* Prices may differ from that shown
When i go to my local staples i usually pick up some paper, browse the pens and avoid their computer section as much as possible. I find that their blank discs, pen drives, dongles, and printer ink cartridges are highly over priced. For example, £18 for a pack of verbatim 100 cd-r's? I could get some Blank DVD's for that money!
The store has an excellent organisation no matter which staples it is. All the pen and writing instruments are kept together including the highlighters and even the smaller office basics like drawing pins and rubber bands. I find this is very helpful and shows me what choice i have available unlike Ryman which is sort of the opposite of staples.
They do stock a very wide range of stuff in their stores but it's always best to check online if you can't find what you want. Their website usually does more products and you can compare their online prices. The store is always clean and their are always staff around to help. There are also plenty of staff working on the checkouts and they don't start hard selling some products on the counter.
The car parks at staples stores are usually part of the general retail park car parks but they do have lots of disabled spaces outside and i have never seen one that charges for parking. The stores always seem to have thing's in stock and the stuff that they don't have on their shelve's is probably in the back room so you can just ask and they will get it for you.
The stores are clean and i have never seen any products broken on the shelf, or any spillages around the store. The staff are friendly and will help out whenever you need them. They don't have glum looks on their faces. They are usually quite young employees.
Staples usually has a wide range of brands to choose from and a variety of styles for each product (you can even have different shades of a certain colour of printer paper!) but i don't think they have a wide variety of blank discs. you get verbatim and that's your lot.
Overall a good shopping experience. Not perfect and certainly not the cheapest but their stores and staff are above what i'd expect from a large chain and i will keep going back. This is a recommended store, at least it's better than Ryman.
Staples - office/home stationary etc
I went to staples yesterday and I think it is great! I have not been in ages (mainly because there is not one that is quite close to where I live), but firstly it is a really big store (Like the tardis, it is bigger on the inside)!
With six important exams coming up I needed some comfort grip pens (as in a 2 and a half hour exam it can hurt to write after a bit) and there was so much choice! The store layout is really clear and I found what I was looking for really easily.
There is so much choice (of everything, not just pens - that would be a bit silly, a store just full of pens), but anyway I bought a pack of 12 black comfort grip pens - which are the staples own brand - and they are really great. They are more comfortable than normal pens and they are really cheap. I think I bought them for £1.99 for the pack of 12, which is really good value.
And while looking at the pens I came across something rather strange, With the pens there was a small section which included a toaster, a larger bag of tetley tea bags, bottles of water and soft drink.... which I found a bit odd, but I think it is just catering supplies for small businesses/offices or something, but it was a bit odd and the time.
They also sell printer, ink, laptops and pc and they also sell a really wide range of plain computer paper (which can be a bit expensive at pc world) but here it is also really cheap. They also postal products, office furniture, janitorial equipment and LCD tv's.
*So much choice of many different products
*Good high quality brand - pens and pc paper that I bought
*Also sell laptops, sat navs and tv's
*The don't have that many stores - they only have three that are close to where I live
Thank you for reading my review
A staple diet of expensive stationary
Running out of office supplies always seems to be the burden of my life, particularly when studying. It never seems fully possible to pre-order all the required stationary, be it ring binders, folders, pens, paper and so on. Even print cartridges can sometimes run out unexpectedly, and waiting 5 days for something to arrive from an online retailer is not always possible.
So this is where staples come in. They stock almost everything you could ever need in terms of office stations, be it writing equipment, storage, fining, printing, pc's, desks/chairs, it's all there under one roof, in buildings that look like massive warehouses. Staples is without a doubt one of the most convenient places to pick up office stationary, providing an incredibly vast array of products in each category to choose from. There's a broad range of almost everything to suit every budget. Take printer paper, it ranges from £2.50 to £15 a ream, with around 20 different types/weights/brands to choose from! It's all under one roof.
Most stores are located on out of town business parks, where you benefit from free parking, meaning you have plenty of time to browse the store! The only downside being, more often than not, you need a car to reach the stores, so it's not the best place for those without access to a car, or public transport that runs close to the sites!
A major downside of staples however, is the cost of the products when compared to competitors such as Viking direct, who offer significantly better value for money, delivered for free when ordering over £50 (exc vat) of products. You don't even need a car for mail order, so it really depends on personal circumstances. However, when you are caught short and desperately need some stationary, then consider staples!
