Who will win the race to the bottom?

Saving money is an important factor in this tough economic climate. There are many  daily habits you can change to do it efficiently and unfortunately you may need to cut on usual spending you’ve never changed before. But you just can’t cut with some primary needs, and safety is one of them. 

There are many products for which you will never try to save with, like medicines, or food for your children. You’ll never accept poor quality for these products even if you must pay more for it, because you’ll never play with your health or that of your family.


The safety of your vehicle should be regarded in the same vein. It’s not enough to simply base your decisions on which garage might offer you the cheaper price when replacing safety critical components, like for example brake pads. Poor quality brake pads will not give longevity of use, may be noisy and not brake effectively. Any experienced purchaser will ask for a brake down of items contained in any quotation which highlights the cost and specific elements within. This is also good practice when researching the cost of car repairs.

The motor industry has always been the subject of bad press and poor reputation and so it is important that you take control and analyze exactly what it is you are paying for. There will always be a reason why one workshop will be more expensive than the other but given the different qualities of product on the market and the differing levels of skills and competences, it is not necessarily down to a garage making extra profit.

Of course if the cheapest garage always gets the work it can only result in its competitors consistently searching for cheaper products which will generally be of inferior quality. In this scenario it’s a race to the bottom and nobody wins.




A stitch in time

One of the lessons I have learned in life is that a very young baby will only cry for a reason. They might be hungry, tired or in pain but there is always a reason.

People should generally take this into account too when it comes to their car. When something unusual appears like a bang, knock or scraping noise it is happening for a reason. “A stitch in time saves nine” is never truer than when it comes to vehicle issues. Preventative maintenance is the key to low vehicle repair costs.

I served a client recently who called to purchase new wiper blades and during the transaction I was asked if I knew why there was a squealing noise when the brakes were engaged. I went out and inspected the vehicle to find the front brake pads were almost worn to the back plate but the situation was much worse with the back brakes.


Not only was the friction material of the brake pad worn through, the backing plate of the brake pad had cut grooves onto the brake discs badly damaging them as the metal backing of a brake pad is a stronger and more course metal than that of the brake disc. Unfortunately the client now needed to spend an extra €116 plus labour to rectify the issue.

A common habit is to avoid the knowledge and cost of what the problems may be but they rarely rectify themselves. Garage workshops are not like going to a doctor whereas they will generally inspect and diagnose an issue without charge and only bill you for the repair.

The next time you have a problem, speak with your mechanic early and avoid the major bills.

Happy driving.

Reduce prices to the unemployed

These are certainly hard times for most people. The last recession Ireland experienced does not seem as difficult and widespread as the one we are experiencing now. This time around is different, as so many people had put themselves in a position of huge debt before the enormous downturn. Many young couples are experiencing difficulty for the first time and the fall from the boom times is taking its toll.

As a business owner I am too well aware of the current economic struggle and the recessions indifference as to where the axe will fall. Painfully I have observed many friends losing their jobs. It is regardless of their abilities or record of achievement, but more for the need of companies to downsize due to a retracting marketplace.

It is precisely at a time like this, we all need to pull together and look for opportunities to help each other where we can. The neediest in our society are within the masses of unemployed and all businesses should realise that their capacity to spend for goods and services is near to non existent and represents a very small fraction of their turnover. I do appreciate that many businesses are struggling to pay their costs and remain open, however should this sector be a fraction of your revenue, an increase in volume will justify a lower margin. Given that you will be covering your costs, your profit can be the help you have given others. I am sure your help will be appreciated long into the future.

September is a particularly expensive time for families as the children return to school, the nights draw in and the weather deteriorates. The need for finance is very demanding and brings enormous strain and pressure to bear. As business owners we have the capacity to ease this pain on the unemployed and I ask that you consider reducing your prices to them, in particular for items that would be considered necessities.

As the owner of two businesses I am discounting my prices until the end of September as a trial period as follows.

Motorway Parts & Accessories. A discount of 20% will apply to all service and vehicle maintenance products.

Automotif Tyre & Service Centre. A discount of 10% will apply to all mechanical services and products.

All discounts apply only to what I consider to be necessities in the upkeep, safety and maintenance of the vehicles, as opposed to accessories. To ensure customers qualify for this discount, they will be asked to provide the registration certificate of the vehicle and their corresponding unemployment card.

I can only ask the public do not abuse this scheme and refrain from producing previously held unemployment cards and as a safeguard, we may also ask to see a recent notification or correspondence from the department of social welfare. I also realise that I may encounter further issues in the application of this scheme and therefore reserve the right to retract it, should the need arise.

I have little doubt you will know of people that will be happy to hear and avail of this scheme, so please pass the word along.

Any other businesses who wish to apply this idea might please contact me with a view to setting up a discount FaceBook page or website. It would be great to have a number of savings listed in a centralised source.

Paul Allen


There is some business I can do without.

OK, so the World Cup 2010 has kicked off in South Africa and even though Ireland have not Qualified, that will not stop crazy Irishmen like me going missing in action until late on Sunday 11th July.

Everywhere you go now there will be a TV showing a match right up to the final. The inherent danger here is that people tend to stay that extra bit longer to see more of the match and maybe have another drink.

Many people will watch from the comfort of their home or maybe call to a friend’s house. Others will gather in their local watering hole to enjoy the crack and atmosphere, but may not realise how many drinks they have had.

It is at times like this that people need to be extra vigilant as they will be out of their normal routine and may be caught off guard with all the excitement. Everyone should absolutely enjoy the World Cup as Lord knows there is enough misery around to last the rest of the year, but if you’re not going to act in a safe manner for your own good, please think of the other people who use the road.

If you are going out to watch the matches please preplan to get home without the car. If you call to the local pub and get caught up in the atmosphere, only stay on with the commitment that you will leave the car and collect it the following day. Preplanning is the vital ingredient as you surely don’t expect yourself to make a very good decision after you’ve had a few drinks.

So come on and let’s be sensible. There’s the taxi or public transport, or designate a driver (who stays sober) and importantly please remember that by drinking the night before you may be over the limit the following morning. If you need the car early the following day then don’t kid yourself the night before, limit your drinking.

For more tips on the effects that alcohol has on your body I suggest that you visit www.drinkaware.ie

One third of all fatal road crashes in Ireland are contributed to alcohol. So don’t become a statistic, think of your family and friends, and the pain and suffering you may bring to another family in your community.

So the most important thing is that we go and enjoy the spectacle that is the World Cup but please, PREPLAN.