I made a rabbit stroller for under $15

Have you ever wondered how to make a rabbit stroller for your houserabbits, so you can take them places?  I wanted a rabbit stroller because my bunnies sometimes need to travel with me, such as when I took them to the vets today.  I originally wanted this rabbit stroller so I could include my rabbits in our wedding, but sadly the registry offices in the UK don’t allow pets or animals except guide dogs, and we didn’t want the rabbits to wait outside on the hottest day of 2014, so this project languished in obscurity.

My rabbit stroller is finally a successful, completed project!  After procrastinating for 2 years, I finally got it made last night.  It took about half an hour last night, plus about an hour or two (two years ago).  I couldn’t afford a fancy stroller conversion by a professional rabbit stroller company, and a dog stroller was way out of my price range too, so I made do with the cheapest pushchair money couldn’t buy:

When I bought the stroller (a pushchair), this was what it looked like.  Note the cracked handle (right) and the open front for baby’s feet to go through (or, for my rabbits to escape through)!  The pushchair was also dirty and very difficult to open and close, but it was an unbelievable bargain at £2.80 from a private seller on ebay.  There was no postage to pay as I collected it myself.  Why did I buy this shitty cheap stroller for my VIP bunnies?  Because at the end of the day, the fabric’s not important, I can fix that, but I wanted a good solid base, intact and working wheels, and more important than anything else, the backrest on the pushchair seat had to adjust to flat, to turn it into a pram, because I wanted more floorspace for the buns to lie down in.  This one had that function but still folds down for storage.

I bought a net cot cover (one of these) for about £2 from Amazon Warehouse Deals which, if you’ve never heard of it, is where you can buy loads of Amazon.com products at amazing discounts for reasons such as “the box is damaged” (which, if you shop on Amazon, you know happens all the time on full priced products anyway).  The strong mesh didn’t look like it would protect from mosquitoes as the holes in the mesh were too large, but it was perfect for keeping rabbits in their stroller while making the whole thing breathable (I didn’t want hot, cross bunnies).  I cut and sewed the mesh cover to the bottom of the fabric pad like so:

stroller3

This then went over the baby handrest like this, to stop rabbits escaping through the leg holes:

stroller4

Optionally, when it’s raining, it’s possible to also lift the foot rest up to cover the same spot with more solid plastic, but it does still need that mesh net there to stop the foot rest just falling down all the time:

stroller05

I don’t know what this is called but I bought it at the Mothercare outlet store on sale for £5.  The brand of this rain hood thingy is Mamas and Papas.  It’s like a rain hood with a mesh net, the whole thing attaches over the top of a stroller to keep bugs away from babies (or something, I really don’t know but all strollers seem to have things like this).  This one gets narrower towards one end for some reason, but overall it was perfect to attach to our stroller to stop the bunnies from just jumping out of their snuggly space:

stroller06

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The hood thingy attached to the back of the stroller like so.

This hood thingy had popper loops that made it easy to attach to our stroller, even though our stroller was some obscure brand, not Mamas and Papas (as a sidenote, I highly recommend Mothercare for rabbit toys, they make indestructible toys for newborns that are often also great for bunnies).

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits

The existing (non-waterproof) canopy hood thingy on the stroller was non-removable and part of the structure of the stroller but the new one from Mamas + Papas was really great because it was wider than the original, and fitted perfectly over the top, but the metal frame of it was lightweight and flexible so it also squishes through the stroller’s handle so I can change the direction the rabbits are facing (the handle flips so you can either see your rabbits, or they can see where they’re going; I recommend one where you can see your rabbits if you’re getting a stroller with a non-movable handle because the rabbits will try to escape).

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The mesh net raincover thingy is attached over the top of the existing raincover.

stroller11

The outside of the stroller had now been rabbit proofed, but the inside still looked utterly miserable.  I hated it and the fabric was worn and discolored in places, so I found this cute rabbit scarf someone had bought me for a present at some point in the past, and I lined the stroller with it.

stroller12

See?  Way cuter and it has a rabbit print on it.  Long term, I think I’m going to make a new padding for the inside of the stroller so it’s machine washable because bunnies are generally very tidy and clean but sometimes they gotta pee and I like to wash their fabric cushions and other items ASAP when they get soiled.

