A tip from my local garage mechanic…

By | March 23, 2015
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It’ll be a fairly short one this time, as I’m still working on putting all the information together for the new books that come out on Wednesday at 10am (watch for an email about them…)

But I’ve got a couple of tips for you – including one that’s quite timely…

A tip from my local garage mechanic made me save £225
It’s funny timing – I was literally sat at my desk flicking through a print-out of the new “How to Save Money Online” book before we launch it this week, when I heard from the mechanic at our local garage.
My little classic sports car (a Mark 1 MX5 – one of the original ones with pop-up headlights, for any car enthusiasts here) was in the garage having a few bits and pieces done.

And he’d come to the coil pack, which needed replacing. And when he contacted his suppliers, he was surprised to find they quoted him £375.

Being a decent sort of chap, instead of just ordering it, he checked with me first – and said “I thought you might be able to find it online a bit cheaper – let me know what you’d like to do.”

My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to beat his supplier. But on the other hand, given I was looking at pages about using the internet to save money, I thought I ought to at least try.

A bit of searching on the owner’s club website revealed a supplier lots of people recommend that could do it for £260.10 – pretty good.

But when I looked even further afield I found one for £150 – brand new.

Saving me £225 – that’ll fill the tank with petrol a few times over!

Now, I know this is a bit specific. And I’m not just trying to say “If you have a Mark 1 MX5 and it needs a new coil pack, here’s how to save money” – I don’t imagine that would be very many of you!

But it’s a good general tip, that for some, slightly unusual parts, you might be able to find the part cheaper than the garage can get it from their supplier. Particularly if you go via an owner’s club.

Of course, you need to be careful buying the parts online, to make sure you’re buying exactly the right one (even for this model of car, even the mark 1, there are two different versions, depending on exactly when it was made). And I don’t know whether all garages would be happy to have you supply the parts, though I can’t see why not.

After all, £225 – it was definitely worth me taking the ten minutes or so to look into it.  And that’s just one example of how much you can save once you know what to look for on the internet.

Are Apple trying to sneak more money from you? And are Google any better?
Another interesting question from a reader here. He has an Apple iPod (a device for listening to music as mp3 files, not the same as an iPad) and has previously loaded CDs onto his PC, then copied them onto the iPod.

It’s not exactly what Apple designed the iPod for – they’d rather you bought the music through their iTunes store as an mp3 in the first place. But it works. Or at least it did.

When he tried to do the same thing as before, it wouldn’t let him. And he spoke to a young techie guy, who had had exactly the same problem… and guessed that it was a deliberate ploy from Apple and that they may shortly start charging for it. He wondered if using something running Google’s Android might be less likely to stop you doing it this way as Apple are, well, not to put too fine a point on it, always after new ways to get their hands on your money!

Well, I hadn’t been aware of them changing this, but I must admit I’m not surprised. And not just because they might make more money this way.

Apple have a very different outlook on their technology than Google (or Microsoft).

Apple like to be in complete control of how their devices work. It’s why if you have an iPad, you can only get apps for it from the Apple iStore. (With Android, Google’s Play Store is the main place but there’s nothing to stop someone who’s written an app distributing it elsewhere.) They call it the “walled garden” approach.

And I think they’ve probably decided that they don’t want you to be able to put music onto your iPod that you haven’t got from them.

They’ll justify it that if you didn’t get it from them, maybe the quality won’t be up to scratch. Or the file might not play properly. And so on. So your experience of their device might not be as good – which they don’t want.

It’s a fundamental difference between Apple and Google – but funnily enough in practice it doesn’t make much difference to most people, most of the time. But obviously in this case, it does!

And I imagine that Apple won’t be too upset if as a side-effect it also means people buy more of their music through iTunes, even if you already have the CD.

Well, I said it would be a short one and got carried away and made it quite long (writing this has been a two-cup-of-tea newsletter). Don’t forget to watch out for the email about the new books on Wednesday at 10am.

7 thoughts on “A tip from my local garage mechanic…

  1. JUlia Wood

    Reading about apple’s ploy to make customers buy CDs from iTunes reminded me of a problem I had loading music on to my new ipad (Christmas present) My computer refused point blank to recognise the ipad although it did recognise the older ipod. Trawling the net for a solution I discovered that Kaspersky anti virus software sometimes blocks ipads so now if I want to upload something onto the ipad I put Kaspersky into “pause protection” mode and everything works fine. I just have to remember to put everything back to normal when I’m finished! I don’t know if this might help some of your readers who think they have a problem with their ipad when actually it’s their anti virus software that’s the problem.
    Love all your letter and pick up lots of tips so thought I’d share this one with you.



  2. Alan

    I use my Apple equipment for all my music which I play through my hi-fi or take with me with on an iPod if I travel. I don’t have a problem but I use iTunes Match. It costs £22 a year and all my own music is effectively backed up or matched with the iTunes store and it is available across all my devices. It is great value.

  3. Iain

    Re the iPod problem. It seems to me that if Apple are deliberately making it impossible to use the iPod in the manner it was bought for, and has been used as such for a number of years, this must be illegal! The user has bought an item in good faith, and Apple cannot just stop you from using it in order to make more money.

    1. Tim Post author

      I think they would argue that the ipod was really sold to be used to play music from iTunes, not to be able to put CDs onto it from a PC… and that was just a side benefit that also happened to be possible. But I’m no expert on the legal side of things, I must admit!
      It’s an interesting point, though. It’s not the first time something has been taken away from Apple products by an update. I’ve not idea on where they stand with some of the other changes they’ve made…

  4. KAY

    Thanks, Tim for the heads up about Apple and I pods. So unbelievable. As some one on a limited income, I will buy the cd because I can use it on my cd player and also add it to my I pod. Shouldn’t have to pay twice for the same cd.

  5. T.Sherman

    Hi Tim.
    Have you herd about Wndows 10 later this year
    would be a free upgrade for windows 7,8or8.1
    for the first year after launch,will this affect what
    we have on windows 7?.
    By Have another cupper on me.

    1. Tim Post author

      yes, it’s quite a change. In fact I have a computer running a pre-release version of it (“a technical preview” they call it) sat next to me! I think it’ll only affect Windows 7 if you choose to – my reading of what they’ve said is that there’ll be a free upgrade – but you won’ tHAVE to take it, so you could carry on with Windows 7.
      The upgrade will only be free for a year, though, so if you left it and then wanted it after that, you might kick yourself!
      More on Windows 10 shortly – I’ve got something coming up (free for newsletter readers) that I’ll mention in the newsletter on Monday…


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