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LETTERS to Fleet News’ acting editor Steve Moody.

How a new lamp bulb cost £342.36 + VAT

SIR – I think other managers with fleet responsibilities should be made aware of the potential cost of trying to change a light bulb in a vehicle that has xenon headlights. It appears that the xenon light bulbs in Renaults must only be removed by an authorised dealer. In removing the bulb the resistors can be damaged if touched by hand.

One of my drivers removed a dead bulb so that he could obtain a replacement. Ordinarily this would appear to be the right thing to do but not any more. In the handbook, it says ‘refer to dealer’ about changing light bulbs. I am currently writing to Renault advising that this statement does not send out a strong enough message and should be much clearer as to the implications of not having this matter dealt with at a garage. In view of the potential cost implications, it should carry the equivalent of a Government health warning.

Fortunately for us, Lex worked with us in reducing the potential cost by 50%, mainly because of the ambiguity of the wording in the vehicle’s handbook.

The total costs for this one light bulb was as follows: Labour charge £46.98, xenon bulb £142, xenon resistor £153.38. Total before VAT: £342.36 (our contribution was £171.18 plus VAT).

Renault was approached by Lex to make a contribution but because the driver had taken out the bulb it was not prepared to make one so Lex referred the matter back to us and shared the cost. As I say, forewarned is forearmed.

Ian Thompson
Divisional director personnel & training, Axima Building Services

My habit put people at risk

SIR – Mike Roberts’ piece about smoking in company cars and the Government’s new health bill ‘Smoking ban may affect fleet drivers’ (Fleet News, November 3) throws up some interesting points.

Many fleet professionals subscribe to the view that by banning smoking in company cars it keeps the end-of-contract value higher. Quite right. Anyone who has seen a returned vehicle from a smoker knows it looks and smells like the dog basket of a smoking beagle.

Moving then to the health and safety issue, we find more odious smells.

As a reformed smoker, I go hot and cold thinking how my habit put other people at risk, not to say my own life.

Sitting in a fugged-up car was nothing compared to scrabbling around for a packet of fags, looking for a dropped lighter, jumping like a fire cracker when the head of the match fell between my legs. And that’s before the coughing kicks in and the tab end blows back in the window.

Banning smoking in a company car where two or more colleagues are gathered together? It’s a no-brainer really, isn’t it?

Peter Knights
General manager: communications Lex Vehicle Leasing

Speed cameras make drivers complacent Sir – In response to your article ‘Camera reforms set to aid other safety areas’ (Fleet NewsNet, November 10), my view is that they lead many motorists to believe that provided they obey the speed limits their driving will be safe.

In other words, bureaucrats have a better judgement of ‘safe speed’ for all weather and traffic conditions from their offices than the driver on the road at the time. This leads to inattention and the inevitable accidents – or at least poor-quality, inconsiderate driving.

How much better it would be if the Government was to return responsibility for driving to the drivers. To ensure that drivers have the best attitude to driving, a compulsory psychometric test should be regularly applied to drivers. Those that fail should be re-trained. Funding would easily be covered by the surplus from the so-called road fund licence fees.

Chris Knowles
Managing director, Knowles-Wilkins Engineering

Ludicrous waste on M1 cameras

Sir – I live in Northamptonshire, one of the trial counties for these so-called safety devices, speed cameras. Forced by fear of losing a licence I need for my job, I have purchased a number of camera-sensing devices over the years. I currently have the excellent Road Angel that not only warns of cameras but also schools, blackspots and congestion charge areas. One of the best features is the GPS-based speedometer which has shown me just how little I need to slow down to maintain a legal speed on motorways.

Traffic seems to average 80mph on motorways according to a car’s speedo so why has Leicestershire taken the ludicrous decision to spend a fortune on speed-averaging cameras by the M69 Leicester Forest East Services junction. This is a dangerous part of the motorway at the best of times but without the benefit of cruise control, I now have to spend a lot of my time looking at the dash to check my speed is not creeping just over the limit rather than watching the joining traffic. Expect more deaths along that part of the M1 soon.

Ray Paice
Via email

Rising rental costs and added value

Sir – I read with interest your interview with National Car Rental ‘Tough road ahead for the UK’s rental giants’ (Fleet NewsNet, November 3). While we often don’t agree with National, we do agree with the view that companies hiring cars must expect to pay higher prices going forward.

The cost of providing the high level of service to the corporate sector is rising because, as described by National, the cost of buying cars from manufacturers is rising, as are people’s costs. At the same time, customers are expecting more added value services included in their standard unit price.

Just like in any other industry where raw materials such as fuel and labour costs increase, so a proportion of these have to be passed on to the end user.

Buyers can take action to help manage their costs and Avis is spending more time working with customers to manage the cost of the entire vehicle rental process rather than just looking at the price of the car. This helps manage rental costs more efficiently so price rises don’t impact on overall fleet costs – in effect, customers learn to be more efficient with rental.

Initiatives such as the provision of micro sites where they can manage all their rental requirements through their intranet sites and give fleets more high quality management information are actually helping reduce, rather than increase, costs.

We are also helping corporate customers adopt a more structured rental policy and then manage their processes more efficiently to address such issues as damage processing and congestion charge fines more effectively.

We firmly believe this ‘total cost’ approach is unique in the rental industry and is the only way buyers can keep their costs down as it is forced to raise daily rates.

Penny Stoolman
Avis UK sales & marketing director

  • Fleet News is delighted to receive readers’ letters. Email fleetnews@emap.com or write to: The Editor, Fleet News, Emap Automotive, Lynchwood, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough PE2 6EA. Please ensure that e-mails include name, job title, company and company address
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