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Do it yourself blues

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How many 21st century men does it take to screw in a light bulb?

If the bulb has to go into the headlight fitting of a 2007 Renault Scenic, it takes at least two… and believe it or not the procedure can take over an hour, even when one of the men is a professional bulb changer.

That’s right; people get paid to change car bulbs over here in England where I now live.

I know this because I tried to do their job all by myself this week on my Renault and failed miserably.

I realise that sounds quite pathetic, and to make matters worse, I’m now going to make a load of excuses.

The first is that I couldn’t see what I was doing, and the second is that I couldn’t get into the right position to do it.

That’s because there is extremely limited access to the headlights through the bonnet, although I did manage to bend my arm around the battery and fuse box and feel my way into a position where I could twist out the old bulb.

Anyway, after two hours of contortions and bruising the backs of my hands I drove down to one of the big auto spares stores and paid one of their bulb-fitting experts to help me plug in the new one.

He tried a few times the way I had failed to do it, then he tracked down some specialised tools to gain access through the wheel well that separates the engine from the left front tyre so he could insert the bulb from below.

It was quite an involved procedure and while we were removing bolts and trying to get rubber plugs to release – and then cutting one of them – the bulb man told me something I’m now going to use to support my final excuse.

He said Renaults used to have 20cm x 20cm doors in the wheel wells to allow access to the back of the headlights but a few years ago the company discontinued that feature.

Why do you think they did that?

I say they did it to make life as difficult as possible for people like me who don’t want to pay someone to make what should be simple repairs on their cars.

And according to the bulb changer Renault is not alone in that approach – not by a long shot.

He said there are plenty of other car companies that seem to go out of their way to make common repairs as difficult as possible.

Unfortunate this confrontational attitude towards customers isn’t limited to the auto industry, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it will prove to be good for business in the long run.

There are cars out there – especially the Japanese makes like Toyota and Nissan – that are a pleasure to work on and there are plenty of businesses that make service and customer satisfaction a priority.

We are the ones who decide where we will spend our money so I believe companies with that kind of attitude will win out in the end.

The other possibility, of course, is that I’m just being be paranoid… but then again, even if I am, that doesn’t prove they are not out to get us.

Well… some of them, anyway.