Picture of a spy in a gunsightBVRLA dinner

The annual BVRLA dinner, held at the Hilton
Park Lane, was a cheery event this year. Guest numbers were up by a
third on 2009, with 800 attendees, showing that a measure of
confidence has returned to the fleet rental and leasing sector.

After-dinner speaker Michael Portillo certainly
earned his fee, with the right mix of humour, self-deprecation and
anecdote, without too much party political campaigning.

Comedian Frankie Boyle, meanwhile, was scabrous and
quick-fire, and well-received by the audience, but he appeared to
be holding back on the really offensive material.

“We told him he could say anything except the ‘C’
word – ‘credit’, that is,” quipped a BVRLA staffer.

Indeed, chairman Kevin McNally’s speech made
mention of the continuing squeeze on credit for fleet lessors –
“there is a chronic shortage of funding” were the exact words used
by McNally, whose day job is managing director of LeasePlan UK.

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By GlobalData

He also made cryptic reference to dark forces
threatening the leasing industry, with new competitors trying to
muscle in. It is understood he was referring to the fleet
departments of certain manufacturers which had attempted to
introduce new direct supply models which could have threatened
lessors’ relations with their preferred dealers.

It seems the BVRLA has persuaded the OEMs in
question to modify their supply models to mollify lessors, showing
the benefit of industry associations.

In a sea of penguin suits – it’s fair to say gender
representation at the awards was hardly 50:50, and men greatly
outnumbered women among the attendees – it was highly striking
that, of the seven awards presented on the night to upcoming and
outstanding employees of fleet leasing and rental companies, six
out of seven were won by women.

 Indeed, all three of the BVRLA’s “heroes”
[sic] awards – given to frontline staff who have performed
outstandingly over the past year – were awarded to women. A sign of
changes ahead for the fleet industry?

 

Communing with nature

Employees at fleet management and leasing
company Arval are keen on the great outdoors. At the firm’s UK HQ
in Swindon, Wiltshire, there is an in-house wildlife team who have
tasked themselves with keeping log books of wild animal and bird
sightings, as well as organising nature rambles for other staff
members.

The Arval office is located on the edge of an
industrial estate, bordering onto fields and copses, and we are
told the local wildlife is varied and abundant. One senior staffer
recounts how he can sit and watch deer from his office window,
while there was great excitement when employees of the car and van
lessor watched through the window as a hawk swooped on a luckless
sparrow.

 

Nul points to
Butterworths

Motor Spy was surprised and not a
little concerned upon receipt of a letter of claim, sent by
Butterworths Solicitors of Bolton. Was someone threatening to sue
MF? However, upon further reading any fears were quickly
allayed, as the letter made clear it was seeking a claim in
connection to a payment protection insurance (PPI) policy sold
alongside a loan.

Now, MF may be many things, but it is not
a provider of either finance or PPI policies. One would have
thought that Butterworths would have worked that out before firing
off their letter. (For the record, in our opinion the claimant in
question has a strong case, given the circumstances under which the
policy was reportedly sold. The letter states the claimant was told
he would get a better interest rate with the cover, but he was not
told the costs of the premiums, nor was he told the cover was
optional; on top of all that, the policy was not suited to his work
circumstances.)

We hope staff at Butterworths are better at
representing their clients’ claims than they are at making sure
letters are sent to the correct recipients.