Grumpy old man

Car update…

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Mercedes Service neon sign.jpgMy Mercedes has finally made it into Mercedes Nottingham for the next 2 to 3 day’s. I have been shown the list of checks to be made on the car whilst at the dealers and it is about 10 pages long! It is nice to know that this is being done, but the results then have to go to Germany and then I assume we wait…..

While I am on the subject of waiting (which you tend to do a lot of at certain car dealerships) I would love someone to explain to me why the ‘premium’ car brands believe that greeting you and then sitting you down to wait for ages before you get dealt with is ‘good service’? Previous experience at ‘lesser’ dealerships was far quicker and less stressful – Marshalls Volvo being a classic example, quick, friendly and efficient.

Yesterday it took 40 minutes for me to drop off my car and collect a courtesy car – the dealership wasn’t busy, so what was going on behind those closed doors while I was waiting?

Double standards?

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The news this week that included in the Queen’s speech is the  provision for a 5p charge to be levied on plastic carrier bags at English supermarkets has to be applauded. We are way behind Europe on this (even Wales are ahead of us!) Bags for life are the way forward, and if the European offer is any example to go by they do indeed last for years (I have a collection from France, Italy and Spain).

BpPBMCpCUAAeYxk.jpg-largeWhat did make me laugh however is the Daily Mail’s claim that this change is down to them and that they have fully supported the drive to adopt this. They may well have been behind the campaign (they no doubt believed it appealed to the average Mail reader).

However, this is the same newspaper that has been telling its readers not to adopt energy saving lightbulbs and to stockpile all the old tungsten bulbs!

Proof if any was needed that newspaper campaigns are about selling newspapers – and nothing to do with saving the environment or even changing society for the better.

It’s all about service…..

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I have been a bit busy recently , hence the lack of activity on this blog. I was also intending to try to ‘positive blog’ rather than complain – sadly my first blog for a while is a complaint….

I have blogged previously about the elusive issue on my Mercedes – Inchcape Nottingham have had it in to try and rectify the issue now more times than I care to remember – it’s not 12 months old yet but knows the dealership very well. To date they have failed to solve the problem despite input from Germany. I have unfortunately had to chase them a few times to get things moving – not something I feel I should have to do, especially as this is supposed to be a ‘quality car’.

Today however they have excelled themselves……

From SkitchMy car was booked in for a 3 day visit, the ‘German connection’ had deemed this necessary to deal with the problem (although I have no idea what they are proposing to do). This was all arranged a couple of weeks ago and a courtesy car was to be provided. I rang yesterday to check on things and was told that I would get a call later that day to sort things out for today…… no call was forthcoming.

I put the lack of a call down to the way the garage generally do things – slowly – and thought no more of it. Last night I cleared out my car, found my licence and made sure I was ready to drop the car off at 8.15. Then at 7.47 I got the text above (names removed to protect the ‘innocent’) – I wasn’t impressed!

If the engineer is off all week one assumes he is on holiday and that was known when I booked my car in? Also why couldn’t I be told this earlier in the week or as a minimum the day before when I rang? And a text? What ever happened to the telephone – or are they hiding?

Bottom line – really very unimpressed.

Mercedes are trying…..

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mercedes-mirrorsRegular readers may be aware of my ongoing issue with my Mercedes – it has an intermittent fault with the trip computer, it’s not life threatening, but it is annoying and it should be right! The car has now been in the garage for 6 days since its delivery at the start of October – an amount of time that I am sure Mercedes themselves wouldn’t expect on a car this young (in fact if you assume an annual visit it shouldn’t happen until its sixth birthday).

After the cars last visit the matter was raised directly with Mercedes in Germany, I was told that this might even involve a visit from a German engineer! However the first act of the German connection was to send a bespoke software download for my car (and only my car). It would apparently sort out my issue once and for all…..

Sadly this was not the case, some issues were apparently had installing it and it failed as I was leaving the dealership. So we are now back in the hands of the German engineers. Perhaps I will get a visit from Germany after all!

More Mercedes fun….

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I blogged just before Christmas about my ‘fun’ at the local Mercedes dealership, suffice to say there was a ‘bit of a cock up’, but things were arranged to sort the mistake out. There was also an assumption that the part that we had been waiting for (for over a month) would have solved my problem with the trip computer.

Attachment-1Sadly I have to report that it hasn’t – so when the car goes back in a few days time to have the correct colour display installed I will have to tell them that the problem still exists. To be honest I can’t wait as this is getting to be a good game!

Something also tells me that this problem isn’t going to be solved anytime soon – but at least my car will be getting plenty of ‘washes’ and ‘hoover outs’ while it goes in for them to ‘sort the problem’.

There is always a silver lining……

My belief confirmed….

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This has nothing to do with religious beliefs (you will be pleased to hear), but my personal belief that all car dealership service departments are generally as bad as each other. I have found over the last 25 years that when I get a new car I have to spend some time ‘educating’ the service department so that they come up to my expectations (which I don’t believe are excessive).

Over the years I have dealt with the local dealers for the following brands – Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, VW, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Mercedes. Only two have actually provided from the start what I consider to be good service – Volvo and Alfa Romeo.

