Sunday 30 September 2012

Rally - Bogie in a MkII

The big news in Scotland is that David Bogie and Kevin Rae have entered this Saturday's Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally in a MkII Ford Escort.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” said the reigning British and Scottish Rally Champion, “as a youngster I saw Colin and Alister McRae in rear wheel drive cars, and before them Jimmy, and this is my chance.”

“Having started in front wheel drive cars with a Vauxhall Nova before moving on to the four wheel drive MG Metro 6R4, Toyota WRC and Mitsubishi Lancer, I never actually got the chance to drive a rear wheel drive car.”

“I got my first taste of rear wheel drive on last month’s Rally Hebrides at Stornoway,” said the 25 year old, “but that was a very different car to the one I’ll be driving this weekend. The first one I drove had a Honda engine, but the car I’m driving on Saturday has a 2.4 litre Duratec (Ford based) engine with Tractive 5 speed sequential gearbox and Reiger suspension. It’s far different to what I’ve been used to!”

Bogie travelled to Ireland yesterday (Saturday) to familiarise himself with the car: “The car actually belongs to Seamus O’Connell, but the deal was set up through a good friend, Derek McGeechan, and he had arranged a test session. Although I had driven a MkII on Rally Hebrides, that was on a tarmac surface whereas this weekend will be on gravel.”

"The big difference with this car is trying to keep it moving on, I’ve got to drift it so that I can get the power on and keep it on through the corners. I did just enough miles yesterday to feel comfortable – and think I know enough to go into the first stage this Saturday with an idea of what it’s going to do!”

“It’ll be good to go out there on Saturday with no pressure,” added David.

There's a full Entry List, Timetable and Spectator info on the website:

But Coltness Car Club have come up with an even better idea, they have put the route on Google maps, although you will have to access the CCC website and follow the instructions to log on. For anyone with a smartphone or tablet on the day it will be ideal - if they can get a signal!

Friday 28 September 2012

Blethers - Pot, Kettle & Black

When Press Releases arrive on editorial desks they don’t usually arouse fury and indignation, but one did this morning. It was from a certain Dutch manufacturer of SatNav devices and systems, called ‘Bum Bum’ or summat like that.

The headline of this PR was “Customers left waiting by poor service standards” which is a bit rich coming from a company which has deplorable customer standards of its own - and that’s from personal experience! Apparently, 92% of British consumers have suffered tradesmen and delivery firms turning up late for appointments, and this Dutch outfit appeared to think this was unacceptable.

To cut a long story short, I purchased their mapping software and system way back in the days when such services were downloadable on to PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistants – remember them, the techno-geek’s answer to a Filofax?

Anyway, the system worked fine till the PDA was stolen. The insurance company paid up pretty promptly and a new PDA purchased, but the StaNav software refused to download because it detected a ‘new device’. Fair enough. I naively surmised that a phone call to the company would sort it out. One big problem, there was no telephone number in the paperwork, stamped on the box or available on their website.

Neither was there an email address. Anyone wanting to make a query had to go through pages and pages of FAQs before arriving at an email address should any of the previous dozens of questions not resolve the specific issue.

Email sent. Nothing. Another email sent after the rigmarole of going through the FAQs again. Temper rising. This time, a phone call was received from a bloke who said he would need proof of purchase of the original SatNav software, and gave me a fax number.

Invoice faxed. No response. So I emailed again.

This time I was informed that the easiest way to get out of this was to buy the upgrade and install that in the new device. Not ideal, but I didn’t have a problem with that because I would get the updated maps.

Anyway, having forked out more cash, the software duly arrived - but failed to install. I was continually prompted with messages that the Upgrade needed to have the original software installed before it would process the new.

You’ve guessed it, I couldn’t install the original because it detected a ‘new device’, so it wouldn’t install the upgrade. I tried repeatedly to contact the company again and eventually gave up. Money down the drain.

Then I had an idea, make a complaint in person. At the Commercial Vehicle Show at the Birmingham NEC, I tried to lodge a complaint with a member of their staff. They refused to have anything to do with it. I then approached their PR company who appeared interested, but nothing came of it. Last year I approached their latest PR company. Again, nothing.

So much for customer service, and then they have sheer effrontery to commission a survey about poor service standards and send out a Press Release criticising other folk. That’s like a politician on the take criticising a banker on the make.

So for the past five years I have written about Garmin, Navman, Navigon, Binatone, Mio, Medion and all the others, while ignoring this other outfit. Even if I’m writing about cars or trucks with such a system fitted, I don’t mention it by name. It is a nameless organisation, an unmentionable entity, a commercial pariah, as far as I am concerned.

So if anyone out there is in the market for a SatNav, consider not only the efficiency of the product, but of the backup service – if things go wrong.

So although their products and mapping are pretty good, it’s no wonder I prefer anyone but them.