5 reasons not to buy from BuyKud if you live in the UK

They spend a fortune of social media advertising and show lovely clothes. But should you buy direct from China?

I bought clothes from Buykud and from my experience I would say STEER CLEAR! This is why:

  1. Buykud charge for post and packaging but are not very clear at telling you you will also have to pay important charges. On my order of over £200 in value I had to pay import charges of  £3.21 adding to the postage charges. Despite their website saying that you do not need to pay this.
  2. Returns is where the biggest problem lies. YOU PAY THE FULL COST. In my case (to comply with all their stipulations including sending signed for,  and taking photos of me posting the product) it cost me £22. They do not even offer a credit note to cover this cost. Whilst this is stated in one area of the website about returns they omit it in another area and they fail to mention it in any other correspondence about returns unless you ask.
  3. They transfer a proportion of any discount voucher you used to the goods you have returned – even though you paid for the return meaning you never get back the full value of the items ordered.
  4. You have to chase them to send the product back and even chase them for the refund – even once you have filled in their form to authorise a return you still need to email them to check they are happy for you to post it. Then send an  email with all the various photo requirements and then finally track your own order and ask for the refund.
  5. If the overseas post is delayed in any way you may miss their 15 day cut-off for a refund regardless of when you posted the item! If they drag their feet on authorising the refund this is almost inevitable.
  6. Their customer service is slow and not very helpful.
  7. Whilst I knew that being a Chinese company they  would not need to comply with same consumer rights standards as in Britain and the EU – you should never need to pay for returns with an online clothing retailer. If I had seen this in the FAQs where I looked before I ordered I would not have every placed an order.

It is a shame. For me this was a test order to see how good the quality of the clothing was – and I have to say I really like the products and only sent back ones that did not fit. But I cannot afford to order from them again!

Missed the consultation?

Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 2016For some reason the Council development company that is building the Plaistow Hub did not feel putting information online was necessary or would solicit anything useful. I feel like we have been transported back to 1997!

The consultation agency that have been hired by Red Door –  ‘Your Shout’ said:

“With the other projects we have done with Red Door Ventures we have found that extensive leafletting and ensuring that we hold our events in convenient and popular locations for the local community has been effective.”

A bit disappointing as it would not take 5 minutes to set up a landing page and a survey – and wth such a big development proposal alongside another development of equal size I would have thought that all communications channels would be employed to make sure that this application gets as smooth a passage as possible. The tube station may have been more convenient than the library.  Building on a park is always contentious so it is really important communication is spot on and there is a real sense that the developers care about the area rather than just going through the motions!

The changes to the local area are significant and the potential for a regeneration of Plaistow is obvious. Treating the applications as separate and with minimal consultation of local residents is both patronising and a wasted opportunity. It is very frustrating.

If you missed the consultation and want to know more here are the ‘presentation boards’ and if you want to share more thoughts than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ then you can email Sheli at Your Shout or call 0800 458 6976

Or you could make some comments below. I am going to visit them on Friday to get a better idea of the timetable, the consultation process, who to contact at the developers and who we can speak to at the council.

Key dates:

  • Red Door will be submitting a full planning application to Newham Council in Spring 2017.
  • Start building on site in early 2018.

2 Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 20163. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 20164. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 20167. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 20168. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 20169. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 2016

10. Plaistow Hub Exhibition Boards October 2016


Questions to ask at The Plaistow Hub Consultation

There are going to be changes in Plaistow and I am pretty excited. London is an ever evolving city and I never expect where I live to remain unchanged. I see new developments as an exciting opportunity to being in some new  and also improve the old.

Screenshot 2016-10-23 12.54.26The Plaistow Hub Proposals have been drawn-up by the Council’s developers. The small pictures provided on the first leaflet are a bit hard to decipher, but they involve utilising the underused carpark behind the station, making the most of the split level site. A new tower will occupy the end of the road next to the boxing club. I will be sad to lose my view of the City of London. But hey – there will be more homes for people. 🙂

The other site in the development is the currently mothballed sports pitch on the edge of the park.

Neither site will be without concerns. Was the sports pitch mothballed deliberately? (I don’t know the history of this site so don’t want to jump to conclusion, but the remaining sports pitch does not meet demand). A tall tower will block light to this well used park.

