Thursday, 27 May 2010

Less than a year after opening, Good Garage Scheme member Proalfa win prestigious FSB Service Excellence Award

Alfa Romeo specialist Proalfa Garage is less than a year old, but since setting up in June 2009, the Watford-based garage has significantly raised standards for garages and workshops around the UK.

Earlier this month, owners Chris Charalambous and Luis Guerreiro had their specialist knowledge and commitment to providing a fair and honest service recognised by the 2010 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Hertfordshire Small Business Awards. After a tense wait at the FSB Awards ceremony at Tewinbury Farm Hotel, Proalfa picked up two awards, winning the Service Excellence Award and were runners-up in Best New Business.

The Service Excellence award was focused on delivering the best customer service, going above and beyond the call of duty and making sure customers have the best experience possible. Owner Chris Charalambous expressed that the Good Garage Scheme’s feedback has helped their business to win the two prestigious awards, and mentioned the scheme in his acceptance speech.

He explained “We have put our heart and soul into this business and our main aim is to make sure we give the best service possible to all of our customers. When putting together our entry, we made sure it had every single bit of feedback we had collected from our customers since we opened our doors”.

The Good Garage Scheme would like to congratulate Proalfa on their tremendous achievement and look forward to continuing to support them in the future.

Proalfa's Good Garage Scheme Page
Proalfa Website 

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Coalition compromises – The Good Garage Scheme looks at where the Lib-Con agreement leaves motorists

The coalition manifesto between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was published last week, revealing the compromises both parties have made on their individual promises. But where does the 36-page document leave the average motorist?

The agreement places heavy emphasis on green sustainability and improving rail travel across Britain, rather than helping motorists already on the road. Such improvements for rail travel include a pledge on fair pricing for rail travel, a phased-in high speed network for the whole of Britain and incentives for rail operators to improve trains and stations. On the road we will see a tackling of rogue private sector wheel clampers and the introduction of new HGV user charging to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers. Future fixed speed cameras will be replaced by alternative, more efficient measures such as the introduction of the new roadside drug detector.

There is no mention of the ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’ scheme enthusiastically proposed by Cameron during the run-up to the election, nor the promise to clamp down on disruptive road works which overrun. Rural motorists have also been let down, as the Lib-Dem promise of lower fuel duty for rural motorists has been left out of the agreement.

As the new government has pledged to 'make the transport sector greener and more sustainable', motorists should expect a tougher stance on emissions and this could mean increased taxes on the way.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Good Garage Scheme asks: are electric cars a danger to pedestrians?

The growing popularity of the electric car may be beneficial for the environment, but their near-silent operation means the vehicles may also be a dangerous threat to pedestrians.

This week Nissan announced that its all-electric car, the Leaf, will be available to the UK from February 2011 and is set to cost £23,350. The zero-emission family car offers the same practicality and performance of a similar car in its class, including a top speed of 90 miles per hour and the ability to be rapid-charged to 80 percent of its battery capacity in 30 minutes.

Despite the positive move towards eco-friendly driving, the practically noiseless cars could be dangerous to pedestrians, who might unwittingly step out in front of one. The blind or visually impaired, children and the elderly may fail to notice oncoming electric vehicles without any noise, and this has prompted a move to install a feature on electric vehicles to make them more audible. It is thought that the sounds will be different from the standard noise an engine tends to make, such as sound effects or music.

Nissan has said it may equip the Nissan Leaf with a sound system in time for the car’s introduction next year as fears over pedestrian safety increase. The Good Garage Scheme advises that pedestrians follow good road safety practices, including “Stop, look and listen” and keep looking whilst you are crossing the road.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Good Garage Scheme reveals changes to motoring claims speeds up compensation process

Changes to the motor personal injury claims process now means that most motorists should be able to receive settlement for personal injuries within nine months, compared to two years under the previous system.

Insurance firms must now decide on liability within 15 days of the claim being filed, speeding up the process. A fixed legal charge has also been introduced, helping to reduce the overall legal cost. The changes apply to claims valued at between £1,000 and £10,000, which constitute nearly 80% of the claims.

Despite positive changes to the motor injury claims process, research has revealed that drivers in the north of England are more likely to be involved in a staged road accident than those in the south.

Fraudsters have been found making unnecessary emergency stops, leading to innocent motorists crashing into them. This has increased premiums for motorists, and delays payouts on genuine claims. The insurer that carried out the research revealed that the top five spots investigated for accident fraud were located in the north.

For genuine motoring accidents, the Good Garage Scheme is assisting member garages with its Accident Helpline. The helpline provides free advice, replacement vehicles and help with repair costs.

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Good Garage Scheme asks; could drivers be left dangling by a hung parliament?

With the news spreading through Britain of a hung parliament, how will this move into uncertain waters effect motorists?

One of the immediate worries is that the pound could fall, driving up the costs of imports such as petrol. This alone could see a £45 rise in petrol costs per year for the average motorist. Another worry is the very policies voted for might not be implemented. The main parties will soon be making deals and back room decisions with each other on how the country will be run, including motoring issues.

The Conservatives have promised to consult on a ‘Fair Fuel Stabliser’ that would cut fuel duty when oil prices rise and increase it when prices fall. They have also proposed to ban all funding for fixed speed cameras and give motorists the opportunity to campaign for the removal of excessive traffic lights.

The Liberal Democrats have promised to cut the major roads budget and ‘switch traffic from road to rail by investing in local rail improvements, such as opening closed rail lines and adding extra tracks’. They also have plans to scrap the current VED tax system in favour of ‘Revenue Neutral’ road pricing – charging motorists more if they use roads which are deemed to have public transport alternatives. The Liberal Democrats have also expressed an interest in lowering the drink-drive limit to 50mg.

Labour has pledged to extend the hard-shoulder running on motorways and widening targeted motorways such as the M25 to ease traffic congestion. Labour has also proposed improvements to rail services and investment in a high-speed rail network between the North and South.

While the hung parliament means an undecided future for these manifesto plans and the future of Britain, the Good Garage Scheme continues to support motorists and garages during this uncertain time.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Good Garage Scheme finds ultimate holiday for fans of cinema and driving – the Brit Flick Pilgrimage

The ultimate driving holiday for fans of cinema has been created by national tourism agency Visit Britain and car manufacturer Vauxhall. The trip, devised to celebrate the introduction of the new British built Astra, covers an impressive 1016 road miles, features 39 films and stops at 23 popular sites across Scotland, Wales and England.

Each stop on the ‘movie map’ details key films shot in the area as well as interesting film trivia. The ‘Brit Flick Pilgrimage’ stops off at film sets including Alice in Wonderland (Cornwall), The Da Vinci Code (Midlothian), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Northumberland), Pride and Prejudice (Derbyshire), Robin Hood (Pembrokeshire), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Stirling) and The Italian Job (London).

Stephanie Lucas, from Vauxhall, said: "It's amazing the amount of UK locations used in international blockbusters, so we thought we'd pay homage to the best of British through devising a road trip with a twist."

The whole trip is available to buy, priced at £956. This includes bed and breakfast accommodation at ten stops and admission fees to all the tourist attractions.

Visit Britain is also running a competition to win a two-week trip around the entire route, with accommodation included and the exclusive use of the all-new Astra. Visit the Visit Britain website to enter the competition and for more details on the Brit Flick Pilgrimage.