Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Congratulations to the winners of the Business Baby Shower!

The winners have been announced for the Business Baby Shower, a competition for mom entrepreneurs that has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. I'd like to take a moment to highlight the businesses of the three winners: Robyn Pellei of ViveVita, LLC; Lori Sawyer of LS-Fitness, LLC; and Carolyn Carter of CaitiMac Creations, LLC. The concept of the Business Baby Shower was developed by Lucinda Cross of Corporate Mom DropOuts and Traci Bisson of The Mom Entrepreneur both of whom have spent many years supporting and educating women entrepreneurs about how to start and grow a business. The winners of the contest each receive a wealth of fabulous prizes to help them move their businesses forward.

Robyn Pellei is a mom of 9 (yes, nine) children and founder of Vive Vita. She has invented and brought to market some wonderful products to make life with children easier. The Bandette is a reusable label for sippy cups and bottles. Gripsterz is a fun new way for parents to keep up with kids and gives friends a new friend to hold onto while walking.

Lori Sawyer is a mom of two boys and is a fitness expert who started Mommy Moves to help moms get into shape after having kids. Mommy Moves now offers various classes ranging from stroller walks to beach boot camp to mommy runs.

Carolyn Carter is a mom of three kids, owner of CaitiMac Creations, and is the inventor of the Clingy Cord. The Clingy Cord can be attached to any bottle, sippy cup, toy, or blanket so that kids can't throw them onto the ground or floor. CaitiMac Creations also offers all sorts of textile products including ruffled diaper covers, burp cloths, and even Boo-boo Bags.

Please take a moment to check out each of these three mom-owned businesses and follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, sign up for their newsletters, so you can keep up with the latest from each of them. And, if you're also a mom entrepreneur, be sure to sign up for The Mom Entrepreneur and The Corporate Mom DropOut and watch for announcements of the next Business Baby Shower.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Rayovac Powers Your Summer" Promotion

Rayovac, the battery company is hosting a promotion from June 21 to July 20. They will have summertime tips and lots of wonderful prizes. All you need to do is visit to enter to win prizes each day. You can also "like" Rayovac on Facebook to get reminders to answer the daily questions on their web site.

Oh, and by the way, the first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event won a prize package from Rayovac! Rayovac will also be hosting a Twitter event on June 30, 2010, so be sure to check in for that one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Perfect Kids' Lunch Box for Back to School

I'd like to introduce you to the Easy Lunchbox, another mom-invented product and quite possibly the perfect lunch box for kids to take to school or on picnics or in the car, or, well, most anywhere. I came to know Kelly Lester, the inventor of the Easy Lunchbox, when she wrote to me to ask advice as a fellow mom entrepreneur. We have not yet met in person, alas, since she's in California and I'm in Alabama. Maybe someday...

So, the Easy Lunchbox. What's up with it? Well, it is a bento-style plastic container that has three separate compartments. This means you can take at least three separate foods with you and keep them apart without carrying around three or more little containers or plastic bags. One compartment is, of course, just the right size for a sandwich, but it can be used for so many other things, too. The Easy Lunchboxes web site has a fabulous page called Yummy Lunch Ideas with photos of Easy Lunchboxes filled with the most amazing variety of food combinations. There is even a page with links to tons of other web sites that have great lunch recipe ideas.

The Easy Lunchboxes come in sets of four compartmentalized containers with lids of four different colors. You can purchase a lunch bag cooler that is big enough to hold three Easy Lunchboxes or one Easy Lunchbox along with a freezer pack, a drink, and maybe even more special treats for lunch. The lunch bag coolers are available in five colors, though I must express my daughters' disappointment in the lack of pink lunch bags. It doesn't bother me, but I'd say it might be wise to offer the lunch bag in pink.

We received our sample Easy Lunchboxes and two lunch bag coolers, one blue and one purple, so my daughters, Cora and Greta, each quickly tried to claim the purple one. Such is life with 5-1/2-year-old twin girls. As the package did not arrive until just as school was ending for my girls, our first opportunity to use the Easy Lunchboxes was on a trip to the local children's science museum, Sci-Quest, though I'm realizing as I type this how cool it would've been if we'd gone to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home of Space Camp, and taken photos of my kids eating out of their Easy Lunchboxes in the shadow of the Saturn V that adorns the Huntsville sky.

