About an hour ago at Highett station: the train to Frankston had just left, and a city-bound train was approaching.
This idiot cyclist rode across in front of the city-bound train. The train driver tooted his horn loud and long. The cyclist entered the station, and appeared to want to catch the train — I’d be surprised if the driver didn’t verbally berate the cyclist over the PA.
…judging from these four lined up next to Flagstaff Gardens.
From the front:
- GreenCarShare (whose web site needs a going-over with a spell checker, and whose pricing rates need rationalisation with a hacksaw)
- Flexicar (I think they have two cars there)
Unfortunately while they might be plentiful in the CBD and inner-suburbs, it might be a while until they reach spots further out.
I suspect that there’s not that many people in Bentleigh who would get rid of their own car and join up. I’d certainly be tempted.
When the bloke realised Bob was out there he shouted “I’m coming out mate, I’m coming out!” He did so, pushed past Bob and ran down the street. Sounds like the bloke wanted to avoid a physical confrontation.
Bob says he inadvertently left his car unlocked overnight, and suspects the bloke was just an opportunist. He also thinks he may have been affected in some way by drugs, alcohol, or something else.
I’d have to assume a pro could have hotwired a car in seconds, and not made enough noise to rouse people. Bob’s got an older Commodore — perhaps it doesn’t have an immobiliser, though it’s unclear if the bloke would have known that.
The police CSI team came and took fingerprints, but one would guess they won’t have much luck finding anybody… more likely they might pin that on him if they find him for something else.
I thought nobody would try and break into a car in a driveway, because the assumption would be that somebody’s home. The Lady Cop said you can never assume your car in your driveway is safe. Some people will notice an unlocked car and grab gold coins from the coin tray — you wouldn’t even know anything had happened.
Bob’s okay… he was just a little shaken. But his car will need some repairs.
It reminds me that although Bentleigh is a pretty safe, low-crime suburb, it’s good to take care. I sometimes leave my car open, windows down, doors unlocked if it’s a hot day and I’m expecting to go driving somewhere. The lesson I’ll take from this is to at least ensure the doors are deadlocked (which should also activate the immobiliser, hopefully preventing hotwiring) whenever the car is unattended.
- Interesting paper on the effectiveness of different types of car immobilisers — the basic conclusion seems to be that immobilisers effectively cut opportunistic theft, but are less effective in cutting professional theft
The other week my right hand car mirror lost its glass. I have no idea why. I had adjusted it because I noticed it was out of alignment, then a minute or two later, it fell off and shattered while driving. Bizarro.
I put a temporary $6 concave mirror on it, and in the process walked into Autobarn for possibly the first and last time ever.
But the broken mirror provided the impetus to go get the car serviced, along with the remote locking not working, which had been is a constant pain.
I had previously been going to the dealer I bought the car from, Alan Mance. As long as I was going to them for regular service for the first two years since buying it from them, the used car warranty stayed current, but that’s all over now.
So I thought I’d find the closest dealer, figuring that taking it to a dealer avoids delays with parts, or dodgy repairs because they don’t know what they’re doing. At least that’s the theory.
They had a look, and gave me some quotes (parts plus labour).
Transponder and key cutting… $260. And apparently it’s not the most expensive Holden, either, for keys. Ouch.
They reckoned it needs a new clutch pedal… $30. Yeah, okay.
New glass for the mirror… $177. Ouch. Lucky it was just the glass.
Plus the actual service ($225).
Bloody cars. Expensive.
Plus I had to battle horrible traffic in the rain to get there (remind me not to use Nepean Highway again in peak hour).
Dropping the car off, I knew it was a ten minute walk to the station, but the rain was coming down. A lady was waiting for a cab to the station, and the service guy suggested we split the fare. We waited. And waited.
After about 15 minutes, she noted it’d actually been about 40 minutes since the cab had been called. The rain wasn’t so hard at that point, so I bailed on her and walked. Ten minutes later I was at the station and straight onto a train — a little soggy, but on my way. I found out later the cab never arrived. Marvellous.
Coming back in the afternoon, it was dry. I got there about 5:15, only to find (as I’d been warned) the car was still being worked on. It took until just after 6pm for it to be done and dusted, and although the waiting room is terribly nice, it wasn’t much fun to be sitting there, places to go, nothing to do but fiddle with my phone and watch the TV, silently wondering how the constestants on Millionaire Hot Seat could not know that “Northern Exposure” was set in Alaska (rather than Hawaii, Florida or New Mexico, and respite Eddie emphasising the obvious clue of Northern).