I also tied the front of the fabric to avoid any dangling ends that could get caught in the wheels:

stroller13

To continue the improvements, I used two wide hair ribbons I bought about 5 years ago from Wal-Mart (ASDA) and wrapped them around the handle, after tying them to each other to make one long ribbon.  This looks much nicer than the cracked broken handle, and feels a bit more comfortable to hold, but long term I want some foam padding between me and the cracked handle and of course this handle isn’t practical in a rain storm:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits

I hooked my umbrella over the handle because if it rains, that mesh netting’s not going to keep my bunnies dry so I’ll need a backup!  This is the finished, fixed, converted rabbit stroller, it fits two bunnies in the main area and the netting just unhooks from the front to get the buns in and out:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The finished bunny stroller

Another view of the finished bunny stroller:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
A side view of the bunny stroller

And, of course, here’s some pictures of Timmy in his new stroller:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
Bunny in a rabbit stroller! Cutest bunny ears ever!
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
Bunny in a rabbit stroller!
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
My favorite pic of Timmy in his bunny stroller. I love having houserabbits.
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
“Where are we going, mommy? Does this contraption go to the carrots?”

Today I took the rabbits out in their stroller, since I no longer have a car and they had a vet appointment.  The vets is just over a mile each way.  I didn’t like how low the stroller’s handle was, and it didn’t have any way of raising it.  I’m only 5’6″, I’m above average but I’m not a giant, and it seems a bit sexist that they’ve designed this pushchair for really, really short people. I’d be aware of that if you’re buying a stroller for your buns.  Aside from that it was ok although I want more padding between the rabbits and all the bumps of the pavement.  The biggest issue is that they can’t be in it for more than about half an hour because there’s no way of giving them water.  I need one of those travel pet bowls for dogs in cars, because my rabbits don’t drink from bottles, and even if they did, there’s nowhere in this stroller to attach one.  That’s going to be the next addition to this bunny stroller.

The rabbits liked being able to see out, and I think they didn’t mind being in their stroller once they got over the initial confusion about what was going on.  The vet thought it was adorable.  After going to the vets, I needed some feminine hygiene supplies so I walked around the supermarket with my rabbits in their stroller.  The woman at the till gave me a very strange look but no-one else really noticed that there were bunnies in the stroller.  I’ve used the stroller once before, taking Fifer to a supermarket the day after Katie died (he needed companionship and so did I), but he could easily escape because the sides were open (he chose not to, because he’s a very well behaved rabbit), which I wasn’t happy about.  Now it’s 100% rabbit proof and safe to use outdoors too!

Is It Legal?
Regarding the law, unless you’re going somewhere such as a government building (eg. for a wedding), anywhere else there is no specific law in the UK against taking your bunnies as long as they are safe and in an enclosed space. As long as the bunnies are safe and can’t escape, its perfectly legal to take them to most public places (if slightly unusual), but I would suggest people consider whether the environment might stress the rabbits too much before just taking them out everywhere. Public transport (bus drivers etc) may have issues if you get on a busy bus and have to take the rabbits out of the stroller to fold it away and put in the luggage hold, because at that point there’s a loose rabbit on their bus, so I would think about that aspect as well.

Verdict:  Project successful.

Total cost: £9.80 (or about $13).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

The weekly photo challenge is Partners this week.  I got this snap of two dandelions which I thought fitted the theme:

A yellow dandelion and its grey-haired granny went out for a walk... photography
A yellow dandelion and its grey-haired granny went out for a walk…

Brexit: You have doomed us all.

So I haven’t really said a huge amount about the big important referendum that took place yesterday.  I woke up this morning (it’s currently 7:49am here) to check the results, confident that, despite all the alleged posturing etc of the “remain campaign,” that the “leave campaign” didn’t stand a snowball’s chance of winning.  I thought they’d maybe get 20% of votes.

Nope.

They won.

They actually won.

Apparently I live in a racist, xenophobic country that is more interested in getting foreigners deported than remaining a part of the EU.

To put it into perspective for my American readers, it would be like if Texas was sick of all the Mexicans and decided to quit the United States.

