Archive for September, 2010


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

A man drove a cement truck up to the gates of Leinster House this morning in protest over how the Irish government bailed out, and continues to bail out Anglo Irish bank. Twitter broke the news this morning with a person on site with a camera phone, he uploaded the pictures of the truck in a tweet before there were any of the main stream news-hounds on site.

I think this is a tragic situation, that a man has to resort to this kind of action to make himself heard. It says a lot about our kind of system that someone feels that much emotion that he has to drive a cement truck to government house. You have to ask why this man felt so enraged that he needed to carry out an action so drastic. If someone drove a truck up to the gates of the White house he would be shot before he got within a hundred yards.

What should we do? Ignore him? Help him? Protest until his release? Or maybe mark him down as yet another casualty of this recession.

I think the politicians should sit up and take notice, he is just one voice but he echos the voice of millions.

Bob Flavin


Renault Kangoo 17

Image by 650cc via Flickr

RENAULT ANNOUNCES IRELAND’S FIRST EVER VAN SCRAPPAGE – NEW KANGOO FROM €8,990*, TRAFIC FROM €12,990* AND ALL NEW MASTER FROM €14,490*

Do you own a van that’s 5 years old? If your can answer yes to the above then get thee to a Renault Dealer.

This is a first for Ireland, no one else is looking to scrap your old van, Renault’s ‘scrap my van’ offer applies to light commercial vehicles aged 5 years and older, registered on the 31st January 2006 or before.

It’s a great offer from Renault, if your able to take advantage of it have a look at the pricelist below or head over to www.renault.ie

PR Renault Vans Price List


Renault are working very hard at the moment, and it’s not just the designers, every segment of the company are pulling out all the stops to push the brand forward. This “work hard” attitude is something I admire in any business. I work hard, there have been nights when I’m still working on something at one or two AM, that’s because I love what I do. The same must apply somewhere in Renault, someone near or at the top has surrounded themselves with people who love their jobs.
The new model Megane is the result of that love of the job, I remember the concept pictures of the Megane somewhere back in 2008, they looked fantastic. Obviously the car I’m driving looks nothing like the concept but ce la ve.
The current model comes in a variety of body styles from coupe to estate (called grand)and it’s the estate version that I’m driving at the moment.
When you think estate most of you will think of big agriculture type cars, well it’s not that kind of car, it’s far cooler than that. It looks like the designers were let loose and they came up with madness, then the Euro laws got involved and out of the two a very handsome sporty estate was born.
The long bonnet reminds me somehow of my Fathers Renault 12 TL, it looks nothing like it, it just reminds me of it. Sweeping down the sides there are some interesting quirks in the creases just before you reach the most interesting wrap around rear end on any car in it’s class. The boot lid looks one piece with the rear panels, it’s not, it splits to reveal a 486 ltr boot, more about the boot goodies later.


The back seat is big and comfy, there’s loads of head and leg room. If you don’t fancy carrying three people in the back then you can always drop the centre armrest which has some nifty cup holders build in.
From the drivers seat the car feels low and sporty but very comfortable. The steering wheel is weighted nicely to top dead centre, there is only one problem in here and it’s the gear shift, it feels too clicky. The gear stick feels like it’s attached to the gearbox with some plastic left over from the dashboard. It’s only a five speed box too, and that’s a shame, the gearbox in the Fluence felt fine I don’t know why they put a different box in the Megane. Other than the shift there’s nothing wrong in the cabin, everything is where you’d expect it to be in a Renault. This being a Tom Tom edition you get lots of toys, sat nav, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth and mp3 connection are all standard. Shame there’s no USB connection in mine but I’m sure it’s an option.


