Net evangelism

vI was away last week for 4 long days at the World
Internet Summit to see what was happening in the world of the
Internet. Whilst English scientist Tim Berners-Lee has been
credited with the invention of ‘the web’ in 1989 we are rapidly
slipping behind the rest of the world, and especially the US, when
it comes to making use of the amazing facilities available to us
all to help us sell our products and services.

The resources and tools grow daily and yet we are still
struggling to clear a cheque within 4 working days in this country.
Leasing companies still post documents, prefer faxes to emails, and
no doubt drink their Earl Grey out of a cup and saucer. We have a
great history of invention in this country but a bloody useless
history of application.

I spoke to the world leader in audio and video application on
the internet and he told me that, whilst companies were happily
sending out emails with videos embedded into them introducing the
salesman/company/product in the US, very few are doing it in the
UK. Not even a professionally produced video, just a decent quality
camcorder that can be used to produce a ‘natural’ two-minute
recording answering a question or introducing a salesman to the
customer. It is so simple and yet we are missing huge opportunities

End-of-lease scandal

Anyway, moving on to one of the things we seem to be so much
better at in the UK: ripping off customers! The leasing company
that loves to create ridiculous and unjustified end of contract
charges, that I have talked about before but not been allowed to
name [sorry, Graham – blame our libel laws – Ed.] are at
it again. Get partway through a contract hire agreement and ask to
terminate early, and most funders will show the full cost of
outstanding rentals less a rebate.

From my experience, in most instances this can be from 40 per
cent in the earlier part of the agreement to 60 per cent in the
latter part, but what are our good friends saying to one of my
clients who is nearly halfway through his agreement? Five bloody
percent! Yep, they want 95 per cent of all outstanding rentals. How
ridiculous is that? They have a car coming back that is half the
expected age with half the anticipated mileage covered, but they
want 95 per cent of all outstanding rentals.

I have put the customer in touch with the OFT and the Financial
Ombudsman Service, as well as a mate who writes for the Sunday
Mirror, but we all know that sod-all will happen. Why aren’t the
BVRLA and the FLA taking control of these situations? The way
things are going, we are all going to end up under the cosh of the
FSA for the sake of the greed of one company. It needs to be named
and shamed and thrown out of the associations. If the industry
avoids policing itself the government will do it for us – you’ve
been warned!

Graham Hill, chief executive, Graham Hill Automotive