Sunday, July 12, 2009

Slowly turning beige

The Gnomad's have recently purchased a new (well, new to them, anyway) car. It is a Honda jazz. The Gnomad misses his 4 litre Jeep Cherokee and his Landrover Discovery, both left in the Lands Of Sand. Whilst cars like those were entirely suitable for the Arabian Desert, they are completely unsuitable for life in the Mundane Kingdom, especially when one considers the price of petrol in Mundania is ten times more than the price in the Magic Kingdom.

Arrival in the UK after many years of absence meant that the Gnomads were not credit worthy anywhere, so the initial Gnomadmobile was what could be purchased cash in hand and was intended only as a temporary vehicle until a better could be obtained. Said vehicle, a very ordinary and somewhat tatty Vauxhall Corsa, did serve well enough but is too small and impractical for the impending arrival of the Hababi. New wheels had to be sought.

Given that The Gnomad is about to become a parent for the first time, the choice had to be a sensible one, based on practicality, economy and safety. In the words of Jeremy Clarkson of BBC's "Top Gear", it would have to be a car to announce to the world that the Gnomad "has fulfilled his biological function and is now slowly turning beige"

The Honda jazz turns out to be a very sensible, though not exciting choice. It drives well, the driving position is comfortable, the boot space is very large for a car its size and the back seats are cleverly designed to fold flat to make the boot enormous or to fold up so that there is a very tall luggage space behind the driver. there are all those little gadgets that make driving easier and more comfortable like electric windows, central locking, electronic folding wing mirrors etc, etc.

The only real drawbacks were the space saver spare tyre, which the Gnomad considers to be spawned by Satan, and that the tyres, although legal, did not have a great deal of tread depth left, However the vehicle was a very favourable price and these were not considered sufficiently major problems to affect the Gnomad's decision to buy.

The car was purchased from a company called Stratstone Motors in Bedford. It came with a new MOT certificate and a full years road fund licence. Having collected the car and made use of it for a few days the Gnomad received a call from Stratstone enquiring how well the car was performing. The car was doing very well apart from a couple of minor niggles that one might reasonably expect from a car four years old. These were an odd noise from one of the speakers and the clutch taking a lot of pedal travel to disengage. These items were noted and the Gnomad's general satisfaction with the vehicle was confirmed.

Now the surprising bit: Stratstone's asked if they could take the car back for a day. Their reason being that the car had been brought down from Harrogate only the day before the Gnomad's were due to collect it. Stratstones had been assured that it was fully prepared for sale but they had not had the time to fully satisfy themselves over all of the details before allowing it's collection, so could the Gnomads' spare the vehicle for a day to allow Stratstone's to give it a once over to make sure everything really was tickety-boo.

The car was duly collected from and returned some hours later to the Gnomad's place of work. On its return the Gnomad was informed of the following: Stratstone had fitted four new tyres to the car, they had refitted the door speaker, checked and adjusted the clutch and also fitted new brake pads to the rear brakes. All of this, somewhere in the region of 300 UKP worth of work, done completely free of charge. Bear in mind that the brakes and tyres had passed the legally required tests and so were fully fit for use on the road, Stratstone didn't really need to do any of this. This is the sort of customer service one would reasonably expect when buying a brand new car, or possibly a nearly new car still covered under the manufacturers warranty, but not a car four years old.

It is refreshing to find that good customer service and decent after-sales care can still be found. The Gnomads are delighted with the service they have received from Stratstone Motors in Bedford and would recommend them to anyone.

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At 20:55, Blogger Grumpy Goat said...

Coincidentally, The Grumpy Goat has just fitted new tyres to the Goatmobile. These were not even nearly free of charge :-(

I share your concerns about the space-saving spare, though. Murphy's Law dictates that you will have to deploy the spare when on a long journey. The Jazz will be loaded to the gunwales, it'll be the middle of a foul night and in the back of beyond.

Having extracted and fitted the spare, what are you supposed to do with the filthy full-size wheel you've just removed? It won't go into the spare-wheel-putting-place and must therefore be deposited upon the Gnomadette's lap.

I recommend carrying an industrial-strength bin bag so that the full size wheel doesn't soil your car's interior.


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