I have mentioned before that I don't think the Citroen Nemo (Also badged as the Peugeot Bipper, and Fiat Fiorino vans) is a suitable van for oven cleaning as its too small to get all your stuff in. Also on the top of the door at the back the metal bars that the door catches into sticks out and you'll be forever banging your head on it. Believe me as our Ford Transit Connect has a similar arrangement and I've had a few head bangs on that.
But another reason, which you may have missed, which was reported in the press, I think, last week was the fact that the Cirtroen Neemo falls over very badly at speed. YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE THIS VIDEO Citroen Nemo Fails European Moose Test. This test is designed to check to see how stable the car or van is – the van is driven at speed and then has to swerve to miss a cone – so emulating missing a moose that has wandered on to the road in front of you. It failed the test, or I should say that the car variant of the van failed the test and fell over. The Fiat variant with the stability control costing £350 passed but the Citroen Nemo and Peugeot Bipper car variants failed and the stability control isn't available in the UK on those cars. I am almost certainly sure that the vans won't have it either. So would you really want an oven cleaning van that has a very good chance of falling over?
On Tuesday I went to the other side of Swindon to clean an AGA cooker. The job was booked in at 0900 and as I got there about 20 minutes earlier I decided to drive up the road (about 2 miles away) to get a quick coffee from McDonald's. McDonald's is, or usually is, the place you go and wonder at the way a great business should work, all smoothly and perfectly by a load of 17 year olds. The ideal business model. Usually its great service with not so good food with quite good coffee. But not this time!
I thought I'd have a coffee in McDonald's have a quick look at the news and then drive back to get to my job exactly on time. It took me about 7 minutes to drive to the McDonald's and when I got there I parked up got out the van. Then realised that it was undergoing refurbishment which meant that I couldn't go in and order over the counter as I was expecting to. I did see that a van was driving through the drive through though.
So I got back in the van and drove through the drive through.In the past I've been used to ordering at the first window of a McDonalds Drive Thru and then picking up at the second window. But the last time I went to do this I noticed that they had installed an ordering point, a speaker phone thing on stand, which is on the approach to the first window – I presume it allows the staff to cope with orders when the queue is long by giving them more time.
Anyway my I ordered a coffee at the order point and the guy on the other end asked me if I wanted a large one. Well I've never had a large cappuccino at McDonald's before so it must be a new thing, so I said "Yes okay". Then I drove to the first window to pay. When I got there I remembered that I had a McDonald's free coffee card – that is I'd collected the stickers off the sides of the coffee cups and put them on a card – six of then mean a free coffee. So I got it out and said can I have a free one. Now here is where it all went wrong.
The guy on the till said to the other Mc Worker making the coffee, "Change that to a small coffee, as he wants a free one". This really infuriated me as everywhere else I go to satisfy my caffeine habit I normally get asked if I want a small one or large coffee with my free card and now here I was asking for large one they were going to give me a smaller one to the one they had up sold me. Also I was in a rush and I didn't want them to change my order. If I ordered at a counter then I would have shown the full card as I ordered. Also for me a keep the full loyality cards in my wallet for a special occassion. I know it seems daft but I think I'd like to enjoy my free coffee when I get it. I've saved the little stickers or the stamps and I want to enjoy that coffee as "The Free One"!
I normally ask for the small one on the free coffee card as the smaller cappuccinos tend to be perfect and when you increase the size the quality tends to decrease (well saying that I think Star bucks quality on the larger cappuccinos is fine as they put in an extra shot on their large cups as a matter of course but they don't do a loyalty scheme). But everywhere where I go with the loyalty cards they always ask the question "would you like the larger coffee as your free coffee?". Coffee loyaty cards that I have in my pocket are: Marks and Spencer, Costa Coffee (though they have now switched to another card where you get points – similar to our very own Oven Gleam VIP loyalty scheme), Coffee # 1 (which is a fabulous local coffee chain who are National Award Winners in coffee making), and McDonald's. All of them have offered me the larger coffee as the free one. But oh no not McDonald's.
I asked the Mc Worker to read out to me, as I didn't have my glasses with me, the condition on the card which said that the free one had to be a small one He didn't read it he just said, "oh it's always a small one for the free one" (when I got home I read the small print on the loyalty card and it didn't say anything on the card about a small coffee – it just says Terms
and conditions apply).
Anyway they changed it to the small one. I said "I don't want that one I want a large coffee and I'll pay for it". I kept my card and paid for the large coffee. I drove to the second window and then realising that I was going to be a couple of minutes late for my job (accordingly to my Tom Tom sat nav) I was in such a rush that I drove off without the coffee! McDonald's because of there rubbish speaker phone system, their normal eagerness to up sell and their infuriating stubborness to give me a large coffee for free really didn't do it for me.
We have now set up a couple of things to improve the performance of our oven cleaning operatives. First of all we now are giving out the award of "Oven Cleaner of the Week". We are basing this on the feedback we are getting from customers and also the amount of work the guys are generating. We have now being doing this for two weeks and we have awarded it to Hugo for both weeks. In week one he got an up sell on a job that gave us another £80. In week two he had three testimonials that were glowing.
We have also introduced the "van of the week" award. We have done this as we want the guys to keep on top of the vans, both on the outside and the inside. For both weeks John has won this award. There is a bit of unbalance here in that John has the brand new Citroen Berlingo so for him to keep it up together and looking smart is easy. But we are going to give the award to best improver too to allow the other guys to win it.
I think I've mentioned before that some of the SMEG single oven ranges have painted bits on the doors inside the oven. This means that if you use a shop bought oven cleaner with caustic in then there is a good chance that it will take off this paint and leave it a horrible white in colour.
We have also noticed that on one particular SMEG 90cm range the racks fall down for no apparent reason. One of our customers complained about a clean we did as they said that the racks in the oven weren't supporting weight at all and were slipping down after we had cleaned their oven. I went to look at it and did a re clean and noticed that this particular SMEG oven did not have the side chromed supporting racks that they normally have. It had ribbed edges into which the racks slid into (like the arrangement on a single oven in the photo here). And yes the racks were pretty useless, they were short by about two millimetres. I thought perhaps the racks had buckled in our oven dip tank, which looking back was a ludicrous thought as the oven works at a temperature of approx 200C and our tank is at approx 60C so if they had buckled they would have buckled in the oven. I tried to straighten one out and it broke which meant I had to order a new one. I only ordered one as I thought the other reason might be that the sides of the ovens had warped. The rack replacement cost was £50 which seemed like a huge sum of money. Anyway when the new rack arrived I went back to the customer and it fitted perfectly so I left it with them to order the other replacement rack. So if someone complains that their racks are slipping down on a SMEG single oven range cooker then the problem is with the cooker in that it has a design defect and to rectify this you need to buy new racks at £50 each from SMEG.