Result! What a polite yet firm note can do

2014-10-10 Basingstoke Observer - Toyota advert says road tax (arrow)

Toyota Basingstoke in the Basingstoke Observer newspaper, as seen on 11th October 2014.

This week, two separate companies did the right thing when an issue was brought to their attention: a polite yet firm note to a company can get a result – sometimes even within minutes!

Toyota Basingstoke and “Road Tax”

Whilst flipping through the pages of the Basingstoke Observer last weekend, I came across an advert by Toyota Basingstoke for their latest model cars.

Down at the bottom were a set of icons showing various benefits of buying from them. One of them was a (now obsolete!) VED disc with the phrase “Road tax and insurance” written below it.

As they had their twitter address right there, I sent them a tweet using the app on my phone:

There’s no such thing as road tax. Will you correct future @BasingstokeNews adverts?

Two days later, on Monday morning, the staff at Toyota Basingstoke tweeted this reply:

Yes well spotted, road tax is correctly classified as vehicle tax and will make sure any future ads will reflect this. Thanks

Result! That definitely deserves a thank you, so I tweeted:

Thank you @ToyotaBasingsto for the quick reply and positive action to correct your ‘road tax’ adverts

FreeFoam and Cyclist Strikes

Freefoam installer's van with cyclist sticker

A photo of a van  posted to the ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’ Facebook group. Circled is the set of stickers showing icons of people cycling and beside them ‘strikes’.

Freefoam installer's van with cyclist sticker (tight crop)

Closeup of the icons seen on the rear of the van.

A second positive result happened today – and fast, too!

A picture was posted to the ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’ Facebook group during my lunch. Before then,the photo was included in a tweet by Nico Weststeyn to the @CycleHatred account on twitter (photo was not his). The original photographer is unknown (any ideas who it was? would like to give credit)

A suggestion was made by another person that the company whose logo was on the installer’s van should be contacted:

Marc Fessler: Possibly a better approach, Freefoam building products appears to be a bigger manufacturer who supplies products to uPVC. Perhaps Freefoam should be alerted to how their logo is being displayed by the installer/retailer.

I agreed! So, I wrote an email to the company through the email address they listed on their website:


A person in a group that I am a member of on Facebook, Stop Killing Cyclists, posted a picture they took of one of your delivery vans, or installers of your product. Its registration is OE51 SGO.

Painted on the back of the van was a series of icons in the style of World War II airplane “kills” – it showed an icon of a person on a bicycle with strike marks beside it.

I interpreted it to mean that is the number of people (mothers, fathers, sons, daughters) your driver or installer had killed using the van branded with your logo.
I find it to be in very poor taste; there are far too many people killed each year on our roads, causing heartache and trauma for families and friends.

I would like to ask you to have it removed from all your delivery / installation vans.

Thank you

Just 53 minutes later came this response:

Thank you for your email.

We are very pleased you have alerted us to this issue.
It’s certainly something we would not want our brand to be associated with.

I have contacted our Area Sales Manager who is seeing the owner of Marlin UPVC tomorrow.
We have been assured that the sign will be removed.

Kind regards


UPDATE 16 October: I received this followup email from FreeFoam yesterday afternoon:

Just to update you, stickers have been removed, attached photo.

Our Area Manager being a veteran of two Dun Runs and the holder of a dozen Brevet cards is happy that this has been sorted.


My thanks go to FreeFoam Building Products and to Toyota Basingstoke for their positive, quick replies. Both companies deserve praise – and your custom! – for their efforts to put things right.

Aside: I have reported ‘road tax’ adverts to the Advertising Standards Association in the past – a few times! Far better it seems to go directly to the companies themselves (am I doing ASA job?!) – See the bottom part of this article: The ASA rules against advertising safe cycling

Update: Following clarification by Paul Cooke in the comments (thank you!) the photographer has been credited in the article.

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