MOT and a manicure anyone?

Carterton MOT and treatment-1

Would you buy an MOT and a manicure, or a massage, if they were attractively packaged and priced? I’d certainly consider it.

As you may know, FOXY Lady Drivers Club includes a network of garages that meet our standards in terms of quality, ethics, value for money, cleanliness and customer services.

We do this because few women realise that garages aren’t regulated and mechanics don’t have to be licensed to repair our cars. Which can make for dangerous cars and rip off practices which we know a lot about.

So we check out garage credentials for females and then promote them as FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly, requiring regular female feedback to keep them on our network and their toes.

To the best of my knowledge one of our FOXY Lady Approved garages in Oxfordshire, called Carterton Auto Repair, is the first in the UK to offer women the combination of manicures and massages included in the cost of their MOT. As you might expect, this is a bit of light-hearted marketing fun but not everyone always sees gender marketing messages in this light.

Just for the record, this sort of initiative isn’t new in the US, France or Australia where women seem more relaxed about this choice of customer services.

What Mumsnetters think of Manicures in Garages

So where best to find out what UK women think about all this than that august barometer of female taste, Mumsnet. Posted under Feminism/Womens Rights this is what NotRealName wanted her fellow Mums to react to, followed by others taking similar and opposed stances.

notrealname

LassWI

Jen

enquiringminge

Mide

vestal

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All this makes for interesting insight for FOXY of course, because motoring services for women are what we do. But it just shows you how different women can be from each other, let alone men. And how unforgiving women can be when it comes to their gender…

Luckily Carterton services are optional and we know why they are doing this and I’m sure it’s a practice that’ll spread, even if you drop your car off and go next door for your manicure.

Men can be arsey too

And if anyone thinks it’s just women that can be arsey here, think again. In a garage in Kent last week the owner told me he’d had to remove his offer of a free Club membership for women drivers leaving feedback because the men wanted to know why they didn’t get one. The owner didn’t know to say ‘Sign your FOXY Lady up, Bill’ and you can likely share her offers and such like.

All this is ironic really. The garage industry has been run by men for men since WWII. Even today only a woeful 2% of staff in the retail motor industry are female. And now that the number of women drivers is about to outnumber that of men, men aren’t prepared to put up with female service levels today, after expecting us to do precisely this for 70 years…

And if men had sorted out the motoring industry during their 70 year reign, it wouldn’t be as dysfunctional as it is and there’d be no need for a motoring support service like ours for women. Which would be an all round good thing.

So let’s all grow up here.

Women are different from each other.

Men and women are different from each other.

Mumsnetters include mouthy and tolerant feminist views alike.

We all need to get on with it and let individual choice prevail.

Let’s celebrate well-intentioned initiatives like Cartertons (and FOXY) that are designed to give us choices that didn’t exist beforehand. It mightn’t be for you and it’s definitely not meant for everyone. But it’s called personal choice and I for one buy it.

FOXY Steph

The critical importance of a thorough car check

pink_lady-showing-key-holding-hand-40899761Whenever it’s to do with motoring, men and women think and act differently at car shopping time. And so it is in the recent research findings from MyCarCheck.

Despite being the gender most likely to influence the final car shopping decision (in 80% of all cases in the UK), all too often women feel they are being ignored in manufacturer advertising and then intimidated and even overlooked in showrooms, especially when she takes a man with her during the car shopping experience.

And knowing how dire the female feedback about the car shopping experience has been in recent surveys, such as the ones from Good Housekeeping and DifferentSpin.com I am always on the alert for new found knowledge that I can share with our FOXY Lady Approved car dealers.

Unsurprisingly MyCarCheck confirms that women are uncomfortable with the used car checking process (maybe that’s why she takes a man with her for support?) but it’s good to think she knows she needs to carry out these checks.

Apparently one in four vehicles that MyCarCheck check have serious failings that you might expect a car dealer to have known about and rectified. Think about it – the car could be reclaimed by a finance house and/or not owned by the person who is selling it.

Why a thorough car check matters

This is yet another worrying example of what can happen when you go car shopping for a used car in an unregulated industry where complaints are all too common.

Too many of us are too trusting having been seduced by the shiny look of a gleaming ‘new’ car that’s hiding mechanical problems. That’s mechanical problems usually borne out of neglected car care such as regular servicing and/or maintenance. If an elderly car has been neglected for a long period of its life, especially when it comes to regular oil and filter changes, it will likely have lost its reliability and, chances are, it’s waiting to prove this to you just after you’ve bought it or any warranty expires!

Again, according to MyCarCheck, men are more confident about their driving ability than women although perhaps the declared gender difference here is too slight to be significant, and would be nil if men and women were equally as honest or modest…

Certainly the research from IAM Roadsmart suggested that most motoring Mums were highly confident drivers and if accident statistics were to be the final arbiter in the REAL motoring world then women will surely edge any gender motoring ability debate, influenced mostly by the serious accident reputation that boy racers have earned.

