Unhelpful Timings

The one downside of the whole “need a new car” thing is that I’d only recently sorted out all the MOT, Servicing, Tax, and Insurance Renewal for the current car.  Which is, to say the least, a bit annoying.

Thankfully, the MoT hadn’t needed too much work – simply realigning windscreen wipers and headlamps, no major stuff at all – but still it’s annoying to have done all the stuff for ensuring it’s mechanically OK, only to then have something unchecked go ker-fut.   (OK, *start* to go ker-fut!)

The insurance renewal is a bit more of a pain. I could make alterations, but I suspect that the massive difference in vehicle values might make it ridiculous.  So I might have to cancel the newly-renewed policy – I know what that will cost, and it’s doable.  And before I make a decision, I’ll find out what the costs will be, so I can properly evaluate the pros and cons.

Again, things could be far, far worse. It’s just annoying.

Changes, Privilege, and Good Fortune

Every so often, in situations like this week’s need to organise a change of cars, I sit back and realise just how lucky I am.

Ten years ago I was just out of my official bankruptcy period, with another five years to come with it still on my credit record. I was doing OK, but something like this week would still have made life interesting. (As it was, I did have to go through a car change while in that bankruptcy period, but thankfully got through it OK because the administration people were excellent)

It’s taken a long time, but everything since then has been in a positive direction, and I’m happy with it all.  It leaves me somewhat gobsmacked that now I can again pay for a car on a credit card (and once everything’s gone through, I’ll move it all to an interest-free balance-transfer card)  with no real hassle.

Hopefully the new car will also not need anything major for a while (fingers epically crossed!) which will also help a lot.

Obviously, it’s more debt than I’d ideally like to be in – but it’s feasible/affordable, and I can sort the rest.  It might even give me some impetus for getting some other things off the ground and get some extra income that way.  We’ll see.

Regardless though, it’s good to have these occasional reminders that I’m fortunate enough to be in a good place, and simply appreciate that simple fact.

Driving Change

Yesterday, while travelling to and from my on-site visit, the car started making Noises Of Imminent Doom.  Nothing super-evident immediately, but a vibration I could feel through the pedals, and power that was starting to “blip” – not quite to the level of stalling, but… it felt like that was on the way.

So I got home fine, and had spent the time figuring out What’s Next.

Bearing in mind that it’s on just over 220,000, I reckon the turbo is on its way out. I got this one in September 2018, and that was at a mileage of 115,000, so yeah, it’s about on-schedule.And while it was worth doing on a car with that mileage, I don’t think the same is true when we’re heading towards double that.

So today I spent time sorting stuff out – and as a result, I’ve got a new (to me) car arriving on Monday. Unexpectedly, it’s another Kia, but this time it’s an Optima, in Silver.  Not my favourite colour to drive (it disappears in rain/mist etc.) but again, meh, it’ll do.

It’s an automatic (which is what I’d intended to get) and fully ULEZ compliant – my current one isn’t – and that’s much more relevant with the recent expansion of the London ULEZ, as well the growing prevalence of them in other places I visit. Most importantly, despite being a 2016 plate, it’s got less than 30,000 on the clock – and while I paid more for it than I’d hoped/expected to, it still came in under budget at £10K.  Hopefully it’ll last a good while – although I suspect it’ll initially be a shock for a car used to four or five thousand miles a year to suddenly be doing my kind of miles and journeys.

As it is, it comes with a seven-day returns period if it’s horrible, a three month warranty from the garage (including RAC cover) which is about standard. I’ve also paid for it on a credit card, so Section 75 can cover things if it turns out to be a problem past that.

And once I’ve got it, the old car is going off to “We Buy Any Car” – I don’t expect much for it, but it’s better than paying out for scrappage or whatever!

So everything’s in place, and now I just need to hope it all works out. Time will tell, obviously.

An Expensive Time

This September-October period is always an expensive one for me.

