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!

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………

Crash proof cars are here!

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This morning as I drove down the ring road to work I was wondering what to blog about when suddenly an idea appeared large and dangerous in my rear view mirror! I had read on the BBC website earlier a story about ‘crash proof cars’ which I thought was quite interesting, but it appeared that such a car already existed – certainly the lady in the 10-year-old white Fiesta behind me thought her car was crash proof!

remember this?

Now the idea of making cars ‘incapable’ of crashing is not a new one – companies like Mercedes and Volvo have for a number of years been researching this, and started to add ‘radar’ based systems on their cars in recent years. These either take the form of ‘smart’ cruise controls that maintain a set distance or emergency brake systems that can stop you in an emergency automatically!

If I am honest I am not 100% sold on these systems – partly due to seeing the Volvo press demo of their braking system fail (and the car plough into the item it was supposed to stop behind). But also because I like to retain control of things!

Now as far as the lady in the Fiesta was concerned she obviously had reactions far swifter than a Formula One driver – she was very close to my rear (and no I was not going slowly or travelling slower than the traffic in front) and if I had stopped suddenly she would have hit me. She obviously believed she could stop, which raises the question of how we teach people to drive and more importantly how we manage their continuing development!

As a Chartered Surveyor I have to complete continuous professional development and prove this to my governing body – the RICS – lawyers, accountants and most other professions are the same. Frankly it makes sense, we need to be up to speed with all current thinking and still be competent.

But with driving we can pass a test, and then drive for 50 or 60 years with no further testing (unless we have a very bad accident and kill someone) – surely that is wrong? Over 70% of accidents are caused by driver error so by developing ‘un-crashable cars’ are we not approaching the problem from the wrong direction?

And to the lady in the Fiesta (who won’t be reading this)? I hope you see Christmas, because if you continue to drive like that you may be another statistic before then. The wording from all car manuals relating to anti-lock brakes is a good adage to follow;

You cannot rewrite the laws of physics – if you are going too fast nothing will save you!

Is blue the new green?

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Is it just me or is there some subtle colour changing going on?

Over the last 20 years or more being environmentally aware has generally been referred to as being ‘green’ – a sensible choice of colour I would suggest, as much of the earth is green and the environmentalists aim is to try to keep it that way! In recent years the term has become more mainstream and I would suggest does not (always) mean that you are ‘weird’ as well!

Consequently the marketing men latched onto this and added ‘green’ to products to make them sell to those with an environmental conscience (and those without but who wanted to appear so!). My Volvo for example has a green logo – to indicate one assumes, that it is a low emission car and therefore more friendly to our planet.

But it appears a change is afoot, especially if one considers some of the car brands, and their environmentally friendlier cars;

The main culprits;

Volkswagen – Bluemotion range (blue badge)
Mercedes – BlueEfficiency (blue badge)
Ford – ecomatic (with a blue colour for ‘eco’)
Vauxhall – ecoflex (eco in a greeny blue)
Toyota – blue badging on Prius and any hateful hybrid they produce
Fiat – ecodrive (it’s blue)
Hyundai – blue badges

BMW – EfficientDynamics (ok so no blue here – yet) – probably too busy making all their cars look ugly!

Ok, there are still some who still have green logos, but I am sure its only a matter of time before the marketing men change their colour schemes as well!

Seat – Ecomotive (it’s green!)
Renault – eco2 – and its green!
Skoda – Greenline (yes it’s green)
Volvo – edrive (green)

See what I mean? We are being turned blue! Surely this is just the act of some cynical marketing men – but what will happen when they get bored with blue, what will be the next ‘green’?

Should environmentalists now be referred to as being blue?