A Driving Instructor's Blog

News

1 2 3 96

The Jen Fog fogging machineRegular readers will know I have referred to JennyChem before, mainly in my article about smearing windscreens. I buy their brand of TFR.

I got an email from them today announcing the launch of their new defogging machine, which claims to do anti-viral sanitising as well as removing tobacco and pet odours. It can be used in cars and for treating small living spaces. It’s called The Jen Fog.

At £145, it’s quite a bit cheaper than other fogging machines, and it comes with 5L of the fogging liquid. Each treatment takes about 20 minutes.

The fogging liquid itself costs £17.50 for 5L. You can even choose between unfragranced, Cherry, Tea Tree and Pine, Strawberry, and Bubblegum scents.

The machine has a 400ml reservoir, and each fill will treat up to 30 cars. So a 5L bottle will be good for up to 375 treatments!

Those numpties looking at buying things to clip on to their air vents should invest a little more – actually, only three times more, because they’re being ripped off with those dinky things – and buy the real McCoy. If anything is going to sanitise the car properly, it’ll be something like this – which is much more cost-effective than some of the prices for ‘refills’ I’ve seen being bandied around social media.

If anyone is interested, these are the datasheets for the FogSan fluid, and it has been tested and confirmed as a viricide.

Datasheet

Product Spec Sheet

Share

Three American MoronsAmerica has a problem. Actually, America has many problems. But with COVID-19, some problems stick out more than others.

Mind you, I say that. But in America right now, pretty much all problems stick out. One of the current ones is in Texas. It seems they have had daily new cases of COVID-19 jump from 2,000 to 6,000 (the article says 5,000, but it is actually 6,000 right now) in a few weeks. Putting that in perspective, Texas has a population which is about a third of the entire UK, yet our maximum number of daily cases has never – apart from one day in April, where I think care homes were added – been much above about 6,000. And the charts indicate it is still accelerating in Texas.

Of course, we had the lockdown. And apart from a worrying number of morons ignoring it, that has brought our daily cases down to around 1,000.

In a similar vein, Texas has seen around 150,000 cases overall. So far. That’s already half of what we’ve seen with three times as many people, and a higher population density.

America has a complicated political structure, whereby state government mainly calls the shots, but this is further complicated by the various amendments to The Constitution, meaning the people pretty much decide whether they follow the Law or not (it’s the ‘Land of the Free’, after all). And if anyone tries to make them, they get their guns out and it gets even more complicated (it’s also the ‘Land of the Stupid’ at the best of times). And all this is completely legal, thanks to that same Constitution.

You could write forever about the American system. But the point I wanted to make was about wearing face masks. It seems that the Texas Governor has urged people to wear masks ‘where it is indicated’. This has proved unpopular – violently so, from what I can gather. And my question in the title is simply illustrated by the photo from the BBC.

See if you can spot the morons in it. Hint: there are three of them, and I’ve numbered them just in case you can’t work it out.

Share

COVID SOM imageJust saw this in the news. Driving lessons can recommence from 4 July 2020.

I’m now going to have to let most of my pupils go, since I cannot start immediately as I am still isolating to protect my elderly parents. And it’s too soon, anyway (we can’t socially distance, and far too many new cases of the virus are still occurring daily).

On the plus side, there will be no more idiotic social media posts about ‘when can we go back’ and ‘well, technically, we never had to stop’.

And the official DVSA email has now come through.

Share

I received an email alert from DVSA today (as should most other instructors have done). Basically – and except for key workers – all tests are off until further notice. The essential part is reproduced here:

Driving instruction and driving tests

Other than emergency training and tests for critical workers, driving instruction and driving tests have not yet been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus in vehicles is higher.

In his statement on 10 June, the Prime Minister reiterated that the government will remain cautious and measure the effect of the changes it makes. The Prime Minister explained this means moving slower than we’d have liked in some areas.

Driving instruction and tests will only restart when the government is confident that the assessment of risk warrants it, subject to the 5 tests and further detailed scientific advice.

In the meantime, I want to re-emphasise that you should continue to limit driving lessons to critical workers who are preparing for an emergency driving test.

Once again, I would like to thank those of you who have been able to offer driving lessons to critical workers during these unprecedented times.

We will, of course, share more information with you as soon as it’s available – including the dates that driving instruction and driving tests can restart.

Any change to this is wholly dependent on what COVID-19 does next, and what the government decides as a result. That is unlikely to occur before July at the earliest, and I have texted all my pupils this afternoon indicating that we are unlikely to be doing lessons before August at the earliest.

