders, but those orders could not be done due to a shortage of cards.
What I decided to do with these spare cards today, since no more cards will be due until next week, was to use them to complete as many orders as possible. The reason for these out of order dispatches is that by completing these 17 carefully selected orders today then I will have 17 less customers to deal with next week. So for the remaining customers I will be able to provide a better service next week due to having less customer orders to handle. A worthwhile action in other words that will now benefit all customers in one way or another.
Sixteen full orders will be completed today. The seventeenth order will be dispatched Monday, when this customer does not want a Saturday delivery. Then I will do one part order dispatch today, when I have some remaining FUN6 cards that cannot be used for completing more whole orders.
My general dispatch concept for today was to dispatch orders that needed five or less cards of any available type or multiple available types. So say you had ordered three FUN4 cards then there is fair odds that your order may be dispatched by the time you read this.
And for the customers who did not have their order dispatched today then well you would have not got the cards anyway, where at least I can now provide you with a bit better support while you moan about it. :-S
From my best estimate at this time then these very large orders of FUN2 cards are most likely to be here on Tuesday, where I am trying hard to get the ATMEGA cards here in Thursday. I cannot yet confirm the exact day for FUN2 delivery when my supplier does a good job in not answering e-mail that he does not see as vital. Tracking numbers, dispatch dates, and the like could well fall in that class.
I have not yet heard more on these FUN4 cards, the only type yet to be secured and the one I most need, but early signs say next week where it may depend on what end. I did mention some time ago that the 15th was a likely date, but we have yet to see on that one. However, the 15th is still good to get you your orders to you long before Christmas, when I would only start to get concerned if my supplier's FUN4 order to me was not dispatched as late as the 19th.
The good news at least is that once these three card orders do arrive then not only will every outstanding order for these cards be dispatched, but there will be plenty of cards going spare. So at this point I can just about say that any new order to arrive before the holiday starts is almost certain to be dispatched. That will change to completely certain once I have those cards here, but good cards and insured transport by DHL means no problem to me.
The only import matter I have yet to see is the possible import tax. No real issue here when DHL always provide the right forms to customs so that customs issue me one of their blue forms so that I can later claim back this payment. And if I recall correctly then DHL will bill me the possible import tax only following delivery.
The courier service I most hate is FedEx when they don't provide customs with the right documents so that I can later claim back this import tax. So like in the case of my imported laptop computer then FedEx charged me import tax, on the behalf of customs, where I then did not get my blue form. And of course showing clear evidence to customs that you paid tax on a business import won't get you a blue form either, when once the item has past customs then they don't want to know.
FedEx explains why I hate shopping in the United States when they love to use FedEx over there. I lost import tax on that mentioned laptop then I lost yet more import tax when I had to buy a new power adapter for it.
The other interesting matter with imports in the stated value of the contents. If you shop in North America then the stated value is always correct, but if you shop in Asia it is highly likely to be wrong. So the valid value on my laptop combined with FedEx made for a large bill, but like in that box of USB to Serial adapters from Hong Kong then the stated value is wrong. And it must take some nerve to mark down a whole box of these as a gift that is worth $5.
This reminds me that I received in my PH meter from China today for use with my aquarium. The Gift box is ticked and the stated value is $10. Obviously not a gift and I paid £11.20 for it, so there would have been no tax away. I think in China they should just print customs labels with the Gift box already ticket, when I have yet to receive a package without it.
I can just imagine some Chinese guys wheeling a brand new Jumbo Jet through customs with a green customs label on the side saying "Gift. Value $5". =8-)
It is natually illegal to enter false information on a customs label, which is why I never ask suppliers to enter false data, but you sure do have a good idea what they will put simply by where you shop from.
In the past when importing smartcards I discovered that these foreign companies use a different method to not state the correct value but also to not expose themselves to clearly false values. The way they do this is to make a seemingly innocent mistake when adding up the values. For example $2.40 x 1000 = $240. This method also works well when customs only ever look at the final total and never get out their calculators!
So in the past customs have both billed me for the far too low tax total and then to issue me a blue form to claim it back again. And if this false total is ever noticed then the issuing company can just blame human error.
You can make from this what you want, but one thing that is clear is that customers are more likely to shop with suppliers who do not cause them a large import tax bill. So Asia rules and your local government is losing tax due to them.
So it will prove interesting to see what this latest supplier does, when they are neither in North America nor Asia. No mention from me of course, and I have already allocated for the correct import tax total, but being honest and large suppliers can seem like a contradiction from my past findings.
In any case what import tax I do pay can be recovered in February provided that customs issue me one of their blue forms in time that is.
As you can see whenever an import from outside the EC is due then I always ponder these matters. Early next week I will find out anyway how much tax, if any, I will then pay.
Well since there are orders leaving today then I have better go sort things out. I am quite looking forwards to getting in all these cards next week, even if I have to pay a lot of tax on them, when already outstanding orders are decreasing by the day, but next week I hope to get all of them dispatched.
7th of December, 2006
I can now confirm that my new supplier has just been paid for my first order of FUN2 cards. Since this was through the Western Union service then he now has all this afternoon to pick up this money and to dispatch my order. I have both e-mailed and faxed this supplier so that he is well aware of my payment.
So it is fingers crossed for dispatch of my first order today, but it could be dispatched tomorrow if he does not collect this payment until either this evening or even early tomorrow. Worst case situation should be dispatch on Monday, but since this is my first use of this source, let us see now how well he does.
