Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Rip-Off Britain!

I have used these pages to highlight my disapproval of the way we are forced to pay more for our cruise holidays than our Australian friends who are always able to buy the same product, from the same company, but thousands of pounds cheaper than the company is prepared to sell to me, being from their British market. See: 2012 world cruise review.

I now turn to the UK banking and insurance industries.

The current average interest rate available to savers in the UK is less than a paltry 2%, and to get the best rate, you have to sign your cash up for at least 12 months. What really annoys me, and is done in the name of 'fair competition', is the modern syndrome of 'Brand New Customers Only'. We now have to search the markets annually to obtain anything like a decent rate, where the bulk of that rate is made up of a new customers only bonus. Once the term is up, usually 12 months, the rate reverts to an amount, usually less than 1%, forcing the need to research and make annual changes. Crap!

My latest meeting with Mr. Rip Off is with Motor Insurance. We now have to make similar annual searches for the 'best deal' in the name of fair competition. But the so-called best deal, is of course made up of the new customers only bonus, and if foolish enough to continue to renew with the same company year on year (as a loyal customer), you will soon find you are being ripped off as opposed to what you can find available on the open market, and often with the same company you are already with.

It was only after I had been one of those 'loyal customers' to the same company for 4 years, having entered in to their contract with a full no claims bonus from my previous company, (which was allocated by them as being 9 years), that I discovered the new company awarded their full NCB after only 4 years, and unbeknown to me at the time, this is what my new entitlement became as I joined them.
So, after a further 4 years with them, when I decided to change company again, I found out I was now only entitled to 4 years NCB - (or the amount any previous company is willing to put into writing, even though I have a claim free record of 40 years!) Furious at this, I then went on to find that all motor insurance companies award their full no claims bonus on varying years of entitlement - some 4, some 5, and all the way up to 9. Further to that they always advertise their allowance as a percentage - i.e. 'we offer up to 60% no claims bonus'. When you buy the policy, you find that your 'full' NCB is noted as whatever years their offer is awarded at, i.e. 'No Claims Entitlement: 5 years' as written on the new certificate - 5 years being the time taken to earn their own maximum of 60%. This is all well and good until a change of company is made - to avoid the 'Brand New Customers Only' rip-off. If the new company's full entitlement comes in at say 9 years, then all of a sudden you are at a loss - another RIP-OFF!

To make matters worse, because I had stated an 'incorrect' amount of years NCB that I (thought I) was entitled to when leaving the old company before I discovered this rip-off - the new company then charged me £25 to amend the details on the new certificate and re-issue it. Blah!

On to household energy supply companies, vehicle fuel prices, leisure boat fuel taxation, ppi's, where there's blame there's a claim,....... next? Don't get me started on those!

** A further motor insurance rip off has come to light since writing this post. One of our family cars had been damaged whilst parked and unattended on the street. The damage was so severe a new tailgate was required. With no third party to claim from, our own insurer was informed, who pointed to their own small print that the car must be taken to their own "approved" repairer, and repairs rather than replacement of panels with generic ones will be made at the insurer's discretion. When your car is less than 3 years old, I for one, would expect it to be repaired with manufacturer's genuine parts, and by the vehicle manufacturer's approved agent, not the insurers. I looked this up, and found test cases had previously been filed, and won by others - so we insisted on taking the car to the brand owner's repair agent where original equipment parts would be used in the repair, and it's warranty would be unaffected. The insurer accepted this, but stated that in those circumstances we would not be entitled to a free courtesy car while ours was off the road. 'No problem' we replied, the repairer is prepared to loan one. That is all well and good, but would you believe the insurer then went on to refuse to insure the other 'free' courtesy car under any circumstances! The repairer had to provide the insurance cover as well. They said it is a growing problem in their industry, and they are losing business as a result, which of course means that there are many owners of newer cars out there that have undergone sub-standard repairs simply to save the insurance company money. It is high time these insurance sharks were legislated against, along with all those bogus injury claims that came about when law firms were allowed to advertise their 'where there's blame there's a claim' services that are probably the reason all this started.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Electrolytic Corrosion

In June last year I reported on the outcome of an unexpected early failure of the water jacket in our Alde gas central heating boiler, see: Boiler repair update. The result was we ended up scrapping the old boiler, replacing it with a new Webasto Thermo Top C diesel unit, which included remedial carpentry where the old boiler had been removed from.

