I know that many of my readers believe that the tea industry is ladies in colourful saris picking tea, cheerful overseers thanking them for their hard work as they tip wicker baskets into lovely piles of leaves, lovely plantation managers wheeling and dealing in a cheerful fashion to get the best price for their high quality tea…hang on, no they don’t.
Most people understand that, like virtually any other industry, there is exploitation, there are dodgy practices, there are ducks’ legs kicking frantically under the water that we all prefer not to see.
I have always preferred to think, though, that when it comes to selling high quality, hand picked tea, everyone is in the same boat. Collegiate. Respectful of each other. Honourable.
Of course, there is a fair bit of evidence to suggest that is not so. Just look at the myriad companies that sell tea as a weight loss product for starters. No honour there at all.
Yesterday, though, I stumbled across something that made my blood boil.
And I’m going to be circumspect here, not out of respect for the alleged guilty party – they have none in my eyes – but for the sinned against.
I needed to visit the website of a well-known and respected high quality tea company, let’s call them Company1, so I typed in company1teas.com .
But, their site ISN’T company1teas.com, it’s company1tea.com. Without the ‘s’ I added by mistake.
And I ended up on the site of one of their competitors.
Yes, one of their competitors had registered company1teas.com, just in case someone made that obvious mistake. We are talking two family owned companies from the same area. People who have appeared together at major tea events. Both award winning businesses.
Not some big multinational being outsmarted by a nimble, tiny operation, but just pure and simple dishonesty in my opinion. Web-squatting at it’s most bare-faced.
Many of the products are the same.
The domain was registered in 2012. That’s an awful lot of business that might have gone to the wrong company.
Many people might think it’s just smart business. I don’t.
When i contacted Company1 yesterday, they had no idea. They were shocked.
They also told me they preferred to contact the offending company direct and that they would attempt to work with them to resolve their obvious grievance discreetly.
They are better people than me. I would be shouting from the rooftops.
I’m a blogger, not a journalist. It’s a shame, because I think this is an accidental scoop. I could name names and get an article featured in one of the big tea publications, which would bring me about the same level of fame as a feature article in Oboe Monthly, but still…
I’m a ranter, though, and I could also name names and have a good old fashion whinge about these people, who I would politely describe as ‘unethical bastards”.
I will do neither.
Instead, I will leave it up to Company1, who I do believe epitomise honour, and respect, and collegiality.
But it’s just not cricket, as the saying goes. Or to push the sporting metaphor, it’s more like Bodyline.
I just checked, and there are at least five major tea companies I could pull the same stunt on.
Dear Reader, I hope you don’t either. As I may have mentioned once or twice, it’s just not cricket.
UPDATE: It’s four days since this post, and the offending site redirection is no longer happening. I’d call that a result!