In any case since I have asked him to confirm dispatch and to provide a tracking number, then if he provides this information then I will then be able to tell you exactly when these cards will be here. That for now will be two working days following the day of dispatch, when I checked my own DHL list to see how quickly I can do the reverse, where the speed is usually the same in both directions.
These cards will soon be here in any case. And sure enough every outstanding FUN2 card order will be dispatched along with plenty of cards to spare. So these FUN2 cards will be the first type where I can soon say that if you order it today then you will have good odds of getting it tomorrow.
I mentioned not too long ago that this was the first type I was sorting out. After all getting in two orders for those bad Open Platform cards in a row meant that my customers for these cards have been suffering the most, when very few of those orders have been dispatched. That of course is about to change when by early next week there won't be a FUN2 card order left here.
And as I have also mentioned recently the ATMEGA and FUN4 cards will follow this one. Once again they would complete all orders with plenty of cards to spare. I am having both my suppliers working on these two, when I will buy from whoever can provide me these cards first.
From all information I have seen these FUN4 cards should be available sometime next week. When exactly remains to be seen where my suppliers have yet to provide a latest estimate. I certainly intend to get in early on these ones though when just one purchase will complete every pending order.
Due to soon getting in many more FUN2 and ATMEGA cards than what my customers currently require then my plan to stock enough FUN4 cards to last well in January has been delayed a little. No problem buying enough to complete every order of course, with cards to spare, but it will require a second purchase to obtain the quantity I require. That I expect will be done late next week, which is not too far off what I had hoped.
In any case now that this FUN2 card order is out of the way, the first of the big ones, then my attention will now be spent getting these FUN5 and FUN6 cards sorted out. The demand for these is not enough to justify equally large purchases, but finding a good source to obtain quite a few cards is still easier said than done.
The FUN4 and ATMEGA cards are for my suppliers to sort out, so they will bill me when ready, but that leaves sorting out FUN5 and FUN6 cards. Back only three weeks ago they were no problem, when I knew exactly where I could obtain them, but now I will have to hunt around for them.
Due to Xmas not being far away, and due to the few outstanding orders on these types, then I will be happy to get these cards in at a loss if required. Hopefully not, but not too long ago, due to this shortage of FUN4 cards, then people have been buying up the FUN5 and FUN6 cards instead. So there may not be many around at this time.
One other option is that if FUN2, FUN4 and ATMEGA cards continue to sell well, then I could get in a high volume of FUN5 cards and sell off the bulk to other traders. Cards are better than no cards after all. That is a last resort option if the market has been completely sucked dry of them. FUN6 sales would have to be stopped in that case, but I do not see a problem getting in enough cards to cover outstanding orders at this time.
One other thing I should mention is that I could well be extremely busy next week and maybe even the start of the following week. After all the FUN2 card orders all go first, the ATMEGA card orders should be next, then it should be straight on to the large amount of FUN4 card orders.
My point is that not only are there very many orders to be dispatched next week, but since the following week is Christmas week, then I will have a great deal of other things to sort out as well. So for that time I may have to close my e-mail system for a few days. After all customers will be wanting their orders long before Xmas and if I have to keep providing customers with blow by blow accounts of their order dispatch, then sorting out all these things will take two weeks and not one week. So it seems to me it is a better idea to shut down my e-mail system for next week and to simply get the work done.
After all if everything goes to plan then every customer bar none will receive their order between early next week and the start of the following week. So once gone it is done.
Also there is something vital I am doing this weekend which is my Xmas shopping. After all I was going to do that in late November to early December like I do most years, except that people then wanted more Funcards in that time than what the market has sold in the past two years.
So without question I am doing that this weekend without a single e-mail reply during this time. After all if I did not do that this weekend, then next week will be packed with order dispatches, where the following week is much too late. Not to mention that I will be starting to close my business for another year this week as well. Not that new orders won't be dispatched this week, but stock needs to be packed up and put out of the way and the place cleaned up.
So between now and Xmas my e-mail replies will be patchy at best. All e-mail has been answered to date of course, but no e-mail this weekend, some e-mail until the FUN2 arrive, then if the ATMEGA and FUN4 ship as expected, then there would be nothing except the most vital e-mail until the few days before Xmas.
So if you feel that you have something important to say then I recommend that you do so either today or tomorrow, when from this weekend most other things will obtain a higher priority. After all many other things have been delayed beyond my Xmas shopping, where those all need sorting out before the holiday as well.
In case you want to know then my business will close on the evening of the 22nd of December this year. So nothing will then happen until my business reopens on the 3rd of January. Most businesses reopen on the 2nd, but I always add on one extra day for my traditional New Year hang-over and recovery day. Not to forget that this one extra day allows me time to sort out some business matters before the official reopening on the third.
So next week is the week it all happens where my greatest priority is to try my best to ensure that no order remains ideally beyond the end of next week, but at worst certainly not received after Xmas. FUN2 I hope is already on the way, where ATMEGA and FUN4 cards should not be too far behind.
Also I have some good news when I just checked my e-mail and this supplier confirmed that my FUN2 order will be dispatched just as soon as they collect the payment. When that will be remains to be seen, but very soon obviously. Also good news on ATMEGA cards as well, when they have just billed me for this order. This means that I will soon sort out a second payment where these cards will certainly be here next week as well. The earlier the better of course.
So two down and only one more to go. Let us hope that earlier FUN4 card supply predictions work out.