You might say, “whatever, doesn’t matter to me, I’m not in Texas.”  No, but I am, I am stuck in Texas that wants to leave the USA.  Only I can’t just leave because of border control.

I genuinely don’t know what to do – I think this time, I’m going to have to emigrate.  I have a cheque from US Amazon which I now can’t put in the bank as the exchange rate is so bad – it’s plummeted.  My latest book is selling really well (but also pays in USD).  All my ways of earning money are now worthless and I’ve got a foreign sounding name in a country of xenophobes who are so desperate to deport foreigners that they’ve voted to leave the EU.

There, also, goes the US-UK tax treaty.  The IRS can now tax me as well as the UK.  I will now pay double tax on my meager earnings.

I am glad I voted remain.  Now, I think I have to vote with my feet and leave the UK before it gets any worse.

Suggestions? Apparently as a writer I will meet the eligibility criteria to emigrate to Canada by next April.

The “Village” Of Blackadder, England

I spotted a point on my map* that said “Blackadder” near the Whiteadder river, so I went on another adventure in my car because I had to see this for myself.  It was 2012 and I was on my way back from Edinburgh heading south.

Being, of course, a huge fan of Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson’s comedy show “Blackadder” I had to take a detour and see for myself that this was a real place.  I wanted a photo of the sign that said “Welcome to Blackadder.”

I followed the route on the map (see also, my article on how to buy a good road atlas) until I reached the Whiteadder River, along with a signpost for the village of Whiteadder.

The river Whiteadder
The river Whiteadder. The green car in the shot was my first car, a Vauxhall Corsa named Bubbles.
A bridge over the River Whiteadder. Blackadder Village
A bridge over the River Whiteadder.

After driving around the open farmland of Northumberland for an hour, I spotted this handwritten signpost that said Blackadder Mains is this way (in Scots English, “Mains” isn’t part of the town/village name, it’s a short way of saying “town center” or “village center”).  I was hopeful that there’d be some shops or whatnot that I could photograph, along with the “Welcome To Blackadder” sign I wanted to see.

Signpost to Blackadder Village.
Signpost to Blackadder Village.

I turned down the road thinking it must be past the two farm buildings I could see.  Wrong.  Turns out, despite what the mapmakers must have found hilariously funny, Blackadder isn’t really a village.  It’s a hamlet at best, but probably actually a farm.  There were a couple of buildings side by side and that was it.  One of the buildings was a barn.  The best part?  When I stopped to take a picture, I discovered that visitors to Blackadder are so rare that the people here came out of their buildings to demand to know what I was doing.  And asked me to leave before I could get a photo.  There was definitely not a sign saying “Welcome to Blackadder.”

So the moral of the story is that maps are not better than Sat-Nav, despite what techno-luddites (usually trying to look good in front of old people) might tell you, they have their flaws.  One of them being that generally the cartographers haven’t visited every place on the map and can’t always guarantee that the information is correct.  I would imagine that Blackadder is only marked on the map because otherwise there would have been a big empty space, and mapmakers detest empty spaces on maps, they don’t want people thinking they didn’t do their job properly.   Google maps, on the other hand, offers you a satellite view of your destination so you can check that you’re really going where you think you are going, and if you’ve got half a brain you’re not going to mindlessly follow the “turn left” instructions on a sat-nav any more than you would with a paper map.   Maps can be useful, but sat-nav is more helpful.

I also don’t think places should have signs saying “Mains” if they don’t have at least one shop (or, y’know, three houses) because it’s misleading.  Maybe that’s why the sign was written in marker pen.  What it probably should have said was “Blackadder Farm.”  At the end of the day, however, it’s sort of funny that this is the place that bears the same name as the scheming weasel of a man from the popular comedy series.

If you want to visit a nice place in this area, go to Berwick Upon Tweed.  They have petrol stations and other modern conveniences such as shops that are closed on a Sunday and closed after 5 on a weekday, and they also have car parking.  There is a nice river and they’re not too far from Lindisfarne (which I will write about soon) which is a great day out in and of itself.

