What are cookies?
Cookies are small pieces of information, stored by your web browser on your computer. They enable things like keeping you logged in as you move around a website, or carrying address and delivery details from page to page as you make an online purchase.
Why all the fuss?
The EU is worried that some people may be misusing them and has created a directive that aims to prevent that.
The UK is one of the first EU member states to implement the directive as law although there still exists a lot of confusion about what's actually required of website owners.
Cookies aren't bad; they're a tool that has become essential to the way the internet works. Of course they can be used for nefarious purposes by unscrupulous websites but the same can be said of most technologies, or even household items.
Still, we want to play it safe and make sure our users are fully informed.
What cookies do we use?
We automatically set the cookies listed below, so if you're using our site you accept that we're doing so. We use two types of cookies:
- Session cookies which only exist while you're on the site. When you close the window and leave the site, your browser will delete them. These are used for things like logging you in to the site.
- Persistent cookies which are stored by your computer for your next visit to the site. These are used to maintain useful information such as what you added to your shopping basket.
This is set by our web server. It allows the site to identify you from one page to another during your visit. It is typically used to keep you logged in while on the site, without it you'd have to log in every single time you visited a different page.
This cookie disappears when you close your browser. It doesn't contain any personally identifiable information about you; it's just a random string of letters.
__utma, __utmb, __utmc, __utmz
We use Google Analytics (lots of websites do) to see how well our site is doing. These cookies are set by Google Analytics and allow us to view some anonymous information about the number of visits we get, the most popular pages and so on.
They don't provide us with any personally identifiable information. __utmc is destroyed when you leave the site and close your browser but the others will hang around and may be there next time you visit - those allow us to see how much repeat custom we get.
We typically use a CartId cookie to identify shopping carts or enquires. This cookie will usually look something like this - b36ec8e1-54ae-4b9b-a851-d5d11d5d41f3. It will remain on your browser after you close it but will be deleted if you don't visit our site for seven days (or if you delete your cookies manually).
We sometimes use some widgets on our site to display 3rd-party content (e.g. tweets, like buttons, etc). It's possible that these might set cookies too so, to be on the safe side, we're letting you know.
Blocking Analytics & Third-party Cookies
If you want to block the Google Analytics cookies or cookies set by third-party widgets, we recommend installing some ad-blocking software. On top of blocking ads (which is generally very good for browser safety) they typically also block analytical software and social media widgets in a way that doesn't hinder your browsing experience. We've found that the best software for doing this is uBlock Origin:
But I don't want to accept any cookies
We hope that you're reassured by this explanation of what cookies we use and why we do so. If you do wish to block all cookies from all sites, you can do so by changing your browser settings. Below are links to the appropriate pages for the most popular browsers.
More about cookies
A quick search for "EU cookie directive" will return a bewildering number of results. Below are a few sites we've found useful in our research. We're not experts and we're certainly not lawyers but we care about this stuff. After all, we use the internet too.
- The Cookie Collective website is packed with useful information:
- The Information Commissioner's Office has the unenviable task of enforcing this law in the UK. Some good information but rather tedious reading:
- All About Cookies
- Wikipedia article on cookies: