Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A Sexist Car-related Joke

One Winter morning a husband and wife in Southern Wyoming were listening to the radio during breakfast. They heard the announcer say, "We are going to have 8 to 10 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the even-numbered side of the street, so the snowploughs can get through

So the good wife went out and moved her car.

A week later while they are eating breakfast again, the radio announcer said, "We are expecting 10 to 12 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the odd-numbered side of the street, so the snowploughs can get through."
The good wife went out and moved her car again.

The next week they are again having breakfast, when the radio announcer says, "We are expecting 12 to 14 inches of snow today. You must park..." Then the electric power went out.

The good wife was very upset, and with a worried look on her face she said, "Honey, I don't know what to do. Which side of the street do I need to park on so the snowploughs can get through?"

With the love and understanding in his voice that all men who are married to Blondes exhibit, the husband replied,

"Why don't you just leave it in the garage this time?"

Monday, 25 January 2010

Petrol Prices Going up Again

I've just filled up my car at 107.9p a litre at my local Shell station. That seems to be a good price - Tescos are asking 111.9p at the moment and I have seen higher.

I don't live too far from the main refinery at Stanlow so that may help but when I visit my in-laws out Manchester way (or is it my out-laws in Manchester way?) I see the prices tend to be about 4p a litre dearer than home.

I'm sure that prices must be at the level they were a year or two back when we had fuel protests and blockades and everyone drove at 60mph on the Motorways to conserve fuel. This time around, I guess there is less fuss because of a combination of the recession and newer cars are actually getting significantly more fuel-efficient. Nobody wants to rock the boat and fewer miles are being travelled enyway.

Here's a graph I stole from showing oil prices:

It seems to show a sharp dip before Christmas, then a staggering rise and now it should be on its way down again. I'm not sure how precisely petrol prices relate to the raw crude price nor how long this takes effect but I wouldn't be expecting the price hike we are seeing at the moment.

Obviously, a large chunk of fuel costs goes to the Exchequer, maybe being an Election-year, there may be some hope of Alistair trying to win over the motorist but whatever happens, I'm sure post May 6th (if the rumours are true) everything would revert to screwing the petrol-head. I can't see it being any different under the Tories either - remember it was them that introduced the fuel price escalator which Labour made slightly worse but were then forced to scrap.
(I don't like quoting wiki but that is much as I remember it)

Every year or so, an email gets circulated saying how we can beat the Oil Companies by refusing to buy from two of the main suppliers - it's always some combination of Esso, Shell and BP thus forcing them to drop their prices. It'll never work for two reasons:

i) The email was probably started by one of those sad people who just tries to get their emails forwarded to as many people as possible, the chance of everyone getting the same version at the same time is pretty remote.

ii) The British public are too ambivalent to bother anyway. There was a national, well-organised and well-publicised call for everyone to refuse to buy any petrol on one particular Friday around the time of the big fuel-protests at the turn of the Century. This was a tactic that worked with a degree of success in the States causing big problems for the fuel distribution networks and having a significant impact on the Oil Companies over there. It would have been no big deal for British people to fill up on the Thursday or Saturday instead but they didn't do it.

The only way to try to keep fuel prices at a sensible level is to always shop around. To help, I use this site which, although it can be a few days out of date, is generally pretty reliable.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Car Insurance Ads - Whatya Gonna Do, Eh?


God, I hated that advert when it first appeared. I had to admit though, it got the brand name into my head so it must have been doing something right - much more noticeable than the bland couple stepping into the computer screen that they used to use - at least I think that was them. The subsequent GoCompare ads, though, have slowly but steadily grown on me - now I might even go as far as to say they are quite enjoyable.

Whereas, exactly the opposite happened to me with the Meerkat ads. I thought the first one was absolutely brilliant and it certainly had good brand recognition but as they've gone on, I've found them more and more irritating. Incidentally, have you seen what happens when you Google "Compare The Meerkat"?

Ok, you probably can't see that very clearly, but the first name to come up is, followed by GoCompare, then Confused and eventually "Compare The Meerkat". I once had an interview with Moneysupermarket and they told me how they have people dedicated to getting them to the top in Internet Searches - it's obviously still working.
They also have people trying to get around Insurance Companies who do not want to be on Comparison Sites but this seems to be a losing battle, the introduction of squiggly letters that you have to manually type in seems to be a useful tool in this war.

But why wouldn't an Insurance Company want to be compared? Surely, if they were providing the best deal, then it would be to their advantage to appear on the sites. That's why I am particularly disappointed in two of my favourite comedians Paul Merton and Stephen Fry advertising Direct Line and specifically making the point that people should try them and not the Comparison Sites so "they don't have to pay commission". I do not believe for one minute that Direct Line are cheaper than the Comparison Site deals - when I used to compare them a few years back they certainly weren't. (As opposed to the 1990s when they were quite a bit cheaper than everyone else and they still seem to be hoping people are thinking of those times).

Similarly, Paul Whitehouse for Aviva, amusing ads, wrong message.

As it is, when my insurance expires on Halloween, I will have used - despite their ads. They use actors pretending to be "real" people but these are real people you just want to hit.

I refuse to use Moneysupermarket because they didn't give me that job - I have no real beef with the other comparison sites but I'll stick with the one I know - I'm also very happy that I know they will protect me from another two of my bugbears, junk-mail and spam.

So that's what I'm gonna do, eh.