6th of December, 2006
I am currently looking into paying this manufacturer their requested sum for my first order of FUN2 cards with them, where I now hope to have them paid either today or tomorrow.
I am getting FUN2 cards sorted out first when my customer's outstanding orders for this card type have been going nowhere quickly these past two weeks. The only cards that I did get in from Belgium certainly did not go far, where all other cards to date have been these damned substandard Open Platform cards with the the problem Microchip EEPROMs.
This makes a good time to mention that my expected order from Germany arrived late yesterday, where I can now confirm that they are indeed yet more of these damned cards. I guess this also highlights how futile this manufacturer's ban on me is, when I cannot even be rid of their cards if I wanted to be! So they only got lucky with that one ATMEGA card order when I had already well mentioned this pending delivery.
In that respect while I will say that the three digit code on this card is different from the cards I obtained more locally, then I won't mention what this code actually is, when that is likely to identify my source. So to avoid causing more problems for my suppliers then I will simply say that all these problem cards contain a varying three-digit code in the bottom left hand corner.
And so while I will now have a long discussion with my German supplier about these cards, then I would say for now that the chance of me providing these cards to my customers is extremely slim. Instead I am likely to ship these cards all the way back to Germany, which is going to prove fairly expensive.
In any case, if I move quickly at the current time, then I may have much better FUN2 cards in stock this weekend, even though arrival on Monday or Tuesday is more likely due to possible supplier delay. These cards I already know are no problem when they do not supply cards of this problem brand.
As mentioned above I am currently looking into paying this manufacturer. The normal method to deal with such people is to pay through a bank wire transfer, where this normally takes about 10 to 14 days, but since I am in a rush then they recommended using Western Union instead.
I did not get too far with that yesterday when Western Union's on-line service cannot do what I require. The first problem is to pay this supplier in USD and the second problem is that they won't allow me to send more than 999 GBP. So yesterday I had to wait for Western Union to confirm how this transfer can be done.
That answer is to go visit my local Western Union shop, armed with proof of ID and a big wad of GBP cash, and to issue this required USD payment manually instead. That I hope to do either today or tomorrow, where I only have one minor issue to sort out first.
The other option that I have been considering, while I waited for Western Union's reply, was to simply buy the required USD from a local travel agent's shop and to send this USD cash to this manufacturer by DHL, when no supplier would ever object to receiving a big pile of money.
I can say that it took me a little while to calculate what the best value option was. I mean that had I obtained USD from Thomas Cook then they currently sell USD at the rate of 1.87 USD to 1 GBP. That may sound nice until you realise that the true currency rate is now at 1.97 USD to 1 GBP. In other words for every 1 GBP converted to USD then I would be losing 10 cents.
That would happen to be a loss of 5% which is a fair sum on such a large payment. Not to forget their minor 1.50 GBP service charge.
Now I can say that Western Union provides a better rate of 1.91 USD to 1 GBP. Hey I get 4 cents back making a loss of only 6 cents per 1 GBP. However, to use their service will set me back an additional 75 GBP.
So I can report that in the financial sense both services are not unlike, when even with the USD cash option I would have to pay somewhere around 40 GBP to ship this cash off to my supplier anyway. And so since the totals are not unlike then the Western Union option wins when USD by DHL would take about 1 or 2 days from now to arrive anyway, while a Western Union payment is available for collection by my supplier just as soon as it has been issued in this country.
So if all goes perfectly then this supplier will collect this payment either today or tomorrow, where if they are quick in dispatching this order then it is possible that I would receive these FUN2 cards on Friday. It seems more likely to me that possible delays will see these cards arrive on Monday or Tuesday instead.
And sure enough I will be getting ATMEGA cards not long following as well. I may get ATMEGA and FUN4 cards using Western Union as well, when getting stock quickly is a good idea at this time, but after that I will have to use a "just in time" restocking system to get further cards using bank wire transfer instead. That after all saves this 75 GBP extra charge.
So one by one these card types will move from problem to... no problem. Every single outstanding order will be completed in one go with a vast amount of cards to spare. And if all goes well then maybe by next weekend I won't have a single outstanding order here.
So this is indeed very good news when this new source certainly provides good cards. Also don't forget that I have a local source also starting to supply me cards from next week as well, which will provide a choice in terms of who I buy from. Availability, price and quality always the deciding factors.
I am also sure that some customers are also wondering about FUN5 and FUN6 cards. The truth here is that these two types are currently only popular due to the lack of FUN4 cards. So since I am unlikely to sell many once I have FUN4 cards in stock, then I will buy a smaller amount locally to cover all orders even if I have to buy these cards at a loss.
It may be possible to get these cards from one of my two card sources in the future, along with wholesaling many of these cards to other suppliers, but the high cost of doing so makes that not part of my current plans.
So if my customers can allow me a few day to prove that this new supply line is good to supply you with serious volumes of cards in the future, then you will see as I do that Funcard supply is soon to become no problem. Now to see about getting that Western Union payment issued.
As to less eventful news then I forgot to mention yesterday that my sites switched to automatic decorations early yesterday morning, which means that at midnight, as we come into the 2nd of January, all the current Xmas ones will switch off without me having to do a thing.
I will eventually add a New Year display for the 31st and 1st, but that this year I do not see as that important. In fact I will be lucky to even get the Easter display sorted out in time, but I will try to find time to do that.
I have already confirmed that this large change works just fine in both MIE and Opera. I have not tried Netscape due to not having it installed, but since Opera is strict on using the right code, then that should mean that it is good for all. And of course let me know if that assumption is wrong.
