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since 15/08/2000


Peugeot 106 1.1 23/05/2002

Excellent value-for-money motoring.

Peugeot 106 1.1 Needing to replace a decrepit Ford Escort as a cheap second car runabout, I began the search for the ideal car. Test drives in the Citroen Saxo, Nissan Micra, and Toyota Yaris demonstrated the lack of power of the first two vehicles, and the relatively high cost of the latter. A drive in the Peugeot 106 Independence immediately attracted me to the car, due to its rapid acceleration, excellent road-holding, and enormous amount of leg room in the front and back. I then searched for the best price and overall deal I could get on this vehicle. THE CAR. The Peugoat 106 Independence is a small car, but it has a very spacious interior. The performance for a 1.1 litre engine is remarkably good, with lively acceleration in all 5 gears, even with 4 adult passengers and the driver. The top speed is around 110mph, so it would not be out of place on Continental roads! The seating is comfortable, with good access to the rear seats via a wide front door. The seats tip and slide for access to the rear seats, and a memory feature restores the front seat to the set point automatically. The boot space is quite good, but the rear split seats fold very easily to give a really spacious carrying capacity. The road-holding is excellent, even in the wet, and the suspension, although a trifle hard, gives a comfortable ride. Road noise is not too annoying, even with the sun-roof open. The rear windows hinge open, and the manual sun-roof tilts, to give good ventilation inside the car. ...

Birmingham Midshires 03/03/2002

This may be one to avoid.

Birmingham Midshires As this is one of my local Building Societies, I would have hoped that I could give it a glowing report. Unfortunately, the opposite is very much the case! This Building Society has given me endless aggravation over the past few years, although I have been a member for 35 years! The problems began when it demutualised, and it refused to acknowledge the rights of my 4 children, who had also been members for up to 20 years! Communications with the Company are truly diabolical. It is rare indeed to get any reply to postal correspondence. If any reply is received, it usually fails to address the original questions which I raise, and never results in a satisfactory outcome from the member's viewpoint! Telephoning the Head Office is invariably a total waste of time and money, as the endless call-routing system, and the infuriating piped music, merely cause irritation, frustration, and escalating phone bills! Nameless, faceless automatons answer the phones, and can never deal with the queries on the spot. One can never find the same person twice, and I always end up with utter failure to get a satisfactory response! I have had problems even with the branch staff, where on one occasion, I was greeted by a new face behind the counter. He clearly did not know how to deal with my in-going payment, and I had to tell him how the system worked! He eventually produced a receipt for my payment, which he asked ME to sign, and intimated I should sign it for the branch to keep ...

Coventry Building Society 11/02/2002


Coventry Building Society When I consider using a Building Society as a home for my savings, I look for a number of critical criteria: 1. Is the Building Society financially sound? Bearing in mind that only 90% of your money, up to a limit of £18,000 might be returned to you if it goes bust! The Coventry certainly meets this criterion. 2. Is it making good annual growth in its money turnover, numbers of members, and its overall net assets rising year-on-year? Again, the Coventry is showing excellent growth. 3. Is it big enough to be trusted with my money, and is it NOT too big, with the result that I become just another member and an account number? I believe the Coventry is just about the perfect size in this respect. Members are acknowledged to be important individuals, and are treated as such. 4. Are there adequate numbers of branches? Are they efficiently manned? Are the staff knowledgeable? Do they operate free from errors? Are the branches warm, inviting places, but without expensive fixtures and fittings indicating an extravagant use of my money? I believe the Coventry comes out brilliantly in this aspect! 5. Are communications easy? Can you talk to branch management easily? Can you telephone the branch or Head Offices without going through abominable call-centres with endless piped music whilst you wait for some semi-robot to tsalk to you? I have always found branches very responsive whether face-to-face, or over the phone. 6. Have they got equitable rates for borrowers and ...

Nationwide Building Society 11/02/2002

One of the best I have patronised.

Nationwide Building Society The Nationwide Building Society is a well-established organisation, with a long-running record of successful money management. It has branches in most Town/City centres, so it is very accessible to its customers. The Society balance sheet shows a very healthy financial basis, and it continues to grow. The finances are currently extremely sound, and I do not believe that there is any possibility of the Society getting into difficulties, and putting depositors money at risk. It strikes a reasonable balance between attractive mortgage rates for its borrowers, and does not plumb the depths of low interest rates to its depositors as ALL the top Hihg Street Banks invariably do!! I particularly like the regular savings accounts, which combine good flexibility with attractine interest rates. I also find the staff in all branches I have visited to be extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I recommend this organisation to anyone! ...