*A map is a piece of paper that behaves like the screen of a Sat-Nav. For advice on choosing sheet maps, check out this article

Pink Snow: Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

Pure as the driven snow, me.” – Me being sarcastic at some point in the past.

This week’s weekly photo challenge is ‘Pure‘ so I found some beautiful recent cherry blossom photos that I haven’t shared before, to spread the purity of pink snow:

Pure Cherry Blossom May Blossom Snowfall Petals
Pure Cherry Blossom
Pure Cherry Blossom May Blossom Snowfall Petals
Pure Cherry Blossom
Pure Cherry Blossom May Blossom Snowfall Petals
Pure Cherry Blossom

Concealer: Maybelline Age Rewind vs MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

I decided to do the ultimate concealer comparison between the two most popular concealers available to cosmetics junkies: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer and Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer (which is also known as Maybelline The Eraser Eye Instant Anti Age concealer as it recently got re-branded for the UK, which is why it says this on my product).

1. Packaging:
While both products come in glass bottles, the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser one is better packaged, with a twist top and a fuzzy under-eye applicator. It took a LOT of twisting to get my twist-top to dispense product, but I had the same problem with the MAC Pro Longwear’s pump top, and I remember with both of them spending ages trying to get them to dispense and wondering if I’d bought duds!! I’m not very patient haha.

Left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer shade Light. Right, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer shade NC20. Review Comparison
Left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer shade Light. Right, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer shade NC20.

2. Value for Money:
Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser is $6.99 (or £7.99) but you get 6.8ml where there’s 9ml in the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer although it costs $21.00 (or £17.50), so the Maybelline one is still better value for money.

3. Color:
I’ve done photos of the swatches. I’m neutral toned but I prefer yellow undertones to a product so MAC’s NC20 was matched to me in the shop (as their warm/cool is ass-backwards compared to everyone else’s). MAC Pro Longwear concealers are available in a huge range of colors so there’s something for everyone. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser lost points here because it only comes in “light” or “medium” and I bought light but really it was very pink which I disliked.

4. Coverage:
The MAC Pro Longwear had better coverage on its own or on top of foundation BUT it came at the expense of looking cakey. Underneath foundation, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser was better. As you can see in the photo below, without any other makeup on my face, both products give similar coverage to each other, but both products have a transparency that appears in bad lighting (see second picture when I’ve fiddled with the camera settings to replicate bad lighting).

Left, MAC Pro Longwear concealer shade NC20, right, Maybelline Instant Anti Age The Eraser Eye review compare
Left, MAC Pro Longwear concealer shade NC20, right, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser (no other make up on face except concealer) in good lighting.
Left is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC20, right is Maybelline Eraser Eye Instant Anti Age concealer in Light. review compare
Bleurgh Calgon take it away!!!! Left is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC20, right is Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser concealer in Light. This (purposely badly lit) picture shows they’re a bit transparent in bad lighting and therefore pretty ineffective on their own.

5. Finish:
The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser has a MUCH better finish, it looks more natural where the MAC Pro Longweaer concealer caked into my fine lines and even found new ones that I don’t usually have. Obviously, the old lady look isn’t what I’m going for when I use a concealer so this is a huge dealbreaker for me.

6. How does it work with other make up?
The MAC Pro Longwear works over most foundations although even with moisturizer and primer it really magnifies those fine lines which bothers me. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser concealer looks more natural underneath foundation, and works well to minimize the appearance of discoloration and skin imperfections.  I put Sana Keana Pore Putty BB Pact (a sort of BB cream foundation crossover) over the two concealers, and added lipgloss because my lips were dry, but didn’t put any other products on, and the results are quite good – although it’s obvious that, even under the Sana Pore Putty, the MAC Pro Longwear concealer has gone translucent and the dark patch is showing through under the eye, whereas the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser has done a much better job of making the imperfections disappear.

MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Eraser Eye Instant Anti-Ageing on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips. compare review
MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips.
MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty, with lipgloss on lips. review compare
MAC Pro Longwear on left, Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser on right, under Sana Keana Pore putty.

7. Irritation:
I find the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser to be less drying and irritating to the eye where the MAC pro longwear concealer is both more drying and more irritating, and leaves my eye area sensitive even after I remove my make up. For this reason, I find myself reaching for the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser more.