I have decided that for now I will stick these Dragon Module and Zeta Blue CAMs on my New Items page. As I can provide quite a lot of details with what I already know, but just like the Matrix Revolutions CAM then one day I will really have to find the time to find out completely everything that they can do. I will see about adding those new CAMs to this page soon.
The only other thing to mention is that since this News page is getting awfully long, then I will see about moving everything not from December to the Old News pages. So that may be complete by the time you have read this.
In any case since this Western Union transfer won't issue itself, then I will see about resolving that one minor issue and then getting this transfer issued either today or tomorrow. Then on to the ATMEGA cards around this weekend and FUN4 cards next week if manufacturing supply estimates are correct.
5th of December, 2006
Well it seems that card supply these days is starting to look not unlike a Soap Opera.
What I mean is that you may recall my comments last week about the cards I have been calling fake Open Platform cards with the FBI manufacturers code. I of course call them fake Open Platform cards when they are an obvious copy and most of all should not be confused with the real Open Platform cards that have never had a problem in my many years of supplying them.
Anyway, as these things go, then the manufaturer of these cards now desires to ban me as a customer. What is more is that they have got on to my obvious supplier of these cards and used some unknown method of force to have him ban me from receiving further cards from him.
This to me is rather strange when had I really wanted to buy their cards then it is not like they can stop me. After all I have countless friends who could obtain these cards on my behalf if needed. That however I can say cannot be done at this time when this supplier is currently not providing cards to anyone.
In any case this does mean a problem for recent ATMEGA card orders when this pending delivery that this supplier said was "no problem" only on Friday has now been cancelled and where I have been refunded.
I personally find this situation rather funny. The only aspect that does concern me was this supplier's desire to go along with this manufacturer's desire to ban me. After all despite us being rival suppliers, with the odd disagreement, then I would believe that we had a business friendship as well, where him not even wanting to sneak me some cards seems like he is getting a grude as well.
To put it more directly then when one of us is in urgent need of something that the other one can provide then we have always been willing to help out. So maybe the next time this supplier wants something from me then it will be like "Remember that time you banned me as a customer?" :-]
Or maybe not when I am just not the type of person to hold a grudge longer than 5 minutes.
Now I am certainly willing to admit that I have been a little hard on this manufacturer, but then last week I was quite annoyed that my FUN2 card supply plan had been messed up for the second time. And you should have heard some of my customer's views then they were quite angry as it happens.
I however do not see that anything I have said was incorrect. If it was then I would only be happy to issue a correction, but I can only imagine from this ban desire that this manufacturer is seeking an emotional scapegoat. They are of course upset that all these cards are going back (ie financial loss) where they want to ban someone just to feel better.
Hell, maybe they even blame me for all these returns, but unlike what they may believe other suppliers do not eagerly await the next installment of my random rambelings on this very News page! So I am already quite sure that the majority of these returns happened without any advice from me. Other suppliers know what the deal is where they would not wish to supply these cards to their customers any more than what I would. Also despite me going on about bad suppliers then I expect that suppliers who have been selling these cards to their customers have been mostly unaware of the operational problem with these cards.
Well since this manufacturer must like reading my news page, then since I am willing to accept that my view is only one side of this story, then I am also happy to state their half of the story as well if they desire. So I will soon see about getting in touch and obtaining their view. Stay tuned.
In any case, if you have not yet heard the latest news, then these substandard cards have now moved from an optional return to a general recall. So the manufacturer now wants these cards returned where it seems like a good idea to do so.
Well as you may tell I am emotionally mixed by this, when on one hand I am a touch annoyed and on the other hand I cannot help but laugh. In any case I doubt that it is justified, where you can still read my comments below to decide for yourself. My view would be not unlike other suppliers where I am just more vocal.
The end of this matter seems to be that they ended up banning me before I banned them. After all I have already been having serious doubts about stocking their cards with the Microchip EEPROMs, where they have now helped me to make that choice, when I certainly now won't.
In this respect, before the day is over, I am placing a substantial order with a different manufacturer. I will start with the FUN2 cards now to get the ball rolling on those, but all the other types will soon be following as well. That should be ATMEGA cards by the end of this week and with any luck FUN4 cards next week. The only problem is in paying this manufacturer their large totals faster than the 10 to 14 days or a bank wire transfer.
And this source I can say has confirmed that they have never had such a problem with their cards. So no problem here when they provide official cards of one of the two main designs that I won't mention at this time.
So as soon as I have finished writing this latest news I will try to pay them for my first order, where if all goes as expected then crap loads of FUN2 cards could well be here before the end of this week. If not then I will get them about two days after this manufacturer has got the payment.
And to make my fellow traders happy then I will soon wholesale cards at very low prices. My ex-supplier really won't like that one, but then do I really care?
So I am sorry to say that these ATMEGA cards won't be here as expected, but if all goes well they may be here sometime next week anyway. Trade enquiries welcome.
This new manufacturer has also confirmed something that I was aware of anyway. This is that if I desire to buy 5000 cards of any type, then I can have them made however I desire. There will just be about a four week delay while they do so. And that is what I like to hear when I can pick my own EEPROM brand if desired.
And so the news of the day is that I got... banned!
The other news would be... too hell with them when I am now going to get in some cards from a better source anyway. So in the end I am quite happy that I got banned. Strange people.