Out on the road the ride is firm but responsive, for an estate there’s no sign of a bouncy rear end that you get in most of the competition. The handling is very good too, even when you push it the Megane just keeps on holding the road. The 1.5dci 86bhp engine is solid and in the Megane it seems very quiet, at motorway speeds the lack of a sixth gear starts to show through, the rev’s sit at 2800rpm at 120kph, while that’s not bad it would be a better, more economical cruiser if there was another cog to get too.
Now we have to go onto a topic that will bore some of you, the boot. For those of you who are already yawning at the thought of me talking about boot space here’s a brief version, it’s big.
For those that are still reading let me explain, you buy an estate car to gain room over the hatchback version, so the boot space is very important. Even though the rear of the car is rounded on the outside, the boot opening is square and flat floored. There’s tonnes of space for any shape item to fit in there, there are some features in the boot too. There’s a flap near the opening that you can pin up allowing the whole boot to become a sort of bin, under that flap there’s more storage for drop in items, there are shopping hooks in the back too, they are set a bit too far back but nonetheless they are useful to have in the big flat boot. With all the seats dropped it’s 1600ltrs which is a decent size for any estate.
The Grand Megane is a very capable car, it’s adaptable, spacious and very stylish, the only flaw that I can find is the gearbox, it’s just too plastic feeling and it could do with another gear, if Renault would take the gearbox from the Fluence into the Megane be as near perfect as any car can be, in fact it’s so good my other half wants one.
If you’re interested in trying a Megane for yourself then log onto http://www.Renault.ie to find your local dealer.

Prices look like this, you should get the 106bhp Tom Tom with a 6 speed box it’s worth it.

RRP Trade-in allowance Renault scrappage for cars +8years old Government scrappage for cars +10years old Version from
1.6 16V 110 ETH ROYALE ECO 170 g/km €19,690 €3,300 €1,500 €0 €14,890
1.5 dCi 86 ROYALE 118 g/km €21,100 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €14,800
1.5 dCi 86 DYNAMIQUE 118 g/km €22,500 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €16,200
1.5 dCi 86 TOMTOM ED 118 g/km €23,600 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €17,300
1.5 dCi 106 TOMTOM ED 120 g/km €24,700 €3,300 €1,500 €1,500 €18,400

Let me know what you think, don’t be afraid; comment below.


WARNING BIG PICTURES!!

I spend so long on the internet using Boards.ie, Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of mediums I tend to forget that there’s real people behind the little text that you see on the screen. The lads who hang out in what I understand to be the second most popular section of Ireland’s most popular forum site decided to meet up and see what we all look like.

The Motors section on Boards has a huge amount of traffic asking questions that range from what kind of car should I buy to what the timing should be on 97 Carina. All of which will get an answer, it’s a fantastic resource and it’s free.

There was a huge range of cars there today, along with a huge range of people from all the age ranges, it was lovely to see them for the first time, I have been chatting to them on-line for a long time now and finally I got to put a face and a name to the on-line persona.

Thanks to all that made the effort to turn out today, it was nice to meet you all.


This is the best kept secret in the auto motive industry.
Yes, by virtue of the fact that I’m even telling you this I am, at very least, breaking some kind of official secrets act, and at worst, signing my own death warrant.
You see, secrets are kept for  two very good reasons.

  1. It’s a complete lemon and the manufacturer doesn’t want the general public to know how bad it is or
  2. It’s so good, to tell the same public would ruin its exclusiveness.
    Sorry lads, but the rest of them deserve to know the truth – and it’s amazing.
    There, I said it.
    Yes people, you see before you the words Renault and amazing in the same sentence – the world’s gone mad.
    Recently I’ve used capable, enjoyable and even Reliable with the R word, but never amazing.

Now before you start screaming for the nurse, let me explain why.

We’ve been down this road quite a few times with our Gallic friends.

Take your mind back to the Laguna II or the Megane II or indeed the last real coupe from Renault, the Fuego.

All fine to look at, but not so pleasant to drive and a maintenance nightmare as the miles creep up.
We expected the same this time round. Why wouldn’t we?

So we weren’t fooled by the drop-dead gorgeous looks, bold lines, muscular physic or the spectacular Aston Martin-ish rear end complete with massive twin chrome exhausts.
Inside it just gety better, wall-to-wall leather, Audi TT-style steering, bucket seats, Bose sound system and Bluetooth hands free phone.

