Key Information

When I got the new (to me) car it only had one key – although it had two fobs, it was just that the actual keyblade on one of them was missing. (Which is quite an achievement in the first place!)

I like having two working keys for the car – it means, among other things, that I can leave it with people (valets, MoT/Servicing etc.) without leaving my full bunch of house keys as well.

So I asked at the local dealership what the price would be for a replacement, and they quoted an OK-but-high price for it, saying it might take a couple of days from ordering in order to get the right one – oh, and have the V5 registration certificate as proof of ownership. And then didn’t get round to it.

This week though, I did a quick trip to my local(ish) Tesco that I know has a Timpson concession/branch at it. And (being organised, for once) I remembered to take the spare key fob with me.  Nothing to lose by asking, and all that jazz.

So I asked, and got it done for £50 (less than a sixth of what the dealership had quoted) in less than fifteen minutes.

I’ve always been impressed by Timpsons (among other things, I like that they are open to employing ex-convicts and so on, opening doors that many places close) and I’m glad that I took the time to use them for this one.


Booklist

Every year, I do the GoodReads reading challenge – setting myself a target of number of books to read, and then keeping track of it through GoodReads.  I usually blast through the target – for example 2023’s target was 100, and I ended up with 153 – but I’d rather aim low(ish) and succeed rather than shoot for the moon and fail.

It’s worth pointing out that there are lots of things I don’t like about GoodReads – their controversies this year about fake reviews and so on in particular – but for this kind of basic usage, they’re fine and I’m yet to find a similarly comprehensive setup to manage it. So… it’ll do.

I also rarely bother writing reviews etc. (unless it’s a particularly awful thing I’ve just read)

Anyway. This year I’ve decided that I’m going to try and reduce the number of new book purchases, and instead to carve through a decent swathe of my stuff that’s bought-but-still-unread. (Which is a huge pile, and I daren’t actually count how many things are in it)  I’m not going to say “I’m not going to buy any new books” – mainly because that would be a) ridiculous, and b) unachievable (plus I’d have already failed on that score) – but I’m going to try and reduce that count a bit and get through older stuff instead.

As a result, I’m setting my target this year to be 120 books. (It was originally 100, but I changed it up a bit) I know there are some I re-read that I can race through because they’re familiar, but I think if I make new ones the majority this year, that might slow me down a bit, so 120 is realistic. (Ish. I’ll almost certainly exceed it, but it’s a number I’m happy with)

Now it just remains to see how I do with it!


Over and Done

Bah Humbug Welcome to 2024

Back to the normal intermittent rubbish, as and when I think “I haven’t written anything there for a while!”

I’ve got a bundle of things bouncing round my head that I should jot down – thoughts and plans for the coming year that are emphatically not resolutions , that kind of thing.

But in the meantime, it’s really just a sigh of relief to get to the end of another Festering Season.


Humbug

Bah HumbugAnd at last, Christmas Day is upon us.

That means that at least we’ll be getting rid of adverts for perfumes, excessive food, trite festive bullshit, and other horrors.

In return, we’ll now be seeing ones for holidays, diets, and stopping smoking. (I assume)

And we’ll be back to this old garbage in eight months or so.

In the meantime, may this bring to you and yours whatever works for you.


Solsticial

Shortest Day! Shortest Day!

Tra-la-la-la, it’s the Winter Solstice.

I don’t think I need to say any more than that, really.


Driving Change – Better Services

Following on from the utter farce with Cazoo being shockingly shit at customer services, it’s only fair to mention that there have been other companies who have made things a lot easier than they could have been.

First among those has been Enterprise, who have always been a stand-out for me when it comes to car-hire firms. They have one simple thing that makes them stand out (and I don’t understand why other hire firms don’t mimic it) in that quite simply, they come to collect you rather than insisting on getting to them.  Alongside that, there’s been no hassle when I’ve needed to extend the hire period and so on. I know that really it’s “just” a case of doing the jobs they’re paid to do, but sometimes even that feels like a rarity.

Honourable mention also goes to We Buy Any Car, who again just did what they said they would – I got the old Kia to them, they checked it out (and explained the entire process really clearly) and paid what they’d agreed within the day. All the paperwork came through fine, the V5C change of ownership and so on, and it was all smooth and easy. (Cazoo wouldn’t do a trade-in on the Kia, as it was over their mileage limit, which is fair enough)

Alongside that, even my car insurers (Darwin Insurance) made life easy. Once I’d taken delivery of the car, I checked other insurance providers so I’d got a good idea of costs, and then called my current insurer to see what the charges would be with them.  It turned out that sticking with Darwin would mean a premium that was about 50% higher than a different provider, so it made sense to cancel the current policy and start a new one for the new car.  Darwin made that cancellation process easy and smooth – and it turned out that I’d paid enough that I got a refund rather than having to pay the cancellation fee. (Which has just *got* to be a win!)  The new policy has also all come through fine and been easy to sort.