Negotiating the price of a used car

When it comes to finalising the price of a used car, the motor industry is in a league of its own due to so many potential smoke and mirrors tactics designed to confuse the car shopper who is using dealer finance and part exchanging a car. And in many cases of used car sales it’s too confusing by intent.

MyCarCheck suggests that men are less confident shoppers than women here. That may well be because men know they should haggle whereas many women are too trusting that the advertised price is a fair one. Or they’ve picked a car that the salesman (it’s usually a salesman) is happy to discount because he knows it’s a lemon and she’s fooled into thinking this is a great deal. Whereas the man has already become suspicious, and if the discount comes too easy, perhaps he’s starting to smell a rat.

So the point of this blog is to remind all of us to get our cars checked before we buy them. Twice. Once via the likes of MyCarCheck to make sure the car in question is free of finance and hasn’t been in an accident or stolen. And again (a different sort of check) to get a trusted mechanic or a dedicated service to give it the once over. Yes, you should be able to rely on the vehicle checks carried out by a car dealer promoting a well known named ‘Approved Car’ scheme but we know of instances where unscrupulous dealers have ticked all the multiple check boxes, actively disguising a missing car servicing history and MOT advisories that hadn’t been addressed pre sale. Clearly the price you pay is critical here, as is any advertising that suggests the car is in better shape than it turns out to be…

So that’s about it from me. Men and women are different – who’d’ve believed it! And when it comes to buying a car, women shouldn’t need to take a man with them but if they feel less intimidated with than without, then why not.

That’s unless they’re members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club of course because they wouldn’t need to take a man with them then. Because they can either shop at a FOXY Lady Approved dealer that’s signed a promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need’ or they can ask us for advice and support before shopping elsewhere. And should things go wrong of course.

For example, if the dealer doesn’t get it right or put it right afterwards (most do), we’d then tell the members about this. That’s the FOXY way – fair and feminine by any name!

So if you’re planning on buying a new ie used car soon I recommend you join The Club BEFORE you need us, because we may well help you buy a better car deal than you’d end up with on your own!

FOXY Steph

Car leasing versus outright purchase

couple_convertible_pinkWhen we get such favourable feedback from females about a local car leasing business, we have to find out more.

For example, this is what Club member Jen in Chichester has to say about Pinksauce Leasing.

Fantastic service! I can’t recommend Chris and Lyndsay enough. I went to them needing a new car for a new job which involved a long commute. Not having any idea what make or model I wanted. They did all the research for me on MPG, showed me a lot of pictures and advised on several suitable cars. They were friendly and approachable and didn’t make me feel silly for knowing next to zero about cars! Talking independently about the best car for me rather than pushing certain makes due to commission. Simply fantastic!

And this is what Club member Shelley in Basingstoke tells us about them.

I couldn’t recommend Pinksauce Leasing enough! Lyndsay was extremely helpful, offering great advice and service, backed up with sound knowledge, expertise and experience. The deal I was offered was of fantastic value and through every step she was honest, fair and informative with great communication. Top lady!

Why Car Leasing is so popular

Car leasing has boomed over the last few years and for good financial reason.

Of course you can still buy a new car using finance and/or cash but when you come to sell it, you will take a seriously heavy depreciation hit which is hard to calculate and therefore too often ignored at the car shopping stage.

Just to give you a clue about the figures, according to research by CAP Automotive, depreciation will cost the typical motorist three times as much as they spend at the petrol pump. That brings it home, a potential loss of some 15-35% in the first year and up to 50% or more over three years. Or, in hard cash terms, buy a medium sized family car and three years later it’s worth c£12k less.

Whereas leasing of sorts means you pay a fixed monthly amount over an agreed term then either walk away at the end of the contract, buy the car off, or choose another car and sign a new contract. It’s certainly more transparent and easier to budget for! No wonder so many younger drivers are opting for this method.

Either way, it’s important to choose the best car for the job in hand which is where FOXY can help Club members, of course, with their car shopping choices.

For example, Personal Contract Hire (or Business Contract Hire) is based on a fixed annual mileage agreed when you take out the contract. You need to decide how many miles you are likely to drive each year before quotations can be obtained. Once you say how many miles you drive in a year and the car you’d like, the leasing business can prepare a quotation for you and advise where necessary.

About Pink Sauce

Pink Sauce Leasing is based in Chichester and run by Mr and Mrs Pink. No it’s not just a case of colouring their website pink to give it girl appeal – the name is for real! That’s Chris (Dad) and Lyndsay (Mum), covering new car leasing requests for motorists across Sussex and Hampshire.

Chris worked for several manufacturers and leading car dealership groups for some 20 years before deciding to do something about the treadmill approach of many businesses to selling cars. This is why he and Lyndsay decided to go solo, explains Chris.

“Some customers mentioned their purchase experience felt like being on a corporate conveyor belt which upset me because any new car purchase, bearing in mind these are always high ticket ones, should make a customer feel very special and yet few do. Whereas we look after all the boring stuff which the car dealers and finance partners need to allow our customers to enjoy a stress free car shopping experience.”

We’re pleased to meet you on our patch, Chris and Lyndsay.