In the end then if you want Funcards then I will very soon provide so many that your nose will start bleeding in the rush. About damned time to if you ask me.
4th of December, 2006
Here is a crazy thing for you. You may recall that I said recently how much I hate the Royal Mail's latest postal change, when they now class items into three bands based on their shape. Also I said recently how I thought that it was now cheaper to send items to Australia than to send them down the road. In any case since I was sorting out the postage on more orders being dispatched today, then I thought that I would test out my theory.
So I grabbed the first suitable object that came to hand, which just happen to be the box of seals for the Special Delivery blue mailing bags. Since this small box was running low on seals then the weight of this box was exactly 20g.
Now imagine that my friend down the road needed some bag seals and asked me to post them to him. The cost of this dispatch by 1st class post would be 94p, when this small box not being on the flat side falls into the highest package class.
The interesting thing here is that to post this item to Australia using Airmail would cost only 72p. So had my friend lived in Australia instead then I could have saved 22p.
The best aspect however is that I could post this small box to anywhere in Europe for just 44p. So had I posted this small box by Airmail to a friend in say Italy for this 44p, where this Italian friend spent an equal sum to send it to my friend just down the road, then this comes to the total of 88p. So by taking a trip by aircraft through Europe and back saves me all of 6p over sending this light weight package directly!
There is your proof that the Royal Mail's new postal rate system is flawed. They would be better off saying that all items below 100g, no matter the shape, could be sent for the one price. Also their 5mm thickness limit on the letter class mail seems screwed to me, when the length and width seem much too large to have such a small thickness. For example just three or four pages of A4 paper folded into three to form a twelve page thickness would exceed this 5mm limit, where such a letter dispatch counts as normal for most people. Unfortunately these days the Royal Mail wants you to use A4 envelopes within no folds in your paper at all. They seem to have forgotten that volume is even more important than thickness. Still, I am sure that I should get in some mailing items that are exactly their allowed sizes for each band, just to annoy them, even if this would be more volume than what I would need.
Currently I am trying to fight the Royal Mail over that 5mm letter band limit. That fight most involves when I try to dispatch a single wafer card along with my sales flyer in a triple zero (size 000) mail-lite bag. This is the smallest mailing bag you can get and ideal for a few wafer cards. Now despite such a dispatch being only a tiny fraction of the length and width limits of the letter class band, but the single wafer card, folded sales flyer, and most of all the bubble lining, pushes this very close to this 5mm limit.
And since this dispatch comes very close to 5mm limit I test it on the very test card that the Royal Mail sent me for this very purpose, where sure enough I have no problem pushing it through the 5 mm slot. So such a dispatch I would normally send through the letter class option to save on the cost, but due to recent events I have had to temporally stop using this letter rate for such a thin dispatch.
The reason why I have stopped it for now is because my local Royal Mail sometimes reallocates this mail to the higher packet band instead, where since this letter class postage is now not enough to cover this higher band then they down class my first class dispatch to second class instead. And even more recently they have wanted me to pay the missing 3p with an 80p surcharge.
I have had a close look at these dispatches and sure enough they fit in the 5mm letter class band. So instead of paying their charges I am going to send them a letter of complaint instead, when now they have been falsely delaying my first class mail.
In any case to try and avoid this problem again I will soon get in some flatter mailing media, when these wafer cards should still be fine in something flat and on the stiff side. The useful part with going this flat and stiff route is that I can get in some mailing media quite larger in the length and width dimensions. So with some luck I could soon dispatch say ten wafer cards in two rows of five. And all within the letter class range as well with a dispatch that looks more letter like.
The triple zero size can still be good for anything from 10 to 30 wafer cards in the middle postage band, where 30 to 60 cards needs the double zero size to avoid hitting the high band, but making use of the letter class band is ideal to minimise the postage cost. It all adds up into a very large total after all.
The final problem with dispatches, beyond trying to wedge dispatches into certain bands, is that due to the contents moving about then dispatches can move between bands while in transit. I cannot say that I have yet had a problem with this but no doubt the Royal Mail will one day try and bill me for shifted contents.
So this all goes highlight how the once simple system of paying for mail based on weight, that has worked just fine for a very long time, has been replaced with a problem system that is now doing no one any favours. Mail now takes longer to dispatch, risk to the contents has increased, and there is dispute and delays over just 1 mm.
Setting the ranges were a bit tricky when Xmas currently covers the 1st of December to the 1st of January (goes off on the 2nd), Halloween I have set for five days between the 27th and 31st of October, and Easter is of course all over the place between Match and April, but also set for a five day display.
Once I have completed all the Xmas, Halloween and Easter graphics then I plan to remove the 31st of December and 1st of January from the Xmas display and include them in a New Year display. I may also later on cover more minor events, but I can say at this very point this site is still running on manual control instead of automatic control. The reason for this is that I will have to do a large site change to plug it in correctly, where I will do this late tonight when less visitors are around. Also I will have to do some browser testing to avoid any operational problems.
So by tomorrow morning this Xmas display will be running on automatic. Then for the many years to come I can slowly work on improving my site appearance bit by bit, when all the display is now controlled through this one main file. And since it will be fully automatic then even I will be somewhat surprised when these events turn on and off.
In any case I am now pleased that a long desired site upgrade will now be complete by tomorrow morning.
3rd of December, 2006
From my CAMs page you can see that I now have these new Irdeto, Dual CA, and Nagravision CAMs on-line. Adding them went quite quickly, when the smaller size meant the scans needed less cleaning, and last of all the more simple nature of these CAMs means that it was simple enough to write a description.
