Sunday, 13 April 2014

Jees, I thought my Girlfriend had a long memory!


My new job as Sales Manager had gotten off to a lousy start "I don’t want it ! I would rather walk, it looks like a Geoff! " I said to my Boss! (Reference Geoff Hurst, Hat Trick scorer in England's 1966 World Cup Final) Geoff Hurst = Hearse = Funeral Car. This was the first conversation I was having with the General Manager in my new role as Sales Manager. I was referring to the Mercedes E 200 Estate that I had inherited which had been the previous Sales managers demonstrator, he was Married, he had Kids, he’d settled down and didn’t need a “Bait” car, this car had way too many seats, and way too much luggage space for my needs and liking. It was the kind of car that a Guy who has a pipe and slippers and is happy and content with his lot would drive, I wasn’t that guy!.

The previous Sales Manager seemed to have given up on life and settled for mediocrity, he slouched round the Showroom as if he couldn’t be bothered to lift his feet up. He was pretty miserable, and he always looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulder.

I wasn’t sure what he was doing that made him so tired until one morning I saw the accounts girl getting out of his yawn a mile non descript Silver with grey cloth E Class Estate, he was parked just up the road from work, if he had given her a lift why drop her there, as if I couldn’t guess!

My suspicions were confirmed when she came in to our morning Sales meeting with some paperwork and he acted like it was the first time he had seen her that day. "Have you had a nice weekend" he said with a knowing smile. It wasn’t a good thing for me as up until that moment when I realised that they were having an affair I had always referred to her as “The Poison Dwarf” (the accounts department did their utmost to stop you selling a car, or when you did sell one they made it as difficult as possible to claim your commission).

The poison Dwarf was always ok with me and I had hidden my dislike quite well ( I only disliked her because she worked in accounts (Sales Prevention Department), if she hadn’t it could well have been me that would have been dropping her off half a mile from work in the rain), her demeanour towards me had changed a few weeks prior to this, it all made sense now and I realised it must have happened when the Sales Manager and her were sharing the afterglow, he’d probably run out of small talk, then came up with an idea to break the silence “Hey, you’ll never guess what Barrie calls you behind your back”

These days he appeared to be more and more stressed, his Wife had found out about the affair and kicked him out, the Poison Dwarfs Husband had kicked her out and they were shacked up in a pokey flat above a kebab shop in the centre of town, circumstances had taken their toll on him, he looked like he had aged 20 years in the last few weeks. We were also way behind on our targets which was unsurprising as we had a crap Sales Team, which consisted of me, I'd like to think I was ok, but I was fed up of getting conned out of commission and I had largely lost interest. We had a young lad (Tim nice but Dim) he was the son of one of our best customers, apart from the cars his Dad bought he had hardly sold any, he was a nice lad but useless.

The other Sales Man Michael seemed to be incapable of getting off his chair without breaking wind, I put this down to an inbuilt defence mechanism, he was a kind of human skunk who seemed to be frightened of customers, like a skunks reaction to predators every time a customer approached him he let one slip, as you can imagine this didn't help his closing ratio a whole lot either and he was on his final warning.

Prior to his promotion the Sales Manager had been an OK Salesman  but he was no good as a Sales Manager, the paper work was killing him, he was under pressure at home and at work, and as it happens things weren’t as rosy as they could have been at his Love Nest either.

The Poison Dwarf was at a crossroads in her life too, she’d was fed up of all her clothes smelling like a Kebab and had been to see a Fortune Teller to see what the future held for her, sadly she didn’t like what she heard.

I hadn't been to see a Fortune Teller but I didn't like what my future held in store either as I had just been given the bad news that I wouldn't be paid 71/2 % commission on my 5 years worth of SLK orders and instead I would only get £50 per car which just wasn't worth the hassle (see other blog. http://bccars.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/wolfs-in-charge-of-sheep.html ) I’d had enough and decided to pack in.

This SLK incident was the latest in a long line of commission reducing dirty tricks and it was the last straw. I felt sorry for the Sales Manager, so out of common decency I decided to give him the heads up that I would be leaving at the end of the month as soon as my wages hit the bank. I did ask him to keep it to himself, otherwise if they knew I was going to leave, they wouldn't pay me what I was owed (Standard Practice in the Motor Trade)

He didn't reply, he just got up, walked out of the office and headed up to the General Managers office. I thought he'd gone to grass me up, but when he came back down he looked a different guy, he was smiling, there was a spring in his step and he looked like he'd got rid of the Worlds Weight, I recognised this look, it was the same look the others had had when they jacked in, and sure enough off he went leaving the Managers position vacant.


We did without the Sales Manager for a couple of days, then the Sales Team were called into a meeting and we were told that someone was coming for an interview, I knew the guy who was coming and I didn't like him at alI, so I made my feelings known and said that if he got the job, I was history. I had nothing to lose as I was planning to leave, but I had worked really hard up to that point and I didn’t want him taking over.

The Human skunk had a lot to lose, he never went to the Sales Manager and always came to me for valuations and for help doing deals so he knew that if I left he wouldn't survive, so he suggested that I be promoted, I got Tim nice but Dim’s vote too.

I was promoted, the good thing was that I would be paid on a percentage of the Sales Departments profits and I would now get my richly deserved rewards for all the hours I had spent selling and speccing up SLK's to WAG's, the bad thing was that I inherited the "Geoff" from the old Sales Manager

The General Manager a past master at stating the blinking obvious, told me that I had to have it as the E Class was a management car, and the C180 AMG Sport that I had when I was a Salesman was a C Class and therefor it was a "Salesmans" car. My new role as Sales Manager seemed to be a step backwards as far as desirable Transport went.

He did however tell me that as soon as I sold it, I could register a new Demo of my choice. I needed something to look forward to so that afternoon I sat down and put an order in for “The Stealth” as it would later be referred to by my colleagues.

It was an Obsidian Black E Class Avantgarde Automatic, with Light Grey leather Interior, Wood and Leather Steering Wheel, and AMG Alloy Wheels, it would look fantastic but it wouldn’t be here for 3 months. I hated the E Class Estate and when it wasn’t raining I used to commute on my Honda Fireblade rather than turn up in the Geoff.

3 Months went by in the blink of an eye and despite me putting unbelievable pressure on my Sales Team to sell the F###### thing, they hadn’t managed it yet, and the “Stealth” was sat in the compound in all its splendour just waiting to be registered.

Pressure wasn’t working on them so I resorted to bribery, I was still selling cars as well as doing my managerial job, but I didn’t get commission for Sales so I saved them up and used them to keep anyone who'd fallen foul of the constantly changing commission structure happy, by dishing my sales out to deserving causes.

This time I used my sales to keep me happy, I announced that the Salesman who sold the "Geoff that I was being forced to use would be given 10 of my deals, this amounted to about a £1000 and worked like a charm.

The E class Estate sold within a few days of the introduction of my incentive scheme, but I was then left with another Dilemma, should I register the "Stealth" in July and miss out on the plate change in August or should I wait another 4 weeks for the latest plate, which really only amounted to snob value and bragging rights, so I waited.

August the 1st came and my car had been PDi’d, taxed and valeted, I'd had a Mini Disc Player and a steering wheel remote fitted, the sun was glinting off it as it was sat in the delivery bay outside our front door, waiting for close of business and me to jump in the driver’s seat at long last, but it wasnt going to be the pleasant experience that I'd hoped for.