Screenshot 2016-10-23 12.54.35You must make your voice heard.

It is early days, but the most important thing is to make sure your voice is heard. It is possible to help shape any development, especially one of this size.

These are the first plans, they don’t have to be the last, the local community should be vocal about sharing what they hope will improve in this area if such a large development goes ahead.

The good news is that as it is a council development they will be more interested in listening and getting this right. Don’t ever think your concerns are too small or that you can’t shape something this significant – you can!

My starting thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about the development. There are lots of fringe benefits that cna be achieved though good planning of this development.

Below are my first thoughts – they won’t be my last:

  1. We can make significant improvements to the tube station. I have already been talking to TFL about moving the ticket machines away from the entrance to stop congestion, especially with new flats at 212 Plaistow Rd opposite. Now there should be no excuse – this many residents cannot all use the tube and queue for rickets in the same small tiny place.
  2. It is a good opportunity to bring in step-free access. I see parents with buggies and elderly residents struggle up the external stairs to the south of the station. Now is the time to sort this access out.
  3. I have been told the boxing club won’t be affected by the building. This is a bit shortsighted – you could probably add more to the development by taking in the footprint of the club and then as part of the development provide a state-of-the -art community facility as part of this development. This would make my boxcercise sessions much nicer.
  4. How can we increase provision for football and basketball on the park?
  5. Can we do something with the abandoned church site opposite. There is space here for an Screenshot 2016-10-23 12.37.04extended family sized unit with disabled access.
  6. How can we secure the future of the largely local and BME owned businesses in the area if there is to be a new high street with a supermarket?
  7. Recycling provision is a bit woeful in the area and also the residents in the two story flats behind the carpark have now communal bins – they have to out their rubbish bags in the stairwell. Lots of potential improvements here – including small electrical recycling.

I am sure I will have more thoughts, but would be interested to know your thoughts.

The consultation times are below:




Email the organisers your thoughts direct – Sheli.Barracluff@yourshout.com

Join our Nextdoor community

Plaistow Hub Date Change Notice




What happened to me when I invested in social business Birdsong

Like most of us I am a regular charitable donor. Whether supporting your charity run or texting cash for a DEC appeal. I am there. To me it does not matter if you finish the marathon in super speedy time. I have donated because you asked me to support a cause that you care about.

I have even pre-bought product through crowdfunding. It was great knowing the I had helped get something out into the market by buying to before it was made. I got my purchase. 

But I have never before invested until now, until Birdsong, the ethical online clothes store did their first ever raise. I am now an investor – get me!

I know the team – they are awesome. I trust their values and that they can deliver it. But most of all the business they have built is about solving a real problem.No sweatshop. No Photoshop. So my contribution is 99% motivated by the same drivers as i would make a charitable donation.

So when I hit the button to make my small £25 contribution I expected it to feel like making a charitable donation. After all I was claiming a stake it because I care about what they doing and if I never got the money back I won’t really miss it.  

What actual happened was something very different. I had invested! I don’t just mean cash wise. I became personally invested in making what they do successful because I am bound to them now in some small way as they continue their business journey. 

When they hit their target I didn’t just say well done. I told my mates that this was something they should invest in too. I wanted them to raise more because I have skin in the game. 

I didn’t just ‘donate’ and forget. I found myself relishing every update on their progress and will continue to do so, because nestling in amongst the big investors is my £25. I am now in a relationship with an ethical company that has a future stretching before it!

Just wait till Christmas, my Facebook will be full of the great ways you can gift from ‘my’ company Birdsong.

By investing £25 they also got a bit of me, an ambassador, a customer and a loyal good word for the long-term. This blog 😉

If you have never invested before then I encourage you to try it. Dip your toe in the water with as little as £10 and see how it feels.  Birdsong’s equity crowdfunding is still open (for one more day). It’s where all the ‘best’ investor are putting their money right now!

(please excuse my bad spelling and typo’s – my autocorrect is on a meditation retreat!)