Couple that with the superior build quality you’d only find in super executive saloons that only a NASA engineer could tell it wasn’t German and you’re on a winner.
The boys over at BMW, Audi and Merc won’t like this one little bit, but the French outfit have really lifted their game here and the feel of a cabin is one of the greatest influences on buyers – especially women.

And this car has successful career woman written all over it.

The old adage ‘Men are from Mars’ is probably the greatest example of this argument as the fairer sex couldn’t care less about bhp, ABS, ESP, torque or transmission.

No, it’s far more scientific thatn that – if they like it, they’ll buy it.
That’s far to sensible for us men to get our little heads around, besides what would the lads down the boozer say?

Anyway its time for me to get all manly again with the most pertinent question – How does it drive?

Supurbly. The 180bhp GT version I tested had the full package – instant and endless poke, refined handling and as agile as a Romanian gymnast.

This is where Renault reveal their hand, their secret weapon called 4 Control Chassis.

For all you Grease Monkeys out there, here’s how it works.

At speeds of less than 60kmh the system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front, up to an angle of 3.5 degrees making parking and manoeuvring easier.

It’s also very frugal, returning a whopping 43mpg on long journeys.

That’s another major plus here – it handles like a true coupe  but has the comfort of a saloon.

Take the Mazda RX-8 – absolutely mental to drive, a laugh a minute …. but an hour on the motorway will soon wipe the smile off your face.

Not here though. This slick oil burner will devour mile after mile with absolute ease.

So it’s pretty much flawless?

Well, not quite.

For starters I’ve never been mad about the keyless entry card thing.

If scientists develop a keyless front door then maybe they are onto something otherwise you still have to lump keys around with you.

Anyway, the two biggest chinks in the armour are firstly it’s a Renault and changing a minor fault is a lot easier than changing a mind set.

The second and more importantly is the price at €47,300  (official list price).

It’s rivals, namely the Audi TT and the BMW 320D coupe which are cheaper.

That said, one real advantage it does have is its exclusiveness – the TT has been around forever and the BMW is a common enough sight on Irish roads.

It still gets my vote for sheer sexiness, fun and daring to be different.

A Dita Von Tease in a sea of blonde bimbos if you like!

Phil Hedderman


Kia motors have announced the prices and specs of the latest version of the Sportage. There are to be 3 models of the car which will be on offer late 2010 and early 2011, prices start with the €27,800 1.7D EX model, it develops 115bhp and is B rated for tax. 17” alloys, half leather, Bluetooth and a panoramic sunroof,

A step up from that is the GSE priced at €29,995 that gets you heated seats and full leather along with Xenon lights and climate control.

The first edition you’ll see in October is the 2.0D 136hp all wheel drive model priced at €31,495 features 18” alloy wheels an ECM rear view mirror with colour camera in its standard equipment. Of course there’s a 7 year warranty on the Sportage which puts them way ahead of the competition.

Citroen have been tinkering with their engines and have managed to drop the CO2 emmissions for the C4 Picasso , Grand C4 Picasso and C5 models it breaks down like this:

Engine C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS

C4 Picasso & Grand C4 Picasso

1.6HDi 110hp DPFS EGS

Urban Cycle 6.7 (42.2mpg) 6.2 (45.6mpg)
Extra Urban 4.5 (62.8mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.1 (55.4mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 140 (Previously 145) 135 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 1.6HDi 110hp

(Saloon and Tourer)

Urban Cycle 6.4 (44.1mpg)
Extra Urban 4.2 (67.3mpg)
Combined 5.0 (56.5mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 130 (Previously 140)
Engine C5 2.0HDi 160hp SALOON C5 2.0HDi 160hp TOURER
Urban Cycle 6.8 (41.5mpg) 6.8 (41.5mpg)
Extra Urban 4.4 (64.2mpg) 4.4 (64.2mpg)
Combined 5.3 (53.3mpg) 5.3 (53.3mpg)
CO2 emissions (g/km) 139 (Previously 147) 139 (Previously 149)

It’s good news as it shifts some of the cars into a lower tax band, you can check the tax rates here https://www.motortax.ie/OMT/pdf/co2_emissions_rates_2009_en.pdf

Does the bank own your car?