 A customer walked in who was looking to buy an E class, I recognised him instantly, it was Brian Ferry (Not his real name) I hadn't seen him since the 70's when i worked as an apprentice Draughtsman at an Engineering firm after I left school.

I was in the drawing office and he was in the Machine shop, looking back it was quite funny as the advice given to me by the Manager of the Drawing office was not to mix with the "Rabble" out of the workshop.

I’ve never been good at taking advice and I took no notice of this either, there was 2 old guys and me in the Drawing Office and it wasn’t exactly a hive of activity. In the office at lunchtime the main past time was having a snooze, it was left to me being the youngest to wake them up, but sometimes I couldn’t be bothered, and just left them. While i was checking to see if my colleagues were sleeping or they were dead, the lads in the Machine shop were playing football and cricket. It wasn't long before I was eating pie and gravy in the rabble’s canteen and playing football with them at lunchtime.

I started work as an apprentice Draughtsman when I left school as my Mum and Dad wanted me to have a trade to fall back on when my career in the Motor trade didn't work out. The rest of the White collar workers frowned on me a little! for "fraternising with the lads from the workshop, but far from being rabble the other apprentices were a good bunch of lads, we all got on pretty well, but we played a lot of pranks on each other.

Brian was a year older than me and shared a car with his Mum, it was an absolutely immaculate Volkswagen Beetle with loads of highly polished chrome trim, it was a great car, he also had a really nice girlfriend, and he was lead singer in a Band, he was always singing Roxy Music songs,  he was a cool guy, a likeable lad, and a good laugh.


I on the other hand was too young to drive and had a racing bike, I couldn't play a musical instrument or dance to save my life, things were bad, and they got worse when I bought a Lime Green Garelli Eureka moped, word of warning Lamborghinis in Lime Green are awesome, Mopeds not so much.



I had spent every last penny that I had on the moped and insurance so i could cast my net

further afield, and not be knackered and out of breath when I got there.  I didn't have enough money left to buy a helmet. "Not to worry said the Salesman, you can have the one the lady left when she part exchanged it. The helmet looked like a bowl on my head, it had been hand painted orange and it had stickers of horses on that wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I tried, but it was either wear that helmet or use my racing bike till i got paid the next month.
    
Brian almost wet himself when he saw me turn up at work on my moped,  I was ribbed mercilessly, one day while Brian was taking a toilet break/reading the sun, someone threw a bucket of water over the toilet door, now hand on heart it wasn't me. I suspected that it was the fitter who Brian was meant to be helping, but instead of helping he kept skiving off to the toilets, no one else admitted to it throwing the water, and he didn't believe it when I said it wasn’t me.



This started an intense rivalry between us, one day he had waited for me to come out of the toilets, fortunately the fire hose that he 
was holding wouldnt reach inside the toilets, I saw him and managed to sprint up the workshop and out of reach before the pressure built up in the hose. Our friendly feud continued until the day he left, Brian had decided he didn't want to be tied down so he ditched his Girlfriend, and joined the Merchant Navy, he wanted to see the World. The last time I had seen Brian I’d had to run to escape his wrath and jump on my Yamaha FSIE Moped  and a Full Face Bell Crash Helmet that I'd had to borrow money to buy as I couldnt stand the ribbing I got riding round on my Garelli Eureka, Brian had been changing out of his overalls for the final time, all the lads were there to say goodbye but when he took off his Steel toe capped safety boots, reached up to the top of his locker to get his training shoes, he pulled over his up turned Hard Hat which I had filled with water and tied the laces of his shoes to. I'd had the last laugh, Brian was drenched, that was my going away present and he would have something to remember me by.
The Brian Ferry wannabe had remained a teenager in my memories, but the guy who was stood in front of me now, in our showroom had grey hair, he was married with 3 kids, and he was an insurance broker. I'd rather be dead, I couldn't believe this was the same happy go lucky, love em and leave em guy that I had known all those years ago. He told me that he was looking for a new car, and I couldn't help but ask "Why does your Mum want her car back now" if he had come a few weeks earlier he would have been an ideal victim for the yawn a mile Geoff.

He was looking for a new Company Car and was entitled to standard E class, I took the opportunity to get a bit of payback in for all the "kermit the moped" jokes by telling him that my new demo was outside, it would be the same engine as the car he would be entitled to on his company car scheme, but he would only get a classic, not Avantgarde he wouldn't get leather, big wheels, wood and leather steering wheel etc, etc.

Brian asked if he could have a drive in it, not missing the chance to gloat I agreed, but then he went to his car and proceeded to get his 2 baby chairs and his 3 screaming kids, there was no way I was going out on a demonstration with him, so i tossed him the keys and went back to my office.

He came back after a short time, gave me my keys, we chatted for a while longer then he left. I was quite saddened by the fact that he had grown up and turned into a middle aged family man. I sat in my office for a while and contemplated how quickly nearly 3 decades had passed, at the close of business I sauntered out to my new car still contemplating, I opened the door and sat in it. I knew I could smell something that clearly wasn’t the Mercedes Benz leather, I covered my mouth and nose with one hand and grabbed for the door handle with the other, I was wretching, and I fell sideways out of the car in my haste to get out. When I caught my breath I ran back into the showroom, there could be only one person responsible and I accused Michael the Human Skunk of sneaking out for a joyride in my new car, leaving it smelling like a Gas Chamber, he protested his innocence.
I didnt dare open the door but through the window I could just see the dirty nappy sticking out from under my driver’s seat. Brian had indeed turned into a middle aged family man, but he definitely hadn’t grown up, and he still had a teenage sense of humour.  He’d also got the last laugh!
for now.
Touche!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Customer Expectation, Amateur Photographer and The VAT Man


How do you manage customer expectation? I think the answer is you have to do the best “You” can, sometimes it’s not enough. Usually you never know what you did to push the customer over the edge and make them buy from you. Occasionally they tell you when you’ve agreed a deal, almost as if they need to get it of their chest, some are too embarrassed, Sometimes it’s the price, sometimes you have the right thing at the right time in the right colour, but sometimes it’s just the little things you do.

When I was working at weekends and during the school holidays washing cars at a garage, they had a Full VAT inspection. Although they never did anything wrong and they knew nothing would be found, there’s a stigma attached to VAT men, they make you feel guilty when you’re not, and he was as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. In order to get rid of him as quickly as possible they put him in a room in the Parts department.

The room was cramped, overrun with spiders and the odd field mouse, but most of all it was like Ice Station Zebra it was freezing, I felt sorry for him (I was only 12 and I didn’t realise then what a pain in the arse VAT men can be) so I took him a fan heater that I used to dry car interiors when I had wet vacced them.

Years later the VAT man called in a garage where I was working, somehow we got talking about where I used to work, he put 2 and 2 together, remembered me, and since then he has bought 4 cars from me, and recommended me to his friends and relations, from which I have sold numerous cars. It’s The Little Things! And sometimes you don’t even know you’ve done them.