212 Plaistow Road Development – Sunday working

This is the apology I received from the developers about Sunday working- please note their address if you have any issues or concerns 🙂

I apologise for the inconvenience caused on Sunday when the subcontractors were working when they should not have worked. I have visited site this morning and have advise the subcontractors on site that under no circumstances should they be working outside the permitted hours. The reason for the works being carried out were due to heavy rain on Friday the digger was stuck on site and could not load the materials that were delivered. The mesh was delivered in big sections where the machine would have been able to lift them and load onto site, due to the machine breakdown this was not possible and unfortunately the operatives decided to cut the mesh to a manageable size and load the into the site. This should have not been carried out and they should have waited till this morning. I again apologise for the disturbance caused.
Please find my contact details below. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,
Suresh Kerai
Project Manager

Unit 5 Hurricane Trading Estate | Avion Crescent | Colindale, London | NW9 5QW
Office 0208 358 8383 | DDI 0208 358 8391 |
Email suresh@quintas.co.uk | www.quintashomes.co.uk


I shall make sure that there are no further incidents on this project. We do not want to create any bad feelings with the neighbours and are extremely sorry that this has caused issues to the neighbours. I am available to meet with yourself. Please advise a convenient time you are available. I am busy this Tuesday and Wednesday. The artist studios are not let at present. We shall decide on the Studios nearer to completion dates
The refuse will be collected from the refuse store are that is located on Lower Ground Floor
We shall of course organise to have the windows cleaned. Is there a company that carries out the works at present, if so can you kindly forward their details.

Kind Regards,
Suresh Kerai
Project Manager

Unit 5 Hurricane Trading Estate | Avion Crescent | Colindale, London | NW9 5QW
Office 0208 358 8383 | DDI 0208 358 8391 |
Email suresh@quintas.co.uk | www.quintashomes.co.uk

Improving Plaistow Station

I have been in corrpondence with TfL about the health and safety issues around the crowding at the ecntrance to the station – it is a massive ticket hall and everything is crammed into the entrance area. Thanks to Caroline Pidgeon AM for her help.

5th September

From: Flindell Richard [mailto:RichardFlindell@tfl.gov.uk]

Dear Caroline

 We are currently in the early stages of looking at a coffee shop for Plaistow station and have received some interest from a prospective tenant. 

As yet, I’m afraid I cannot give you much more detail or indicative timescales; however, just to let you know that Plaistow is high on our agenda for the District line and we hope to progress this shortly. 

Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. 

Best wishes

Richard Flindell I Stakeholder Communications Manager

Rail and Underground External Relations I <image001.png> Transport for London

Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ

richardflindell@tfl.gov.uk I www.tfl.gov.uk

25th August

From: Leach Adam [mailto:Adam.Leach@tube.tfl.gov.uk]
Sent: 25 August 2016 14:04
To: Caroline Pidgeon
Cc: Members Correspondence; Flindell Richard
Subject: Plaistow Ticket hall

Thank you for passing on this correspondence regarding the ticket hall at Plaistow station.
All ticket machines on the London Underground network are emptied and restocked with cash from behind. This requires access via an associated ticket room, for safety and security reasons. Whilst relocating the existing machines would help move customer queues away from the station entrance, it would also require the associated ticket room to be rebuilt at a considerable cost.
Based on the customer frequency at Plaistow station – the current station capacity and ticketing devices adequately meet demand; meaning there is no business case to relocate the ticket machines and associated ticket room. We will however look into the possibility of providing a queue management system that would address the conflicting customer flows that your constituent has highlighted.
If you have any further questions please do contact me directly.
A. Leach | External Relations
Transport for London

5th August

Caroline it is not clear who I could send this too. Could you pass this on 🙂

It has been over a year since the staffed ticket sales at Plaistow have closed. And it is going ok.

But with a few more tweaks I think TFL could make things much easier for passengers at Plaistow.

As you know there is a big ticket lobby in Plaistow. Since the closure of the ticket booths you have made this bigger and even begun to look at extra revenue streams by putt in a photo machine.

But currently all of the ticket the machines (3) are positioned in the entrance- there are only two small doors to the station. On even quiet days this means a few hundred people walk headlong into 3 queues of people trying to pay for tickets. It makes no sense.

You have plenty of room elsewhere in the lobby to put some double sided free standing machines to reduce this build up of people. Some more modern machines may also be more reliable than the current ones which are often out order. We are lucky that the family that run the kiosk are good at selling tickets but they close early.