Posted: September 21, 2010 by smokerspack in advice, Car news, old cars, Uncategorized, Videos
Tags: , ,

Last nights consumer show was interesting for the outstanding finance piece that was covered. There are so many cars out there that have finance on them I would be worried about buying any car without checking it’s history. If you’re a regular reader here you will know that I’m always banging on about doing a full history check on any car you’re about to buy, not just for finance but service and write off status.
There are two cases that I know of where there are repossession orders on cars that have outstanding finance. In one of those cases the current owner bought the car over twelve months ago in a private deal and has subsequently found out that the car has outstanding finance from two owners ago, now the car is the bone of contention. They bought it in good faith from an owner who owed nothing on it, the owner before his owed thousands on the car, I wouldn’t like to be the one to sort out that mess. The debt however is still on the car, now that the debt has been sold on either the car goes to service the debt or someone has to pay the loan off. The last owner is always the looser in these cases as there’s no getting a refund on the purchase, so the car goes as does anything spent on the car.
In a recent survey our friends at http://www.motorcheck.ie found that out of 100 cars 7 of them had finance outstanding.
It breaks down like this:
It found that of the 100 examined;
– 30% of the sample turned up positive for finance on the official records of the Irish Credit Bureau
– 21% of the sample were confirmed to have been on finance on the day they were advertised (verified by bank named on the record)
– 14% of the sample still have finance outstanding today (verified by the bank named on the record)

Of the 14% that were confirmed to be on finance;
– 2 were advertised by private sellers
– 5 were advertised by a member of the SIMI
– 7 were advertised by independent dealers and not affiliated with the SIMI

So you see that there are all walks selling cars with money owed on them. It’s common for dealers to sell a car with finance, they just pay off the loan when the car sells. But if they sell you car, don’t pay the loan and go out of business there is a real possibility that the bank may chase you for the outstanding balance on the car, or that your car gets repossessed.
Take my advice and do your checks folks.

Note: Finance checks can be performed on the Motorcheck.ie website at a cost of €12 per check.
The above survey was used on RTE’s The Consumer Show last night on RTE1. To view the segment click here http://www.motorcheck.ie/blog/outstanding-finance-still-a-serious-concern/


So you have two kids, a dog and all the associated equipment to keep both species happy but you can’t fit it all in the hatchback, MPV cars are too expensive for you, what do you do?
The solution is simple, buy a van and install some back seats. This may sound a little extreme but that’s exactly what Fiat have done to the Doblo. They found that there’s another market out there for vans, no longer does it have to be the exclusive of builders and couriers, now families can can have the big, slightly embarrassing box outside the front door too.
The mighty Doblo can solve all your problems, need to move five people and a couple of washing machine? If your answer is yes, then you need help, but if the answer is maybe the the Doblo is for you.
Yes there is something deeply uncool about driving around in a van but yet Fiat have done a good job on the looks, they haven’t tried to cover up the fact that you’re in a van, instead they have embraced it. The boot lid is one example, it’s huge, it’s so big you could land a small helicopter on it. The front is pleasant to look at, there is something cute about the whole package.


Looks aren’t the biggest concern when you’re buying a car like this, practicality is all that matters, the Doblo has that in spades. With all five seats in place there is a massive 790ltrs of boot space, if you fold the seats away there’s 3,200ltrs and that means I can lie down in the back of the car, or you can take most of Ikea home with you. The boot opening is square and tall so it can take any shape of item you like, there’s a boot cover that can take 70kgs of weight on it too. In the back seats there’s easily enough room for 3 adults.

In the front seats you get a decent amount of equipment, cruise control, blue & me, a place for a Tom Tom, climate control and some cup holders. There’s more than enough elbow and leg room in there for any body shape. I should say that Fiat can kit this car out for Disabled use, I think from the seating position it would make a great car for this purpose, the front doors are huge and open wide.