I had pretty much forgotten about this incident, some may think at 55 I’ve left it a bit late, but my philosophy is “you’re never too Old to learn” and the other day I started racking my brains as to how I could make sure that I do the “little” things that make “that” difference for each and every customer. The question that prompted this Eureka moment was totally unrelated to the Car industry, it was “So are you a Canon, or a Nikon man?” the answer was I am neither; I should be because they are the choice of professionals, but I’m not, and the answer was quite difficult to explain without sounding stupid. If I’m honest I don’t care what other people think of me, so here’s the answer!

I’m an Olympus Man and I have been since I bought my first Olympus Camera over 40 years ago. My decision wasn’t price related; I wasn’t “Sold” on the OM 1  by a slick talking Salesman. It wasn’t because it was the best camera for the Job, it had been recommended to me, it was a nice colour or I knew someone who had one.

I had done my research on the Cameras which were affordable to me on my 4 paper round, and weekend car cleaning job savings budget, and narrowed my choice down to Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, and Olympus. There was no such thing as the Internet where you could find and compare Cameras and specifications, just Amateur Photographer Magazine or “Amateur Pornographer” as a friend calls it.

Amateur Photographer was really another version of “The Sun” newspaper, the only difference being that scattered between glamour shots of scantily clad models all the manufacturers and camera sellers advertised their products and prices.

My Dad didn’t mind me buying the magazine, my Mum not so much!, so on a Wednesday Morning in order for me to stay in my Mums good books but still be able to research, erm well let’s say “Cameras” I had to sit in my own self imposed Ice Station Zebra which was situated under the stairs in a Block Of Flats at Glen Eldon Court in St Annes. I used to read Amateur Photographer from cover to cover before I posted it through the letterbox of the only subscriber on my paper round, then made my way to school (usually late). It may just be a coincidence but the same customer also subscribed to Playboy, however I never learned anything about cameras from that.


There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between the cameras, and I knew that in the right hands each of them would take better pictures than my limited skills and natural ability would allow me.  I was largely undecided so looking for inspiration I wrote to the Manufactures, asking them to send me all the latest information on their products; with my letter I sent them enough stamps to cover the poastage cost of sending their brochures to me.

So why am I an Olympus Man, why have I spent over £50,000 on Olympus Products in my Life Time? Why am I now looking to buy the latest Olympus E5 without even considering Nikon or Canon products?

Well my decision was swayed by the one member of staff, who on the day they posted the brochure out decided that Olympus could afford the postage, and they paper clipped the stamps I had enclosed and returned them to me unused.

There’s your answer I am an Olympus man because they sent my stamps back!

It’s the “Little” things.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Just because I like Top Gear doesn’t mean that I’m a Misogynist, or does it?


When you read my blogs you would probably get the impression that I am a misogynist “Woman Hater” but you would be wrong, I am exactly the opposite! I can find a quality I like about even the most appalling Harpies. Over the years this has been my biggest downfall, and just because I like one quality doesn’t mean to say they don’t drive me mad with numerous other things I don’t like.

I think I’m a good host, I don’t ask a lot from a house guest or girlfriend, just two rules, don’t touch the remote controls, and when I’m watching a program, only talk during commercials, if you have something urgent to say Text me, now is that too much to ask? Just to clarify “You’re a shit boyfriend, I never want to see you again, and I’m going home “ is not an urgent message, I could get the gist from the, Tuts, the door slamming and the tyre squeal, without missing any of the program .

In my defence it’s imperative that you watch a Motoring Program (Top Gear) live because If I had a quid for every time I’ve sat down to watch a film or TV program that I set my video to record, and just before the end “somebody” has changed the channel and Coronation Street, Eastenders or some other drivel comes on, I would be a millionaire. Even Sky Plus Falls foul of the 8 Oclock weekdays phenomena when two equally shit Womens programs are broadcast on different channels, so instead of Wayne Carini in an Episode of Chasing Classic Cars, you get a message saying this “Program failed to record due to a Programming Conflict” (Which roughly translated means, we did manage to record your Girlfriends Programs But Hey, Have a Great Night!) ”

When a Womans watching a program, it’s like turning a shark on its back, (I watch The Discovery Channel a lot too) they go into an almost catatonic state, except for the odd “Bastard” muttered at the guy in the program who's done something to upset one of the female characters, then they give a sideways glance in your direction which really means “You even think of doing that and I will be after you with the kitchen scissors!

When you’re watching a program it’s a different thing, women can multitask, for multitasking substitute “do several things that annoy you all at the same time” they can read a magazine, hum a tune, and flick the pages over so fast that each page sounds like a whip crack. Incidentally did you know that a whip cracks, because the end is travelling faster than the speed of sound and it creates a mini Sonic Boom, if you didn’t know that, the chances are its because you were watching the program "Little Known Facts" with your girlfriend.

They don’t speak too often but when they do, it’s at the precise moment that Jeremy Clarkson is sharing some very important information and you miss it, no point in saying “shush” as that just makes things worse, “Shush, why Shush, what’s happening, what’s he talking about that’s so important that I’ve got to shush, has Richard Hammond invented a cure for Cancer? By which time you’ve missed what he was saying anyway and you are even more in the dog house. Then just when you don’t want it, it’s time to go to bed, and you get the Library treatment, which was precisely what you wanted when you were watching TV

 I have a pair of Bose “Quiet Comfort Noise Cancelling Headphones” which I always take on Holiday. They work by use of analog circuits or digital signal processing. Adaptive algorithms are designed to analyze the waveform of the background aural or nonaural noise, then based on the specific algorithm generate a signal that will either phase shift or invert the polarity of the original signal. This inverted signal (in antiphase) is then amplified and a transducer creates a sound wave directly proportional to the amplitude of the original waveform, creating destructive interference. This effectively reduces the volume of the perceivable noise. Translated this means they eliminate the sound of the plane’s engines, and you don’t have to turn the volume of the in-flight movie up to an unacceptable level.

As I said before I really do like Women, it would probably be less stressful for me If I didn't and I was to become a Monk, but that’s not the life for me so In order to survive I believe that Mother Nature has taken pity on me and allowed my hearing to evolve. I seem to have developed noise cancelling ears. Although my hearing is perfect, my ears work in exactly the opposite way to my Noise cancelling headphones. I can hear every note of a Formula One cars engine as the gears change, the pitch alters and it screams down the track. Watching the opening sequence of Point Break, I can hear the next cartridge slide into the chamber as he cocks his pump action shotgun, in preparation for his next shot. I hear his bullet tear through the target and the hollow tinkling of a spent bullet casing ejected from Johnny Utah's (Keanu Reeves) semi automatic Sig Sauer P226 9 mm, as it hits the ground, bouncing  twice before it settles and becomes silent.




No matter how softly they talk, I never miss a word spoken by Jeremy, Richard, James, Tiff and Jason. If she’s sat opposite me I can see my girlfriend’s lips moving but I can’t hear a word she’s saying until the commercial break or 'Jessica' by the 'Allman Brothers' starts to play.

Noise cancelling ears do have a couple of disadvantages, and I must remember to write to the TV broadcasters and ask if they could put subtitles on the screen when Vicky Butler-Henderson is on Fifth Gear and the same when Rachel Riley is on The Gadget Show so that I know what they’re talking about.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ding Ding Final Round !