The main thing is the car – because I got it in October , it means that this six weeks or so includes MoT (and any associated fixes), Service, Tax, and Insurance Renewal. This time it also included a visit to the local dealership to get the handbrake cables replaced (because KwikFit decided they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it, and some other load of old cock that they told me) as it wouldn’t have passed the MoT with them un-fixed.

The handbrake thing is one that’s been going on as long as I’ve had the car – every other MoT gets a warning about “handbrake too high” or “little reserve play/motion”, whoever’s fixing it does something, and it’s OK again – but it got a better-ish fix at KwikFit last year, and then got worse again recently.  So far the newly-replaced cables seem to have sorted everything though.

Anyway, the MoT was yesterday, and it passed fine.  It failed initially (but only for misaligned windscreen washer and misaligned headlights) but was then fine.  Not bad for a car with 220,000 on the clock!

The insurance renewal was mentioned elsewhere, as it was farcical, but is now fine – and I’ve managed to keep it at the same level as what I was paying for the last year, so happy day.

Alongside that (because God Knows, I’m shit at planning) it’s also been time to sort out my tenancy renewal on the new place – which has involved a small-ish raise in rent, although not as much as initially suggested.  And then I also ended up organising for a company to come and deal with the front garden and so on, because it’s a bombsite and needs dealing with (and I am emphatically not a gardener!)

So yeah, it’s all been a bit costly.  Utterly doable though (which is lovely, and still a good thing compared to ten years ago) and at least I know it’s now all organised, so the rest of the year isn’t too bad at all. Thankfully!

Insurance Renewal Fuckery

This being the time I bought the current car, it’s also time for that annual festival of fuckery – Insurance Renewal.

I knew that this year was likely to be a pain in the arse – there’s been plenty of coverage about how insurance premiums have gone up massively as part of “the cost of living” (which in the case of insurance etc. seems to me to be just rabid profiteering – I don’t see how inflation and food costs have a knock-on effect to the car insurance industry!) so I was expecting it to be stupid. I just wasn’t expecting quite how stupid.

So – I got my renewal letter through from my current insurers, and they’d managed to double my insurance. For no changes – the address change happened before last renewal and the car hasn’t changed (other than in losing value for having been driven another 25,000 miles)  But no, somehow they feel they can justify doubling the price.

Well, frankly they can fuck off.

So off I went to that site with the meerkats (because it annoys me less than the one with the opera ‘singer’, or the one with the weirdly confusing existential ads that make no sense) and looked at what was available.

As it turns out, I got a deal with a different insurer for all the things I wanted, and paying the same as I have been this year. Which I reckon is a total win, all told.  So far it’s been painless – I’ve cancelled the renewal on the current one (while laughing on the phone at them, because doubling the quote is just fucking ridiculous) and the new one is in place to start in early October.

But it does make me wonder about what the business model is for so many of these insurance places. I have to assume that there’s a huge number of people who just blindly accept the renewal cost without looking elsewhere (and if that’s the case then they bloody well deserve to be ripped off, in my opinion) but that’s pretty mind-boggling, given the prevalence of these comparison sites and so on now.

Finance Trials – Follow Up

Following on from my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman about [Company A]’s fuckery, I got a response this morning from them.

Well, I say a response. More of an acknowledgement. With this in it…

We try to resolve complaints as quickly as we can. But there’s currently a very high demand for our service – so it might take around four months before a case handler gets in touch with you and starts looking into your complaint.

(That’s their emphasis on the timescale, not mine)

So on current evidence I’ll be lucky to hear anything at all before 2024…

Finance Trials

Over the last few months I’ve been intermittently fighting with two different finance companies about their shitty ways of handling things. I’m not going to name names (yet) so it’ll be “Company A” and “Company B”

Company A

The shorter of the disputes started back in June when I logged in to the app for their credit card, and discovered that my credit limit had dropped from around £6,000 to £1,000.  With no notice or warning. Which is, it’s fair to say, a bit of a concern…

I rang them (I know, old school!) to find out what was going on, and was told “Oh, well you weren’t using your full credit limit, so we dropped it”.  Which is, to be honest, well within their rights – I wasn’t using it, and *shrug*.  But it’s still not right to do so without any notice or warning – if they’re increasing the limit they give you 30 days notice and allow you to decline the change, so why not do the same for a decrease?

