Two phone calls this morning, both with disappointing news.
First, and irrelevant to Tupperware, my dear friend Bo (right) has not achieved the grade he needs in the Economics degree he finished this summer in London. He has a conditional job offer with Ernst and Young, which includes a Work Permit, but he has just missed fulfilling the conditional grade. What's worse, Bo is currently incommunicado in Korea doing his military training, and is oblivious to the bad news that he will not be returning to the UK as planned.
I have only just put down the phone to this disappointing news, when the phone rings again. It's the Managing Director of Tupperware UK. She instructs me that I have to close down my Tupperware Man website, which has been live since May 2006, or face legal action! I am told I may not use the "Tupperware" brand in my domain name, but that even with a change of name I still may not maintain a website with the purpose of promoting my Tupperware business. I cannot field customer enquiries by email, nor can I even publish on any website my phone number or address contact details for potential customers to contact me that way. Websites are the devil, it seems.
I personally think this is a short-sighted and draconian policy worthy of King Canute. But for the moment I have no choice in the matter. I have asked for full details of the policy that I am contravening, and proof that I am bound by it. Assuming I receive these details shortly, my website then will stay offline and I will point the TupperwareMan.co.uk domain name to this blog. For now, I have replaced my site with a rather bitter message (a copy of this blog entry, pretty much).
My website has been central to attracting customers and visitors from across the London area, and I have used London's community websites to put the word out that Tuppereware is back in London. But I must now rely purely on contacts made through my parties and events, and on referrals from Tupperware Head Office. I get a referral perhaps once every three months from Head Office, compared to around 10 a week from my own website, so the number of parties and events is likely to drop off dramatically. Neither does Tupperware UK undertake any advertising or formal PR, that is up to we independent consultants to date parties and promote our businesses in our local area. But like I say, it seems that doing so with a website, or via any established online community, is forbidden.
I am annoyed and discouraged. I have not yet decided whether it is feasible for me to continue as an independent Tupperware consultant without my website. But meanwhile I will honour all parties, events and orders booked to date.