I was doing my best to try and forget about the Jury that didn’t find the guy guilty of attacking me, I was telling the truth throughout and anyone with any common sense would be able to see that it couldn’t have happened any other way. As Scotty from Star Trek would say “It’s beyond the laws of physics Jim” There is no way I could have dragged an 18 stone guy over my desk by the wrist, there was no way I could even reach him over my computer monitor to do so, his version of events was a lie from start to finish, but then it had to be otherwise he would get sent to prison. I was disgusted with the Tactics of his defence Barrister, The Police Investigation, the Farce that was 3 trials, the laughable Prosecution Barrister,  but most of all I was disgusted with myself for not conveying what happened to the Jury in a way that would and should have left them “beyond all reasonable doubt”

In order to make sense of this Blog, you need to read this one first

As my front door opened and I struggled in carrying my shopping, I could see a business card on the floor in the Hall, I had seen enough Police officers business cards to know that this was one too, on it was a message “Please ring me” Crikey I thought, what have I done now?
The Officer told me that they had confiscated the firearms off the Guy who had attacked me, when he was arrested, and he’d recently had the cheek to ask for them back, even though he had been found “Not Guilty” the cops had refused his request so that speaks volumes in itself! He wouldn’t take no for an answer and he had re-hired the same Barrister who had defended him previously, and he was taking them to a court of appeal, if the Police lost he would get his licence back, and his shotguns back, and the cops would be responsible for his costs too, they wanted me to appear as a witness again, but this time on their behalf.  
I resented the jury’s verdict more than even I realised, and I launched into an epic rant, which started off  “ As much as I like being made to stand up in court and get called a liar after every sentence by some bitch who knows full well that her client was guilty, I’m afraid I will have to decline your offer” “I would rather stick pins in my eyes, than go through all that again” I carried on for about another hour giving him all the reasons why I felt the Police, British Justice, the Crown prosecution service, and the people who make halfwits do Jury service had let me down, at the end of my rant the Police Officer said something like “so that’s a no then is it?”
I ended my call by putting a deal to him, I knew my attacker had a relative who was a high ranking Police Officer, so I said that if the Cops could arrange a meeting, and after listening to my story the high ranking Officer thought that he was really innocent and deserved to get his guns back, I would appear in court as a witness, if not then the High ranking Police Officer could save every bodies time and trouble by convincing my attacker that he was lucky not to be in jail and he should forget about ever being able to own a firearm again. I left that option with him, but the meeting never happened.
A few months later I was contacted by another Police Officer, he asked if he could come and see me, it wasn’t really a question, so reluctantly I agreed. He explained that this time it would not be in front of a Jury, but a Judge and 2 Justice of the Peace, I would have to go through exactly the same procedure, his Barrister would cross examine me again, it would be no picnic, I wouldn’t get the Justice I deserved, the previous verdict would not be overturned, there wouldnt be a retrial, this was just to prevent him getting his guns and his licence back.
I agreed, but on the condition that I would not be stuck in the waiting room for days on end like I was last time, I would turn up for 1 day, and 1 day only, I would give my evidence, take an earbashing and be called a liar off Cruella, then I would go home and I never wanted to hear the guys name again, we shook hands, It was a deal.

I am probably prevented by some Liberal do gooder law, and couldn’t begin to tell you anyway just how harrowing it is sitting in the witness room. There are several cases going on at once, prosecution Barristers are in and out, and the stories you hear being related are horryfying. I could hear a witness sat next to me, being intimidated on the phone by the defendant she was testifying against, It makes you wonder how this can be allowed to happen and what kind of society we are living in.
So I had been sat there from 9.00 am till 1.00 am, our agreement was out of the window, the Judge had started reading another case first, and we would be next. So I made my way to the Courts Canteen. I was again reminded of the incredibly stupid works of the British Court system. There are separate rooms for Defendants’ and Witnesses, you can only get in the Witnesses room by an assistant punching in a key code. To get into the court, you have to go through a metal detector and be patted down, they had confiscated a small torch that I always carry, because “it could be used as an offensive weapon! My sarcasm was lost on the guy that frisked me when I said “sure that’s what I was going to use it for, I was going to shine the guy who attacked me to death”
 I was now sat in the canteen, there were knives, forks, glasses, hot water any amount of things that could be used as weapons, and in walked the guy who had attacked me, he positioned himself diagonally opposite me, and sat there sneering, the whole system is just a joke. My ears were burning and the people he was with kept turning around to look at me, there were plenty of witnesses this time, I sat there trying to look like butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth, but I was seething I really wanted him to start something, this time I was ready, and I would finish it. I wanted the chance for closure, but he didn’t.
At approximately 3.30pm I was told the case had been adjourned and that I could go home, another wasted day!
The new date came through a few months later and the timing would guarantee that my Christmas and New Year would be spoiled if this verdict went against me. I had decided that I wasn’t going to be polite or conduct myself as a Gentleman this time, I would say what I thought and no amount of people telling me to be quiet was going to stop me. if being heard meant that I would get done for contempt of court, then so be it, but no one was going to shut me up or talk over me when they didn’t like my answer!
I was called to the Witness Box, and asked questions by the Prosecution Barrister, this guy was good. I told my story and was then asked to explain what the photographs were of, and which injuries they depicted, and how I had received them. Now it was Cruella’s turn and the familiar “You’re a liar Mr Crampton” filled the court room. When she told me her clients version of events, I laughed, it was just too ridiculous for words. She wasn’t ready for my answer “Wow you’ve changed your version of events yet again,  it’s your client that’s the liar, and you know he is too, otherwise you wouldn’t have had to change your story 4 times to fit the answers I gave you in the first 3 trials! And how can you say that he was trying to calm me down and subdue me when there were punch and kick marks on the back of my shirt, what do you think I was trying to do, hit his fist with my kidneys?
She bit! her answer surprised me and gave me a chance to score some early points, she said that I never gave evidence in the first trial, and that if I knew anything about the law I would know that she was allowed to change her story, my reply hurt her “That’s the thing, I’ve told the same story 4 times, but I’m telling the truth” and using a line i borrowed from the film The Highlander, I said “So there can be only one!” version. She was clearly rattled and came back at me immediately, saying that I was a liar, and she had never heard my evidence in the first trial. I told her that she was at best mistaken, but my implication was that she was lying, I invited her to look back through the records, she just ignored me and asked me another question but I continued with my answer to her first question. She began to try to talk over me, and ask me the another question time after time. It reminded me of a pop record called La La La by Naughty Boy that was in the charts at the time
I engaged my selective Noise Cancelling Hearing (covered in a seperate blog http://bccars.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/just-because-i-like-top-gear-doesnt.html and ignored her question I continued to remind her of the first trial. She kept demanding that I answer her new question, which I did when she eventually gave up allowed me to answer the first question she had originally asked me. I testified that I had been stamped on, that I had footprints on my shirt and one on my head in blood, my shirt had been lost for several months in Police evidence, the previous Barrister had opened the evidence bag when i distinctly told him not to, it was only sent to forensics 18 months after the incident. The defence Barrister made a big play that they could not identify a footprint, and I said Im not surprised that a dusty foot print had worn off after 18 months of being manhandled and messed with, but I had taken a photograph of it within a few hours of the incident. The prints that were available in the court were just very poor photocopies of my photos and I complained to the Judge that they were pathetic and there was no excuse as I had supplied them with 8MP pictures on a DVD, and they should have made better copies in order to show the detail and extent of my injuries.