8. Long Lasting:
I found they both lasted as long as each other, the MAC pro-longwear creased from the moment it was dry so it didn’t really wear very well and its formulation makes it a total bitch to fully remove without micellar water. The Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser was easier to remove and didn’t seem to disappear over the course of the day.

Conclusion:
I like the color range, coverage and blendability of the MAC one, but the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Concealer gives a much better finish overall and is more comfortable to wear, so I personally prefer the Maybelline one even though the color is definitely not perfect for my skin, because I can put foundation or powder over the top to correct color but I can’t do anything to cover up the problems I have with the MAC one. I would still use the MAC one, but not on dull, dark days or evenings or any time I might go into bad lighting.  Overall, if you are looking for a new concealer and can’t decide between the MAC pro longwear concealer and the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser, I would recommend the Maybelline one, available here in the US (where it’s still called Age Rewind) or here in the UK (where it’s been renamed Maybelline Instant Anti-Ageing The Eraser Eye) (affiliate links, but obviously I only link to things I actually recommend even if, such as in this case, it’s the cheaper option).

Have you tried either of these? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments!

WPC Numbers: War Memorials (World War I and II)

Today’s entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Numbers is just a few of the photos I collected around Europe showing the numbers of people who died in the two world wars.

Britain's highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis,
Britain’s highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis, taken with my phone because I wasn’t climbing Britain’s highest mountain with an extra 2kg of photographic equipment!! Taken August 2015.
Britain's highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis,
A zoomed in crop to show the words on Britain’s highest war memorial, on Ben Nevis. They aren’t being taken care of and are in danger of being lost as the lichen grows over them.

In Britain, every town, every village, every city has its war memorial.  It is a constructed object, such as a sculpture or a stone alcove, which serves to remind us of the people who never came home from World War I and World War II.

I once had the fortune to actually visit the war graveyard in Huddersfield.  It’s not for the faint hearted and I remember trying to read every single headstone, the name of every single person interred there.

The number of people who died on both sides in World War I and II is staggering.  When reading/experiencing that aspect of history, it tends to make me have a panic attack; the sheer inescapability of death was a daily reality for most of these people.  Having PTSD, I find this immensely triggering and tend to suppress the anxiety, leading to the delayed reactions I keep getting told are really unhealthy – the migraines, the vomiting, feeling angry (because I’m feeling so shaken) for hours, sometimes days afterwards.  I hate thinking about these wars, but I feel like I should, because they happened, and these people’s lives are over as a result, and the world would be very different if they had not happened.

The writing explains who the Wild Geese were.
The writing explains who the Wild Geese were. Dublin Museum’s exhibition on Irish Military History, Ireland, 2015.
Gottfried von Banfield's Order of Maria Theresa
Gottfried von Banfield’s Order of Maria Theresa, Dublin.
Wild Geese Gottfried von Banfield Order of Maria Theresa Ireland
Gottfried von Banfield, son of Patrick Banfield from Cork, Ireland, was the last person to be awarded the Order of Maria Theresa. He died in 1986 in Trieste, Italy. He was the last of the Wild Geese.

I wasn’t born then, so of course I never asked them to go to war for me, to ensure my future survival, but they did anyway.  Whichever side these soldiers were on, they were treated like millions of expendable ants at the beck and call of their country.  For that, for the fact that they were put in this shitty impossible situation with no real chance of surviving it, we should be fucking grateful to them.  We should have some empathy.  It makes me angry to think that some people pretend these wars never happened, people pretend that the Holocaust never happened, how can anyone really believe that?  I think in their hearts they know it to be true.

Memorials for Jewish deaths in Salzburg
Many of the victims of the Second World War were innocent people trying to go about their daily lives. These four people were all killed in concentration camps.

I’ve talked before about the memorials in the photos above in Impressions of Salzburg.  What I’ve never talked about was my experience in Salzburg Museum, because it set off my PTSD and made me sickened and pretty depressed. The Salzburg Museum’s exhibition of the First World War was a particular eye opener.  The Austrian point of view is that they were defending their assassinated archduke.  The exhibit explained an awful lot about World War I that we in England tend to not get told, and English speaking resources tend to follow suit.