The 1.6 diesel 106bhp engine is very good, there’s very little turbo lag and it pulls well enough. It’s noisy during acceleration but most diesel units are. The 13.4 seconds it takes to get to 100kph is long enough but we are talking about a van here, it’s not meant to be fast. It handles well in the corners too thanks to stability control as standard. It’s on long hauls where this car comes into it’s own, it’s comfy and quiet at speed, in 6th gear at 120kph there’s little or no noise for the engine.

The big winner here is the end user, the model I drove was the Eleganza and it could be sitting on your driveway for €19,095 that’s a lot of car for that price. The Doblo is the most practical car I’ve seen in years, there is something cool about driving around in something so un-cool, it says I don’t care what you thing of what I’m driving, I can carry more stuff than you anyway.

I grew to love the might Doblo in the same way you love a naughty puppy, it’s a Swiss army knife of a car just not cool; yet.


Megan Fox.

Image via Wikipedia

Picture the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Take Megan Fox, Penelope Cruz or Eva Mendes …. now try to improve upon them.

Make them even more irresistible, hotter, sexier.

It’s not easy, is it?

That is the exact dilemma put to a group of the best automotive designers and engineers money can buy.

There was one big problem though …. these are German designers and engineers and more often than not you get a lot more than you bargained for.

The results are there for all to see in the new 5 Series, but beauty, my friends, is indeed more than skin deep.

You see, in the case of the fickle world of show business, a plastic surgeon may make you look younger and more vibrant, but he won’t make you a better actress.

Now, if the old 5 were a fairytale it could only be the ugly duckling …. which blossomed into a beautiful swan and there the romance began, well for me, anyway.

The E60, made between 2003 and 2010, had what a very dear friend calls the ”sexy/ugly thing going on” which is based on the philosophy that not all beautiful women are sexy …. and not all sexy women are beautiful.

It was a curious looking creature, not very inviting, but when you climbed into the cockpit and fired her up ….. hmmm sheer driving pleasure.

It was that perfect balance of fine handling unstoppable power, torque and unrivalled drive which won over all of its critics, with some conceding that the look will even grow on you.

The exact same applies here, except in reverse.

Despite the ergonomics boffin droning on about how sexier, younger and dynamic they made it, Cupid didn’t strike and I wasn’t all woosy and faint.

In fact, I think its too conservative and they’ve played it too safe this time round.

So I may have been a tad disappointed by the look, but would the same apply in the saddle.

Absolutely not.

How could it?

Its older brother was perfection so how could they possibly improve it?

Simple really.

They just made it bigger, quicker and more economical.

Take the 530D which churns out a whopping 245bhp, has CO2 omissions of 160g/km and returns over 40mpg.

Thanks to the stop start technology (borrowed from the Mini range) the 523i has the same green credentials of 160g/km and 204bhp.

But their secret weapon is the not so humble 520D which has Irish drivers queueing around the block with the lure of 184bhp, CO2s of 132grammes (£156 road tax) and a jaw dropping 50mpg.

Couple that with their most advanced 8 speed automatic gearbox and supension technologies – taken from the 7series, throw in a few goodies like Parking Assistant which parks for you, Surround View, collision warning  (which automatically brakes in an emergency)

Lane Change Warning and Head-Up Display and the job is Oxo.

It’s not hard to fathom that this luxury saloon is the single biggest selling model in Ireland today.

Pound for pound this BMW is, if you’ll excuse the plug, the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’.

If my analogy about Chris Bangle (designer of the last E60 5 series) and the sexy ugly thing working in reverse proves correct then it is love at first sight.

If that doesn’t get the heart racing then the price tag of under €41,750 (check this) will.

Philip Hedderman

Let us know what you think of the 5 Series, please comment below.

Can you get a free NCT?