Referring to the photographs, the Defence Barrister said that the pictures were the ones that scenes of crime had taken and supplied. I took my opportunity to point out that she was wrong again and I replied that I had taken the photos she was looking at, again she snapped "you’re a liar!" She wasn’t on her A game today at all, I asked if I could get my Ipad out to prove it, I could also show them the footprint on my shirt and all the timed and dated pictures in sequence I had taken as the bruising came out. At this point she objected and said to the Judge “If Mr Crampton wants to introduce new evidence he should have done it before this hearing”, I didn’t want to introduce anything, they all ready had all my pictures they were just very badly printed, they were already looking at my evidence and I just wanted to prove that she was wrong yet again. The Judge ruled that I wasn’t allowed to produce my Ipad.

I took my opportunity and turned to the Judge and told him that I had taken the pictures minutes after I had been attacked, I asked them to pay close attention to the footprint in blood on my head as it was vitally important that they understand the significance of it, the print was a different shape than the cut that was left underneath when I washed the blood off, this proved “transference” it proved beyond all doubt that I couldn’t have got my injuries when “I went mad and he tried to calm me down and subdue me” It proved that he had stamped on my head at least twice, and he could have only have done that when I was on the floor, as he wouldn’t have been able to lift his leg 6 feet off the ground to kick me in the head, and If he could I cerytainly wouldn’t have stood in the same place and let him.
I also pointed to the bruising on my lower leg, which showed a perfectly shaped shoes sized and shaped bruise, again to inflict this injury on me, I would have had to be on the floor and him stood over me,  otherwise the only injury I could have gotten was off his toes, and not his full flat foot.
Satisfied that I had made my point, and explained it thoroughly enough that even the last jury would have realised that it was the truth. I turned back to Cruella ready for her next question and I recognised the look she was giving me, I used to see in my last Girlfriends eye when I had done something really unforgivable, like useing the wrong fork in a restaurant, or tweeting a picture of a registration number that looked like it said something naughty, usually with my Girlfriend I had done it completely accidently and just by being me, but in this courtroom it was accidently on purpose. I had gotten right on her nerves, and I could see she was fuming! Cruella went straight for my Jugular, and tried to ridicule me,  I set her up with the ammunition. So Mr Crampton where did you get your extensive knowledge of forensics then? "I never miss and episode of CSI Miami" I replied, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. She couldn't believe her luck, "You got your knowledge from a  TV program?" Before she finished off he theatrical laughter that was for the benefit of the Judge, I said “It doesn’t matter where I got it from does it, we both know I'm right!” she stopped laughing.
It was a good job I had won that point because her next move had me very confused, she produced an AA report which pulled the car I had sold to pieces, she took great delight in asking me to read each line of it out loud to the Judge, the report was very damming. If I had have sold a car as bad as that I would have expected and also deserved a slapping. I countered the report by saying that the things they said were wrong with it, could not possibly have been wrong otherwise the oil warning light, brake fluid warning light, disk pad warning light, and low coolant warning light would have been illuminated and they weren’t! She smiled and I knew that was a bad sign, it was, and she got me.
Wouldn’t that also be the case if the warning lights were faulty Mr Crampton? “Yes it would, but they were working fine”. Turn to the last page of the report Mr Crampton, and read the last paragraph! I read ahead a couple of lines and although I knew that this was complete lies, basically I was f#### I started reading it out, a lot quieter than my cocky replies to her previous question had been “The warning lights on the vehicle were faulty and inoperative. I started thinking out loud, while my brain processed the information, I said “That’s not the report you showed me at the first 3 trials, the report you had was off some oily rag at Kwik Fit who was trying to sell them a car of his own, and if you’d have had a report off the AA you would have used it! I was speed reading through the report, I really couldn’t believe it, there was only one explanation it had been fabricated. I made a fool of myself and said that report has been made up, it hadn’t, and I didn’t mean that she had made it up, I meant that her Client had, She turned to the Judge and again made a big point of doing her hysterical laughter routine at my preposterous statement she said “Well, I have been called a liar, and now I’ve been accused of fabricating evidence”
I hadn’t done myself any favours, things were looking bad, and even I was starting to think that I had indeed sold a defective car, but then I saw the date on the report it was the 31st of May, 28 days after the incident. The AA had picked up all the faults that the Oily Rag from Kwik Fit had picked up, plus the one about the warning lights, and then it all fell into place and I knew what had happened! I turned to the Judge and said that even if this report hadn’t been fabricated it was dated almost a month after the incident, and he couldn’t have confronted me with it, it wasn’t the report that had been fabricated it was the faults on the car, all the faults were low fluids, easily done by draining the fluids out, the car had been sabotaged, there were no mechanical faults. I knew that they’d had 28 days to tamper with the car and create these faults before the AA guy got to inspect it, I had the Judges attention.
I demanded to see the original report, I was convinced that I had been Kwik Fitted Up,  Cruella said that was it and I again told her that she was mistaken, and added "Again!" I described the report that I had seen in detail to her, the original was burned into my memory and I  demanded to see it, I asked the Prosecution Barrister to search through his previous notes for it, this time it was her that was flustered and as she shuffled through her paper work, I continued to bend the Judges ear with my conspiracy theory, but I knew I was right.
Cruella snapped, she demanded that the Judge removed me from the court as “ I wouldn’t shut up” he didn’t, but he continued to listen to me and then asked me “if the car had been faulty, as it said in the report, what would I have done?”, my answer was that I would have fixed it, or given him his money back, and if the Customer hadn’t wanted it to bring it to me he could have taken it to any VAT registered garage as per the conditions of the written warranty that I had supplied with all the cars  I sold. But then I added that his question was purely hypothetical because it wasn’t faulty when it went out. She eventually got the original report from the Kwik Fit guy which was a joke, and I ridiculed it again. I did a bit of my own hysterical laughter when I came to the bit that said "Water pipes touching the Engine" Touching, not only do they touch the engine, theyre attached between the engine and the radiator, LOL LOL LOL, right then, she couldnt have hated me more if she'd been married to me.
She moved on, then she pulled a photograph out of her briefcase that wasn’t in any of the bundles, she passed it to the Judge and the Justices of the peace,  then she asked me to look at it, and confirm that it was my Cabin, it was, and I did. But  it occurred to me that she had just introduced evidence, so why couldn’t I. Again I turned to the Judge and said, am I right in thinking that picture has just been introduced without permission, and if she can produce evidence whenever she feels like it, why can’t I produce my Ipad?. A wry smile crossed the Judges face and I could tell he was thinking along the lines of “ Smart Arse, why did I bother going to Law School for 10 years when I could have just watched the DVD Box Set of CSI Miami", then he said  “Thats a good question Mr Crampton, does the council for the prosecution want to add anything?", he did, he wanted to add that my Imy Ipad should be introduced as evidence, this time there was no objection from the Defence, just a deep sigh.
The reason she wanted the Judge to see  a picture of my cabin was to show that it was raised off the ground. My 2 witnesses at the trial had testified that they had seen a commotion and had run across to my Cabin, one had pulled the guy off me, and the other had pulled the woman off who was apparently kicking me. The CCTV showed them running across, but then she stopped it and accused me of lying, and also one of my witnesses, this was the first time she had used this and I was baffled, the reflection in a cars bodywork appeared to show the legs of one of the witnesses as if he stayed outside my cabin, at the time I couldn’t offer a reasonable explanation, she was right it did appear to show this, all I could say was he did come in, I saw him! Then the “You’re a liar, your witnesses are liars blah, blah, blah started again.
On the spot in the Witness Box, being confronted with this evidence for the first time and under intense pressure from her, I couldn’t for the life of me explain it, and She won the round, it did look like I had lied, and if I had lied about that I am sure that could have put enough doubt in a Juries mind to get him off with the reasonable doubt thing. I have since studied the tape on a 65 “ Screen in great detail and in step by step motion, they both came in the office but the guy who pulled the woman off stood in the doorway, the reflection of his legs could be seen because the car door was convex shape and the reflection was from in the office and not on the floor, it wasn’t a 90 degree reflection from your view point as would be shown in a mirror, it was reflecting a view from inside my office,  she used the element of surprise to throw me off, I couldn’t explain it but perhaps her tactics didn’t work as I stuck to the story that I knew was true no matter how implausible it seemed at the time, and perhaps the Judge had sussed it when I hadn’t.

