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Letters to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Structured approach is way forward

The issues raised in the recent article “High price of crash claims” (Fleet News, July 12) will no doubt strike a chord with many fleet managers.

Unfortunately the processes associated with resolving non-fault cases are synonymous with high cost and conflict in the industry, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Simply providing the appropriate rental vehicle for the minimum duration possible is the key to running a fair and honest service that satisfies all parties.

Making fast repair the top priority while offering a rental vehicle that is a balanced and appropriate compromise yet suitable for the driver’s role should form the basis for managing credit hire processes.

Partnering with suppliers that share the same fair approach and implementing formal management processes will help alleviate any concerns.

By adopting this structured approach, companies can work to challenge the negativity surrounding this area of the fleet industry. Managing non-fault cases and credit hire can be a fair and regulated process, with sensible costs and real benefits for fleet managers and providers. It is up to the industry to make this a reality.

Head of marketing and product development, FMG Support

Increases would have significant impact

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has raised an important issue in its plea to the Exchequer to abandon plans for fuel duty increases “Call made to cancel fuel duty increases” (Fleet News, July 26).

With businesses already feeling pressure from high fuel prices, further increases could have a significant impact on operational costs at a time when rising interest rates are beginning to cool the economy.

I join the FTA in calling on the Exchequer to take into account the prevailing market conditions rather than sticking to a pre-planned increase. At a time when global refining capacity remains tight, any risk to supply will inflate prices quickly.

As for the green argument raised in the article, while it is important that businesses improve fuel efficiency, high price fuel presents more stick than carrot.

I would argue that price cannot be used as the primary motivator to instigate greener management of the fleet.

A sustainable operation takes into account a number of issues, including driver behaviour, fuel management and vehicle maintenance alongside price.

Using price as a motivator could lead to ill-feeling among drivers and resentment for other government initiatives on CO2 reduction.

MIKE WATERS, head of market analysis, Arval

Customers are ‘no longer important’

Having been in this industry for many years I have seen it develop, and experienced small, medium and large con- tract hire companies from a sales and customer relationship perspective.

I believe and hope the trend for consolidation will continue (“Piecing together the future of leasing” Fleet News, August 2).

With size comes problems and I recently left the industry dismayed with the service levels being offered to customers by the “big boys”.

As the fleet size of lease houses gets bigger there is a need for strict process flows and call centres or individual departments to channel resources. Gone are the days of multi-skilled employees doing a range of tasks to satisfy the requirement of the customer as quickly as possible.

The customer is no longer the important element in the relationship. It is the company’s fleet size and profit which is important to its parent, be that bank or other.

The simplest process flow is paramount to reduce costs, therefore the introduction of menu telephone systems has crept in.

This brings problems – holding, talking to someone you have never spoken to before or repeating the conversation you had yesterday and still not getting the problem resolved.

Then, there is flexibility. The big is beautiful method means that the process flow has to be robotic. Therefore, if you request something outside the box, you get a “no”.

Contract hire has always been sold as reduced administration and cost but as the super league continues to grow, customers find themselves with more time administering the fleet than before and intangible costs increase.

Having now returned to this industry with a medium-sized company, whose service offering removes all of the above, long may the consolidation continue because it benefits those companies who genuinely want to deliver customer satisfaction, first time and every time in a strong two- way relationship.

Business development manager, Days Contract Hire

Unfortunate incident still an accident in English

I fully understand the need to improve driver awareness and reduce road traffic accidents and that 95% of accidents are caused by driver error.

The police and health and safety professionals have a valued part to play.

However, I feel they should not be allowed to redefine the English language by referring to an accident as anything other than such. According to the Oxford English Dictionary an accident is “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally”.

Simply because an accident is caused by human error, even if that human should have known better, it’s still an accident.

Virtually every accident I have ever had, I have afterwards said I wished I hadn’t done something.

The first accident I can recall was diving into a bath when I was two.

The unfortunate consequence was unexpected and unintentional to me and hence an accident and not a domestic collision.

Carter Thermal Industries

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