I now have a Mercedes and although the service department are keen to ‘fawn’ over you and try to have an appointment system for clients (which doesn’t work) they have just confirmed to me that they are no better than any other dealer.

tamoldThey have had a part on back order for the last month for my car – I blogged previously about it – (it’s the central display between the speedo and rev counter). The part arrived last week and I was contacted to get it fitted, it could be done within a few days and therefore prior to Christmas, so that sounded good. However, having now had it fitted it is actually the wrong part!

Yes it fits, and yes it provides the correct information. But my old clear and quality looking full colour display has been replaced with something akin to the sort of display seen in 1990’s cars (or on a Tamagotchi for those who remember them). Black and white and very poor quality – frankly rubbish!

According to the dealership representative getting the wrong part was “a genuine mistake” and is not considered a major issue “as it works”. The car is now booked in (again) for the correct part to be fitted when it appears in the New Year (they have checked the part number apparently).

Well, strangely I’m not impressed, amused or likely to recommend the brand or dealership to anyone on this performance – but it has confirmed my belief that all car service departments are the same – which in a bizarre way pleases me!

Interesting ‘choice’ of races!

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BBC-F1-Sky-F1-CoverageWhen the BBC ‘sold out’ the F1 contract they had to Sky it was always going to be the start of the slippery slope to no F1 on UK terrestrial TV – that much I accepted as inevitable. I did however hope that the races that would be shown on the BBC up until the end of the deal with Sky in 2018 would at least be worth watching.

Last year the coverage was reasonable in terms of the races shown – it included Monaco (which can be a convoy, but equally is a special race) and Brazil – a great race and a great circuit. The coverage for the 2014 season has just been announced by the Beeb, they are as follows;

  • 30 March: Malaysia
  • 11 May: Spain
  • 8 June: Canada
  • 6 July: Britain
  • 24 August: Belgium
  • 7 September: Italy
  • 5 October: Japan
  • 12 October: Russia
  • 23 November: Abu Dhabi

Now it may just be me – but this is a pretty unexciting collection of races – Australia is the first race in a new season which has new engines and lots of rule changes, but we don’t get to watch it live! There are 19 races next year and we get to see 9 live unless we pay Sky (whose coverage is really good – but rather pricey!).

It was a sad day when F1 was given to Sky, but we were ‘promised’ half the races (which we are almost getting), and I assumed the Beeb had some control over the choice of races – it appears I was wrong.

Perhaps the rights might pass to BT in 2018 – they might make a better job of it than the BBC!

Time for a new look….

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This year has been rather busy at work and at home, consequently something had to give, and it was my blog….

Well I am intending to address that and fully intend to ‘get back on the blogging wagon’ for 2014 – and as a first step I think it’s time for a redesign to something more contemporary…..

The ‘trouble’ with modern cars

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Car-Company-LogosI like cars and am lucky enough to get a new one every three years through work – that gives me the ability to choose what I want (within reason), so there have been a number of makes driven over the years. I have also come to realise that in terms of reliability there isn’t much to choose between makes nowadays – French, German, Italian, they are all much of a muchness these days….

I can hear you all shouting “NO – Germany make the best cars” – well not in my experience. Yes, they are more solidly built (although my Volvo was the most solid), but in terms of reliability there is nothing to choose between them. Let me explain. . .

The most reliable car I have driven? An Alfa Romeo, it was faultless for three years and had no ‘niggling’ issues.

Second best? A Volvo – one minor issue with the air-conditioning ‘that went away’ – otherwise a great car.

The mid range – Citroen, Renault, Peugeot and VW – all had a number of minor faults but never let me down.

The worst based on the number of visits to the dealership for an ‘untraceable issue’ over the first few months of ownership? Mercedes!

None of the above have ever let me down, but most have had annoying faults – especially the Mercedes – so as I say, all cars are equal now – some may be more solidly built – but the quality of components and the chance of ‘minor’ faults is about the same.

The question is whether this is a good thing or are we still being sold underdeveloped and poorly quality controlled cars?

And for the record my Merc is now just over two months old and has had its 4th visit to the garage – and I am still waiting for a call to resolve the problem promised to me two weeks ago………

Is this progress?

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I am a big fan of our Nottingham bus service, it provides a great service that I use (very) infrequently. But when I do I know that I can find the next bus due at our local stop (or any other in the city) just by looking at the NCT app on my iphone – it is a great app and works really well – until today….

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Now lost to my home screen

I was checking twitter this morning and discovered a trail between my mate @johnlyle and Nottingham City Transport. He was berating them for the loss of the NCT app which they had ‘killed’ in favour of their nice new website. Now I accept that the website provides all the information the app did (and more). But, and this is my issue – it isn’t as handy to access and requires a greater level of ‘techy’ knowledge to set up a short cut onto the screen of your iphone – not ideal for all users.

Apparently NCT had around 20% of users who were unhappy with the app – this they consider to be a lot. Personally I would have thought that 80% satisfaction was good in their industry?

What is likely to cause them more ‘fun’ is the fact that the loss of service via their app came as a surprise to them. They were going to publicise the removal off the app during October and then end it fully in November according to the twitter exchange I had with them. Something tells me their 20% rate is about to get a whole lot worse!

How about bringing it back instead NCT?