The staff are helpful, the products easy to find, plenty of stock and it's still affordable as they cater for all budgets (but not the cheapest of places)!
Staples is a large stationery and supplies store usually found in out of town retail parks. Far bigger than Rymans, Partners and other comparable shops, it seems to be aimed more at businesses in some respects. Staples stores are generally massive, which means there's lots of space to display (and try out) big things like office chairs and computers, as well as shelves stacked with small things like paperclips and post-it notes.
Generally, it's like the Currys or Comet of the office stationery world. It's good for all ages, so if your kid is doing a school project and needs a good folder, or your partner needs to kit his or her office out with some expensive pens, Staples will cater for you. They also sell things like desks, staplers and staples (naturally), a vast variety of paper, printers, ink cartridges - basically anything you would find in a typical office. They don't sell plants, woolly hats or Zombie make up though (or maybe that's just my office?!) :)
The kid inside me loves the range of stickers and gel pens, but the main disadvantage of Staples is that it's quite expensive. I think there are two reasons for this - firstly, because they are often located out of town and near things like cinemas and DIY shops, so they don't have competition. Secondly, Staples are set up so you buy something big like a computer or desk, and then go 'Oh, whilst I'm here I may as well pick up a memo block. And some drawing pins. And a calendar', without bothering to price-check. It's probably easier for businesses to operate this way though, or else the person who's been given the task of kitting an office out isn't too particular!
You have to be careful about the quality of furniture from Staples, though most other things tend to be well-known brands. Some of the desks are cheap MDF, and worse quality than IKEA as well as being more expensive. The final disadvantage is that the physical stores are usually very difficult for me to get to as I don't drive, so I'm reliant on someone else wanting to go and willing to take me. But it has a good range of stuff all in one place, so it's convenient in that respect.
I am someone who goes through stationery and paper a lot being a student, so am always looking for ways to try and save money. I don't like buying really cheap things but I like good quality stationery which will last me which is why I go to Staples. In the past I would just pick things up anywhere but when I went into Staples, I realised they had quite a wide range of materials under one roof and before I knew it I started browsing the aisles finding things to buy.
When I am home in Scotland my nearest branch is on the outskirts of the city so it really is inconvenient to get to unless you have a car. I do find though that most of their branches are in retail parks so are mainly accessible by car which is the downside. Their competitor, Ryman are in city centre branches but between them both they have their ups and downs.
I mainly go in here to buy sketchbooks and plastic pockets as I am always filling up folders. They have deals on every week reducing items which is helpful. I also tend to buy pens and pencils in here as well as portfolio cases, some things are quite pricey though you really need to search for the deals. Like their own brand sometimes isn't as cheap as others they stock, I buy A4 printer paper here and there were better deals on the others brands than their usual one.
They also sell bulk items of tea/coffee, pens and pencils which for big offices is a great option to save money. You can buy A4 folders in bulk also as well as plastic pockets, filing cases, rubbers, paper clips, literally everything office related is in here.
Another thing they sell is office furniture, they sell desks and chairs which I haven't personally bought but again they have quite a few to choose from.
Something I did recently buy from here was my current printer/scanner. They sell a lot of printers and scanners as well as print cartridges and more. They have good deals on these and they do try and persuade you to buy their ink and get paper but I just kept to what I needed. The only downside is that the printer didn't come with a USB cable so I had to go to Argos to get one later which wasn't made clear at the time.
They do printing for customers, which is quite a big service. You have to pay a small fee to insert your USB drive though which is annoying if you aren't printing a lot but the prices are quite reasonable. They also print banners and all paper sizes, I haven't again used this service as I know places which are cheaper but if you are printing a lot then it is good to get it done here.
Students also get 10% off in here when showing their NUS card which knows some money off the price.
If you don't have an NUS card there is a new card in place called the Staples Rewards card. This is not like a credit card at all but more like a Boots Advantage card so you get 2p back for every £1 you spent or something along those lines. I signed up for mine as I am always in here and right away was sent a voucher to get £5 off when spending £25 which was very useful as I had a lot to buy. The idea is that you get money back if you shop in here a lot and will be sent out vouchers so it is a good idea really.
