D4D

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Archive for the category “Driving”

Booking Time Out

At the end of 2017 (and of 2016, and of 2015 – I know, I know) I said about needing to take more time out, take some breaks from work and so on.

I am rotten at taking time off – it’s never been high on my driving factors, and really it just ends up being expensive, and me just spending time on my own somewhere else.  And with all that, I find it way too easy to put off booking holidays and time away, it’s such a low priority that it always falls off the bottom of the list of things to do.

So this year, I’ve booked stuff already. I’ve got three breaks locked in, booked and paid for.  One in February, one in May, and one in November.

It’ll be interesting to see, come the end of 2018, whether I feel better for having those breaks or not.  I’m not sure, but I’m going to give it all a go, and find out.

Parking Penalties

Way back at the start of November, I went to a restaurant in Cambridge, and parked up in a marked parking area where you either displayed a ticket, or used an online payment app. There was a sign saying “Maximum stay 2 hours“, but nothing about “no return within [x] hours” or anything.  I paid using the RingGo app on my phone, and decided that if I exceeded that 2 hour limit, I’d simply buy another ticket via RingGo.

Anyway, the meal took a lot longer than the two hours – but when it came to the time, I started to get another ticket, only to be told “No return within an hour” by the app – the first time it had been mentioned anywhere. (The parking was too far from the restaurant for a “quick dash” to pay cash for a new ticket, as wellBollocks, thought I.

Once the hour was done, I got another ticket (yes, the meal went on that long) but I was pretty sure I’d have a ticket when I got back to the car.

And I did.  I also re-checked the signs, and took a photo of them, to prove there was nothing about the return clause on the signage.  Once I got home, I paid the ticket – I couldn’t argue that it had been issued correctly, after all! – and then appealed it, becaue of the lack of information and signage.  Despite information on the website saying I could (and indeed should) pay and then appeal, immediately it started throwing problems of “You’ve paid this, so can’t appeal it” and so on.

I ended up getting in touch with Cambridgeshire Parking by email, explaining the situation, that the signage and app made no mention at all of the ‘no return’ clause, including the photos and screenshots. And once it was sent, I waited. And waited.

Two weeks later they came back, saying “It says about no return on the ticket machine. Appeal denied”.  And that was pretty much it. Nothing else about how to appeal a decision to an independent review (which, according to the website, should be provided every time an appeal is denied) or anything else. So I wrote back, explaining the situation again, that I’d gone nowhere near a ticket machine – having paid online – so never saw the one place they say the clause is detailed.

Another two weeks, and another “Nope. It says it on the ticket machine. You should’ve checked. Appeal denied” response. (Admittedly I’m paraphrasing – but not by all that much!)  And still no information about how to take it to an independent adjudicator.

Eventually though, just before Christmas, I ended up speaking to a manager. My sense of humour had utterly failed, I’d escalated it to a full-on complaint, and got the call.

The entire situation is ridiculous. In order to get the information about the adjudicator, I’d have to get my initial paid fine refunded, let the council go through DVLA to find the vehicle owner, send me a formal notice, then I could appeal it, get denied, and get the information about the adjudicator. Which might take up to three more months. Utterly, utterly farcical.  But still, I was prepared to do it – not for the money, but simply for the fact that Cambridgeshire Council seem to think that it’s OK to not provide the information, and then fine drivers who haven’t actually walked to the ticket machine.

Anyway. Common-sense finally kicked in. The fine will be refunded, and they’ve accepted that signage (and app information) needs to be improved.  The manager still insisted that “no signage mentions the no return clause, that’s a national thing” and so on, but there’s going to be a review.

The real icing on the cake for that, though, was that after two months of dealing with this, I was back in Cambridge the following day, and parked at a different piece of on-street parking.  And lo and behold, on the information for that one, the signs say about the no return clause, and so does the app.  Which means it’s definitely about inconsistent information within the council, rather than my being utterly wrong.

And yes, I did re-email the manager to tell them that as well…

Palindromic

Over the weekend, I saw this mileage figure coming up, and when it happened, I pulled in (safely) to get a picture of it.

Because sometimes I’m just that sad…

Snowbound

Yesterday, the weather effectively enforced a day off for me, doing nothing outside.  Nothing major, but we had a fair amount (for the UK) of snow overnight, which led to lots of issues with accidents, blocked roads, etc. etc.  For my own village, the two main roads out were completely blocked – one by a jack-knifed lorry, and the other just by drivers failing to get up the hills.

So technically it wasn’t the weather itself, so much as the sheer number of people who can’t bloody drive in snow. But still, day off.

In honesty, it was much needed. As I’ve said before, I’ve been ridiculously busy for the last two years – I’ve just counted up, and I’ve had stuff booked in for 48 weeks of 2017 (I’ve counted up til the end of the month) and even on those four ‘free’ ones I was still doing stuff – and December hadn’t provided any real change in that.  That’s nothing short of barmy.

