something’s lost in the translation

water tower blog_1We haven’t been away lately, mainly because we’ve now moved house and discovered why certain cabinets were placed in strange places against walls. Apparently surveyors no longer move furniture to see what’s going on behind and caveat emptor still applies. The outcome is we have a lot more work than anticipated. So, this is an update to the blog despite Hobby sitting disconsolately alone in the storage compound back home. It’s drier there. That word ‘home’ says it all really.

Two years ago we bought our Hobby motor home. It was two years old at the time and we paid what we considered to be a lot of money. The attractions were the two fixed single beds at the rear, putative quality of German design and low-profile curvaceous bodywork.

During handover, a demonstrator talked us through the various features. He was obviously bluffing and learning about the ‘van as he worked his way round. Eventually I reached data overload and asked simply “Do we get an owner’s manual?” He nodded reassuringly and my mind promptly shut down, figuring all I needed to do was spend a few moments one sunny evening browsing with the book in one hand and a glass of Montana Reserve in the other.

Later, when about 450 miles away from the dealer and the Irish rain was thrashing wildly against the roof, I opened the manual to discover it was written in German with no English translation. Now – I can buy a £16.99 electronic gismo from China and it will arrive complete with instructions in English. Admittedly the language is pidgin but I always know what they mean when they instruct things like “project the flange across the blue terminus and clamp the nodule with the fritillary clip provided.”

And yet I buy a German motor home for £36,000 pre-owned, presumably costing the previous owner at least £54,000 when brand new, and the manufacturers can’t even be bothered to provide a few welcome lines in English. The vehicle is right-hand drive, by the way, so was obviously intended for the British market. Failure to provide an English language manual is to my mind cheapskate in the extreme.

We still don’t know what’s going on with the control panel fascia light when we first hook-up. It flashes red, becomes static red, then turns amber for a very long time and finally goes green. Take if off hook-up for just a moment, and it reverts to amber again and stays there for hours. What’s that all about? We tried running the German text through Google but the result was too hilarious to take seriously.

But I don’t complain. And that’s probably the trouble; we don’t complain enough. Attitudes from suppliers and manufacturers would be different if we repeatedly took issue with them over these little irritations and short-comings. Eventually they would start to learn. But instead we’re afraid of being dismissed as grumpy old people and instead we ‘get by’ with what we have.

I could write a very long letter, but it’s easier to open another bottle of wine and seek solace on the shoulder of Bacchus. Instead, I now refuse to buy German wines. That’ll show them. And I can vent some of my spleen here. This isn’t a moan by the way. If it was I’d post it under the moans page. I’m merely making observations in a moaning sort of way

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