Up next comes the Zeta Blue CAM, or ZetaCAM Blue if you want say it the other way, then on to the Dragon Module CAMs. Adding these two won't nearly be as quick, when first I have to find out everything that they can do. That from what I can see is quite a lot when the most interesting things only begin once you have moved away from the default firmware.
For example during my Dragon CAM testing I replaced the normal FireCrypt firmware with the Predator 3.54 firmware, making use of one of my FUN7 cards in the process. A good start, but once I had copied over my Digibox serial number (aka the NDS BoxKey), then as if by magic I could then use my Sky Digital subscription in this Dragon CAM on my multi-satellite receiver!
Nice to see the likes of Sky One on something other than a Digibox, but unfortunately I have yet to repeat this feat on the satellite TV card in my computer. As this is the first time I have tried Pay TV then I suspect a configuration problem, when otherwise I have no problem contacting the CAM and card.
As that is just a start on this Dragon CAM testing then plenty more testing to go.
The testing of the ZetaCAM Blue began by confirming just what this CAM can decode even before you put a card in it. That answer is the SexView XXX station on 12,360H on HotBird, which is of course an adult entertainment service. No problems found here when the picture decoded to highlight something I had better not mention to the UK public. Well SexView is a European porn service, with considerable experience in pushing the limits of censorship, where that station certainly involves hard core porn. You won't see anything quite like that on the UK adult services.
What is most nice about this CAM is that access to this station will continue until at least 2010. So those people seeking porn will get many years of it. What this CAM is about however is that SexView is obtaining customer interest to subscribe to their other 11 stations on this transponder. That no doubt is what the card slot is for, but I will have to find out what else it can do.
And for those people bored with the porn, then the default firmware in this CAM can be replaced, where you end up with a CAM supporting multiple conditional access systems. I have yet to give that a try when I will only replace the firmware if I am sure that I can put it back again. I have already seen though that my CAS2 and new CAS2+ can reflash one of these CAMs when I desire to give it a test.
So those two CAMs already provide good features that some people would be interested in, but much more testing to go before I can write an accurate description of what each CAM can really do.
I am least pleased that I got my Sky Subscription working on my main satellite receiver, when I heard that this was possible and where I have now proved it.
Still no reply from any of these card suppliers yet. Reminds me of what one customer recently said when he contacted four suppliers about these Funcards and I am the only one who replied. In any case I will take a look around tomorrow to find yet more sources for the cards just in case existing suppliers are unable to provide cards.
Well at least that ATMEGA card order will be here on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Not all those cards are sold yet, but since very close to 75% has now been sold, then I doubt it will take that long to sell the rest either.
Then the FUN2 cards should be here hopefully later this week, where if these are good cards then most FUN2 orders will then be completed quickly as well, but I am still hoping to get more FUN2 cards from Belgium in order to complete the remaining FUN2 card orders. I will send this supplier a reminder message tomorrow if I still have no reply.
Beyond that then since not many people want to talk to me today then I am working on doing something that I have always wanted to do. This is that every time I put up all these Xmas decorations I have to edit every page to link in the animated GIFs and then in early January I have to delete all these links again. This in past years has been too much work to do, but now I have just wrote the code so that all these animated GIFs can be turned on or off just by editing one master value.
The code I have wrote so far is hardly efficient but with easy and quick control of my site display I can now expand these seasonal events to include the likes to Easter and Halloween as well. As it happens the Halloween version is already about 80% done, the current Xmas display has been expanded, where I will be doing the Easter version next. However, what I would most like to do is to turn this display over to computer control, where even if I died at my keyboard in late November, then my Xmas display would still begin on the 1st of December.
This simply involves entering the right dates and hoping that the hosting server is using the correct date and time. This feature is most useful so that I never have to even remember to manually switch them on or off.
Well since the weekend is now nearly over then so is my time expanding and improving my web site, where it is then back to harassing suppliers for Funcards. I think current market supply is at the worst point yet, when I am starting to doubt if any type of Funcard now remains, beyond the FUN7 that is, but as I have seen during many supply problems in past years then new Funcard production will make supply first lumpy and then smooth.
2nd of December, 2006
Since November recently ended then I have now updated my accounts to this new month. And to give you an idea as to the current demand for these hard to get cards then sales from the 21st up until today now exceeds the sales from all of the previous year combined. Rather extreme in other words.
Not to mention that the month of November, mostly due to these final 9 days, is now officially the best month for my company since January 2003. I am also quite sure that if this popularity continues through December, then this new month could well be the first month that can be compared to the time from before FACT corrupted my company for the following few years.
So if you expand this example to cover the market as a whole then you can begin to see why suppliers who do get these cards in stock will sell out very quickly, why even wholesalers cannot keep up with this demand, why I have been saying that the UK sold out in just over 24 hours, and Europe followed three days later, and why there are long delays while the factories build more of these cards.
In any case, since days ago I decided to move my PayPal funding to my bank account, where this first transfer has now arrived, then I can now say that I am all ready to buy more than enough FUN4 cards to complete every outstanding order with plenty of cards to spare. That of course can only happen once more of these cards are factory made and actually reach the market, but as I will soon mention things are starting to improve in terms of production.
In this same bank account is the required funding for this latest ATMEGA card half-order as well, with spare funding for the second half when due, even if there now seems good odds that all these ATMEGA cards will be sold before this order arrives here on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Nothing unusual there then, when you cannot even buy cards to last these days.
