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Monday, 28 March 2016

Repo Man

We have a car. An ageing Vauxhall Astra. It sits outside our house when we can get a parking space. Otherwise it's parked a bus ride away. When we can park it within walking distance of our front door I'm reluctant to use it as I'd lose the space...and have to park a bus ride away.

As regular readers (sic) will know I had to replace the car's battery recently. I suspect it was a combination of old age and lack of exercise  - a bit like me. It just brought home how little we use the car. In the last month I've been to shops twice and the allotment three times: a total of 10 miles. It spends over 90 % of its time twiddling its fog lamps or barging into passers by so its alarm can go off and get some attention.

It has been moved a few times in the last couple of months; because the Council was upgrading the road and not to move it would have consigned it to the municipal car compound and possible crushing.

I had it washed last Friday: I  felt sorry for it. That and I couldn't see out of the windows for the grime and bird droppings. After an inside and outside clean - I told them not to clean out the boot as it had featured in "Repo Man" and opening it was not  a good idea - the car looked brilliant  - except for the slash right along the driver's  side. Some punk thought keying my car and another half a dozen in the road was a fitting end to a drunken night out. The scar's still there since repair work would  cost more than the car's worth.

Now, it's the time of year that car insurance companies play let's be arse holes. Last year my insurance, with no convictions, 500 years NCB and 50 years' faultless  driving cost £260. I'd been faithful sticking with that firm for a couple of years. How am I repaid: this year's quote is up by a quarter.

And I play "Let's visit all the comparison  websites to see if I can get a better deal". At the same time our letter box and e-mail in boxes overflow with stuff from insurance companies offering all sorts of extras on your car insurance you don't want or need. I've a quote which is slightly less than last year's and I'll go with that.

Then there's the AA. Every year they send me a glittering GOLD MEMBERSHIP card which provides an AA app, European cover, Key Insurance, My Membership benefits (I think that's discounts at Moto service areas), Accident management - whatever that is when it's at home, legal advice and... worryingly a vehicle helpline. And every year I phone up and threaten to move my membership because a) neither my wife nor I have a valid passport, b) my iPhone has too many apps: c) I don't stop at motorway service areas unless it's a life or death situation and d) I'm unlikely to require accident management or legal advice on my trips to the allotment less than a mile away - I know I should walk.

I'm referred to a customer retainer operative: someone who's life depends on my not cancelling my membership. And I end up paying the same as I've paid for the last 13 years: standard breakdown. I could, if I so wish, pay around £70 to cover everything including getting the wife serviced in a garage of her choice. O.K. it's not much money, but I hate being bamboozled into buying something I don't need. If big data's about anything it's about telling prats like the AA what my preferences are.

Bugger, in May it's the house insurance and another round of comparison web sites.


   

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