Peugeot 406 1.8 10/09/2001

Superb family car

Peugeot 406 1.8 I bought a Peugeot 406 two weeks ago, and I am absolutely delighted with it. It is an excellent value-for-money family car. The interior is very spacious, with plenty of room for 3 large adults in the rear (also 3 full seat belts, not lap-straps). Even with the front seats fully back, there is bags of leg room in the rear. The front seats have enormous leg-room, and the interior height is very generous - I am 6'1" and I have headroom clearance of over 5 inches! The seating is VERY comfortable both front and back. The drivers seat has foreward/back adjustment, seat height adjustment, and back sloping adjustment. The rear view throught the window is adequate, but the wing-mirrors give a superb view astern, and of vehicles alongside. The car drives very well, with reasonable acceleration through the gears, excellent suspension, virtually no noise from the engine even at high speed, firm positive responsive steering, and cornering at speed is excellent. The gear change is very positive, and I liked the twin gates either side of 3rd/4th gear to prevent inadvertent moving into 1st/2nd or 5th/reverse. There are plenty of elecrical gimmicks, windows, mirrors etc, but I especially liked the extensive computerised reporting system, which includes trip mileage, average speed, fuel consumption etc; spot fuel consumption; mileage before you need to refuel; servicing requirements etc. Servicing is free at 6000 miles 0r 6 months, and regular servicing is only at 2 year ...

Motorpoint 10/09/2001

Absolutely fabulous place to buy a new car

Motorpoint I have just bought a new car from Motorpoint at Derby. The price of the vehicle, and Motorpoint's service were both fantastic! If you want to buy a new car, this is THE place to go! Motorpoint now have two sites. Derby and Burnley. Their price lists are available in most of the free car sales magazines in supermarkets and petrol stations, and in the Telegraph on Saturdays. They also have a web site ( where current stocks are detailed. The site at Derby is enormous (just off the A52 East of the City centre). Over 2000 cars are on show on the site. Parking for your own car is a bit restricted, and the cars are in random positions in the show area, so locating any specific model is not easy! Most of the cars are in the open, so if you visit the site when it's rainind, do take a brolly! The range of cards stocked is fantastic! From Porsche, Audi and Ferrari, down to Matiz and Ka!! All the prices are unbelievably low! I settled on a Peugeot 406XL at a fantastic price of £8999. The list price for the car is over £13,800. The cars are brand new, with only 2-3 miles on the clock! I was offered a choice of red, green, or blue. The car being to the European specification, did not have air conditioning, a CD changer, or rear electrically operated windows, but the lack of these did not bother me. The price was right!! I opted for a £399 2-year extension to the manufacturers warranty, and a £399 Thatcham Category 1 alarm/immobiliser to be fitted. I ...

Member Advice on Bereavement 11/07/2001

Bereavement is surely the deepest human emotion

Member Advice on Bereavement No human being really knows and understands the true depths of despair until a loved one dies. Whether it is a parent, a sibling, an offspring, or even a pet, the loss can trigger such a feeling of emotion, that no-one else can understand or even attempt to appreciate, unless it has happened to them! This is probably one of the greatest and deepest emotions which distinguishes the Human race from any other creature that Nature has ever created. To lose a loved one can be so traumatic, that no other event can possibly trigger such a depth of feeling. I lost a father some 40 years ago, and I have never really got over the trauma of that event. Whilst it is in some ways a distant memory, in others it seems like only yesterday! Soon after taking an early retirement some 6 years ago, I lost my faithful companion dog - again, I have never really got over its loss. I really cannot imagine what life could possibly be like if I ever lost one of my 4 children. I really doubt if I could survive such an event! One thing I DO know - if ever one of them loses their life at the hands of someone else, I will have my pound of flesh - I will have my biblical eye for an eye! Anyone who has been recently bereaved cannot find a way to mitigate their grief if they truly loved the bereaved person. I do not believe that any counsellor can do anything to really help. In my experience I can only suggest that time is indeed a factor. Time cannot replace. Time cannot totally heal. Time can ...