Posted: September 18, 2010 by smokerspack in advice, NCT
Tags: , , , , , ,

The National Car Test is a European directive; it is supposed to test all cars over four years old to see if they are fully roadworthy. The NCT certification is legally required for your car if it’s on the road in Ireland; you get 5 penalty points and a €1,500 fine if you don’t display one in the window of your car.

For the privilege of taking the test you must pay €50 on the day of testing whether you pass or fail. A re-test of underperforming parts costs €28. I believe the NCT does a good job of finding the rogue cars out there with bad brakes and bald tyres but there are a few problems.

My car is 4 years old this year so it was due its first NCT. I called the booking line in April and a lady told me that there were no slots open at my chosen centre, she asked if I would like to choose a different centre, when I refused that she said that a booking letter would come in the post that would tell me when I would have to take the test. At the time I thought nothing more of it. On the 5th of May the booking letter arrived, the date I received was the 5th of August for my test, a full three months wait. In the mean time I had a look around the internet and I came across a PDF of a booklet for the NCTS, in it there’s a “Standards of customer service” section and I read with some interest section 4, it reads:

“Ensure that an average leadtime for an appointment at an individual test centre is less than three weeks with a free test if this is greater than four weeks”

So to me that would mean a free test, I mean I have to wait 3 months for mine. On the 5th of August I presented my car for testing, before he would test the car I had to hand over €50, despite my arguing with the tester and even showing him the section in the pamphlet he still wouldn’t let me off the money. He told me that I had to apply for a refund so he printed me a full receipt and told me to get in touch with customer service.

I called them while I waited for my car to go through the tests, I talked to a woman who told me I would have to apply in writing for a refund, there was nothing she could do over the phone, even though she could see when the test was booked, they wanted to listen to the recording of the call just to make sure I didn’t request the booking for this date. I haven’t written a letter in years so I asked could I email it in, after a little arguing I was put through to a supervisor. She gave me the same answer but told me I could email info@ncts.ie . I sent in the receipt and a little note explaining my annoyance at being charged in the first place, I even sent a copy to Noel Dempsey the Minster for Transport.

After nearly 50 minutes my car was ready, it only took 50 minutes because of a tea break that happens around 10.30am, why they don’t finish the car they are working on before a tea break is beyond me, added to that, they all go together so there’s no one left working.

My car passed, I enquired from the tester if there were many people looking for free tests, he told me that there were “loads” of people, and that the NCTS want them to test two more cars a day there by putting more pressure on them. I wondered if it took 3 months to get my date and they add two more cars a day, just how long would it take to get a test date in the future, also how many free tests are performed by the NCTS because of the backlog?

After 4 phone calls and a number of emails I got a letter in the post from the NCT;

“Item 4 in our customer charter states “Ensure that and average lead time for an appointment at an individual test centre is less than three weeks with a free test if it is greater than four weeks” This refers to a situation where a customer requests a sooner appointment but where the NCT is unable to provide one.”

It doesn’t say that, item 4 makes no reference to me requesting a particular date, the letter went on…

“…I was unable to find your initial booking call; therefore we must ask you to provide us with the telephone number from which you made the booking call..”

It took 2 days for that letter to arrive and all he wanted was a phone number, he could have emailed or phoned me and got that. I decided to call them again, providing the phone number he wanted; I was told that “the matter will be investigated”

On the 11th of August I got another letter from the NCT which states the same thing;

“Item 4, <snip> this refers to a situation where a customer requests a sooner appointment but where the NCT is unable to provide one. Our records show that you were offered and accepted an appointment for the 5/8/2010.

Notwithstanding this, as a gesture of good will I would like to offer you a refund of the test fee. A cheque will be issued from our accounts department shortly.”

That means I should have asked for a sooner test, so I’m at fault but out of the goodness of their hearts they’ll refund my fee. I got a letter with a date on it, the date was more than 4 weeks so the test should be free. These people know their job, they know the dates, they should be offering me the soonest date available right? I wanted to find out just how many free tests are happening, on the Applus + web site it says that they carry out more than 1.4 million tests per year, so how many of them are done for free because of the lead time? I asked the RSA who is the responsible body for the NCT, they referred it onto Vehicle standards who came back with:

“The NCT service has been exceptionally busy this year and indeed the first quarter of 2010 has been the busiest since the NCT was established eleven years ago. There are a number of factors which contribute to this level of demand including the following:

· The decline in new vehicle sales in 2008 and 2009 has led to greater demand for testing of older vehicles.