So anyway, I’d spent Saturday in London with a mix of food and theatre stuff, so it’s not like it’s been a write-off of a weekend, or anything like that. But a day of doing sod-all – barely going outside, catching up on recorded TV etc., doing some reading, etc. etc. – was definitely A Good Plan.

Whether I feel better for it is still to be determined, but regardless, it was a good day.

Another Daft One

The weekend just gone was another in my long list of silly (but enjoyable) ones, with a fair amount of driving. (Well, that’s no shock)

Saturday was spent in London, with a good friend, M. We had lunch at Mere (Monica Galetti’s new restaurant), which I’ve been to far too many times this year since it’s opening night in March – but it was M’s first time, and it was (as always) great.   From there, we walked down to the London Coliseum, but took a small detour to the Fitzrovia Chapel, which I’d found on a previous visit, and is fabulous. We were lucky there, as it was closed for events and so on, but the member of the events team who opened the door let us pop in quickly to look at the place, and was lovely.

Then we went down to the Coliseum, to see the ENO’s production of Aida , and then we split and went home. A very good day.

Sunday was the sillier of the two – a flying day-trip up to see other friends just outside Manchester, leaving the house at 6am and not getting back til midnight. But again, it was worth it – it was the last chance I’d got to see them this year, and I’m really glad I took the chance to do so.

I was knackered by the time I got home, but it was absolutely worth the effort and time. So yes, a good weekend all round.

Weekend Of Idiocy

The weekend just gone was the one that had been noted as being a completely daft one, even by my standards. It involved a lot of mileage, a fair amount of walking, and a piss-poor amount of sleep.

Saturday had been “planned” for a while, with a full day in London – starting off with the festive version of the Taste festival at Tobacco Dock. I’d got in early (as usual) and walked down to Tobacoo Dock, getting there in plenty of time.

Also as usual, the organisation of Festive Taste was… kinda flawed. The tickets said it started at 12-noon, the email from the ticket people said “Ooops, sorry, we meant 11.30“. Except it actually opened at 11. Genius.    And once we were in, it turned out that none of the food places were actually starting until at least 11.15, and in some cases nothing was ready ’til 12.  Not good – but standard.   The Festive version also appears to be far more focused on booze than on food, which (for me) is annoying, but there we go. It was still worth going, but I was out within 90 minutes.

In the evening I was at the theatre, seeing Stockard Channing in Apologia. It’s an interesting play, and I really enjoyed it – there may be more thoughts later, I’m not sure yet – and then headed home, getting back at around half one.  Which would’ve been OK, except that…

On the Sunday I was on the road by 7.30, heading up to Middlesbrough to see friends, and then on to Durham in the late afternoon to see the Lumiere festival, one of my favourite events. Again, I’ll probably write more about it later on – for now though, The Guardian has great pictures of a lot of it here.

A great day, but a long one – and then drove home, getting back about half two on Monday morning. It would’ve been earlier, but it turns out that the M1 was closed (and hadn’t been announced anywhere when I was driving up) for two whole junctions, and the diversion that was in place added a good forty minutes to the drive. Which was a pain, but there we go.

And even that would all have been sensible (ish. Kinda) if it weren’t for the fact I was also on-site in the other office on Monday morning, so I was in Chesham by 8am…

I really am an idiot.

Return As Found

Earlier this month, I wrote a bit about some of the electrical issues that’ve been niggling on my current car, and something about the hassles I’ve had with the garage along the way.

Today was (hopefully) the final stage of that – the car had a new battery last week, which has helped, but there was still an issue with the starter motor.  The garage spent a fair amount of time arguing with Kia (or at least saying they were arguing with Kia) but in the end I got it as a free replacement – so I’m quite happy on that score.

So today was the day for getting that fitted, and I’m vaguely optimistic that this will be the job done.  Time will tell, of course, but it’s got some good runs and conditions over the next few weeks, which should help me find out whether we’re finally sorted.

However, both of the most recent visits have obviously required a complete disconnection of the battery (obviously, in the case of the replacement battery!) which has resulted in the car computer being totally reset. I don’t mind that, in general – I try to be realistic about these things.  But at the same time, I would have thought that a basic level of customer service would be to at least set the clock and calendar back to the correct settings.

I’m obviously wrong though, and utterly unreasonable. 🙂

 

All told, the entire thing has left me less than happy with Kia as a whole – even taking into account that replacement starter motor. A lot of this could (indeed, should) have been sorted on the first return visit, and shouldn’t have taken another three visits and a bundle of arguments. My experience as a customer has been woeful, and has currently put me off having another car from Kia, as that would mean keeping on using the same garages.

Anyway, even with that replacement starter, next time the car needs anything doing to it, I’m going to try the other local Kia dealership – it’s the same distance from me, but in the opposite direction – and see if they’re any better.  It’ll be interesting to see if they can do better than the current ones…

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