As to buying yet more FUN2 and FUN5 cards then that no doubt will be paid from my PayPal account, but the other option is from my bank account with this PayPal funding transferred to my bank account to replace the money removed. I am currently waiting for this Belgium supplier to confirm that these cards that he offered to me less than a week ago can still be provided, when stock tends to change hands quickly these days.
In any case this is only the start of funding my bank account, when already current funding can already buy enough FUN4 cards to cover every order, with many cards to spare, then I am of course looking to obtain vastly more FUN4 cards to be able to last through this Xmas holiday.
To this end then this recent receipt of PayPal funding in this account is only the first of three transfers, where once the other two transfers arrive, then this will be enough funding to buy over twice (217%) the amount of cards that my customers currently require.
Even this though is not enough cards, when demand will be very high once I have stock, where further sales of the other card types will provide even more funding for buying FUN4 cards. Not to forget including increasing my FUN2 stock by a somewhat lesser extent, when the main problem at this time is simply getting in suitable FUN2 cards.
I currently intend to keep this funding flexible and not tied to any on-going production, when I will simply buy very many of whatever is the first suitable quality FUN4 card supply. And if you ask me the market is not going to go the way of these cards with the Microchip EEPROMs, when the market will always produce what it requires.
Already I have had one interesting person contact me and offering to sell me Funcards, including the FUN4, where cards from this source will most likely be available from the 11th onwards, if these cards are good enough that is. So that is one possible option, which may be good for longer term supply, but since I intend to keep flexible then I have recently contacted a smart card manufacturer in Taiwan to find out if they can also provide Funcards.
Well back in March of 2001 they did supply me with some rather costly GOLD cards, but I have no idea what they have been doing since then. These people can of course make any card you want, if you want to pay their price, but it would of course be cheaper to simply buy into an existing production. Just like my third possible source of this second manufacturer that I keep mentioning, where maybe this time they will reply to my contact.
In any case as soon as one of these sources, or even other known possibilities, is actually offering FUN4 cards to buy, then I intend to buy quite a few of them. Then all outstanding orders would be quickly dispatched.
Having this person offering to sell me Funcards, from his own wholesaler plan, reminds me of the Gold card era back in 2001, when the same thing used to happen back then. Traders offering me cards and prices, where if I was interested then I would soon be asking them for a sample, where if all looked good then I soon stocked these cards.
This can often be a better method then having a production made in a factory, when then you can be more selective concerning what cards you stock, where I certainly changed trader more than a few times to maximise either quality or price.
So I believe this is a good first sign that people are stepping in to use their card production knowledge to resolve the problem that the market wants Funcards but good quality card production is required first. And that is why I say that anyone else who can provide me with Funcards is welcomed to show me their prices as well.
So in all signs are currently looking good that new FUN4 cards production will start shipping around the middle of this month when these known productions finish their batch run. Card supply has been running short over the past week and a bit, but they will soon get the hang of it.
As my customers all seem away at this time, when e-mail contact is at the lowest level so far, where even my card suppliers are occupied seeing what they can provide me, then I may use the current down time to get one or two of those new CAM types properly on-line.
Scanning the CAMs comes first. Then it is on to many hours spent photo editing out all the scanner bad pixel and dust marks, that my scanner loves to pick up. The next step is to adjust the lighting, crop, and then resize. Then at last it is on to writing the new description, setting the price and weight, before adding yet another item to my order forms. And at long last it is time to put the new CAM type on-line.
I will do the official Irdeto and Ultimate (Dual CA) CAMs first when they are uneventful and won't require research and testing, then on to the Nagravision CAM if I have the time. This Nagra CAM was apparently one aimed at the TV Cabo service, before being obtained by my German ex-wholesaler and shipped here.
Well since these CAMs won't put themselves on-line then time to go and do it.
1st of December, 2006
It seems I have more news concerning ATMEGA card supply when this wholesaler is currently unable to provide all of my latest order when he is only currently allowing suppliers like myself to return their dodgy Funcard orders to be upgraded to ATMEGA card orders. So since all ATMEGA cards are currently being used to compensate for recent Funcard orders then new ATMEGA cards are not currently being sold.
This means that next week I will only be getting half of my expected order. So to be able to keep these cards lasting as long as possible I will have place a temporary ban on trade purchases and discounts at the current time. I have currently left this order so that he can provide the other half when possible.
I am however pleased to say that this wholesaler has confirmed that the majority of his customers are returning their dodgy Funcard orders. This while not good for ATMEGA card supply does mean that there will be less of these fake Open Platform cards with the FBI code from entering the market, when only the ignorant and bad suppliers would pass these non-working cards on to their customers.
It seems however that not even ATMEGA cards are going to be spared the wraith of this clone card manufacturer, when once all the current stock has gone from existing supply then they sure as hell will be manufacturing ATMEGA cards with Microchip EEPROMs. To remind you then the ATMega163 is also an Atmel build thus causing another possible Atmel Microchip incompatibility.
So in terms of ATMEGA cards it is a question of buy the "good stuff" while you still can, when soon enough that stock will be gone and ATMEGA cards with Microchip EEPROMs will be shipping instead. And once again it comes down to a coin flip to see if these cards have been made compatible enough to work with existing firmware.
If they do work fine then no problem when even I will be happy to supply them. Not the perfect card but since this manufacturer is already the main supplier into the marketplace, then it can be seen to be more the case of take the cards or leave them until something better can be provided.