One of my pupils has already received a cancellation email – and it is a cancellation, not a rescheduled date. That ought to be telling you something.

I have highlighted in bold the part DVSA emphasises in its email. For anyone too stupid to understand it, it says you should only be giving lessons to key workers who are preparing for a driving test.

I am awaiting the usual clowns arguing ‘yes, but it says should, not MUST’ (a reference to the terminology used in the Highway Code, where the difference is between advice or Law). I’d point out to these idiots that even going against advice can often lead you towards the hard legal aspects. Quite easily. In this case, by working when you shouldn’t you’re probably making the delay for everybody else longer, as you help COVID-19 spread.

Just remember. Apart from the money-grabbing aspect, there is absolutely no point teaching people at the moment if they cannot book a test. Try as you might to sound philanthropical about it, you’re doing it for you, not them. And it shines through like a beacon. Even if you do go ahead and work – and it cracks me up to see all these people who’ve been saying we can, and they’re going to start again ‘on Monday’ every week without fail (but haven’t) – what will you do once your pupils reach test standard? It’s likely there’ll be no tests until September – maybe longer if the shit hits the fan again, which you working is likely to help happen – and that’s three months away. By then you’ll possibly have blown your chances with SEISS (Part 2) and run out of people to teach. And that’s even assuming you can run a full diary right now (with most pupils not being as clueless as you and staying safe), and having to sanitise the car with a gallon of sanitizer every hour.

Share

Sweet - Steve Priest on the leftAnother legend from my childhood gone. Sweet were one of the glam rock pioneers in the early 70s, and one of the bands I grew up with.

The 70s was easily the best for music.

Steve Priest – one of the founding members – was the one who wore make-up and big ear-rings. RIP, Steve.

Share

Image of virusIt has been announced that the SEISS will be paid again in August. This time, it will be 70% instead of 80% of the average income over the last three years. For me, that should be around £3,000.

As I have said before – and if you are eligible – it is far better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Note that the article says applications will ‘open in August’. Logically, this means we’re going to have to put up with almost three months of people asking when they can claim, and why it hasn’t been paid yet, just like last time – even though HMRC had made it crystal clear numerous times. Oh, and those who won’t have heard about it, and still won’t have even at the end of July, who will then start blaming HMRC. Come on, people. We have something called ‘the internet’ these days – they don’t use messenger pigeons anymore!

Share

TV Licensing ScamJust a heads up on another silly attempt at scamming people over their TV licence.

I get one of these at least once a year and can spot them a mile off. This one came from postmaster@kuriya.jp, which is an automatic giveaway in the first place. The second clue is in that I know our licence is up to date. The third clue is that ‘TVLicensing’ and ‘TVLicence’ have no space, whereas the proper TV Licensing title does.

TVL will always use your full name in their own emails (this one had my email address), and they will always come from donotreply@tvlicensing.co.uk or donotreply@spp.tvlicensing.co.uk.

And never click on links from emails if you are unsure of them.

If I’m wrong, then I expect a visit from the Yakuza in the near future. I’m not especially worried.

Share

KFC QueueAn article in the local Nottingham Post (have an ad blocker – you’ve been warned) reveals that police had to be called as massive queues built up outside the only branch of KFC to open up in the region.

The combined IQ of those in the queue probably barely made it into three figures, but the really funny part is how KFC are going to handle it.

Even at the best of times, the likelihood of going to the drive-thru only to be told ‘we’re just waiting for chicken – it’ll be about 12 minutes’ is about 50:50, so how on earth they can manage queues of this size is anyone’s guess. Then there is the normal drive-thru procedure to consider.

KFC specialises in attracting the kind of people who drive BMWs and Audis who haven’t got a clue what they’re going to order once they reach the intercom. They’ll invariably have their brood in the car with them, and it’ll then turn into that scene from The Exorcist, with the driver’s head spinning repeatedly through 360° as he or she attempts to add whatever numerous items everyone wants to the order. And of course, it won’t be a normal order – there’ll be tweaks and special requests to customise it.

One they get to the pick-up window, you can be sure there’ll be no more chicken left for you. And God only knows how they’ll manage with the typical two Order Bays in the car park – they need a dozen even when it’s quiet.

It does make you wonder, though, how people can get their priorities so wrong. It’s the same as champing at the bit to go back to work as soon as you’re allowed – even though nothing has changed with the virus pandemic.

Share

HMRC COVID-19 Support ImageI had an email from HMRC this morning, which you can view here in website form.

If you go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ you will find the tool that checks your eligibility, and assigns you a time from which you can place your claim. I strongly advise that you do it this way, just in case someone sends you a scam email – never click on links from emails to access your bank or business accounts anywhere.