· The large numbers of second hand imports in 2008, 2009 and 2010 has driven demand and is impossible to predict as sterling values and prices in Ireland drive this demand.

· The introduction of penalty points has increased drivers compliance and has brought almost 80,000 extra cars into the testing system and has generally led to drivers seeking tests mush[sic] earlier than had been the case in the past.

· The majority of new vehicles are registered in the first quarter and NCT falls due on the anniversary of registration. This means that the first quarter is the busiest period and demand rapidly falls away in May each year.

· We introduced a new NCT contractor on January 4th this year and had reduced capacity in the handover period. The new contractor has been awarded the contract for the next ten years.

Lead times for NCT vary from day to day.  Every week NCT releases test slots for customers who wish to make advance bookings up to 3 months ahead. However, the bulk of slots (approximately 2/3rds) are made available between 2 and 4 weeks in advance (28days) with a proportion of those retained for urgent bookings at two weeks lead-time.  For the vast majority of customers, therefore, lead times are around 14 – 28 days. At busy times, however, these slots are often used up very quickly and then the next slot available would be one of the advance slots opened to allow owners obtain firm test dates. Approximately one third of customers either request or voluntarily accept test dates further out. However, if such a slot is unsuitable for the customer, they are placed on the priority waiting list described above and they will generally be offered a slot within 28 days (or the test offered free of charge).

Trusting this clarifies the matter.

Kind Regards

Veronica Rowland

Vehicle Standards”

It is now as clear as mud, that’s just twisting words in the Customer charter to suit an answer. I didn’t get an answer to my question, how many free tests are being carried out each year?

In the mean time, Minster Dempsey had referred my email to Mr. Noel Brett, Chief executive of the R.S.A. Declan Naughton, Director of the R.S.A. came back to me with:

“I refer to your email dated 5 August 2010 to Mr Noel Dempsey, T.D., Minister for Transport in relation to a refund for your NCT Test and my subsequent email to you on 15 August last.

I have had the matter investigated with the National Car Testing Service who I understand have been in touch with you to clarify the matter and have made arrangements for a refund cheque to be issued directly to you.

I can only apologise for any inconvenience caused to you in this instance and I hope that this matter has now been resolved to your satisfaction.  I can assure you of the RSA’s continuing commitment to customer service which I know is shared by the contractor.

I trust this clarifies the situation for you.

Declan Naughton

Director”

The matter is clear; I am getting my refund, but how many refunds are being given out each year? No one would answer my question, either they don’t know or don’t want to say. Remember some of your tax pays for the NCT to exist, all those €50’s that you pay for your test pays the balance, but what happens when all that money starts being refunded or the tests are free?

To make matters worse for the NCT, from June 2011 cars that are over 10 years old have to be tested once a year, and from the 1st of September this year if you import a car you will have to present it to the NCT centre for inspection, this is not an NCT test, just is just to check that the car is as described, the VRT is cheaper for a basic model than the high spec version of the same car. The fee for this inspection can be deducted from the VRT for the car. In 2009 there was almost 50,000 cars imported into Ireland, from September on the NCT centres will have to examine that many more cars. How long will people have to wait before getting an appointment for an imported car? Can they drive the car in the period on foreign plates?

It seems that in Ireland there’s no joined up thinking, nothing seems to have been put in place for the extra volume of cars for testing, and the volumes are just going to rise, the solution seems to be give free tests until the backlog has cleared, but the backlog is just going to get bigger until they can test a bigger volume of cars.

I never got an answer to my question; it seems that no one knows how many tests are carried out in Ireland for free, 6 weeks have passed and I still haven’t gotten my cheque either.

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