Friday, 28 December 2007

Out with the old...

2001 Ford Ka 1.3, originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

After owning it for almost five years, today we traded in Alison's Ford Ka for a VW Polo. The Ka was already 2 years old when we bought it in March 2003 and it is almost exactly 7 years old this week.

The Ka was totally past it. It had been used as a skip work horse during the renovation period on our house and bore the brunt of the heavy stuff. My excuse for not using my car is that the boot aperture is too small as it is not a hatchback :-)

Day 50 - Will it all go in?, originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

Day 353: ...Going..., originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

The last MOT cost £400 which was 10% of the value of the car when we bought it and more than half the trade-in price! So with the following list of worries and an impending MOT due in two weeks we decided it was time to trade it in:
  • Squeaky clutch - used to be just on hill starts but recently been on most gear changes
  • Shagged suspension - a million and one clanks and knocks as the car drives around
  • Odd engine noise when turning left - no idea what this is
  • Bobbling of paint and rust around the base of the B-pillar
  • 66,000 miles on the clock
  • Lost Ford badge on the back - not a worry but it is surprising how much it changes the look of the car
I had always found the Ka uncomfortable as a passenger as the window winder always bashed into my knee and the cabin was too small. To its credit though it never broke down. It has needed a new window mechanism (due to the drivers window getting stuck open), some suspension work and both headlight bulbs replacing (both went within a month of each other) but it has never broken down.

When we decided to buy a new car Alison wanted another Ford Ka. It took me a while to persuade her to look at other cars within the guidelines:
  • Nothing Japanese (Alison doesn't like the look)
  • Nothing French (I didn't trust the reliability)
  • Must have air con
  • Must look nice
  • Must have at least a 1.3 engine
  • Nice to have: iPod connectivity
Well the Polo ticked all the boxes even though it was a little more expensive than I had planned. The new shape Polo actually looks really nice too.

2008 Volkswagen Polo 1.4 S, originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

We eventually opted for brand new a 3 door 1.4 Polo S which, including the options (iPod adapter, metallic paint, seat upgrade [the car was ordered from stock and had that already on]) and the finance and servicing deals, was only a few pounds more a month (literally) than buying a decent second hand Polo.

2008 Volkswagen Polo 1.4 S, originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

Buying the car was 'fun' to say the least. The sales guy very quickly passed over negotiations to the dealership manager after I took with me a Glass Guide evaluation (£3.50 from the website) and a print out of the new car price offer from This allowed me to enter negotiations with the lowest price offer in the UK for the new car (or as near as damn it) and for an idea of the best price I could get for the trade in. Therefore with a 'cost to change' already in my mind before we went in I was ready for battle :-)

The conversation went something like this:
Me: I want to pay £8800 cost to change
Dealer: The best I can offer for the trade-in is £700 and matching the Broadspeed price that makes the monthly payment a mere £[I forget the amount]
Me (grabbing the calculator): That means a cost to change of £9050. That is more than I had in mind.
Dealer: That is the lowest we can go. It is a good offer.
Me: Your valuation of the Ka is £350 less than the "average condition" trade on Glass.
Dealer: Yes, that is because we think that is a fair offer.
Me: Ok, £9050 is more than I wanted to spend.
Dealer: We can't go any lower
Me: Offer me £250 more for the trade-in and we have a deal
Dealer: No deal
(lots more benefit statements from the dealer)
Me: Ok. Lets cut this short. Lets go all Dragon's Den and split the difference. I will go up £125 if you meet me in the middle.
Dealer: No deal
Me: Well I am not paying more that £8925
Dealer: Perhaps we can talk more if you look at these extras: Autoglym Life Shine (£350), Gap Insurance (350) and a service and maintenance plan (£17 pcm for 3 years).
Me: Lets not get distracted by those, agree to the car and we can talk about the extras.
Dealer: Gap insurance.....
Me: Agree to £8925 and I will shake your hand and pay the deposit now.
Dealer: That is too low
(Lots of pushing of the "extras")
Me: Look we are arguing over £125 here!
Dealer (thinks about it): Ok, you have a deal. Now about the Gap Insurance.
Me: Ok good, you have a deal. Now lets look at these extras.
(Dealer draws a graph on paper of insurance costs verses car costs)
Dealer: If your car is an insurance write off in the first 3 years this insurance will cover the difference to allow you get a new car again. £350 is a good deal.
Me: No thanks.
Dealer: If your car is an insurance write off...
Me: Look I spent nearly four times as much on a car for me last year [huge exaggeration] and I did not take the gap insurance for that so I ain't going to take it now.
Dealer: Ok, Autoglym Life Shine. Modern cars have a water based paint that needs protection. I am sure when you bought your last sofa you had it Scotch guarded, this is the same thing for the interior and exterior of your car.
Me: No thanks. [not quite believing that car manufacturers would actually put lower quality paint on new cars than they used to - even if they do I am sure they would not let the dealers tell anyone!]
Dealer: Are you telling me that this is not a good thing?
Me: No, I agree it is a good thing but it is not worth £350. Again, I was offered something similar when I bought my car and I looked it up on the internet and it got very mixed reviews on whether it is worth it.
Dealer: I can do it for £300
Me: To be honest I would still be sceptical if it was £50 so no thanks.
Dealer: Ok, so the gap insurance I can do that for you at cost price, £200.
Me: Look. I don't want all this. I agree the Autoglym looks good but no way am I paying more than £50 for it. The gap insurance is a risk mitigation. I am a gambling man [I am not but I was getting carried away] and I am happy to take the risk. So thanks but no thanks.
Dealer: Ok fine.

