23 July 2006
HELP! You ask me
Quentin Willson

Q A WHILE ago I emailed you for advice on defending a speed camera prosecution where I knew I wasn't speeding. You suggested I contact www.freemankeep ondriving.com. They told me to request that a calibration report for the camera and a competence certificate for the hand-held camera operator be available in court on the day of the trial. Nothing was provided and I am delighted to report that the magistrate dismissed the case. Thanks so much for keeping me on the road! - Dave Gardner, email.

A YOURS is the classic example of what happens when you stand up for yourself. With a million speeding tickets issued every year, there's bound to be some sloppiness. Simply by asserting your rights and not meekly taking things on the chin, you saved yourself three points, 60 and a higher insurance premium. More importantly, you've shown the rest of us the wisdom of fighting back.

Q WE bought a new Honda Jazz last year and it is coming up for its first service. We live in the Channel Islands, so I am wondering if the rules about having your car serviced out of the franchised dealer system apply. We have a super chap who has been servicing our cars for the past 30 years and we want him to take on our Jazz. He doesn't charge the earth and I know he gets his parts from the main Honda agent. - Maureen Anderson, Guernsey.

A THE last time I looked, Guernsey was part of the European Union, so the Treaty of Rome applies. Make sure your man follows Honda's rigorous service schedule, provides copies of the invoices for the parts he buys, itemises each check and adjustment he makes and stamps your service book.

Q MY son recently put his car up for sale in the Auto Trader. He was called shortly afterwards by AutoMatch UK. The salesman said he had four people interested in it, and for a fee of 69 he would sell his car and refund the fee when the sale went through. My son gave him his Switch card number, which they then debited for 79.99. I phoned and asked for a refund, which they refused. I asked to speak to the managing director but was told he did not take calls from customers. What should we do? - Esther Read, email.

A YOU should chase these people on principle, so go to your local Trading Standards and ask them to investigate. These firms should have died out by now, given the amount of bad publicity they've had, and most private advertisers put "no canvassers" in their ads for this very reason. It's clearly fraud, especially since they debited a larger amount than agreed from your son's card. If Trading Standards can't help, go after them in the Small Claims Court for a full refund and compensation.


Q I'M thinking about buying a Rover 75 Tourer (above). Have you heard any reports about water leaking into the car because of blocked drain channels? I'd like to know before I part with any hard-earned cash. - Michael Cairns, Waterlooville, Hampshire.

A THIS is a common problem on the 75, where water leaks from the engine compartment and wing edges via the heater down into the footwell, damaging electronic components. On balance, I'd steer clear of the 75 - you'll lose a fair old wedge in depreciation because confidence in second-hand 75s is beginning to wane. There are also a few problems with replacement ECUs and body parts, which can only get worse as supplies dwindle. Your money would be much safer in a Mondeo 2.0 TDCi LX. A decent 02-plater with 60k will set you back around 4,000, while a 55-plate with air con could be yours for 8,799 from a supermarket.