So, despite Cazoo being a monumental pain in the arse, there’ve been others who’ve made the entire thing a lot easier than it could have been.  And that’s something I’m deeply thankful for.

 


Driving Change – Update/At Last

At the start of November, I had to buy a new car, and used Cazoo to do so.  Today, I finally received one.  It has been a long process!

The first one I bought (a Kia Optima) was due to be delivered on November 6th.  That day, after the delivery slot had closed, they called and said “While we were checking it, we found a problem with the rear bumper, so we need to respray it.  No, I don’t know how long it’ll take, I’ll call you back“.  (Spoiler : They didn’t call back)  Not a great start to things, but… OK, I guess that at least they’d checked it.

Time went on. They came back a few days later, still saying “There’s a problem, we don’t quite know how long it’ll take“. I kept getting “we’ll let you know [in a couple of days time] when we know more” (which they never did, I had to call each time)  We got to two weeks late, in which time “a problem with the bumper” had turned into “a problem with the gearbox” (on an auto box with less than 30,000 miles on it?!?) had turned into “we need to replace the gearbox, and don’t know how long that’ll take“.

At that point, they decided to take the Kia off-sale, and refunded my money.  Which was deeply annoying. Understandable in the circumstances, but annoying all the same.

However, they offered a discount on another purchase with them (and had already offered a day-rate for inconvenience and travel costs) so I stuck with it, and ordered another car – this time a Vauxhall Vectra of similar age, and similar low mileage. (Under 20,000 miles for a seven-year-old car)

Thankfully, that one arrived today – and all seems to be OK so far. It’s had a small (in my terms) test-run to  make sure it’s not totally rotten, and it’s going to get some testing over the next couple of weeks. (In that we’ll be covering a mileage in two weeks that is on a par with what it’s been doing annually so far!)  As with the Kia, I’m as protected as possible – if it’s shit this week, it can go back with no penalty. From there it’s got a year’s warranty including Roadside Assistance, and it’s been paid with a credit card for that Section 75 protection.

Mind you, at the moment I wouldn’t recommend Cazoo to anyone.  I’m hoping that this second purchase might ease my dislike of them – but the entire experience has been an utter, utter shambles. I suspect that they’re OK so long as everything runs smoothly and to the script, but as soon as things go awry they’re all at sea and nothing short of fucking useless.

  • To date, there’s been absolutely no apology from them for pissing me about.
  • They assigned someone as a “case manager”, but it took a week to even discover that. Additionally, there’ve never been any direct contact details – everything goes through their generic customer-service email account.
  • That “case manager” couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag.  They had absolutely no understanding of things, and were strictly stuck to their script with zero flexibility.
  • That “case manager” has also completely failed to escalate things as they got worse – or at least, if they have escalated, that’s never been made clear to me.
  • The daily rate for “travel costs and inconvenience” was fairly pathetic at the beginning, and Cazoo then tried to reduce it during this whole process. (Sadly – for them – they’d named the rate in their early emails, so they were knackered on trying to reduce it)
  • However, for some reason they’ve wanted receipts to prove I’ve had travel costs – God knows why, just paper-pushing bean-counters – and that caused real confusion with the case manager.  No matter how many times I explained that I wouldn’t get a receipt until I’d paid for the extended car hire (and that wouldn’t happen until I’d taken delivery of a new car) we were stuck on the “But we need a receipt” loop.
    I ended up going to the hire company and closed off one hire (and then started a new one) in order to get that receipt.  Utterly farcical.

There’s still going to be some stuff ongoing in this – yes, they’re paying the daily travel costs rate, but that’s less than half the cost of the car hire I’ve had to have while they’ve been pissing about. I’ve been reasonable, in that I originally had a week’s rental to cover over the first delivery date and I won’t include that initial period in what they need to repay.  But the subsequent three weeks hire have been entirely down to Cazoo messing things about, so I feel it’s only fair for them to pay for that.

So once I’ve paid for the final week (this Friday, assuming that the Vectra stays being decent) then I’ll send the receipts and an invoice (less what they’ve already paid) to them. From there it’ll be interesting to see what happens – I know what my expectations on it are, but we’ll see.

Right now, I’m just hoping that everything is now as done as possible. This month has been a ton of unnecessary hassle, and it’d be good to end the year with no further fuckery.