Wednesday, 24 June 2009

If you're thinking of hiring a car this summer - book now!

The peak summer periods often cause issues for car hire companies in terms of vehicle availability, but this year looks likely to be worse. Anyone looking to hire a car this summer is advised to book early to avoid disappointment and possible rising car hire charges.

The reason behind this problem lies with how rental companies run their fleets. Cars are taken on in one of two ways. The preferred method is on a guaranteed buy back from the manufacturer. This is where the manufacturer agrees to take the car back at an agreed age and mileage and in a certain condition. In the past this was great news for the manufacturer as lots of nice easy registrations and, with a newish car, the chance to get it out and seen on the road; plus it generates some nice nearly new stock. The rental companies liked this as they didn’t pay for the depreciation and had nice new cars. The second way is where the car hire company buys the car and then disposes of it themselves. The manufacturers have had to give some eye watering discounts to make this work in the past so the daily “holding” cost of the car allowed the rental company to run its business and make a profit

Both methods cost the manufacturer a lot of money and as the economy has bitten they are less ready to dig deep. They are also all cutting back on production in order to avoid creating excess stock, thus tying up precious cash reserves in idle metal. This naturally leads to fewer cars being made available to the rental companies and could also start to push prices up

Add the scarcity of cars to the peak periods and it is clear to see that some people may find themselves disappointed if they leave hiring their car to the last minute.

Don’t think this will lead to free upgrades. The rental firms with fewer cars available to rent out will want to ensure they maximise their revenue

Book early to avoid disappointment. It obviously makes sense to book early as at least you then have the peace of mind and you know your holiday transport is sorted. You may also feel more comfortable booking with a larger rental firm as they tend to be part of an even larger group and so have better access to a larger pool of vehicles.

I know this sounds a bit like us drumming up business but you don’t have to hire a car from us. We aren’t alone is sharing this message and we DO think it will only get worse

Get a quote today using our Alamo affiliate offer which will save you 10% off the on line price.

Alamo UK and European destinations

Alamo USA and Canada

What others are saying:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Child safety week 22nd - 28th June 2009

Child safety is obviously something we should take seriously all year round but it is good to get a little refresher and that's where Child safety week comes in. In fact it's familiarity that poses some of the biggest threat to children, which is why drilling them at an early age is such a good idea.We've put together a ion of fun and informative resources to specifically cover:
· Children's car seats - fitting, buying, Free checks
· Kids on Bikes - cycling and safety
· Child road safety - including advice for 3-4 year olds
· Teenagers - road safety, bikes and driving
· For information visit us at
For further information on the broader initiatives for Child safety week visit

Thursday, 11 June 2009

I'll have my warranty without spam please

Monday saw the release of our car warranty plans. It had taken ages to get off the ground particularly as we wanted our warranty to be a bit different, with customers selecting their own claims limit ( an excess in reverse if you like)

To decide on our launch offer we used twtpoll to get feedback from our followers which incentive they thought sounded the best. This worked brilliantly and so (drum roll please) we came up with, I mean they came up with "win the price of your warranty back". Anyone buying a plan before 31st August 2009 will be entered into a draw to win the price they paid back.

We always intended to have an additional offer for Twitter and BT Tradespace, a kind of thank you and recognition of how we enjoy these socio - business forums. Now the time has come to make that offer we are struck with the fear of coming across as "spammy". We have taken time and trouble with who we follow, what we tweet, what we comment on and what we don't. This has been a slow but deliberate process and we do not want to blow it now

Commercially we'd hope that our followers would share the offer with friends and families from their on and off line lives but how to best to offer up a discount without sounding like we're full of spam?

Thoughts would be welcome please

Monday, 8 June 2009

When is an order not an order?

The biggest myth at this time is that there are fields of cars sitting around waiting for a good owner, like some stray dog at a compound. Yes there are a few manufacturer's with some stock, but most now have washed through the oversupply of last year. Reduced production, even factory closures such as Honda, mean that increasingly the popular car needs to be factory ordered.

As a consumer we are used to the idea of placing an order by leaving a deposit and we believe that from that point the good or service is secured and at that price. The car business can be a little different.

A dealer is given an allocation of vehicles they can order and this is then broken down by month or quarter. Once they have used up all their "slots" for that period they have to wait until the next period before the order is accepted by the factory. For the twitterers amongst you its a bit like the 100API limits.

So what? Well manufacturers price increases are usually price protected, but protected at the point that the order is accepted by the factory.

So, if you are in the market for a new car at this time I have 2 pieces of advice:

1. Order now, there are price rises scheduled by the big manufacturers (yes I know more!) for July

2. When ordering make sure the dealer has allocation and that you will be price protected (including the scrappage scheme which states you must take delivery of your new car within 4 months of ordering)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Balloon Baboon

Last week on Twitter we met @balloonbaboon. Nice person with a fab new business that combines balloon modelling with unique personal gifts. They make everything from rabbits to flower arrangements, pop it in a lovely box and post it out for you. I just loved this as a gift idea.

Over the course of her tweets we learnt she was busy trying to get some momentum behind this new business, in readiness for taking the plunge full time. So we asked if she could model something relevant for us and she did

Our very own car balloon and now you could have one too and if you order before Wednesday you can have it in time for Fathers day. Now that would be a change from another pair of socks

For more information on Balloon Baboon visit their website:

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Fueling the Debate

Since the beginning of the year we have watched fuel prices creep back up. We endured the April Fools day joke of an additional 2.12p duty on a litre of fuel and eagerly await the next 2p rise in September. As it stands today the average price of a litre of unleaded has exceeded the £1 mark.

With this as the backdrop HMRC has announced the changes for the advisory fuel rates. These are the amounts that honest company car drivers can claim back per mile on expenses. So from the 1st July 2009 there will be.... no change!

Now for those on MP type salaries this won't be a disaster, but that is not the case for thousands of key workers such as midwives and carers etc. These people travel hundreds of miles, but mostly local trips, around town where their cars are not running at their most efficient. In addition many company car drivers have been opting, as a direct result of Government benefit in kind taxation strategy, for diesel cars as these tend to be lower Co2 and so have less of a tax burden. However diesel has seen the biggest increase in the last 12 months (don't get me on that one) and so the advisory rates often don't cover the actual cost. This then leaves ordinary people out of pocket.

With "expenses" so much in the media at the moment, you can't help feel that freezing these advisory rates is an interesting decision from a Government department.