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LETTERS to Fleet News editor Martyn Moore.

Minimise early termination charges

WHILE scouring through a back copy of Fleet News (October 19, 2006) I came across the ‘Leasing Charges’ helpline.

While Colin Tourick replied in a helpful way, he didn’t explain the different ways early termination contract hire charges are calculated and – more importantly – how you can minimise them.

The terms are in the lease and are normally not negotiable unless you have a sizeable fleet, which is no help to anyone with just one leased car.

Some leasing companies will try to charge all outstanding rentals and this is often stated in the contract. Many do not attempt to recover all outstanding rentals but act as if they are doing you a favour by showing all rentals due less a 50% rebate.

When terminating early, some charge 60% in the first year, 50% in the second and 40% in the final year of a three-year contract.

It’s all such a con. Here is what I suggest you do if you think you are going to terminate your agreement early. Once you have settled on your car, mileage and so on, and you agree a three-year contract hire rate, ask the funder for 12-month, 18-month, and two-year rates and file them away.

Then, if you have to early-terminate, you can do a pro-rata calculation and argue over the amount charged. Let them try to argue that one in front of a judge.

The savings are magnified if you terminate a three-year agreement after 12 months.

Graham Hill
Author, An Insider Guide To Car Finance

Always check your repairer’s credentials

AN issue which appears to be largely overlooked by the fleet sector is the repairability of vehicles when they are damaged and the accident repair sector’s capacity and capability to effect repairs.

There is now a huge body of anecdotal evidence which suggests that, among other things, vocational skills gaps, lack of investment and confusion over after-market technology have resulted in a repairer’s ability to repair vehicles being severely diminished to the point where some vehicles may have been repaired improperly.

I would urge all fleet managers to ask searching questions of their repairers or repair facilitators. Evidence should be produced that can demonstrate companies and organisations have the technical, intellectual and equipment specification and know-how to repair modern vehicles.

From January 1, 2007, repairers can be independently assessed and verified to a recognised British Standard Kitemark scheme. This is similar to an MOT test for vehicles or the well-respected CORGI registration for safety critical gas installers.

Would you use someone who was not qualified to MOT your car, or install a gas boiler in your holiday home?

Therefore, why should you let an unregistered person repair your vehicle?

At the very least ask repairers a very simple question; ‘are you a Kitemark Registered Repairer?’

Chris Oliver
AJC Wilson Bodyshop

The right liveries can cut accidents

I AGREE with Brian Middleton’s reply to the helpline ‘Vehicle Liveries’ (Fleet News, January 11) and their effect on resale values.

However, another important point worth mentioning when considering liveries is the effect it can have on vehicle conspicuity.

This is not simply a matter of careful colour choice, reflecting the role of the vehicle (for example the use of white, orange or yellow in vehicles positioned on the highway as part of their role), but also taking into account the effect that any design will have on other drivers’ perceptions of the vehicle.

The photo used to illustrate the question is a good example of a design which, although using some bright colours, breaks up the outline of the vehicle and may make it more difficult for other drivers to recognise, particularly in cluttered urban environments.

A well thought out and designed livery can help to enhance your organisation’s image and even make the vehicle less likely to be hit – a poor one can result in dented bodywork as well as a dented reputation.

Saul Jeavons
Director, The Transafe Network – Global Corporate Road Safety

Use charges for good, not just for revenue

WOULD introducing road pricing toll charges cut down CO2 emissions and reduce congestion, or is it just another example of the government’s approach to solving every problem by introducing new taxes?

Maybe road tolls are the answer to these problems, but if they are introduced they should only be operational for certain hours. For example, vehicles would be charged only between 7am to 10am, and 4pm to 7pm.

This would encourage companies and road users to spread their workload over a longer day, which should not be a problem.

Jim Hunter
Fleet auditor, Biffa Waste

Offer is unacceptable

WE change our fleet cars after three years and they are offered to staff or traded in.

We recently offered a car for sale subject to inspection and it was found to have an engine oil leak due to a faulty-manufactured cylinder head. On looking back through the service record we found that reference was made on the first service invoice to the engine oil leak and that it should be checked again at a later date.

This information was not given to the driver when he picked the car up, although it has since been serviced by the same dealer who supplied the car.

On contacting the dealer who was extremely unhelpful and could give no reason why the oil leak had not been picked up at the later service, they stated they would only carry out repairs under warranty when instructed by the customer. At our insistence they inspected the car and agreed it was a manufacturing fault.

They contacted the manufacturer who has offered to supply the part at half list price and taking this into account the dealer wants to charge £800 for the repair. We feel this offer is unacceptable as this is a manufacturing fault and negligence by the dealer as they should have rectified the fault under warranty in the first instance.

Has anyone experienced anything similar?

Name and address supplied

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