Given the obvious benefits of winter tyres and increased awareness and promotion by the motoring press, it is still incredible that relatively few drivers have made the switch. Or is it?
Following on from the success of fitting winter tyres to our Vauxhall Astra, this time we kitted out our Renault Modus with a set of Continental Winter Contacts. As expected, the results were impressive – with the little Renault taking on all manner of snow covered roads with ease – finding traction and grip where other cars had none. Driving in these wintry conditions was a breeze, which is more than can be said for the ordering and collection of our tyres – by contrast a considerable headache.
Although high street tyre depots started to stock winter tyres for this winter – much of the limited stocks have already run out. Kwik Fit being one such example, with our local branch saying: “they were out of stock and didn’t know when they could get any more in”. All that could be offered was was a less effective, ‘All Weather Tyre’.
Other tyre depots were similarly unhelpful, with staff having only a sketchy understanding of winter tyres. None contacted had any in stock.
There were exceptions of course. Some independent tyre depots were more helpful, as often they have access to different suppliers. These businesses tend to be long established and employ more experienced, knowledgeable staff. We found Morden Tyres in Surrey very helpful. However, they were only to offer a budget option, at around £75 for our specified tyre size (185/60/R15). This meant we had to continue the search for our Continental Winter Contacts elsewhere.
So with the high street drawing a blank, it was time to hit the net. To our amazement, of the four online tyre distributors we tried, including: www.mytyres.co.uk www.etyres.co.uk www.blackcircles.com, Only the Dutch based Pneus Online had our required tyre in stock – a 185/60 R15 84 T CONTINENTAL.
Pneus online – a Swiss based tyre distributor, offers tyres at competitive prices. The scheme works by dispatching tyres to one of a list of UK tyre depots. We chose RSR tyres in Redhill.
With tyres ordered, it was now just a matter of waiting for a call from the tyre depot to arrange fitting. If only it was that simple…
The confirmation we got back wasn’t for the RSR depot we selected in Redhill, but a branch in South Croydon. You would think this was bad enough, but it was just the beginning of the saga – as it transpired that this branch of RSR had shut down!
We contacted Pneus, and found them efficient but unhelpful, with them telling us that: “once the order has been paid, it’s impossible to change the selected delivery address.”
The tyres went straight to the DPD delivery depot in Croydon. There they sat, along with 10,000 other parcels waiting to be dispatched. It was a question of searching among the piles and piles of other parcels… proverbial needle and haystacks sprung to mind.
It took three visits to the depot before retrieving the tyres and even then it was only by luck. The overstressed assistant gleefully declaring: “You’re in luck, we’ve found them, we’ve found them”. Fortunately, the tyres didn’t have any outer packaging, so were easily distinguishable.
Despite managing to finally retrieve our tyres, DPD’s service was appalling. They appeared very disorganised and bar the triumphant ‘We’ve found your item’ moment – were quite unhelpful. We had already tried phoning on several occasions, but to no avail. Without having taken the initiative of visiting the depot in person, I feel we would still be waiting for our tyres now – three weeks after initial purchase.
Looking at the internet forum ‘Gone Boarding’, there were many scathing comments regarding DPD.
One person posted a comment saying: “DPD a total waste of space – I’m still waiting on delivery of my package after 2 weeks”.
Unfortunately DPD were unavailable for comment.
When questioned, RSR Tyres didn’t appear to know anything about this setup and were unaware of being quoted as a receiving/fitting depot for Pneus. RSR Tyres Area Manager Alan Smith said: “Because we’ve got lots of branches, people just list our name and it looks good on their website, but they haven’t cleared it with us”, adding: “This is something that we will be taking action on”.
Pneus refuted the criticism. Communications & PR Manager, Annaïg RUBAN said:
“We were really surprised to read that one of our fitting stations listed in the website was not aware of their partnership with us. Indeed, we build our network by actively looking for new partners on a regular basis.” He continued: “We always pay attention to the service we offer to our customers and we understand the disappointment they can feel when hearing that a listed fitting station claims not to be aware of it.”
Let’s hope so, because writeonmotoring found every other aspect of Pneus online’s service to be good. Their website was easily navigable, payment was promptly processed and the company was always easily contactable by both phone and email. Once distribution matters are sorted, customers can be confident in having a cost effective and reliable alternative to buying tyres from the high street.
4-26 Morden Court Parade, London Rd, Morden, Surrey SM4 5HJ, Tel: 020-8648-2167