The dealer had also found a fault with the reverse lights (in short, they don’t work) for which they don’t have the part in stock. And it’ll cost another $110 including labour to do it. That’s pretty annoying too, but it’ll have to happen.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom: they came up with a rather clever way of avoiding paying for a whole new key, despite a little bit missing off mine which means it doesn’t all stay together well. A piece of electrical tape to keep it intact.
And they let me know what with that model of Astra, it really doesn’t matter if it goes a year between oil changes. Given I barely drive it, this is good to know. I needn’t feel like I need to rush back every six months for a pointless service.
Still, I drove home pondering if I shouldn’t have just gone to Ultratune in Mckinnon, which is a much shorter (especially in peak hour) trip, only a stone’s throw from the nearest station, and undoubtedly cheaper.
Some lessons from this
Dealers don’t necessarily have all the parts you need in stock.
Close is good, because driving through peak hour traffic is not my idea of fun.
Don’t bother waiting for a taxi in peak hour when it’s raining if you’re in a hurry.
Will consider using Ultratune next time, especially if it’s just an oil change and basic stuff like checking brake pads. It’s not like a continuous record of dealer servicing matters for re-sale value of a car that is already 12 years old, and that I have no plans to sell anyway.
What do others do when getting their cars serviced?
One can only hope that (a) the idiots didn’t hit anybody as they sped through the Mall, and that (b) those that do this kind of thing get pulled over for it.
(1:21pm on Monday)
As you can see from Google Streetview, there is signage/road markings indicating that when coming westbound on Bourke Street, motorists shouldn’t enter the tram stop — they should do a U-turn and go back.
(Ironically both the Google Streetview car and another vehicle can be seen driving through the tram stop — though the other vehicle is a loaded ute which parks in the Bourke Street Mall, so it may have had permission to be there, where some exceptions apply, though this does not appear to be the case for the Bourke/Swanston tram stop.)
I suspect the answer here is the City of Melbourne needs to close Bourke Street to vehicles all the way up to Russell Street; or at least ban motor vehicles from entering and heading westbound (but allow them to leave eastbound eg if they’ve come via Royal Lane or Russell Place.
The law says that motorists turning into a street must give way to pedestrians crossing that street.
The law also says that motorists turning in or out of a private property (such as a carpark) must give way to pedestrians.
So why does the signage always imply it’s the pedestrian that should be the one to give way?
OK, obviously it’s good for pedestrians to be aware of cars coming through, in case they don’t give way, but perhaps signage should also remind the motorists of their legal obligations (since a few appear to be unaware)?
And I wonder if there would ever come a point where building codes reflect what the law says, and preclude building high walls/fences/hedges which cause blind corners?… or ensure that mirrors or some other precaution must be undertaken so that motorists can see those they’re meant to be giving way to?
Thought I’d quickly look around at insurers known to take low car usage into account.
PayAsYouDrive… whipped through the form, and it came up with $426.50 for the minimum 5000 kms per year of driving. A more conservative 7000 kms came back as $477.80. So they’re out. (By the way, their web site has improved since the problems I had with it in 2009, which at the time prompted them to respond on my blog. But it doesn’t appear to cater for anything other than a policy starting today, even though I was already currently insured. Odd.)
Youi. Asked for a mobile number to send me a PIN. Annoying, but they say it’s to prevent robots getting into their system. Not sure I believe that, but ok, I went through web form, got to the end and…
…it announced I’m a “preferred customer”, and, without giving me the option: one of our highly skilled advisors is busy calling you right now to finalise your quote.
Sure enough the guy rang up a minute later.
I was cranky. I didn’t want a phone call. I hate making phone calls about insurance, and I don’t have the time. That’s why I used the web site. Heck, this type of transaction is what web sites are made for.
I told the guy so, and asked him to pass that on to his management, and I reluctantly agreed to have him ring back later. (5-6 minutes on the phone, he promised.) After all, perhaps it would be cheaper than Bingle… though it would need to be a significant amount to overcome the inconvenience of the phone call, and the deceptive web site.
You know what Youi, you’re not getting off to a good start on the whole customer-relationship front. If I’d wanted to discuss it on the phone, I would have clicked the “Quote by phone” button instead of the “Quote online” button.
So anyway, I took the subsequent call. The bloke was polite, quick and professional, but the questions included nothing they couldn’t have asked online.
Except this: he asked who I was currently with, and what their premium was. He said Bingle is a hard one to compete with, and Youi’s cover is better, with more benefits (which may well be true, but what do I care if I have never ever claimed, and drive so little that, touch wood, I’ll never have to?)…
Here’s the kicker: He said that the best premium they could offer me is $466.85.
Yes, after all that, after wasting my time with an unwanted phone call, Youi was $91.75 higher than Bingle.
I think at this point you can guess who’s getting my money.