The next thing she tried to ridicule was my explanation that he had come across my desk, and again it had been something that I had struggled to answer, I had my head turned away when he hit me and jumped over, he came over so fast that I was convinced his punch had dazed me and time had stood still, while he dragged his lard arse across my desk, the thing that troubled me was that I do remember him landing on me with an incredible force, so much so that it bent the steel l shaped panel which attached the back rest of my chair.
 Now often when I am faced with a problem, I wake up with the answer, my subconscious works on it till I get the answer. I used to keep a pen and paper by my bed so that if I woke up I could write the answer down, and not go back to sleep and forget it. Now I have an Iphone, so I just type the solution into notes and then doze off immediately.
I could remember being alerted by the sound of a chair moving, but he seemed to punch me and get across the desk in one movement, I couldn’t figure out how he had got the drop on me and I hadn’t managed to stand up, and go toe to toe with him. Time and time again I relived the attack in my thoughts, dreams, and nightmares, but I always woke up in the same place, my subconscious was trying its best to solve the problem for me but it wasn’t working, until one night shortly before the this appeal, too late for the 3 trials but just before his firearms appeal I woke up reached for my iphone and typed in, “Launched himself off her chair” this time my dream had continued past the point where I hear his chair move, he punches me and I wake up, this time I heard another noise, it was her chair moving, and it moved not because she was getting up to join in as I had thought, but because with his right leg he had stood on her chair and launched himself across the desk on to me, like he was a human cannonball, problem solved.

She had asked me the same question in the 3 previous trials and I never had a satisfactory answer, but this time I answered with conviction, and it was so obvious, I don’t know why I had never figured it out before. I am pretty good at reading body language, and hers said FFS!
I’m sure at this point she still hoped that she had done enough to win the case for her client, she had already planted the seed that I was a lying dodgy car dealer, now all she had to do was make me look like an interfering busy body and I was only here because I held a grudge against her client. Cruella asked “Do you know what this hearing is about, Mr Crampton? I replied “Yes, it’s a firearms licence appeal” and what’s that got to do with you may I ask? “Well, your Client threatened to kill me, so the last thing I want is to have him running around Preston with a couple of shotguns!”
I could tell that wasn’t one of any of the possible answers that she had rehearsed in her head, or indeed hoped for. She set off with an incredible rant, a whole tirade of insults, punctuated every so often with you’re a liar Mr Crampton. But that was my part in the trial over, the prosecution Barrister took my Ipad back into court, he showed them crystal clear photographs of the footprints on my shirt, head, all the bruises, and I made sure there was a couple of pictures of the car that I sold which looked a million dollars, I wasn’t allowed back in, but my Ipad must have done the trick.

Long story short, he didn’t get his license back.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Clockers, Customers and Imbeciles!


Many years ago my Dad had a Taxi firm, I was in his office when a call came in from a member of the public to say that one of our cars had broken down in a place miles from anywhere referred to as “The Moss” . The car in question was a Cortina and it belonged to my Dad, it was being driven by a ginger headed guy who drove the car during the day, and paid my Dad by the mile. For some reason I don’t usually get on with ginger haired people, but I wouldn’t have got on with this guy no matter what colour his hair was and I had told my Dad that I didn’t trust him. My Dad was going to call him on the radio to ask if he was OK but I stopped him.

I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t radioed in for assistance if he had genuinely broken down. I jumped in my car and headed to the Moss. It was a lovely day and I could see the car in the distance, the driver couldn’t see me as he was reading the paper, as I walked towards the car I could see the windows were open, it was on axle stands, the engine was revving, and the rear wheels were spinning backwards. The car was in reverse gear, with the wheels in reverse, in the old days the speedo took its drive off the gearbox and although it was a painstaking process you could wind the clock back using this method. The driver was cheating my Dad out of money,  I thrust my arm through the open window removed the keys, and said guess what Ginge youre fired, do you want me to call you a Taxi?

So to my story

There’s an Old Motor Traders Tale, that a trader bought a car at Auction with the intent of winding the clock back, when he removed the speedometer, a piece of paper fell out and on it was written “Oh no, not again! Clocking Cars has always been rife in the motor trade, and it needs stamping out!

A few weeks ago what started off as a favour for a friend turned into a Crusade for me, but unfortunately I failed in my duties as self imposed Guardian of the motor trade. I won’t name any names to protect the guilty, the incompetents, the oblivious, the obnoxious and finally the people who should have known better and should have taken ownership of the problem.

My friend is a Motor Trader in every sense of the word, he buys “Motors” from the Trade, usually Main Dealers and sells to the Trade Used Car Dealers. He is a great lad, I’ve known him a long time, he’s honest, trustworthy, he has a lovely Family, good business ethics and his word is his bond. I would have no hesitation in recommending him. He had bought a Mercedes Benz which a Main Dealer had taken in part exchange. The car had 49,000 Miles on the clock, the customer had signed to say that the mileage on the car was correct, but he didn’t have a service book. He said he hadn’t been given one by the garage that sold it to him, but they had told him that the car had a “Digital Service History” in other words it was stored on the Mercedes Benz computer system, and in the ECU of the car. To me this isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (erm that’s a joke, sorry)

My mate had underwritten the vehicle, on the understanding that he could trace the service history, and get a duplicate service book stamped. He only deals with old fashioned garages so he knew that no one would buy it off him if he told them it had a “Digital Service History, let’s face it only an idiot would! Even though my mate only deals with the trade he still performs the due diligence checks that you are obligated to carry out if you’re selling to the public, so he set about back tracking. The last owner had a service invoice.

He was in luck or so he thought, the same garage had sold the car at 20,162 miles and had also carried out the last 2 service services. My mate ordered a Service book from their parts department and asked them to look through the history and stamp it accordingly. The book duly arrived through the post, with a service stamp at 27,316 miles in 07/2012 and 63,512 miles in July 2013. The problem was it was now October 2013 and the car was only showing 49,159. There was a mileage discrepancy 24,000 miles.

We were convinced it was a slip of the pen by either the mechanic or the Service Advisor when the car had been serviced last. We had checked the MOT history and on the 17/01/2013 the car had been showing 36,718 so again this pointed to a clerical error. The servicing dealer was contacted and the story that it looked like they had made a mistake entering the mileage and all the reasons why were explained to the service advisor, she promised to sort it out and ring back. She didn’t. We rang again and again, but they weren’t helpful, they said they were right and there was nothing they could do to help. They said that they had got the last mileage of the cars Digital Service history so it must be right. Their explanation was that the last owner must have clocked the car. When we told her that it had been MOTd at 36,718 miles, she said that he must have clocked it twice!