Last week the council got rid of the massive seating/weed area that also blocked customers entry and exit to the station – so flow to get into the station is much better – which in turn has increased the problem as you enter the station.

I am happy to ‘show and tell’ if you have some time. I really do appreciate you looking at ways to monitise the space at Plaistow, but some improvements to this ticket hall would not only be very welcome for customer flow but may also help improve ticket revenue too.

Laura Willoughby

YouTube for Marketing and Online Community Building

The topic for the April 2016 Building Online Communities MeetUp was “A Beginner’s Guide to YouTube Marketing & Building An Influential Community”. The speaker this month was Dan Colbert, aka CameraDan, an entrepreneur, filmographer and self-learned online marketer.

Dan started by listing the three uses for a YouTube channel: (1) getting more clients, (2) generating income and (3) selling your product or service (none mutually exclusive aims of course). He emphasised the importance of defining your ideal audience (in terms of their niches, demographics, etc), and creating at least a couple of audience profiles to aim for.

Dan then took us through the two main types of videos: traffic and conversion ones, both divided into a few sub-types: traffic videos can be mass audience, viral/trending or general interest. They get viewed a lot, generate more likes, comments etc, are under seven minutes long (and usually under three minutes), and can be monetised via ads. The conversion videos can be about upselling to your audience or sharing knowledge/demonstrating your service. They get fewer views, likes, comments etc, are longer (up to two hours), but that’s not what their job is.

Mass audience (traffic) videos can be about or tagged onto news, trends, updates, trailers, ads, events, holidays.

Viral (traffic) videos include pranks, PR stunts, collaborations (very important according to Dan!), animals (especially cats of course), cover songs, inspirational/motivational clips, and spoof sketches. These can get a lot views if you’re lucky, but you should still keep them relevant to your channel/personality/company/organisation.

General interest (traffic) videos are the “unintentional virals”, such as social experiments, product experience, reactions, “how to” or guide videos, game/movie reviews, product comparisons and compilations.

Knowledge (conversion) videos include tips, dos and don’ts, advice, tutorials, opinions, vlogs, interviews, talks, and presentations.

Demonstration of service (conversion) is as you’d expect, client transformation, product and service demos, portfolio work, testimonials, reviews, gameplay and documentaries.

As noted before, these categories are not fixed, and without clear borders: any video can be about both traffic and conversion.

Dan then talked about the “YouTube funnel” of a typical customer journey, which goes something like this:

A person searches for something on YouTube; they watch the 1st of your videos; and another; they check out your channel; they look at your banner and welcome video; they browse through your playlists; watch a couple more of your videos; subscribe to your channel; watch more videos; come across an upsell video; and convert to a paying customer of your product or service.

It is important to build rapport with your viewers at all stages of the funnel. And note that prospects that come through your website etc can take a shortcut route through the funnel. It is important to build a relationship with your audience: pay attention to your branding, theme and the look of your channel, including the thumbnails. Many people miss out by not having an introductory video, or a catalogue of their content and playlists.

It is also important to be clear about what your content is in the descriptions and video names, to make good use of tags, and communicate with your audience by taking part in the comments and elsewhere.

In general, Dan said it’s good to upload two new videos each week, as the YouTube search algorithm seems to favour regularly updated channels.

There were again many interesting questions, around copyright issues, on how to overcome camera shyness and much more. A couple of points I made were on tags: Dan suggested using three “filters”: tags relevant to your channel (your and your business’s names), to the video in question (title words, focus, audience) and generally popular keywords. Another question was about ads: do you have any input into what ads people see with your videos? The answer is no, but they are tailored to the viewer, so this shouldn’t be a massive issue for you.

Click here to download Dan’s slides: You Tube Presentation

How to scale a community and keep it engaged

Kajal from Change.orgThe March Building Online Communities MeetUp’s speaker was Kajal Odedra from the worlds largest petitions platform change.org. From their beginning in 2011 they now have ten million UK users.

Kajal talked through her six insights, which were:

1. (Having an) authentic voice – this is really important (and impactful) for their community. People sharing their own story, what brought them to the campaign they have started, and updating the community themselves make it more real and engaging.

lJLqdSPbEXUqtlM-800x450-noPadFor example, Fahma Mohamed‘s campaign on educating girls about FGM before the summer they are most at risk was a very specific ask within the whole FGM campaign, but came from her personal experience and her knowledge – which gave the campaign its strength.

