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The Insider – Second Sight

By / 3 months ago / Comment / No Comments

The Insider finds out first hand that drivers and suppliers aren’t always aware of the pitfalls of new safety technology.

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“The driver – any driver, not just company car users – is frequently the weakest link in the repair chain.”

My temperature went into the red zone the other day when I was contacted by our lease company who said a driver had refused to sign a disclaimer provided by their windscreen service, stating the replacement screen needed recalibration – and the driver had refused to get it done.

This is wrong on so many levels and although it was the first time I’d become aware of the problem happening – bearing in mind as fleet managers we’ve been warned it would as screens got more complicated – I now know it’s at least the second such incident on my own fleet.

The driver – any driver, not just company car users – is frequently the weakest link in the repair chain because the car is viewed as a means of getting them from where they are now to where they should have been ten minutes ago. They don’t necessarily see it as a tool which needs maintenance, nor driving a function for which they particularly need to concentrate. It’s just a different seat to sit in which handily helps them carry out their job. As someone said to me 20 years or so ago: “if I had wanted to mess around with cars all day, I’d have trained as a mechanic”.

So as usual this particular driver had several good reasons, in his own mind, why he wouldn’t bother with recalibration. Turns out the subcontracted glass fitter asked him to confirm details of the screen, by looking at it. There were four variants available and even to me, the descriptions were confusing. Surely it would have been more sensible for the fitting company to take the chassis number of the vehicle, and gain the correct part number via a dealer or manufacturer listing? I presume that manufacturer part numbers are available to the fast-fits and that the former are obliged to release to the latter? To me that seems a no-brainer. Anyway, the wrong glass was ordered twice, before being correctly replaced at the third attempt, which meant three appointments and a lot of wasted time for us, and you know how I bang on about that. In addition, how much productivity are the windscreen companies losing by getting the wrong glass in stock multiple times?

Screen fitted, we get to the recalibration part of the deal.   It obviously takes time and substantial investment for the fast-fits to get up to speed with the ability to fix new technology, such as screens which have cameras in. I get that. Meanwhile they are linking up with subcontractors to perform that duty for them. Unfortunately it wasn’t seamlessly booked in by the windscreen company to take place at the same time. Oh no, they told the driver to take the car somewhere else; and he refused. This irritated me no end because the particular company had advertised a ‘seamless service’ where they booked recalibration and got it done before the car was returned to us. It was, no doubt, one of the selling points which made the lease company select them in the first place.

The driver’s reasoning was different; so far as he was concerned, he didn’t even have a camera. He reasonably took camera to mean kit which took photos of vehicles and developing situations, to be used in evidence hopefully for rather than against him. But the word camera used in this situation actually meant the kit sensing rain, darkening skies, and white lines, in order to operate all the auto functions present on the car. So if we want drivers to understand the necessity for recalibration, there’s definitely some education warranted, both in terms of terminology and what additional functions are hidden in the screen.

My major concern with the whole scenario is whether our fleet insurance policy will be invalidated if there is an accident and it is found recalibration hasn’t been completed. Which is, no doubt, why the driver was asked to sign a disclaimer in the first place? Time for another all staff email…

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