Make sure you have the necessary information before you start your eligibility check. You need your Government Gateway number, your UTR, and your NI Number to complete it.

The good news for me is that I am eligible, and I can make a claim from next week (though there is the possibility that the claim system might not be available until later in the week, but we shall see). The email also says that the calculated money will be paid within six working days.

Update: Well, it didn’t take long, did it? The system is about as simple and straightforward as it could be, yet it still seems to have thrown many into a state of utter confusion.

The original email makes it clear that you need your Gateway Access number, your UTR, and your NI Number. If you don’t have those to hand, you will not be able to complete the check. If you do your own self-assessment you will have them (frankly, even if you don’t do your own SA, you really ought to have this information on file).

When you check your eligibility, it just says whether you are, or whether you aren’t, eligible. It doesn’t tell you how much you’ll be getting or give you any money there and then. Honestly, it doesn’t. It then asks you to enter your contact details. Just your email address and phone number – no inside leg measurements, bank details, or anything – just your email address and contact phone number. This is so you can be sent the claim link on the date and time it gives you on the screen.

Claim dates and times are different for everyone. I guess they’ve done it like this to stop everyone crashing the system as they all apply at the same time first thing Monday when it starts up. In other words, the claims are staggered whether you like it or not. Moan about it all you want – you’d certainly be moaning if the system crashed due to overload – but at least they are trying to avoid problems.

Let me stress again. You are not making a claim at this moment in time. You are just checking your eligibility, and providing two pieces of contact information so they can send you the claim link at your date and time next week.

Once you have done that, the screen message clearly indicates that there’s nothing more to do at this stage. The clue is in the absence of any further questions or requests for (sigh) bank details. They will want your bank information next week.

This system makes perfect sense to me. However, some people also appear put out by the fact that they aren’t just getting a wheelbarrow full of cash dumped on their doorstep, and they’ve actually got to do something to get it. Something so horrendously illogical as… filling in a claim form!


Reading social media, etc., and it amazes me the number of instructors who are confused over what they need to do – even though they apparently do their own self assessments each year!

If you do your own SA, you will have access to the Government Gateway. When you log in, the security system sends you a text message with a short-lived access code, which you then have to type in before getting to your account. It stands to reason you should not be sending screenshots of this access code to social media or any other source, but I can see people doing precisely that. The first time you log into the Gateway, it asks you to set this up.

The access code expires after 15 minutes, after which time you’ll need to get a new one. However, you can ask the system to ‘remember for 7 days’ if you plan on logging in several times in the immediate future. This is even more reason not to go posting screenshots anywhere just because ‘you can’. It is security information, roughly equivalent to a password, and making it known to all and sundry removes one level of security from your most private financial information. If anyone gains access to that, they could pretend to be you virtually anywhere in the world.

I also see people triggering the whole issue all over again every single time they get a text message, with a deluge of inconsistent, repetitive replies every single time. HMRC will not send out any messages with links in them. You should always go to GOV.UK and access your account from there, or from within links within GOV.UK.

If you’ve gone through everything once and been given a time and date for your claim, you do not need to do it again. You do not need to do it two more times. Or three more times. Once you’ve done it the first time, nothing you can do will make next week come any quicker. Just wait.

Not every test message you receive is a scam. If you get one from HMRC and it doesn’t contain any links or mention sums of money, it is almost certainly legitimate. Log into the Gateway and you can check – if you don’t owe anything when you look at your account, then you don’t owe anything, period. So any text message saying otherwise can be ignored.

This is the same principle you should follow for any other text message telling you your ‘bill is overdue and you’ll get cut off if you don’t pay immediately’. I get them allegedly from EE and Virgin Media on a regular basis. The giveaway is usually the email address they come from, but all I do is log into my EE or Virgin accounts and check (helped by the fact that I pay by direct debit and I know I have funds to cover my payments). What I don’t do is click the link and then start posting all over social media to get a 50:50 opinion on whether it’s a scam or not. I note that social media replies are frequently 50:50 on being right if it is a scam, and 50:50 on being right if it isn’t. The net result is a complicated answer that is lucky if it’s even close to being right.

DO NOT click links in emails to access your bank, HMRC, or other accounts where your bank details are stored. If you do, contact your bank immediately and tell them what you’ve done.

Even if you realise it is a scam, don’t try and be a smart arse by clicking the link to try and outfox the scammers. You might be saying ‘yes’ to having software installed on your PC or phone. At the very least, you are saying ‘I am here’, and thus registering yourself as a target.

Share
1 2 3 96