World war 1 great war first world war Austria memorial cards German soldiers deaths
These are Austrian memorial cards, with names and photos, of dead soldiers. Relatives at home will have had these printed when they were told their loved ones had died in the trenches. Taken in Salzburg Museum.

I would strongly urge anyone with an interest in the history of the Great War to research original non-British primary sources as well as the English sources we’re used to seeing, to get a more balanced view of the First World War, who was actually fighting it, and how it caused the second.  I’m not taking sides here, but it’s damn scary to see how Britain actually contributed to the rise of Fascism and Nazism, and I think there’s a lot of lessons we aren’t learning while we pretend our government wasn’t part of the problem in that first war.  The individual soldiers, of course, had no idea of this.  The only people who should have been involved in that war were Austria and Serbia, and as a result of ridiculously convoluted diplomatic ties, millions upon millions of lives were lost for no reason on all sides.  Many were aged 16-18.

We need to remember them, otherwise we could *be* them.

A quote from Karl Kraus, printed on a white board as part of the Great War Exhibition at Salzburg Museum, August 2014
A quote from Karl Kraus, printed on a white board as part of the Great War Exhibition at Salzburg Museum, August 2014

Review: We Buy Any Car (why I chose to sell privately despite being out of time)

This is a review of We Buy Any Car, discussing why I sold one car privately and scrapped the other car after trying to use We Buy Any Car.

I am writing this on my website because We Buy Any Car has fiddled it so that you have to post an invoice number to review them on Trustpilot (the allegedly trustworthy review site). Of course the problem with that is that only the people who will actually agree that the service was OK enough for them to sell their car are people who will get an invoice number.

I absolutely wouldn’t mind them valuing cars at well below market value if they STARTED with the price they actually intend to pay you for your car when they quoted you online, and you had a clear and transparent decision to take or leave that price, but that’s not what they do, and that’s what I have an issue with.

Basically, We Buy Any Car is a car-buying website with aggressive advertising and tactics which claims to to buy your car regardless of the condition it is in. Obviously we all know they’re going to give you a price below market value, this review isn’t so much concerned with that as HOW they arrive at it and the lack of transparency, coupled with the fact they’re fiddling their reviews to make themselves look good. I tried to use them in 2014 and again last summer and both times I found their whole set-up to be absolutely shocking.

Firstly there’s the fact they claim they guarantee to honour the price they quoted, if the car is in the condition you say it is. Of course, when the guy actually inspects your car, he makes up a bunch of crap that’s allegedly wrong with your car that is untrue, so you can either accept a vastly lowered price (after being promised a quick and easy sale) or have to advertise your car privately.

My 2006 VW Golf was originally valued by We Buy Any Car at £1850. In late 2014, £1850 was about 60% of the market value of my car, but I wanted a quick sale so thought I’d take that. Despite being female I’m not an idiot when it comes to cars, and I knew full well that my car was worth over £2000 so £1850 was pretty much as low as I was prepared to go but I was lured in by their promises of a quick easy hassle free sale (all lies). When it came to it, We Buy Any Car weren’t actually worth the time of day because, despite claiming they won’t haggle over the price, they really, really were doing and it wasted half a day of my life plus the time online in the first place and the fact I had to wait a week to even get that far because they were fully booked. That’s a week I could have been selling my car. If I hadn’t been 100% confident in my self-defence abilities, I could easily have felt intimidated enough by the way they were treating me to accept their offer (they were being very intimidating with the way they spoke to me and were trying to make me feel like I didn’t know my own car).

An example of the things they found “wrong” with my VW Golf:

1. The man was sitting in my car on a blazing hot summer’s day, running my engine and wasting my petrol, so he could sit in front of my air conditioning for over 40 minutes and cover my driver seat in disgusting sweat, while someone on the phone was telling me that my car didn’t have air conditioning.

2. They found scratches and dents on the car that didn’t exist. For example, on the driver door they claimed there was a scratch when it was actually a smudge from the man’s own dirty fingers.