I got the change rescinded, but made a complaint about how it had been done. There could’ve been any number of reason why I might’ve been relying on that card/limit that Company A were unaware of (if I’d been getting the car significantly repaired, as one example) and where a sudden drop would’ve landed me in the shit.  (Fortunately that wasn’t the case – but they didn’t know that)

Alongside that, a drop in credit limit would almost certainly have a negative effect with the credit-scoring people – at a bare minimum it would have raised the Credit Utilisation percentage (the amount of your available credit that you’re actually using)  But it also makes other lenders twitchy – that whole perception of “why would Company A drop the limit if they didn’t think there was a problem?” and so on, and would’ve lessened my credit score as a result.

I got the response from them last week that my complaint wasn’t being upheld “because we can’t find any errors in how we administered your account”.  Which again is (kinda sorta) true/fair. Errors weren’t made in the decisions (although who ever heard of a credit card company decreasing a limit?!?)  But errors were definitely made in how that decision was then actioned, which was the actual reason for the complaint.

So today that’s gone off to the Financial Ombudsman for them to have a look at.

Company B

Company B’s problem has been *far* more long-winded.  Back in December I had fraudulent transactions made on the card, which got spotted and reported.  No idea where that leak came from, as it wasn’t a card I used often, but there we go. Stuff happens.

When I next used the app, as a result of the fraud, I had a flag put on for “heightened security”. Just to check it was me, verify transactions etc. And then they sent me a new card (as expected)

Only somewhere in that process, things went tits-up.  I went through the “heightened security” checks, validated myself, had to call them (I know, old school again!) and that should’ve been that.  But instead, the app locked up, and stayed that way – every time I went through the process for registering the new card in the app, it froze on insisting I needed to give those checks again. I did that four times, with Company B saying each time that they couldn’t understand why it was still wanting those checks, I’d definitely already done them.

I *suspect* that what happened was a clash – the “heightened security” was on the old card, which then got cancelled, but somewhere in the depths of their system, it wasn’t cleared in my account. So when I registered new card, it was still checking back and seeing that flag from old card.

Anyway, complaints (yes, plural) were made – firstly because of how badly it was handled (they agreed, and I got their default compensation payment) and then because the problem was *still* ongoing three months later, I couldn’t log in to the app.  That ended up going through their app support team, who might as well have been a black hole for all I heard from them.  And so I gave up for a while, and left it. I wasn’t using the card, didn’t have any payments to make, so *shrug* what the hell. Their problem, not mine.

Last week I reinstalled the app again, just to see. It’d been six months, after all…

And lo, it finally worked.  No-one from Company B had been in touch, despite those outstanding complaints and support issues, but at least it was working.

I got back in touch with Complaints because not being told was a bit shit, and they agreed. (In an hour-long phone call)  It hadn’t been handled well, the support team were rotten, blah blah.

So I’ve had another default compensation payment out of them, and it’s now all done and dusted.


All told, life could be worse.  I’m stupidly lucky to be in the position I’m in now, where neither of those issues has actually caused me any more inconvenience than yelling “Oh for fuck’s sake” on a regular basis.

But both of these companies are supposedly specialists in dealing with people with credit issues – as I was when I got them – yet haven’t seemed to have any real insight on how these issues could/would affect someone who truly was still having those issues, or anyone for whom life was a bit tight at present. (and god, who *isn’t* in that situation to some degree or other – even if it’s “just” being aware of how much prices have risen and so on?)

As such, I’ll be the person to use that fortune/luck and privilege to be able to have the time and energy to raise these complaints and hopefully make things better as a whole.

But really, neither of these things should ever have been as much of a problem as they turned out to be.  And that’s what makes it all so frustrating.