Monday, 11 August 2008
Here is a picture of my new toy, a tractor, it's not brand new, I got it off e-bay, but its a 20HP machine with three speed pto (power take off) that will really deal with all the weeds and long grass that have taken over this year as I have been away so much that grass cutting didn't even appear on the jobs list, let alone get done. Actually the tractor is totally useless without a mower to tow along behind it (using the pto to turn the blades) and as I haven't got one of those yet it means that e-bay is still my most visited Internet site.
The tractor came from a little village near Northampton and the two guys there (a father and son) really seemed to have it sussed. They had a nice little business, that they obviously enjoyed very much and which appeared to give them a nice living without too much stress and aggravation. My dad and I went to collect the Tractor so it was two father and son teams! We even had a brief discussion on politics, they think the EU is terrible, the Parish Council are a bunch of parochial, small minded idiots and as for the County Council, don't even mention them and their unbelievable planning policies! It was just like being at home!
The day actually ended rather well with my tractor tucked up in its garage behind its steel plate door and numerous padlocks and tie downs. I was a bit surprised as the day started really badly. To collect the Tractor I hired as long wheel base Transit, this was booked and paid for over the Internet and all seemed hunky dory, even though the advertised price of £25 a day ended up at £48 when all the "extras" were added on, you know optional things like insurance, named driver authorisation, collection and delivery fee. This pissed me of quite a bit and "Rip off Britain" was being muttered as I keyed in my Credit Card Number. A question I can't get an answer to is why did it cost £10 PER DRIVER to hire the van. The van will be doing the same mileage and carrying the same load regardless of whether one person drives or two people take turns?
I turned up 9.00am to collect the van, armed with my driving licence, both parts, my passport, my Internet confirmation voucher and my credit card to leave the £300 deposit. Unfortunately the "two forms of ID" which I assumed driving licence and passport, were not acceptable, I had to also produce a Utility Bill. No amount of pleading would allow any other document to substitute, it had to be a utility bill, bank statement, NO Good, pay slip from Hartlepool Council, NO Good. They wanted a Gas Bill and nothing else would do. I pointed out we don't get mains gas so they did relent to electricity bill. I pointed out we pay monthly direct debit on line and don't get printed statements. Not their problem, Utility Bill or no van. OK I said cancel the van. Fine they said but as it is less than 24 hours notice you forfeit the hire fee! I dutifully trudged off home and found a 2007 "Annual statement" from N-Power showing how or direct debit would be calculated for the next 12 month. Hurray, this was accepted and 2 hours later than planned we actually set off.
It needed more paperwork and took more time to hire a van for the day in Middlesbrough than it did to get on a flight from New York to Heathrow. The saga will not be completed until tomorrow of course since they shut at 5.00pm and because of our late start we couldn't get the van returned this evening. I am now seriously expecting then to find a fly speck of damage somewhere and retain my £300 deposit. That will then mean a van for the day from Middlesbrough not only needed more paperwork and took longer to arrange than a flight from New York BUT the van will have cost more than the flight did!
Maybe Robbie Payne had it right when he said he couldn't wait to be retired and out of this country for good!