20151023 Charity begins at home – not. And other short stories.

It’s hard to find a bad word to say about CX: always a class leader, always looking, on a minute by minute basis, to see how they can make each customer’s journey better, even to the point of using premium check in desks to prevent queues building at economy and decent food. Usually, in fact, there is only one thing that’s not quite up to scratch, it’s the low-lactose meals. I was absent minded and on auto-pilot made the selection. CX is a Chinese airline and so the Chinese food is, almost by definition, non-lactose. So on two legs I had variations of the same pretty dire fried potatoes and mushrooms, instead of eating congee on one and chicken on the other, both of which are perfectly safe for me, and on one leg I was served two courses, of the same meal, as the same or very similar fruit salad.

My mistake but CX really should get someone to check the quality of the special meals, as ironically, it is likely to be that rather than the overall excellence that people remember. Or just give us one of the standard meals and leave any butter, cheese or yoghurt in the galley!

Again, great service from Enterprise Car Rental in Ashford where I’m a regular customer : they collect me from my father’s house to start the hire and drop me off again when it ends. It’s a service available to all. I asked them to pick me up in the car I had booked so as to make sure my elderly father could get his head in (designers have raked windscreens so far in the pursuit of aerodynamics that people who are no longer bendy have trouble getting in and out). They turned up with a bigger car having decided to give me a free upgrade so as to make sure he could get in without difficulty.

But, oh, VW. Your Blue Motion Golf is a great car but has a couple of fundamental flaws: the gap from 3rd to 4th is too tall so on hilly, winding roads, constant gear changing is necessary and with a notchy gear box, slipping from 4th to 2nd happened far too often. And that electronic handbrake? Nah. It’s a gadget too far. I want to feel the tension in the handbrake with one hand while I’m balancing the throttle with one foot and the clutch with the other when I’m in traffic, on a hill, at traffic lights. I just don’t trust an electronic brain to interface with my brain.

I’m an old-fashioned seat of the pants driver and I really don’t want electronics programmed by a dodgy German car company making decisions that I might have to defend in Court if the car runs away.

“The car rolled back because the handbrake was off before I found the bite point” countered by the company which, to avoid a rash of claims, would have to join in my action as a third party, saying “It cannot happen. It must be operator error. Our programmers are first class.” Yep, they can even hide software designed to produce fraudulent emissions data so they are obviously clever. And dishonest. And aside from that, all that slippery design at the front is wasted because, as the rain attaching itself to the rear window shows, you’ve totally stuffed up the airflow off the back of the car: with good design, the airflow lifts the crap off the rear screen, not attracts it and holds it in place. Really, someone has really slipped up with this model.