While in here, staff are usually wandering about the aisles, some branches the staff are lazy just standing around the till looking bored. In some branches though the staff are very helpful, approaching me to see if I need help in anything which is good as they spent a lot of time with me asking what exactly I was looking for. The staff seems to know what they are talking about and are always willing to help until they find out exactly what you need.
Some branches seem to be under staffed which makes them look incompetent and they seem stressed which isn't good especially if someone needs a lot printed off and then the till queue is getting big.
They also do photocopying in here both colour and black and white which is very cheap. Overall, Staples is a very good store but even though I buy a lot in here I do like to check out Ryman's prices too, I have to be honest. They do have good prices on a lot of things but their sketch pads at £5 a time for 25 sheets is not as good value as some other places I have been to.
The website is http://www.staples.co.uk and you can buy online but will have to pay a delivery charge. You can also find you nearest branch by searching on the website.
This markets itself as a no frills stationery store with minimum hassle and cheap prices. To be quite frank it is. On entry to the store it looks bare and empty most of the time. Most of the shop floor is taken up with office supplies. The cost of these items is average, generally speaking the prices are more high than affordable. It would be the sort of place that an office would go to in order to use the company kitty to stock up on supplies because of the bulk levels of stock, and stockpiling of varieties of paper for example in various different grades. For the more particular stationery hound with a Masters in Pedantry, one might not be able to contain ones own wonder at the different types of organisational gear available, folders and files etc.
Apart form that it stocks a range of office furniture too and if you are looking for an office chair with the perfect ergonomic design to accomodate your body shape and minimise back pain, then you should look no further than this place.
Finally I feel embarassed to admit that my favourite part of the store is the computers and peripherals section. The selection is quite wide and the monitors on particular recently seemed to all be HD of some description and at a lower price than Staples (other worldy) rivals if you know what I mean. I bought my desktop from ther too for £200 about three years ago now and touch wood, its stil going strong. Things have not changed recently and if I were going to buy another pc again I'd definately get it from here.
The dowside to Staples is that there is not much customer service and support. The staff don't seem too au fait with all the various specifics of their own product range. If you are fairly confident though, of what you want and want to get I.T. equpment for cheap then shop here. For stationery though be careful as its pricy.
I use my local store and my uni town store regularly, as this is one of the best places I've found to get USB sticks and pads.
They regularly have offers on (got £50 off my netbook as it was a clearance model) and the staff are always friendly and willing to help if I have any queries or problems relating to something I've bought or want to buy. I had to go in earlier to get a replacement charger (mine broke) and they were able to sort it for me quickly and easily, and I left with a new charger and as one very happy customer.
The only thing that does irk me is the pricing of their ink. Online it's one one VERY low price, and in-store it verges on the expensive. They can't use they don't have stores as an excuse for a £7 increase in price....which defeats the point of me going in. However, I do only use it for my reward card (and that hasn't even arrived yet, I'm still using the temporary one)
I have fond memories of Staples, as odd as that may first sound to readers. When I was at school, many years ago, before the start of every new school year in August, my dad would take me and my siblings to our closest Staples store to get all our bits of stationery we would need for the new school year. I was, and still am very into all things stationery, and so going to Staples was like visiting a big sweet shop!
Staples stores really are stationery heaven. They have all products which are stationery-related from papers and pens, to laptops and desk chairs. They have really increased their product range since I was at school as they didn't sell laptops back then but on a recent visit, I did notice that they had a rather decent selection of laptops to choose from.
I think my favourite thing about Staples is the sheer size of it. Every Staples store I have ever been to has been massive, almost warehouse-like, with big huge ceilings, and everything on shelves that go up really high. This also means they have a huge stock collection, and a massive range of products. For example, there is a dedicated paper section, where you can get all types of paper - glossy, matt, heavyweight, premium, economy etc and all are priced accordingly.
They also have a fantastic pen/pencil/colour felt-tip range. I recently bought a gorgeous pen from Staples as a gift for someone which was of premium quality. It cost me just under £20. But I was very happy at the time as the selection I had in front of me was excellent, and I enjoyed having so much choice, especially as the purchase was to be a gift for someone.
Staples also sell folders, storage for stationery, paperclips, staplers etc, and again all of these products come in a good sized range and there is something there for everyone. You can get most of these products in novelty designs or just bog-standard black if that is what you prefer.