OK, back at Sci-Quest, we ate our mid-morning snack in the break room after a morning of fun, at least on the part of the kids. In these photos you can see that we were able to fit in two freezer packs, four juice boxes, a soda for Mommy, and an Easy Lunchbox with tasty snacks. We didn't have any fresh fruit on hand that morning, so it ended up being veggie sticks, fruit chews, and one large marshmallow for each of us.

As expected, everything was still in place and the drinks were still cold even after a couple of hours of play. Carlton enjoyed handing out the drinks while Franklin kept an eye on everything. Greta and Cora are excited to take the Easy Lunchboxes to school when it starts back, so I know I'll be referring to the lunch suggestions available on the Easy Lunchboxes web site when that time arrives.

The Easy Lunchboxes are made of non-toxic, food-safe, polypropylene (PP or plastic #5) and are thicker and stronger than common plastic containers. The Easy Lunchboxes are BPA-free and phthalate-free and also meet strict FDA requirements. They are safe for refrigerator, freezer, microwave, & dishwasher!

I would definitely recommend the Easy Lunchbox system to just about anyone, whether it be for use at home, school, picnics, on the road, or at work. In fact, my husband has already inquired if he may use the girls' lunchboxes this summer before they go back to school! We just might need to get him a set of his own!

And now for ways to find Easy Lunchboxes online:
Web Site

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Woo hoo! Giveaway for Facebook fans!

The Baby Dipper bowl now has 400 fans (likers?) on Facebook, so I thought I'd celebrate by having a giveaway of a BPA-Free Baby Dipper Feeding Set! How about that?

OH! And I just figured out how to add a Shop Now tab to the Baby Dipper bowl Facebook page. The best part is that it is set up so that fans of the page get a 10% discount on purchases made through the FB page!

Here are the details of potential entries in this giveaway (be sure to leave me a way to contact you):

Since this giveaway came about because of Facebook, the required entry for the giveaway is to be a fan/liker of the Baby Dipper bowl Facebook page. You must post here that you are a fan/liker before completing the additional entries:

1. Follow Baby Dipper on Twitter @BabyDipper (1 entry).
2. Blog about this giveaway, including a link to this giveaway. This is worth 5 extra entries. You must leave 5 separate comments and include the link to your blog entry.
3. Put our button on your blog (in the sidebar to the right). This is worth 1 extra entry and you must leave the link to your blog to verify.
4. Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect. Leave me your name on GFC in the comment (1 entry).
5. Tweet daily - Up to 3 times a day, at least 2 hours apart! Include the link to this giveaway and @BabyDipper in your tweet. Post your Twitter status here (1 entry per tweet).
6. Subscribe to the Baby Dipper newsletter (1 entry).
7. Have a suggestion for a new retailer for the Baby Dipper bowl? Suggest a retailer, either brick-and-mortar or online that you think would be a good match for us (and that does NOT include the Big Box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Babies 'R' Us, etc.). I'm looking for something that maybe I haven't heard of. :o) (1 entry per store, up to three stores).

This giveaway will end at midnight CST on Monday, June 28. The winner will be notified by email (be sure to leave that for me!) and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Previous winners of Baby Dipper bowls are not eligible to win.

Thanks to all of you for being fans (likers) of the Baby Dipper Facebook page! Keep an eye out for another promotion when we reach 500!

This giveaway has now ended. The winner was #55, as selected by #55 is Ashley Reynolds! I have emailed you, Ashley, and you have 48 hours to claim your prize. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Credit Card Fraud from a Merchant's Point of View

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a woman in Australia regarding making a wholesale purchase of Baby Dipper bowls. Well, at least I think it was a woman and I think she(?) was in Australia. Over the last two weeks, this person, whom we shall call Nancy (named changed to protect the unlikely-to-be-innocent), proceeded to bombard me with demanding emails, leading me to figure out that she probably isn't a legitimate buyer, but rather a scammer trying to trick small businesses.

The first email, entitled simply "Order." (period included) was sent directly to my personal email account at Baby Dipper. Odd, but not so difficult to guess, considering that it, like so many others is Normally new inquiries either come in through the form on the Baby Dipper web site or to In the first email, I was given a company name and a shipping address in Australia. She inquired where she could view my products. Even this first email made me wonder. Clearly Nancy did not know that I only have one product, not productS to offer (as of now) and had not seen the web site view the product.

So, in short order, I responded by answering her questions and sent along information about wholesale pricing for international orders. I also made a point of asking Nancy for more information about her company, including a link to their web site.