Having just received the December edition of Waterways World magazine, which includes an informative article on all aspects of boat heating, I read that the Alde boiler utilises aluminium in its construction, which dictates that no copper can be used in the heating system due the the effects of electrolytic corrosion, see: for well described images of all types of this phenomenon.

A retrospective check on my heating system reveals all the pipework to be of the flexible type - so no problem there. However, the calorifier, which was installed by the boat builder in September 2004, along with the heating boiler, is constructed of copper. When using the Alde boiler, a stainless steel calorifier should be used, according to the WW article, so that the problem of corrosion doesn't occur. Here is a link to the Alde website Q and A section, where it states clearly that copper should not form part of the plumbing circuit. Alde website.

This is another one of those quirky little things that even the most astute boat surveyor might not pick up on, and I now believe this to be the cause of the perforated water jacket in our original Alde boiler. All the precautions for galvanic corrosion to the outside of the boat had been taken, but this, in the internals had been overlooked.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Guy Martin: Building Britain

For anybody who enjoyed Guy Martin's 'The Boat that Guy Built' last year, Channel 4 have just aired a similar series which I watched tonight. The subject of this episode was the re-building of the working replica of a Thomas Newcomen beam engine that was used to pump water from the coal mines that fired the industrial revolution, and, as expected, was in typical Guy Martin / Fred Dibnah style.

Next weeks episode explores the supporting industries of the era, including deep sea fishing for cod to supply the popular staple of the workforce of the time - fish and chips, now known as the world's first 'fast food'.

The programme goes out on Channel 4 at 8.00pm Sundays, details can be seen here: Guy Martin:Building Britain.

Anyone with an interest in the working canal era should enjoy this, which, although presented in a light hearted manner, appears to take the history more seriously than his exploits on NB Reckless.

Translations of Guy's dialect will be charged at a nominal fee!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A democratic process.

I have just received this notification from the CRT about their plans for the reconstruction of the major breach of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Aside from the issues of financing this extraordinary event alongside the more normal planned Winter maintenance, I am so far impressed with their consultation process so that any work they do, which will inevitably cause some disruption, will be done in the best interests of all whom it concerns.

This is what they have said:

Between Middlewich Big Lock 75 and Lodge Lane, Bridge 213 Preston Brook

Tuesday 25 September 2012 until further notice.

UPDATE (07 November 2012): Following our update and request for comments about proposed changes to the stoppage programme, the resulting feedback has been reviewed and the most favoured option is that of option 4 with the Anderton lift stoppage brought forward to before Christmas and the cancellation of the Wincham flood gate works.

Of 17 consultation responses received 13 made this their preferred option.

Taking this forward we will now make the necessary updates and stoppage arrangements to match the outcome of the consultation. The lock stoppages at lock 71 and 67 will run for three weeks starting on the Monday 11th.  February 2013 and finishing on the evening of Friday 1st. March 2013.

As described in the consultation the full gate stoppage at Lock 67 would be removed, however a short duration stoppage would be carried out in parallel with Lock 71, during which time preparatory works including new stop plank grooves would be completed. This would enable a ‘quick gate change’ at a later day if the need arose. At Lock 71, the full gate replacement will be carried out, but the works will be both concertinaed by working 7 days and longer shifts to a shorter duration (3 weeks envisaged), with a later start date as described above.

We would like to take the opportunity of thanking all the people who responded to our consultation.