In terms of the price of the products sold at Staples, it depends what sort of quality you are buying. For example, buying premium quality paper will come with a premium price tag, but I have noticed that if you are buying regular economy paper for your everyday printing needs, then it is slightly, but not much, more expensive. Therefore if all you wanted was normal printing paper, you could find it cheaper elsewhere. But I think it's fair enough they charge a little more, as the sheer choice that they are able to offer is excellent.
If you want to find your nearest Staples store you can check online at www.staples.co.uk.
Staples is well known for being the place you can get anything from for the office. It is a global chain which has 2,000 stores in 27 different countries. Whilst people used to go Smiths or Partners, Ryamans or local stationery stores to get bits and pieces, Staples filled a niche in the market by having huge stores that sold all types of items under one roof.
My local Staples is like many others in a retail park. It's quite a small one containing Waitrose, Dunelm, Dreams and Staples but the car park is always quite busy and many of those people head to Staples. My first impression is that it's just a huge warehouse because it is very large with very high ceilings so it's not a cosy little shop but it's light, airy and clean so it's a pleasant enough place to be. There are normally a few staff wandering around. However it can be hard to find them so look out for the bright blue tops they wear.
The things they sell are very varied and normally come in a varieties of shapes, sizes and colours so there is normally something suitable both for office and personal use. When I go in there it is normally for personal use but I know a lot of businesses hold accounts with Staples because it is so convenient. They also have a website where you can buy online should you prefer offering free next day delivery on orders that total over £30 excluding VAT.
They categorise their items under six sections; paer supplies, ink and toner, technology, office supplies, furntiure and facilities. This includes a huge variety of items from pritt stick to printer paper to stacker boxes to laptops to post-its to desk chairs they really seem to have everything covered which is good if you are in a hurry and like convenience. There has never been anything that I wanted that they did not have. For example they have twenty different types of scissors. Everything is always arranged neatly and in order and seems to flow smoothly from one section to the next. Generally the pricing is pretty clear around the store. One problem is that sometimes you want something but it's too high up to reach so you have to try and find someone which is annoying but not a major gripe.
My main issue with Staples is probably its pricing. A few months ago I wanted some storage boxes for myself to do some sorting out and for keeping things neat and dust-free. I went to check their selection and was pleased to see they had a wide variety of sizes but was gobsmacked at the prices. Some of the boxes were £15 just for an empty box. Compared to the prices that are offered by local traders, that is about 1/3 to a 1/2 more which is a fair bit especailly if you're buying in bulk. Another example is sellotape, if you want six roles of this a very popular item, buying it at Staples will cost you £3.16 more than Rymans.
So as much as I like Staples for the wide variety of product they sell I am just too much put off the price which always seems to be another 10% or 20% or sometimes more compared to other stationers and unfortunately that is a deal clincher for me...
Previously I use to always use Staples for all of my stationery needs and it use to offer great service. I was always impressed with the amount of consumer choice that is available to the consumer and found it to be really helpful when choosing a pen for example.
The staff in my experience have always been really friendly and always willing to help out and so I have been further impressed. Since the launch of online websites including Ebay I have been put off going to Staples. In these tough times I am looking for the cheapest option and it made me feel guilty as a result but I had to use the internet for my stationery needs. When comparing prices for a pen for example, it might have cost £7.99 in Staples whislt only being £5 on Amazon.
Staples in its former glory did, I will agree use to be an excellent stationery store. It even used to offer a photocopy service which I have used many times. Since then (a couple of years ago) I think that it has been going down hill. It is sad to see a business like this declining however, I suppose that is the nature of business. I just feel that the prices in the store are just the bit to expensive and so maybe if they were to lower their prices slightly it might convince people to go and shop there.
I do feel a degree of loyalty towards them however it is not enough to make me pay the considerably higher prices that Staples are charging. As a result I can not really recommend shopping there other than for the fact of supporting your local community. I would as a result recommend shopping for your stationery equipment from Amazon or Ebay where the prices are much cheaper and the products are of a high quality. I hope this was useful and thank you for reading.
Staples, A history: Staples has over 2000 stores in 27 countries. An American man called Thomas G. Stemberg in 1985 founded it. He wanted to create an office super store, he got the idea when he wanted a ribbon for his printer and found that his local shop was closed due to Independence Day. Therefore though of the staples.. the office superstore. In 1993 the first store in the United Kingdom was opened.
