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.