2. Little big thing – this means the tangible thing that brings your issue to life. In contrast, really big things can be hard to make sound urgent. So many campaigns have a specific ask to a specific organisation or business – they may seem small against some of the big challenges and changes people want to see, but they are more easily winnable, and everyone likes to see success.

For example the campaign to get Boots to equalise prices betweens men’s and women’s products was very rapid. It caught the zeitgeist, but the ask was also very specific. It is not world peace but it is change!

3. People like email more than you think. This is a point that keeps coming up in different contexts. And it means that it’s fine to send updates etc. to your community.

Someone asked about the optimum frequency of emails? Kajal said they sometimes send as many as three in a day or two around important events, but otherwise weekly seems a good frequency, and a bit more for the most active users. She also noted that regular emails on a campaign are better than occasional ones (leading to fewer unsubscribes).

In change.org’s case updates on small wins or milestones is also a kind of reward and keeps people engaged.

4. Online + Offline. Not everything happens online. It’s always worth asking how people can engage with you online, but think also about how they can do more in the real world if they want to. Many people in your community will have useful skills they will be happy to share (for example legal or media expertise).

Change.org also work hard to build the capacity of their campaigners, so they train them and support them face-to-face as well as online. Their work with Laura who started her tampax campaign two years ago gave her confidence, kept the momentum going, and helped her support emerging campaigns and campaigners in other countries.

5. Crowdsource – how can your supporters help grow your movement? It’s always worth asking how people can help your campaign. In amongst those signatories are people with expertise and skills – you just have to ask. Change.org have a new user forum coming live soon, which will also allow you to list any useful skills you can make available to campaigners. 

6. Test test test. Never assume that you know what people want. So get them to tell you, by using A/B testing and other methods.

Kajal’s final point was about giving power to your community. In the Q&A she also noted that size isn’t always everything: even small but well-timed and targeted campaigns can make changes happen. And that you can also “pivot” your campaigns if need be.

Thanks to Tech Hub for supporting this meetup as always.

A MeetUp about MeetUps

jussi no back

Written by Jussi Tolvi

The first Building Online Communities of 2016 had Robert Fenton from Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers (aka the Triple H) doing a “fireside chat” with Laura from Club Soda. Robert told the story of how he took over a dying MeetUp group with a couple hundred members, and turned it into the biggest tech meetup in London, with 25,000 members, all from organic growth.

The topic of the day was using MeetUps to build communities, and Robert talked about both the good things of MeetUp.com (it works for small groups, lots of people are there already) and the bad ones (getting data and metrics out of the system is hard if not impossible, difficult to use). For triple H, Robert now uses Eventbrite for ticketing, with MeetUp just as a marketing channel, and they are also building their very own online platform, with some quite exciting features to come.

He also talked about how much work needs to go into organising events, especially if you use several event platforms to draw more people in (HHH use about 20!). He puts a lot of effort into the details of his events, from meeting and greeting attendees to making sure that the tech works. This ensures that the good word of mouth helps them grow and each event is a marketing boost for the next they run.

We all know the no-show rate on MeetUp is poor. For HHH the no-show rate is usually from one in three to one in two, depending on the MeetUp, which sounds about right in my experience too.

There was an audience question on franchising MeetUps. 3H are setting up their own “chapters” outside London. Robert thought that it will be important to set up clear terms and conditions for these, ask franchisees to attend the original events to see how they work, and for the main one to keep an eye on the franchised ones.

Another question was on finding topics for your MeetUps. Robert suggested surveying your members to find out – also about potential speakers etc. On funding events? Robert’s list was: franchising, finding sponsors, setting up paid-for classes and workshops and other events, selling merchandise and charging for membership.

So the big takeaways were:

  • MeetUp is great for recruiting members and people interested in what you do, but it is not the perfect tool on its own.
  • You can monetise your MeetUp – but it takes hard work to get into a rhythm of producing events that draw the crowds so you can find sponsors.
  • Just like any other business, you need to know your audience, and where to find it and what it wants.

Our next Online Communities MeetUp is with change.org – book here.