Phew, that all took about 2 hours. After all that we got a 9% discount on the list price of the car which ain't bad. I probably could have spent another 2 hours and got a bit more off but I really could not be arsed!

Anyway, they texted me a few times during the week to make sure I did not want the extras but I did not crumble! I did accept the VW offer of 3 services for £200 upfront as three years of servicing the Polo is about £400 according to the dealer's service price chart. Looks like quite a sound deal :-)

So we picked the car up today with no problems other than me being held hostage for 30 minutes...

It turned out that there was a slight misunderstanding in our household regarding a car's "Log book". Before we left to go and swap the cars over I asked if Alison had the "service book, log book and driving licence". We got to the dealer and he asked for the V5 Log Book for the Ka. Turned out the V5 Log Book had been left at home!

I guess it is an easy mistake to make. The service book is a book and it has the words "Service Log Book" on the front. Whereas the V5 Log Book is a piece of paper from the DVLA and looks nothing like a book.

They asked me to stay behind whilst Alison popped home to get the V5 otherwise I would have had to pay a £500 retainer (a.k.a ransom!) until we produced the V5 for the Ka.

So, all sorted eventually. Probably about an entire day of my life taken up with the various processes but Alison is happy and that is the important thing :-)

2008 Volkswagen Polo 1.4 S, originally uploaded by xrrr(?).

Monday, 24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

Let it snow!, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Merry Christmas everybody. I hope Father Christmas brings you everything on your list :-)

I am sure a few households will be waking to the following scene with a Nintendo Wii replacing the N64!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Flickr Stats

Flickr Stats, originally uploaded by xrrr.

At last! Flickr has finally enabled photo stats!

A long awaited feature that provides statistics on what photos are popular and where they were referred from. It just stops short of the much requested 'WHO has been looking at my photos' but is still very cool.

Looking at my stats I can see that on 15 December 2007 I had 332 views and 2 comments. my top viewed picture was 'Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow' at Madame Tussauds with a grand total 51 views yesterday / 232 views this week / 1,484 views all time.

Johnny Depp as Cap'n Jack Sparrow, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Another interesting feature is the ability to see the details of the referrer or in other words the place that linked to my Flickr page. The vast majority of views came from Flickr itself either from postings in discussion groups, photos in pools or searches. The second highest referrer is Yahoo Image Search. Therefore I can see what people were searching for when they ended up looking at my photo. The current all time top 5 views from searches is:
  1. Jack Sparrow
  2. Noob
  3. Mercedes McLaren
  4. 2008 BMW M3
  5. Mercedes Benz
Bizarrely 50% of the Jack Sparrow searches have appeared in the last week. Not sure if my picture managed to get to the front page or whether people have just been searching for Johnny Depp more?!

When I get time, I am sure to be doing a lot more "stat mining" as it is fascinating to see how people are using my photos :-)