My local staples branch is close to two universities' and many colleges, and for me, just up the road so is great to get access to stationary. There are hundreds of staples stores through out the whole of the UK.
Staples sell stationary, storage boxes, shredders, arts and crafts items to name but a few. They also sell laptops, printers and inks and other computer accessories. They also sell furniture such as chairs and desks. They sell a wide range of items and brands and there own is one of the best.
Another thing they have in the stores is a copy centre. This is where they can do printing and copying. The store near me has recently started doing A2 and A1 posters at around £20 - £25 for a colour copy. They have a self-serve copy area as well; it's a little cheaper as you do it yourself. However you can only up to A3. They also have other services such as DHL, faxing and binding.
Staples also has a website which holds additional items on there and the delivering charge is also quite good. Also they have a catalogue, if they do not have an item in store you can order it out of their catalogue with next day delivery. You can also do this in your own time.
Every time I go to in the staples store it always looks nice and tidy everywhere and the workers always seem to be in a happy mood and always say hello.
They have two store cards, a staples rewards card and a staples business account card, the business card; the business card is more like a credit card only for business owners. While the rewards card is a points system like the Tesco club card. Here are some of the benefits of the cards:
- Earn up to 5% back in money of vouchers on purchases made in a staples store.
- Earn 20% back in rewards on copy centre jobs.
- Get other vouchers even if you don't use the card that much.
- It's free.
- No annual fee
- Up to 60 days to pay what you have bought.
- 10% off your first purchase
- VAT invoicing
- Additional cards available for other work employees.
- You automatically are a member of the staples rewards card system.
- Make payments easy by using direct debt.
All in all I think staples is a good store. Always clean and tidy and a cheerful place to go shop.
With its first store opening in the U.S in 1986, Staples is the world's largest office supply retail chain. It sells a wide range of anything related to stationary, print and computer accessories. The store also stocks various computer software, although (in the case of the shop near me), this is generally geared toward PC users, and Mac products are unavailable.
As well as selling paper products, Staples offer a printing and binding service which i've found to be quick, efficient and of a high quality.
The staff at Staples are trained to ask, "did you find everything you were looking for?" when you get to the checkout - which is a nice touch. Although, the other day I was served by someone who didn't say it, and it completely ruined my day - Joking aside, the staff are generally very helpful. I was impressed when I was talked out of buying a more expensive printer, by an assistant who told me a cheaper one would have suited my needs better - I appreciate this kind of honesty.
The carparks for most UK Staples stores are large and free to stay in for an hour or so, which is handy. They do employ a warden to check you haven't outstayed you're welcome, so be careful.
The free business rewards card is a good idea - you can claim a percentage of the money you spend instore, back as vouchers - in the same way that the Tesco Clubcard works. There are also other special offers which you get sent details of when you sign up. Having said that, when I first registered, the deals were significantly better than i'm offered now. For example, I would occasionally get a voucher for £10 off a £30 spend, but now I just get something like '5p off biro pens' - oh well...
Staples is impressive in the variety of goods it sells, and I don't find the products too expensive either. Of course, you can buy cheaper on line - but if you need something straight away, Staples is the place to go.
Staples, Moorfoot, Sheffield
A generously sized store by anyones standards and stuffed to the brim with so many office related bits and pieces, the mind boggles.
I most often visit Staples to buy ink but since the car park is shared by Mothercare next door I'm often prone to dropping in both.
The car park is free, though I understand there is a 90 minute limit and only for those visiting the stores. Free car parking in the city centre? This unheard of in todays society and therefore frequently abused, in consequence there is a car park monitor who records number plates every hour or so, beware.
The products in Staples are varied, enough to find something which will really fit the bill, from desks to deskjet printers, fans to folders.
If you want paper there are vast choices in type, size, quantity, colour, weight and of course cost.
You could fit out an entire office from here, though I'd venture to say you'd probably spend twice as much as you need to.
Many items are priced according to an office source centre and some are more joe public friendly. The ink I bought today was £24.49 for a cartridge for a new printer but with double the normal quantity of ink.
There was a special offer on to get a 1gb memory stick with every £25 spent on ink and even though I came in 51p under the mark they still gave me the memory stick, which pleased me.
They also have a loyalty card, it might be useful for some, I don't go in there often enough to accrue enough points.
Overpriced and limited parking.
