Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Jeep finally faces up to its shitty past

It shafted a lot of buyers who had problems with Jeep vehicles

Jeep is on a road to redemption in Australia, and is not shying away from its problems.

Jeep has again vowed to reverse its five-year sales slide and win back customer trust after the coronavirus delayed its recovery plans.

After a record 33,700 sales in 2015, Jeep's annual tally dropped to just 5500 last year – and so far 2020 is not looking much better.

In fact, Jeep sold more cars in one month – in December 2014 – than it has sold in the first seven months of 2020.

Jeep's Grand Cherokee even did the unthinkable six years ago, outselling the iconic Toyota LandCruiser Prado for a full year.

However, the brand that goes back to the very beginning of four-wheel drive history is still struggling to claw its way up the sales charts – even though sales of SUVs and four-wheel-drives are booming.

Jeep's sales success five years ago was also accompanied by reports of poor quality control, numerous recalls, and dwindling customer satisfaction.

The weakening Australian dollar also since pushed prices higher.

With the brand on the nose with Australian consumers, Jeep has decided to tackle the issues head-on with a new advertising campaign.

The new campaign reboots the old ‘I bought a Jeep’ series, but takes a more serious and angle to acknowledge things haven’t always been paradise Down Under.

The advertisements bluntly acknowledge the brand's recent shortcomings, stating "owning a Jeep wasn't as enjoyable as driving one" and "when I needed help with it, it felt like nobody was listening".

Along with a new campaign and plenty of fresh metal in the lineup (Wrangler, Gladiator and Compass), Jeep Australia also has a new boss in the big chair.

Kevin Flynn comes to Australia after five years as the boss of Jeep in India, where he saw the new Compass through from development to showroom floor.

Built in a new manufacturing plant in Pune India, it has proved to be a huge success for Jeep on the subcontinent. Now, Flynn is here to do similar things for the brand in Australia.

“(Australia) might be an easier country to live in, but the commercial challenges have been colossal,” said Mr Flynn during a recent interview.

“The turn-arounds are what I enjoy. Really doing the analysis and deep dive, find out where the issues are and then face them up and turning them. We had to put a plan together before the end of last year, and go to global (headquarters) with that plan. We did that, we got full support in what we're doing and they're fully backing (us) up.”

A big part of the recovery plan is rebuilding trust with Australian buyers.

“I think the sort of steps we took to be honest with the market and say: look, you know, we grew too quick and didn't put the infrastructure in behind us to really take care of people in the way that we can now. And the way that we should have. I think was brave, but necessary,” said Mr Flynn.

He acknowledges the importance of addressing the problems this controversial campaign is unearthing.

“Of course we knew it was going to flush out all of those that were left unhappy, and with picking all of those up and we're dealing with every single one of them. It's a bit of a work load, but we have to do it. We have to heal some of these wounds,” said Mr Flynn.

As for current and future customers, Mr Flynn says he wants to improve the brand experience after driving off the showroom floor – and is not solely focused on sales numbers.

“We've really bolstered our technical side of the business. We've changed all the processes and the flows on how we deal with customers internally that have got an issue or need some kind of help," said Mr Flynn.

"(Jeep's customer service is) a lot slicker, and it's a lot more customer centric than I think it probably has ever been before,” he says.

Jeep has also made efforts to reduce the cost of 17,000 parts in its inventory, and has rolled out a capped-price servicing program.

Despite the complications of COVID-19, Jeep’s team of regionally-based ‘flying doctors’ is still operating around Australia, helping solve customer issues. Although, Tasmania’s travel restrictions did cause some complications for a short time.

"The reasons for not considering (the Jeep brand), we're doing our best to change those," he says. "But not just in noise and messaging, actually in reality. We've changed the company; significantly changed the company.”


