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LETTERS to the acting Fleet News editor, Steve Moody.

The company car is alive and well

SIR – Having waited for two weeks to see if there would be any fall-out from Nick Brown’s latest rant (Fleet News, October 6), I am delighted to see that nobody took it seriously and rallied round to ‘console’ him.
This clearly shows that the rest of the industry takes a totally different view and that the company car is alive and well and living at a business nearby. Anyone not recognising or seeing that is clearly living in times gone by.
Contract hire with maintenance will take care of a little of what you need – it will not satisfy your total business requirements. If Nick Brown got in his car and visited the people who make strategic business decisions all day, every day he would soon learn that the ‘company car’ has got a future but in a totally different way to the way he has grown up with.
Times are changing and changing very fast and positively.
The revelation in Fleet News this week that Aviva is likely to sell its share in Lex to HBOS is the best news for ages that every small business could hope for. The many end user organisations who rue the day they placed their trust in one of the large players (those whose fleets can be counted in their thousands) are legion. The ones who make the statement: ‘We no longer provide company cars’ are the people who require help.
Their people still have to drive for business purposes if they want to survive and thrive but they have been delivered short. They stay ‘loyal’ purely out of desperation, taking the view ‘better the devil you know’ – but looking for a workable solution.
So Nick, stop bleating and moaning about the lack of support from the rest of the industry – you will not get any. Make your own luck, you will be surprised at how good it feels – I know. By the way, when you do win them over, and you will, make sure you deliver!
Tony Donnelly Chief executive, Goodwood Corporate Mobility

Watch out for the yellow box

SIR – I agree with the majority of the public who agree with the statement that ‘Cameras are an easy way to make money out of motorists’ but it’s the motorists that make it extremely easy for the cameras by not concentrating on matters other than driving most of the time.
If concentration was on the task in hand, it is ridiculously easy to spot a great big yellow box.
Thinking about it another way, if drivers don’t see a yellow box (presuming they know what it represents) then there is a good chance they will not see a yellow flashing light at a zebra crossing – and that can have much graver consequences!
  Salvatore Cassar, Managing director, Ceaser’s Road Training

A simple solution to expenses fraud

SIR – I cannot agree more with Simon Nelson’s comments on the cost of expenses fraud to UK companies (Fleet News, October 13). It is a very real problem and one that goes largely ignored by employers as each incident is viewed as a minor concern.
However, as Mr Nelson points out, the costs soon mount up.
A large number of companies have only the most basic method of recording motoring expenses and many of those with fuel cards make no checks at all on business mileages.
Accurate, automated mileage capture reduces the opportunity for inflated claims and frees up managers’ time to make spot checks.
It is simply a matter of good management to maintain daily records of business expenditure, whatever it is for. Any system that allows managers to validate expenses payments has the potential to save the company a considerable sum, as Mr Nelson so clearly demonstrates.
Nick Sutton, Chairman, Provecta Car Plan

Driver training figures

SIR – I am gratified that my analysis of the reasons for driver training sessions being curtailed elicited such support from two other suppliers (Fleet News, October 7).
Sadly, Pete Williamson has misinterpreted the figures and made some incorrect assumptions.
Firstly, the analysis was made of the 641 training sessions that resulted in the logging of a Special Training Report (ie, where there had been a noteworthy incident that warranted a report back to the customer), NOT of the overall number of training sessions carried out by Drive & Survive.
The 641 figure actually represents only 6.6% of all on-road driver training sessions delivered in that period. All the figures quoted were therefore percentages within that 6.6% range but they are significant nonetheless.
I think the fact that Drive & Survive cares enough about the problem to be able to analyse the situation and then communicate the facts to its customers says something about how much we care about maximising the effect of customers’ hard-won driver risk management budgets.
It’s a long time since Pete left Drive & Survive so he probably would not appreciate that we also have a highly sophisticated auto email and texting system in place but sadly this does not guarantee that participants will attend sessions when they are supposed to or present vehicles that are legal in all respects.
Equally, we can only assist in the implementation of effective driver risk management-related policies, even when we’ve created them in the first place.
In the end, it will always be down to how effectively the customer manages that process internally.
Steve Johnson Field sales, training, marketing & communications manager, Drive & Survive UK Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Mileage claims issue

SIR – I can share the sentiments of your article (Fleet News, October 13) regarding the impact of fraudulent mileage claims.
Over the last 12 months, we have met with over 200 companies, each operating in excess of 100 cars, and presented a mileage capture solution to them. This provides more functionality and value than just collecting mileage. In all cases, we have completed a return on investment model (and subsequently proved a positive return) where the improvement of mileage claim accuracy has been included, among others, as a factor. Without exception, these companies have asked us to take account of mileage reporting discrepancies, in favour of the employee, of between 10-40%.
There can be no doubt that companies are exposed from a compliance perspective, particularly if cars are provided via an ECO or cash allowance scheme. Surely, HM Revenue & Customs must see this as low-hanging fruit – link this to the advent of new VAT legislation, after the recent European Court Judgment, and robust mileage capture methodology will come very high on the purchaser’s list.
  Simon Harris, Managing director, FleetConsult

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