This time they are being more cautious and will actually test these ATMega163 cards with the Microchip EEPROMs before they start shipping large volumes out in to the market. The obvious problem is what to do if these cards are found to have a compatibility problem? As then all the cards that people are very eager to buy are not in a state that "the majority of suppliers" would want to provide to their customers.
One possibility at least is that firmware authors are now seeing if they can get their firmware to work with these Funcards with the Microchip EEPROMs, but that is far from ideal.
I am starting to give serious consideration to buying that quite large collection of FUN5 cards that one of my European suppliers offered me last week. As these at least should certainly be Funcards with Atmel EEPROMs, where if FUN4 cards pose a problem when they become available, then I would at least be able to supply FUN5 cards instead.
I will do some further research into these cards, but that large collection of FUN5 cards does seem very nice at this time to keep things ticking over. Just about anyone wanting FUN4 cards would be more than happy with FUN5 cards, when these cards have no problems using FUN4 card firmware. I should be able to get them here quite quickly if I insist on courier delivery.
This supplier did also offer me a good price on some FUN2 cards as well. I did not bother with looking more into that option when at the time I did have FUN2 orders pending from both Germany and the UK, but since I will require more cards to be able to complete all orders anyway, then I will now look more into these cards as well.
So now that the ATMEGA card negotiation is complete, even if I won't get as many cards as hoped, then time to look into getting FUN2 and FUN5 cards sorted out. If these cards are good, as expected, then they should be here soon enough. And of course ATMEGA cards will be here on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Also I will have to send a reminder e-mail to that second manufacturer, when they have yet to respond to my first e-mail to them. They do have nice prices but I am certainly not buying cards without knowing their build quality first, where with a little luck they may even send me a card sample pack as my manufacturers in past years used to do.
In any case Funcard supply goes on. It may be getting harder and harder to obtain good quality cards at this time, but I am not out of supply options yet. And well I do still have a list of my old suppliers who I am soon to try to contact. So in any case I will see about getting in more FUN2, FUN5, FUN6 and ATMEGA cards next week, where maybe those FUN4 cards can be obtained the following week.
They have also provided me with a tracking number for this package, but since they did not care to mention what postal service was handling this delivery, then I do not yet know when exactly it should be here. So all I can say at the moment is that it is likely to be here sometime next week, but I will soon try to find more accurate details.
This however does not mean that I won't be looking into getting vast volumes of FUN2 cards from one of the manufacturers this week as well, when card supply is so uncertain at the moment that you always need to have a Plan B. Like if God wants to punish me for my sins before I am dead then this large order of FUN2 cards may turn out to be more fake Open Platform cards with the Microchip EEPROMs.
I sure as hell hope not, but you will be surprised how well these cards can go around. In any case that is another question I will be asking this supplier, but it is also possible that they came from a different source instead. That is the gamble of smart card supply at this time, when it is hard to tell what you can get and when.
These FUN2 cards were rather expensive to buy, but if these cards are good, then the completion of most orders makes that money well spent. I may even consider getting more if they are nice cards, but this time I would see if this supplier could provide a trade discount.
Also it now seems that I will need more FUN5 and FUN6 cards, when people are starting to catch on to the fact that if you cannot get FUN4 cards, then these are the cards to get instead. Obtaining these cards is not too difficult, when I have done that multiple times already, but it is a question of price, quantity and supplier. Like I could obtain vastly more FUN5 cards than what I need, but since demand for these cards will fall to close to zero once FUN4 cards are available, then overstocking on these cards is not the best idea.
So until I very soon get in more FUN5 and FUN6 cards then those people in a rush will have to go all the way up to the FUN7 type. Again this card can run your FUN4 firmware just fine, when I have other customers already doing that, and where I have plenty of stock available, and where my profit margins on these cards are very minor as well.
I am also very soon to get loads more ATMEGA cards. My first high stock level purchase and where if all goes perfectly then they will be here on Tuesday, but then as life is never perfect, then Wednesday or Thursday is quite possible as well. That will be good when following FUN4 cards these ATMEGA cards are the next most popular.
Also here is an odd thing for you when following sales of FUN4, ATMEGA, FUN2, FUN5 and FUN6 cards, then the next most popular card type is the Titanium 2 card. I have no idea what the deal is with these cards, but if this demand keeps up I may actually have to soon consider restocking.
In any case I certainly have no problems selling my entire Funcard and ATMega card stock these days. Customers want what I got, where my ever increasing stocks soon get drained. So as that PayPal funding should have reached my bank account around now, then it is time to do some serious spending and to get in stock levels that will last a lot longer. Not to mention making sure that my supplier uses a good courier service to get them here quickly.
Well since today I will have to do many things; like... contact more manufacturers, order more cards, get those problem FUN2 cards returned, update this site to the new month, add those new CAMs to this site, then I will catch up with the e-mail on either Saturday or Sunday.
As you can see from the above, and elsewhere on this site, I have now started to add my Xmas decorations. Been a few years since I last did that, but I hope you like them. Back to HTML table abuse though when I am too busy to spend time working out how to write this code in CSS, but if it works then it works, and as you can see it looks quite pretty.
Also my more common December and January Special Offer is now on-line, but to know more about that you will really have to see my Special Offers page.
Anyway, December begins with good news, when those very many FUN2 cards are now on their way here. I will now hope to soon be reporting FUN2 card order dispatches.