Staples is one of the largest suppliers of office, stationery and computer products with stores throughout the UK. I have recently visited their stores in Kidderminster and Shrewsbury.
Staples range of computer products is quite limited. Hardware items are stored behind a large counter so unlike eg PC World it is less easy to browse. Technical assistance and knowledge is practically non-existent so do not expect any meaningful help from the other side of the counter. Staples stocks computer equipment, it is not a computer store. Software titles are sold but the main items were put on the shelves without being in any particular order making it difficult to find what you wanted. Budget titles were just piled up on some tables for you to rifle through. Generally Staples are not very good for computer products unless you know what you want and do not mind trawling through a load of other stuff to find it.
A lot of the products which Staples sell for the office though are very competitively priced. A lot of products are own-brand and of adequate quality and they stock just about everything you could need. Printer paper was particularly cheap and they stock an extensive range. I did find the Staples staff a little unhelpful. I twice asked for where something was and got a dismissive wave of the hand and some vague directions - this is if you can find an assistant.
Staples could do a lot better but the store in Shrewsbury particularly was drab and uninspiring. I would imagine that the amount spent per customer at Staples is quite low compared with PC World or even Office World. Their success should surely be to have the stores and shopping experience improved so that people will stay and spend more once you have been enticed in.
Staples is an uncontrollable out of town monster in the world of stationery supplies. Go in with the sole intention of buying a pen refill and you'll come back with bags more, I'm sure.
In Northampton, Office World was, in terms of shelf space, its closest rival (about half the size but having plenty of the essentials). Now a recent deserter (no doubt driven out by Staples success) the competition is a bit pitiful.
WhSmith simply doesn't have enough of any one thing. Its range of pens is good but notebooks and other similar stationery go too far down the designer route, in my opinion, to be a worthy rival. Rymans has all the basics but it's still small. Then it's just Wilkinsons, Woolworths and The Works for lovers of luminous folders, Monet-themed notelets etc. (Fun - but if you don't want to get laughed out of the boardroom what do you go for?)
If you're self-employed, run a busy office or an industrious student, it's best to look in Staples first. Because they have plenty of stationery products to choose from and they cover all markets - whether you're satisfying your budget or an executive lifestyle.
If anything sets Staples apart from the rest it's the folders and plastic refills department. Taking up almost one side of an aisle I found smart flip-over folders for business presentations, report covers, plus plastic sleeves designed to hold bulky brochures in a ring binder, photos and documents of all shapes and sizes.
Paper is also impressive - available in many different thickness, finishes (for every type of printing) and in lots of colours.
Without launching into a long list, what else do they stock? Well, bubble wrap, box files, art and design materials, software, a good selection of business-oriented books, laptops, electronic hardware ( monitors, printers, webcams, fax machines, etc), plush briefcases and filofaxes (yes they still make them), in-trays, bins - to name but a few. They even stock coffee (to save you stopping off at your local supermarket).
At a section at the back of the store they have an area devoted to office furniture - office chairs (from typists to swivel) computer and office desks and filing cabinets (in wood effect finishes or standard metal). Unlike Argos, you can see them for real, perhaps trying out the gas powered lift of a swivel chair and saying "You're fired" (Alan Sugar style) to the manager as you sit at an executive desk.
In the corner there are its printing services. On my last visit I noticed that they offer printed stationery from templates, lamination of documents, business document binding and the production of customisable rubber stamps.
From my experience I have found that its basic photocopying service is not as good as Office World. At around a few pence a copy for black and white, you can't grumble but quality could be better. The paper is very thin and sometimes there are occasional black splodges where they haven't cleaned the photocopier glass as often as they should. OK if you are after a cheaply printed document for filing but not quite good enough if you are using it as a presentation piece. It is probably best to ask them to show you the first print-out, before they press the button that will churn out a hundred more copies.
Alternatively, if you prefer the DIY approach, you can use the self-service photocopier using coins or a coin card.
In addition to all this, there are baskets dotted around near the front of the store tempting you with cut-price merchandise, often coinciding with the return of school after a long summer break. The pickings are sometimes good. Just after Christmas, I snapped up a pencil case for 50p and a pre-inked rubber stamp for a paltry 10p (originally £2.42).
All in all, a great place to get stocked up.
*This review was previously published by myself under the name simoncjones at Ciao*