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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Fuming over Audi attitude

I recently bought an Audi A3 2.0T Sport and my local Audi centre, Boston Audi are great – I have no problems with the customer service I have received from them.

My issue has been with Audi UK. The vehicle I bought has the factory-fitted Bluetooth phone kit. I currently have a Nokia N70 mobile phone which I have had since December 2005.

Audi UK is unable to supply me with a phone cradle with which to use my phone in my car – that’s a £385 factory-fitted option which can’t be retro-fitted with a cradle.

The worst, however, is ringing Audi UK customer services and being spoken to as if I’m the one at fault because I bought the car.

The customer services manager was challenging and defensive at best, unhelpful and downright rude at worst. Having spent the best part of £20,000 on a car, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth and I won’t be buying an Audi product again.

I wanted to warn your readers not to buy the factory-fitted phone kit in any VAG vehicle.

It seems once they have relieved you of nearly £400, the only cradles available are for obsolete phones which are no longer available.

Hardly vorsprung durch technik.

Your £400 would be much better invested in having a reputable company fitting a good after-market kit which you know is available for your phone.

Audi UK has not resolved my issue and having raised a further complaint with them, they contacted me and, in a word, said ‘tough’.

It seems I’m at fault – I should have predicted, back in December 2005, that Audi wouldn’t have been able to produce a piece of plastic in nine months.

I did, of course, check with Audi UK, as to availability before I bought the car, but Audi UK was totally non-committal stating that it would be available once developed.

Jim Woolerton
By email

We are extremely sorry to learn that Audi customer service didn’t live up to expectations on this occasion – we will of course be looking into this matter, and apologise unreservedly for the shortfall in performance.

Because of the extremely short shelf lives in the mobile phone market, the sheer volume of handsets available and the differences in their various interfaces, it sadly isn’t currently possible for Audi, or indeed any other car manufacturer, to produce a cradle to fit every phone model.

New cradles are developed by Audi AG only when global demand for connectivity of a specific handset reaches a particular level, and unfortunately the N70 doesn’t yet fall into this category.

In fairness, we did point this out at the time of sale, but again we apologise if we mismanaged expectations unintentionally.

The N70 cannot be cradled in the A3, and therefore can’t be charged on the move, but its Bluetooth functionality means the phone can interface with the car and operate hands-free from the driver’s seat.

Where the optional Audi multifunction steering wheel is specified – and as stated in the A3 price list we strongly recommend taking up this option in conjunction with GSM phone preparation – calls can be carried out via a button on the steering wheel, and the phone left in a briefcase, suitcase or the glovebox.

Robin Davies
Product affairs manager, Audi UK

Billing problems have been sorted

AS a fellow rental management firm, we read with interest ‘Inaccuracy alert over rental bills’ (Fleet NewsNet, August 24).

Although some of the inaccuracies mentioned have been commonplace in the past, the majority of key players in the UK rental market have taken steps to combat this. The introduction of more advanced systems and improved procedures has enabled the human error element to be significantly reduced for customers who have had the foresight to join, or even pioneer, the technological revolution.

Our experience in managing significant volumes of rental indicates that incorrect passing of data is often the key factor behind supplier invoice queries.

With manual processes still at the forefront of many broker and leasing companies’ rental departments, the inaccuracy claimed by Mr Howick is often as a result of the breakdown of these antiquated processes internally at the customer end.

Telephone and fax reservations bring with them an unquestionable amount of re-keying of standard booking information, and inevitably human error is still prevalent. Brokers in general must remember that unfounded attacks on their supplier base cannot be good for their future survival within the industry.

These claims also raise numerous issues about the quality of the supplier chain utilised by rental management companies.

In particular, if the invoicing error level is so high, why have these suppliers been retained within the broker’s network?

Surely a company sending one in five invoices incorrectly does not warrant a place within a quality supplier network.

John Ellis
Head of operations, Nexus Vehicle Management

Overcharging is due to inefficient systems

I am writing to you following your story about incorrect daily rental invoices (‘Inaccuracy alert over rental bills’, Fleet NewsNet, August 24).

At epyx, we have been monitoring the same problem and, in fact, the 20% error rate reported in your story may even be a little on the low side. Certainly, we have come across instances of mischarging running as high as 40%.

As your story points out, there appears to be nothing dishonest about these charging problems.

Instead, they are caused by inefficient systems and human error. Generally, these mistakes do not surround the normal daily hire charge but occur when rentals are extended, or charges are made for ancillaries such as fuel, delivery and collection and out of hours returns.

Ken Trinder
Head of business development, Epyx

Impartial? We’re not all mugs

I READ the article ‘Is this the way to choose your fuel card provider?’ (Fleet NewsNet, August 17) with great interest.

My local site is a Total one so I chose that as my card of choice. As Bayfords doesn’t sell the Total Card, it recommends the BP Plus card, which means I can use the Total sites but I’ll pay a surcharge each time I fill up. How can that be good advice? If Bayford seriously thinks it is offering impartial advice, it must take us all for mugs.

P Backshall,
By email

Commercial fuel sites are booming

I READ with interest the article ‘Fill-up closures add to fuel woes’ (Fleet NewsNet, August 15). It made some interesting points regarding the 20% decline in UK forecourts. Although this may be true for consumer forecourts, the opposite is true in the commercial market.

With tightening margins, fuel is an increasingly important commodity, especially when fuel accounts for up to 30% of operators’ running costs. Therefore, it’s vital that customers have access to a large commercial refuelling network, so as not to waste fuel searching for sites.

Simon Clifford
Sales and marketing director, Keyfuels

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