3. The “it’s time for a service” light was on. I had disclosed this. They said this meant the car had an imminent engine failure. It actually means that the car needed its annual service. The picture of the engine, of course, being the “engine failure” light, not the picture of the spanner. Despite the fact I had disclosed this, they decided to further reduce the price because of it.

4. They said my car hadn’t had a cam-belt change, despite the fact I was waving the receipt for it in their faces the entire time and it was also written into the service book for 80,000 miles (which is early on a Golf), having just hit 100,000 miles (hence the picture of the spanner).

5. They said I hadn’t disclosed the one piece of damage to the car, despite the fact that I’d printed out the form I’d filled in and could clearly prove that I had, in fact, disclosed that dent. Then they said that the dent meant the car needed a total respray and used it to further reduce the price.

They amended their quote to £1050, but because I stood my ground and argued with them for over half an hour, I got it up to £1675, proving how little confidence they really had in the “issues” they found with my car. I walked away from that “deal” and sold my car privately, so I don’t have an invoice number for We Buy Any Car, so I can’t add my review to Trustpilot. While measures like this are intended to prevent spammers and fake reviews, all it’s doing in the case of We Buy Any Car is skewing the reviews so that nobody gets to hear the bad stuff. I just reviewed my car insurance on Trustpilot and they didn’t want an invoice number (or other proof) for that. In the end, I got £2000 for my VW Golf from a private buyer via Gumtree, which produced a lot of time wasters but did get my car sold quickly. If I’d held out for full market value, I think I would have got it but I was in a hurry to get the car off my driveway so I could park my new one.

The second time I dealt with We Buy Any Car, they actually refused to buy my 2004 Citroen Xsara Picasso just before Christmas, no reason given. It didn’t start, didn’t work, but had a very clean interior and no damage to the outside. I got the £20 scrappage instead. So “We Buy Any Car” is also false advertising, and I now have 2 bad experiences with a company and no invoice number to write a review on Trustpilot.

The fact of the matter is, We Buy Any Car are misusing spam measures on online review sites to try and improve their poor image. Most of the customer experience takes place BEFORE you accept their offer to buy your car. I would bet that 50%, possibly more, of the customers of this company don’t actually complete the sale due to their shocking tactics. The beauty of this scam, then, is that you can either be ripped off for hundreds of pounds so you can write a review on an “independent” review site, and tell other people about your experience (not to mention giving We Buy Any Car more money when they resell your car to a dealer at profit) or, technically, you’re not a verifiable customer, because no money has changed hands.

The fact that Trust Pilot is complicit in enabling We Buy Any Car to mute legitimate reviewers casts doubt on the trustworthiness of its other reviews. Are they really representative of the customer experience?  Having an invoice number is no guarantee of legitimacy anyway – you can’t prove that companies are not just taking customers’ invoice numbers themselves and getting their staff to write glowing reviews, so requesting an invoice number is no guarantee of authentic reviews.

So the real questions are: Is Trust Pilot really that trustworthy as a review site? and, why does Trading Standards only intervene if you’ve bought something that’s not fit for purpose? They wouldn’t get involved even if you take the obviously dodgy deal being offered by companies such as We Buy Any Car? because you accepted the money after being browbeaten into it by their staff, to avoid having to start the whole car selling process again from scratch.

I think Trust Pilot need to make it harder for companies like this one to falsely skew their results when the rest of the internet will tell you how crap We Buy Any Car is, and I think the law needs to change so that companies like this have to operate in a more transparent way.

 

Sparkles and Cobwebs

So I’ve been very, very busy editing my next two books, which are coming out in quick succession this month by the publisher.  Titles and links and such shall be divulged once such things exist.  In the meantime, some photos:

Photography cobwebs photo rain invoke delight and inspire
Strands of cobweb supporting lots of sparkling droplets of water.
Photography cobwebs photo rain
Shifted the focus a bit and changed camera settings. Shot with Canon EOS 700D with 18-55mm (EF 3.5-5.6) lens (can you believe!)
water droplet photo photography invoke delight and inspire
A drop of drip. But not an April shower. Late May, actually.

Can you believe it’s June today???  It’s going to be my wedding anniversary in 3 weeks.  I swear it wasn’t 2 years since we got married!!!