MBO E-TRON 770 17'' 28/06/2001

Superb monitor fabulous value for money

MBO E-TRON 770 17'' When my Gateway monitor died on me afer just 14 months (see my comments on the Gateway Monitor), and I could not find anyone (including Gateway!!!!!) who would consider repairing it, I was forced to resort to purchasing a replacement. After a whole day chasing aroung the various local superstores and small shops selling computer peripherals, I ended up at my local Macro store yesterday (27.06.01) where I found they had the MBO 17 inch monitor on their Makro Mail offer sheet at £99.99 + VAT. This was by far the cheapest 17" I had come accross in my travels, so I bought one. Having unwrapped it, I was impressed with its 16" visible screen, and the relative compact nature of the unit (at least 6" less depth than the Gateway 17" monitor). The monitor is Scandinavian, but there are local service numbers to all European Countries. The set has an impressive 3-years warranty (Gateway had just 12 months!!) Operationally, the screen gives a VERY clear picture, adjustments to colour warmth, size, plane, tilt, degauss etc etc are all achieved by the use of 4 very small discreet buttons on the front. A base plate allowing for forwards/backwards tilt of the unit is easy ti onstal and very easy to use. I cannot comment yet on reliability --- all I can say is that a Gateway monitor costing me £200 died after 14 months. This one cost me £117, and has 3 times the length of warranty! I know which I think is the better buy!!!!! ...

Gateway EV700 17 in 28/06/2001

Nice monitor but poor reliability.

Gateway EV700 17 in I bought a Gateway EV-700 monitor just 14 months ago as part of a Gateway 650 Performance system. Whilst the PC system has been excellent, I have been very disappointed with ther monitor's reliability. The monitor itself gives an excellent picture. The visible screen size of 15.9 inches is great. The panel at the front of the screen to adjust the various screen parameters is quite flexible, and is hidden from view behild a nice spring loaded door. I thought it would be a good servant! HOWEVER - after just 14 months (2 months out of warranty!) - the screen started flickering, and the occasional "crack" somewhat like an electrical spark, gave cause for concern. A week later it gave one almighty "crack" and the screen went totally dead. The Gateway technical support people did not want to know when I contacted them. My local Gateway store from whom I bought the PC system basically said "hard luck - but we can supply you with a new monitor at £199.75 including VAT"!!! I rang several local Computer repair centres, who unanimously told me that regardless of what was wrong, monitors were not repairable!!! They all offered to sell me a new 17 inch monitor at prices ranging from £149 to £189. I visited several PC supermarkets, and decided that the best bet was a MBO e-Tron 770, available in Makro at £99.99 + VAT. Whilst the Gateway monitor had a 1-year warranty, the MBO has a 3-year warranty. I recommend that anyone buys this type of monitor at this type of price (see my views ...

Electrolux Premier Electric Kettle 25/06/2001

Striking design, superb safety features

Electrolux Premier Electric Kettle GENERAL. We bought this kettle some 2 months ago, and have found it to be the very best kettle we have ever used. It is a magnificent, sturdy , well designed, and ultra-safe kettle that is deserving of the highest praise. APPEARANCE. The dome shape of the body of the kettle has a very modern styling. It is a cordless kettle, and the extendable cord is located in the black base plate. The handle is also of very heavy black plastic, well ribbed for grip. There is a small central lid, and a generous sized pouring spout. The most striking feature, however, is the body of the kettle which is made from stainless steel, with a mirror-like finish. SAFETY FEATURES. The base plate fixes itself to the worktop using 4 small rubber pads, so securely that it has to be levered off if you want to move it! The cord within the base, can be extended any length from about 6 inches to its full length, and is securely gripped at whatever extension is required. The handle is extremely robust, with heavy ribbing on the underside to give an excellent grip when moving or pouring. The handle NEVER gets more than slightly warm to the touch. Steam never condenses on the handle. The large spout pours easily and smoothly, with no "glugging", or dribbling down the side of the spout, and the rate of flow can be controlled very easily. There is an excellent inbuilt level gauge immedialely under the lid, which marks the maximum fill. At this level, a full 3.5 pints can be boiled without any fear of ...

Member Advice on Cut Flowers 21/06/2001

A little TLC will reap rewards

Member Advice on Cut Flowers There are 3 key points in buying cut flowers if you want them to survive for more than a few days: 1. Choose your flowers from a reputable source of supply. All too often it is tempting to go for a cheap bunch at a market stall - BUT, bear in mind you usually get what you pay for! The bargain bunch has probably sat in a vase indoors for several days, and been sadly neglected, so the seller wants to clear them off his hands before they die on him! Avoid bunches which are mainly small tight buds, with yellowing sepals - you might think they will last a long time when they open, but the odds are that they will die before they ever open!! 2. Make sure the stems are enclosed in wet paper to take them home. Do NOT leave them out of water, or in the hot confines of a car for any length of time! Keep them cool, and as low a temperature as possible on the homeword journey. The purchases from a freezer centre in the boot of the car with the flowers make an excvellent travelling companion! 3. When you get home, have your vase full of cool water as soon as possible. Remove any leaves that will be submerged in the water in the vase, cut a few inches off the stems of the flowers, and crush the end 1-2 inches. Dissolve a sachet of cut flower nutrient in the water, or one aspirin tablet makes an excellent substitute (it really DOES work!). Keep the flowers in a cool, airy place, out of direct sunlight. Top the water up daily. Replace the water with fresh water after about 10 ...