This was a ludicrous explanation, so we arranged to take the car to the dealer and have them connect it to their XENTRY Diagnostic equipment which would read all the information off the Electronic Control Unit. After keeping us waiting for 4 hours the service advisor came out with about 5 sheets of paper under her arm, she said that the car must have been clocked. My mate is an extremely calm and level headed guy, I have known him for about 20 years, I had never seen him lose his temper, until then. I could see that the thought of losing his trade profit and possibly even his reputation as a “Stand On “ guy, had upset him, so I stepped in. Believe me when Its left to me to be the voice of calm and reason, the situation has got way way out of hand! I asked the girl if we could see a hard copy of the Service invoice, but apparently this had been misplaced, as had the copy of their used car pdi sheet.

The Service administrator was clearly exasperated, she was way out of her depth, and her Boss who hadn’t got the balls to come out and talk to us was using her as a sacrificial Pawn. She said “I can’t keep going backwards and forwards trying to sort this out for you, I have other things to do!”  I asked her if I could examine the paperwork, and she thrust them at me. While I had been waiting and drinking many cups of Cappuccino in their Service Reception fuelled with caffeine I rapidly typed the cars details into the Vosa website and called up the previous MOT’s, this Dealer had MOT’d the car when they sold it in February 2012 and it was recorded at 20,162 miles. I had the smoking gun which should now get her Boss full attention and get him off up off his Arse, to speak to us, and help us sort out a problem which is a blight to the Motor Trade.

I noticed that the XENTRY report had a “Day Cycle Counter” a quick mental calculation (ok I opened the calculator, then the calendar function on my I Phone) and I had realised that according to the paperwork she had given me, the vehicle had covered 38,626 miles in July 2011, so it couldn’t have been the last owner that had clocked the car, it had to have been done before they bought it (If they hadn’t been a Mercedes Benz Main Dealer I would have suspected them, but i still have a little faith left, only a little) I explained the connotations to her, if this was the case the car deal could be unravelled and the last owner would be within his rights to bring the car back to them and demand his money back plus interest, plus whatever else Judges penalise Motor Traders for these days. We demanded to see the General Manager as this had now become a very serious situation (for them).

We were shown through to the “General Manager” but he turned out to be the Service Manager, again my friend explained the situation. If I am honest I don’t like Service Managers, over the years they have cost me many thousands of pounds doing recon work on Sales Cars that wasn’t necessary, so they could make their departments figures stack up, at the cost of some of my profits. To me Service Managers are akin to Robin Hood except they just Rob from the Sales Department and keep it.

This Service Manager was obnoxious, I listened to him talking down to my mate till I couldn’t stand it any longer, and then I told him a few facts, before he disputed them, he turned, looked at me like i was something he had just scraped off his shoe and snarled “Who are you?” Well I’m glad you asked that, I’m someone who has been in the Motor Trade for 40 plus years and who clearly has a better understanding of it than you do!  I don’t think you have quite grasped how serious this situation is! I had done well until then, I had managed to remain calm and reasonable for all of about 5 minutes, but that was pretty much the end of any further discussions, he didn’t even look up from his computer, when he said “We’re too busy to devote our resources to this, I will check later and ring you tomorrow” He may as well have just told us to F--- Off, because that’s what he meant, he had no intention of calling us.

I waited 24 hours then emailed the Chairman of the company, he responded virtually straight away. We traded emails, and he copied his brand manager in on them and asked him to contact me, he didn’t! After another reminder to this URGENT problem, I got a phone call to say that the Brand Manager was on holiday for 2 weeks. To be fair I got a phone call from their Finance Director to say that he was trying to sort the matter out and he would come back to me, he didn’t. After a text to his phone he called me to tell me that they were satisfied that it was the slip of a pen and they were trying to sought it out with the manufacturer and correct the digital service history, he also set up a meeting for me with the Brand Manager. By this time it was too late as my friend had bought the car back from the Dealer, and the Dealer who he had bought the car from had given him his money back.

I decided to go to the meeting anyway as I was curious and I knew if I didn’t sought the matter out it would rear its ugly head in the future, possibly with some unsuspecting dealer. I attended the meeting and although I was welcomed I didn’t feel like it. The brand Manager asked me why I was so interested, I got the feeling that they thought I was sticking my nose in where it didn’t belong, or I was going to try and blackmail them, or somehow I was trying to make some money, which wasn’t the case.

They apologised for the behaviour of their Service Manager, I appreciated that but to be honest the way the Service Manager talked to us would only have bothered me if I respected him, and I didn’t, but it’s the thought that counts. Then they asked me to explain why I thought the car had been clocked, and I did so. I also told them that I couldn’t be certain that I was correct, as I wasn’t familiar with the workings of their diagnostic systems and the printed read out I had. It was obvious that they didn’t know how it worked either, but at that moment he produced an invoice from an Auction showing the mileage when they bought it, this vindicated them completely from any wrong doing. Hovever it did point to wards them retailing a clocked car which they had unwittingly bought from the Auction and sold to am unsuspecting customer. I asked them if it was as easy as plugging their diagnostic machine into the car to check the mileage, why didnt they do it with every car that came into stock. In fact why didnt Mercedes Benz insist on it as a part of their Approved Used Car Scheme checks? they had no answer to my question.

Reading between the lines I would suggest that the First owner acquired the car on Contract Hire or a Personal Contract Purchase, he had taken the car agreeing to a 24 month 20,000 mile agreement and had done double the mileage, Before handing the car back he had clocked the car so that he wouldn’t have to pay the leasing company the excess mileage charge which i would guesstimate to be in the region of £4000 so he had just paid one of these Mileage Correction Services that are advertised these days £250 to knock it back, then returned it to the leasing company who then sent it to auction.

The Brand Manager should have stopped there, because then he produced a photocopy of the missing service invoice/job card, written at the top of the invoice/job card was the mileage that was showing on the car. He told me that he was satisfied the car hadn’t been clocked, I wasn’t and I pointed out that that could have been written in at any time after the event, or even  just before I turned up, I asked, if he was satisfied with the mileage, could he get me a service book stamped up and an explanation on his letter headed paper in case the discrepancy came to light in again in the future, he wouldn’t!