Well, the next email I received from Nancy had a title of "GET BCAK TO ME NOW" (her typo). Again, odd, but in the email was a polite order for a good size quantity of Baby Dipper bowls. She advised me that she's had "difficulties when it comes to getting orders to my address here in Australia," so she requested that I contact the shipping company in the United Kingdom that she's used in the past and gave me her customer ID number. I, in turn, emailed the address she gave me and asked for a shipping estimate for the shipment of Baby Dipper bowls from China (where I have some inventory stored) to Australia. I responded to Nancy's email letting her know that I had sent an email to the shipping company and asked her again for a link to her company's web site.

The next day I received an email back from a man(?) at the shipping company with an estimate of the shipping fee. He informed me that his company had made a shipment to a man in Australia in the past and that this shipment would not be a problem. He went on to tell me that pick up would be made by their agent in the states (UM, our inventory for this shipment is in China!). He continued on that the shipping company only accepts payment via WESTER UNION MONEY TRANSFER (his typo). I sent the quote back to Nancy and waited for a response.

"PROCESS IT NOW" screamed the title of the email that followed from Nancy. Alrighty then. In this email she gave me a credit card number (a Visa card) with the expiration date and CVV number as well as the billing address, which was in California. She asked me to charge "her" credit card for the total product and shipping cost plus the $100 Western Union fee. Oh, and she was "waiting online" to read back from me concerning the payment.

OK. Stop there. Yes, I would like to have a retailer in Australia, especially one who will start with an order of this size, but I'm no dummy. I had been updating my husband on all of these emails and we were already suspicious of this "buyer." I emailed her back to let her know I was working on determining the proper way to process the payment. This was at 1:43 pm.

My next step was to do some sleuthing to see if I could figure out if Nancy was a legitimate buyer or not. The first thing I did was call Visa's World Customer Service Center to inquire about the credit card number she gave me. At that number I was able to verify that the street number and zip code she had given me in California were indeed the correct ones for that credit card number. I was also able to get a phone number for the issuing bank, so I jotted that down and promptly made a call to Chase to investigate further.

In the mean time, my diligent husband was also researching and sent me this link about merchant liability and credit card fraud. The phrase he highlighted for me was "the liability for fraud lies on the merchant, not the credit card company." Enough said. I am not going to accept a credit card that is even remotely suspicious, especially for a bill of this size.

We also researched the shipping company and couldn't find anything about it online. Plus, the email address for it is at a generic email address, like a Hotmail account. Oh, and the company whose Australian shipping address Nancy gave me turned out to be a manufacturer of products for the concrete industry. Hmmmmm.....

The first agent I spoke with at Chase informed me that Nancy's name did not match the name on file for the credit card. Ding ding ding! I also asked about the man's name the shipping company had mentioned they had shipped to in Australia. No luck there either. He did verify that the complete street address was correct, but agreed with me that if the name doesn't match, it's a no-go and then transferred me to the fraud department at Chase. The agent in the fraud department was very nice and very well-spoken. He took notes on everything I've detailed in this post and thanked me profusely for taking my time to report this suspected fraud, telling me that he was placing a hold on the account and would contact the true cardholder.

A hold on the account. That's what I told Nancy after she emailed me at 4:04 pm, 12:44 am, 7:01 am, 7:07 am, and 7:08 am. I told her that "my accountant has placed a hold on this transaction for security reasons." I noted that I would let her know if or when anything changed, which hasn't happened. That has not, however, stopped Nancy from emailing me seven more times demanding ("GET BACK TO ME NOW") that I let her know if the shipper has been paid via Western Union.

I haven't responded to those last seven emails and I will not respond no matter how many times she sends me emails with titles in ALL CAPS. The whole experience has been very interesting. I am still relatively new to being someone who accepts credit card payments, rather than just using credit cards to make payments. That does not mean that I'm a fool who can be easily persuaded to process illegitimate charges. I did spend a fair amount of time on this issue, but I feel good about the whole thing knowing that I most likely saved the true credit card holder from more headaches than these scammers (Nancy and the purported "shipping agent," who are likely working together) have already caused. I would hope that if my credit card account were hacked that some other honest person would do the same for me. Consumers need to remember that in the case of credit card fraud, it is not the credit card company, but the merchant who is left holding the bag. If a retailer asks you for ID or other identifying information when making a purchase by credit card, please know that they are being wise and are protecting credit card holders at large by doing so.