Bond - Vanessa Mae 13/06/2001

How can anyone resist the BORN AGAIN ALBUM

Bond - Vanessa Mae WOWEE - the "Bond" album "Born Again" leaves me breathless! Pure exhilaration througoht, the 13 tracks of classical (1812 overture etc) and the semi popular (Duel, Victory etc) are absolutely fabulous! The four girls comprising the "Bond" quartet have a tremendous ability and flair in their music. The pulsating rhythm they instil in all of the tracks on this album may not appeal to true blue classical music devotees, or the younger disco goers, but to those of us who enjoy good music presented by truly great musicians, in a distinctive, original, and exceedingly dynamic style, this is absolutely a "must". Very reminiscent of Vanessa Mae; but the four girls in this group blend together so admirably, I believe that collectively, they even surpass the wonderful music that Vanessa Mae presents. All of the tracks on this album are fantastic - but for me, "Victory" is the real piece de la resistance! A magnificent rendering - I could listed to it all night, and always have it playing loudly when I am on the internet! ...

BT Anytime 12/06/2001

BT is simply the BEST ISP

BT Anytime Having been left in the lurch when RedHotAnt folded, having found ic24forfree terminated, having found it impossible to connect to Freeserve Surf Unlimited, and had a brief flirtation with AOL, I feel sure I have now made the right decision in signing up for BT Anytime. When I first signed up for BT Anytime, I found I could not get a connection with my modem. Exchanges of e-mails with BT Internet were a complete waste of time. After exhaustive checks on internet fault-tracing sites, and with my computer manufacturer, it was discovered that an "implant" in my computer settings was probably made when I first made contact with AOL. This "inplant" effectively placed an embargo on my ability to connect to any subsequent ISP. The only way out of this stranglehold that I have found, was to completely wipe everything off my hard drive, reformat the Drive, and reload all system, Windows, printer and scanner drivers etc, and effectively start my machine up from scratch. This was a real pain in the proverbial, but at least it did resolve the problem. I am now delighted with my BT ANYTIME service - connection first time every time, and fast internet accessibility. The service is available 24/7, although you are disconnected after 2 hours use, but you can redial immediately for a prompt reconnection. Agreed - BT is NOT the cheapest, (at £14.99 per month it is the same as AOL), and its technical help line is expensive (at 50p per minute) but I believe my experiences prove the ...

AOL 04/05/2001


AOL It would appear that in the case of AOL, seeing is NOT believing! Have you seen the AOL TV adverts for the 99 hours "Free" internet trial, in which the word "free" is used no less than 12 times? If you are prepared to give AOL your credit card number when you register, you qualify for the free trial. Try giving them a bank account debit card, and at the end of the month, you will find that you have been charged full unit call rates for every minute you have spent on line!! AOL are very user friendly (ha ha!) in that they very kindly give you a freephone number to call them if you want to discontinue your membership within the 30 day free trial period. BUT, trying to contact them on this number is a nightmare - it is virtually impossible to get through! Leave the cancellation until near the end of the period at your peril! Miss the deadline by a minute, and the £14.99 per month charges immediately click in!! Even if you are successful in cancelling your membership before the deadline, your worries may not be at an end. Try to remove the dialup settings from your PC and you may be in for a VERY nasty surprise! Try installing another ISP dialup software and you could be in for an even nastier surprise! The AOL software, once installed, sometimes prevents any reasonable attempt at breaking free, and using someone else!!! In extreme cases it is not unknown for the hard disc to become so afflicted, that the disc itself has to be reformatted before it can be persuaded to ...

Urban Speed Limits 07/04/2001

Solve the speed problem AND unemployment.

Urban Speed Limits Motor vehicles of the modern era are undoubtedly powerful machines. They can travel at higher speeds than the cars of yesteryear, but have the braking systems and ccontrol features that our forefathers could not even hasve dreamed of! It is not so long ago, that there were no speed limits. Nowadays we have lower and lower speed limits on our roads. I now see ever more 20mph limits in my local area. Such reductions in speed limits surely cannot go much further. Or could we reach the stage where cars are only allowed on our roads in convoys of 20 vehicles, with each convoy preceded by a man on foot carrying a red flag! Perhaps this is the cunning "Baldrick type plan" of our Politicians to solve the accident problem on our roads AND the unemploymenmt problems in one fell swoop?? ...
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