Then I was told that they had been in touch with the garage that had taken the car in part exchange and that they had taken the same view. I asked precisely what that view was and he said something like “That it’s not worth the time and effort of sorting the matter out” I realised that any further conversation would be futile, I apologised for wasting their time, put my stuff away, drank my coffee and left. As I got to the door I turned and left them with my final thought “you have the opportunity to sort the matter out now, you could buy it back at today’s trade price, correct the mileage if it has been clocked, and retail the car yourselves, it’s a win win situation for you, no upset customer, no solicitors costs, no bad publicity, and some profit to boot, if you don’t I guarantee it will come back and bite you in the ass”

Obviously they didn’t heed my warning, as I was driving past a local garage a week later, I saw the car for sale on the forecourt, I checked their advert on my mobile and it stated the mileage as 49,200. I emailed a link to the Chairman and the Brand Manager with a message “Well who could have seen that coming?” the car disappeared off the internet and their forecourt the very next day



I have no way of knowing whether they had sorted out the mileage, but I didn’t get a reply, so I remain sceptical.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T, 6 Speed Manual Road Test Review


So the driver from Honda got me again, before I could take him back to the train station I had to start the car, I searched around for the start button but it was a good old fashioned key in the ignition job, the driver didn't say a word but he must have been dying to laugh J . The car he had delivered was a Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T Manual in Milano Red I had been waiting to test this car as it has a claimed MPG is 78.5, the road tax is free. It has an excellent specification, and what started off as a girls car in 1972 has evolved into a car whose target market is predominantly 45 year old males, if you add VAT that includes me too, erm nearly.
The good folk at Honda are obviously big Doctor Who fans as the last car I tested was the CRV and in the information they referred to its Tardis like interior and their “Man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy, they have applied the same philosophy to the Civic, although it just seems common sense to me that as engineering advances, components get smaller in size and can handle more operations, this means they can be crammed into tighter spaces leaving more room for the driver, passengers and luggage. Granted that could be an over simplification as the latest Civic is 30 inches longer,10 Inches Wider and 5 Inches higher than the Mk 1 which first graced the roads in the UK 30 years ago.



Whilst  I’m on the subject I can’t help thinking that the new Civic bears a striking resemblance to Doctor Who’s most fearsome enemy “The Daleks”. Even though the Daleks appeared to be equipped with a gearstick and a couple of indicators on their heads, and armed only with a toilet plunger and an egg whisk, they still gave me nightmares when I was a Kid.  I use to wake up screaming, but I consoled myself with the fact that Daleks couldn’t climb stairs, and even if they could they would get my Sister first, as she slept in the bottom bunk bed. I just thank God that the task of creating the Daleks hadn’t been given to Hondas design team, as there can surely be no place to hide from Asimo the World’s most advanced Humanoid Robot.

 
 
The new Civic is being built only as a 5 Door, as they feel that it fulfils the need of “5 door utility and 3 Door styling” I can confirm they have succeeded in this as when I went to pick my mate up, he tried to get in the back seats via the front doors. When I told him it was a 5 door he still couldn’t figure out how to get in (the handle is incorporated in the rear window frame) to be fare my mate is an ex pro footballer and he did used to head the ball a lot.


Don’t ask me how,or indeed why?  but using inspiration taken from the beauty of a droplet of water on top of a leaf, an Airplane and low resistance swimsuits, Hondas design team came up with the external shape for the Civic. I must admit it is a great looking car and It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into making the car as aerodynamic as possible. Sadly I dont think the Bright Red colour does it justice. 

Enzo Ferrari famously said that “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines” however when you look at the specification and improvements that have been made to their “Earth Dreams  Technology” 1.6 i-DTEC Diesel unit it’s clear that Honda CAN build engines, and they counter with “Aerodynamics have only advantages” if you improve aerodynamics, it improves fuel consumption, driving performance, dynamic performance. Honda have taken their theory to the N’th degree by enlisting the help of engineers who had firsthand experience in Formula One. Like race cars the Civic is now fitted with a full length undertray to manage the flow of air under the car, adding to its stability.
 
They have also introduced a shutter grille on the new diesel which is controlled by the water temperature, wheel speed, and outside air temperature, the shutter opens and closes to optimise cooling and reduce drag wherever possible. “Generally speaking the shutter is closed at medium speeds to ensure maximum fuel efficiency. At low speeds, where Aerodynamics are less critical the shutter remains open (I assume to improve cooling ie traffic jams etc ) To ensure the best possible aerodynamic balance and reduce front end lift the shutter also opens at high speed.

The interior is spacious, futuristic, well set out and very comfortable, it has been designed to have two “Control Zones” the Driver Interface Zone and the Information Interface Zone. The LED Digital speedometer is visible over the top of the steering wheel, and the less important instruments are in a cluster below, which you may have to adjust your position if you need to keep an eye on them. I love the blue glow of the “Driver Interface Zone” (Instrument display), although at night on a badly lit road I found it necessary to seek out the dimmer switch, as the steep rake of the front windscreen reflects the glow and casts a kind of Northern Lights/Mirror Image Heads Up Display effect in front of your eyes which can be quite distracting.

The Civic has a claimed range of 863 miles on a tank of fuel, and I must admit that after a while you start to think that the car is making its own diesel and you don’t need to put any in, that is until the fuel warning “lights” come on, yes “lights”, not 1 but 3 illuminate. In my video I stated that anyone that runs out of fuel in this car must be a moron, I nearly managed it! So you can draw your own conclusions from that.

78.5 MPG, Expect to see more Fuel Stations Fall Into Disrepair
When the dash lit up like a Christmas tree to tell me I needed to fill up, I was probably as far as its possible to be from a fuel station in England, so I carried on heading in the same direction. I started to get a bit worried and selected “Fuel Stations” under the Points of Interest section on the Sat Nav then followed the directions to find that I was now on zero range and the Petrol Station was closed for refurbishing. Obviously Honda have made their system fool proof as I still managed to get to another station which was 10 miles away, but I’m thinking that 3 warning lights just aren’t enough and they need to incorporate some kind of electric shock system through the steering wheel.

Honda were determined to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin and they devised an entirely new intensive test programme. The test focused not just on reducing overall noise levels, but also on minimising the contrast between the different frequencies of noise reaching the driver’s ear from outside the cabin due to varying road surfaces, for example.  

Noise was measured during the following eight scenarios:
                             Upon entering the car
                             When starting the engine
                             When initially pulling away
                             Whilst crawling in traffic
                             Driving at low speeds in urban traffic
                             Under hard acceleration
                             Driving on rough surfaces
                             Driving at motorway speeds

I added a ninth one, in the video at 5 mins 30 seconds the Eurofighter flew over me, and thanks to the Pilots from Warton Aerodrome who I assume were targeting the dog dick red Civic to practice missile lock on, I was able to conclude that Honda haven’t just filled all the cavities on the car with sound deadening felt, they’ve actually reduced wind noise, and made all the components and running gear on the car quieter, otherwise the noise from being buzzed by the Jet wouldn’t have penetrated the cabin and scared the crap out of me nearly increasing wind noise to a very unacceptable level in my trousers.


I really enjoyed the week I spent with the Honda, I tried my best to wring the full 78.5 MPG out of the Earth Dreams I-DTEC engine but I failed and could only manage a disappointing 56.5. I say disappointing but if that had been in any other car I was driving I would have been over the moon!  




One of my favourite driving roads in England is the Penrith to Windermere section of the A592. It’s a very well constructed road, it snakes through some beautiful countryside, and the road planners have got the speed limits just right, that is for everyone except the Sunday Drivers who tend to use it. Driving the road in the Civic was a great experience, the steering is taught and precise, the cockpit makes you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a racing car, and the car just scythes through the bends with the minimum of correction, I really had to watch my speed, the engine is torquey, the gear ratios perfectly matched, in the back of my mind I imagine the voice of a Dalek, Accelerate! Accelerate! as I set the car up for the next sweeping bend, and steer in.


With the claimed range of 863 miles you could get from Lands End to John O’Groats without having to stop for diesel, if I had a Civic my Sunday Drives would be a dam site more affordable, and certainly more enjoyable.