What are cookies?
Cookies are small text files that websites send to your computer. A cookie can be thought of as an Internet user’s identification card. They let the website know when the user has returned. This might be used to bring up information relevant to that user when they re-visit a website, for example, their name, past orders, etc.
Cookie fact and fiction
Cookies are not computer programs, and can’t read other information saved on your hard drive. They cannot be used to disseminate viruses or get a user’s email address etc. They only contain and transfer to the website as much information as the users themselves have disclosed to that website. It is possible to opt out of cookies via your browser’s cookie settings. Please note that cookies are device/computer specific, so if you log on to any site from a different computer, ONLY the cookie settings on that computer will apply.
Cookies cannot be programmed, cannot carry viruses, and cannot install malware on the host computer. However, they can be used to track users’ browsing activities which was a major privacy concern that prompted European and US lawmakers to take action.
Cookies are used by most websites for a variety of reasons – often very practical reasons to do with the operation of the website. However, they are also used to monitor how people are using the website (which pages are visited and how long is spent on each page). Each ‘visitor session’ is tracked even though no effort is made to try to identify them in person.
The law in the EU now states that you must be able to opt out of having cookies stored on your computer.
The original EU legislation that became known as the “E-Privacy Directive“ was published in 2003 and implemented as European Directive – 2002/58/EC. It was concerned quite widely with the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector. In 2009 the Directive was amended by Directive 2009/136/EC which included a requirement to seek consent for cookies and similar technologies. The EU Directive entered UK law on 26th May 2011 as “The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011”. It is regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) www.ico.org.uk who decided that enforcement would commence from 26th May 2012.
How do I disable cookies?
You can disable cookies using your browser’s settings / control panel. Please refer to your browser’s user guide for details. In addition, our website has a header bar that allows you to disable our cookies with one click.
What happens when you disable cookies?
If you decide to disable cookies, most of the website should work as expected although functions that rely on cookies are obviously disabled. These functions include using online forms or any feature that requires a login or person specific preferences. This has a couple of consequences:
If you delete all your cookies you will have to tell us your preferences again
If you use a different device, computer profile or browser you will have to tell us your preferences again.
What happens when you disable cookies?
When you visit our sites, cookies are either served directly by us, or by our business partners. Here is a description of the different kind of cookies we may use:
These cookies allow you to use the basic functionality of our website. For example, browsing our products, ordering and paying for items, checking your account information and viewing your order history.
These cookies allow us to get to know how you use our website. They are used to analyse visitor information such as usage, visitor numbers and help us see how effective our advertising is and to understand what you like. We also use this information to help improve our website, make our marketing more relevant and improve the user experience.
These cookies allow us to provide additional functionality on the website and will retain some settings information. Whilst not essential for the functionality of our site, they do enable extra features that should improve your website experience.
We may also use targeting cookies to track visitors’ interest in our products and services. We may use this to understand what most appeals to our customers so we can make our offers as appropriate as possible. Browsing behaviour is also used to create relevant banner advertising with product recommendations that we believe best relate to the items you viewed on our website. These banners are then served across other websites that you may visit, typically news sites, video sites and blogs. This process is called behavioural advertising and although the adverts are individually tailored to each visitor, all cookie data is anonymised and stored temporarily. Additionally, all banners of this type feature an “i” icon that provides more information from each advertising network and instructions on how to opt out. We also use the browsing behaviour data to create personal product recommendations on our website, our marketing emails and in our printed catalogue.