For More Information

You can find out more about Pink Sauce Leasing here.
Website: http://www.pinksauceleasing.co.uk
Tel: 01243 767121
Email: info@pinksauceleasing.co.uk

For advice and hand holding support throughout the car shopping experience you would do well to join FOXY Lady Drivers Club in advance.

Child Seat Regulations when driving abroad

childrestraints

If you’re driving abroad this summer be sure to know the child car seat regulations for the country you’re in (and through).

If you are renting a car on holiday abroad, be sure to record and specify the precise age and height of any children travelling with you and to check the hire company (and any airport transfer/collection taxi service) has what you need.

It helps to know the rules for yourself, for added peace of mind so we’ve compiled a handy guide, correct at the time of publication for top holiday destinations.

United Nations Child Restraint Groupings

These are the approved recognised Child Restraint Systems according to UN Regulation No. 44.

car seats

However, you need to be aware of the current variations from country to country for your holiday destination.

Travelling within the EU

Council Directive 91/671/EEC says that children less than 135cm tall (NB: This is 150cm in some countries (see below) must be restrained by a system suited to the child’s physical features and be approved to UN Regulation No. 44/03 standards (see above table).

Screenshot-5

Variations by country are:

France

Children under the age of 10 must travel in an approved child seat or restraint system (see above table).
Rear facing child seats are approved in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.

Spain

Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table).

Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.

Portugal

Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table). Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.

Greece

Children younger than 12 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) cannot travel as front seat passengers. They must travel in the rear in appropriate child restraint systems (see above table). Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.

USA

Confusingly, the rules differ from state to state. You can check the US requirements here. In general, most states prefer children under the age of 12 to be seated in the rear of the car. What differs from the EU is that rear-facing seats are mandatory in many states till children are 1 years old (and possibly 2 years old) regardless of weight.

Turkey

Children younger than 10 years or smaller than 135 cm (4ft 5ins) or weighing less than 36kg must use a child-safety seat and sit in the rear seats. Rear facing child seats are allowed in the front seat but only if the air bag is deactivated.

USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES:

United Nations report on Regulation 44

Wikipedia

USA and Canada Child Safety Seat Law Guide
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For dedicated motoring support services, information and advice like this, we recommend that women drivers in the UK join FOXY Lady Drivers Club, the only UK motoring support service for women.

Bon Voyage, Bonnes Vacances

Claire and Kids
Claire and Kids

Are you dreaming of a French family holiday but hesitant about taking the car?

Claire from BrightonMums.com urges you to take the plunge, based on recent family motoring trips.

Here she shares her experiences and some tips on planning your holiday journey.

Don’t panic – just drive on the right

Driving on the right is nowhere near as daunting as it seems. Once you’re circulating within the flow of their traffic, everything starts to feel logical. If anything, deserted roundabouts are probably more of a problem, as there’s no other cars to follow!

Read our Driving in France mini-guide for a summary of the main differences between UK and French road rules.

I also found this comprehensive site about what to take and which rules to take note of.

The need for speed

Some parts of the French autoroute (motorway) have a 130mph speed limit (which I secretly LOVE). You may find local drivers go at real speed on the autoroute, they may even flash their headlights to warn you to move from the overtaking lane.

Don’t be intimidated, you haven’t done anything wrong but move over when safe and let them get on with it.

Navigation

fr_atlas

The French autoroute network is no more complicated than the UK to plan around. In fact, I would controversially suggest their signposts are often more logically sited and comprehensive, especially around cities.

France has always had an excellent network of signs for local attractions and landmarks (brown signs with white writing like ours), perfect for tourists.

Invest in an up-to-date road atlas if your GPS won’t work in France or goes wrong for some reason.

Roaming data for phones is mighty expensive too and although some service stations have WiFi it’s not a given.

Hot child in the city

If you fancy driving in Paris, give it a go but plan your route carefully in advance.

During August, when most Parisiennes leave the city, Paris operates a free parking scheme in some central locations. Look for blue dots on the parking ticket machines.

We parked near to Jardin de Luxembourg, a perfect base for exploring the city.

Don’t forget that Paris can get hot and muggy in summer, so when you find the heat gets to you, hop on a Bateaux Mouches along the river Seine to refresh and enjoy the views.

Look at junctions using satellite images to figure out which lane to be in going from one to the next. This will also help you spot roads with bus lanes.

Autoroute Glossary

Take a French phrasebook with you that has a good driving section in. However, here are a few regular words you’ll see on signs on the motorway, which may not be so obvious to figure out for English drivers.

Aire – rest stop usually with a picnic area
Autres directions – all other routes
Cedez le passage – give way
Interdit – forbidden eg interdit à toute circulation = no traffic permitted
Péage – toll
Rappel – reminder (of the speed limit usually)
Toutes directions – all routes this way
Sortie – exit
Véhicules lents – slow vehicle lane
Vous n’avez pas la priorité – You don’t have priority (usually at the junction)
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Do you feel motivated to book that trip now?

Alors, on y va! That means ‘off you go…’ of course, and we hope you have a great time.

A blog for women about motoring