Victoria police goons

You would think that they had never heard of George Floyd.  A tall cop throwing a little lady around is pretty disgraceful.  Unlike George Floyd she survived but they could well have injured her

It appears that the police were confrontational rather than polite in their initial approach to her and she was confrontational back.  Not wise but understandable. The Vic cops could learn a lot from the traditional British Bobby, who was always polite

Disturbing footage has emerged showing a woman being choked by a male police officer during a violent arrest in Melbourne after she was caught not wearing a face mask.

The video, which was captured by an onlooker in an apartment building in the locked down city, begins with the male police officer speaking to the red headed woman in baggy jeans.

The woman can clearly be seen without a face mask, which is in breach of public health orders that were introduced on July 19 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must now cover their face when they leave the house or face a $200 fine under draconian Stage four lockdown restrictions.

But the confrontation quickly turned violent when officer appeared to place his hands around her neck, clearly visible because of his lilac latex gloves.

In the first clip, which has been shared on Facebook, the pair seem to be arguing in the street when the officer grabs the woman by her arm but she resists.

There is a struggle between the pair when the woman appears to place her hands around the officer's vest, the officer then retaliates by placing his hands around her neck.

The woman attempts to free herself. 'What the f***?' she says.

'Get the f*** off me,' she screams.

A man with a purple scarf then appears, who is seen filming the incident from the footpath as another police officer shows up.

The female officer appears to try to speak to the woman as the male officer keeps his grip around her neck.

Police officer pulls the woman to the ground in an attempt to arrest her

He then sits on her and she questions what she is being arrested for

A friend then starts filming the arrest, telling the officer the woman has an exemption for wearing a mask

'He's choking me,' she can be heard saying.

As the officer pushes her against the wall the woman then punches the male officer before she kicks the female.

'F*** you,' she yells.

In the next clip the male officer can be seen sitting on top of the woman as he waits for back up to arrive.

The onlooker in the purple scarf continues to film the incident from different angles.

The woman can be seen struggling, with her feet flapping against the footpath.

The man in the purple scarf then yells for the officer to get off her, saying she has an excuse for not wearing a mask.

'She went to the doctor yesterday. Look what you're causing. You're f***ing hypocrites,' he said.

'Go f*** yourself,' the woman says again.

'Go f*** yourself officer.

'Why am I under arrest? Assault? I did not assault you, you grabbed me.'

In another clip, five officers can be seen surrounding the woman who is now laying face down on the footpath with the officer still on top of her.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria Police for further details.

The footage comes after about 30 people attended a 'freedom rally' to protest the coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne on Sunday.


Year 12 students claim ‘huge win’ after Victorian Government announces changes to ATAR system

Year 12s battling through remote learning have scored a “huge win” after a petition called on the State Government to cancel exams.

Victoria's secondary students will be tested against new standards as part of a major overhaul of the VCE. The state government is changing literacy and numeracy expectations ...
Victorian year 12s who will now be “individually assessed” for their VCE scores and ATAR rankings say the new changes are a “huge win” for the class of 2020.

Eltham High School student Tom McGinty said the compassionate approach gave him confidence he could secure a spot at university next year.

“I’m really stoked on the changes that have been implemented, As someone who has struggled with online learning this change brings me hope that I can actually obtain my desired ATAR score and get into my preferred course for next year,” he said.

Year 12 student Nathan Gunn petitioned to cancel VCE exams, saying he and his classmates had been burdened with the effects of COVID-19 and remote learning.

He launched the petition – which generated more than 4300 signatures – just days before Deputy Premier James Merlino announced every single VCE student would be individually assessed, with adverse impacts from COVID-19 reflected in their ATAR ranking.

“It’s a relief to know the Government has devised a new system of special consideration with the mental health of young people as a top priority,” the 18-year-old said.

“This new system is the first of its kind, which was crucial for all Victorian year 12s who are living and studying during a pandemic like none of us have ever seen.”

“We need physical interaction, we need to be there in the classroom asking questions,” he said.

Under the “extraordinary changes”, the Government will consider school closures and long absences as contributing factors to VCE students’ difficult year.

“We’ll look at things, for example, such as significant increase in family responsibilities as a result of COVID-19, and we’ll of course consider the mental health and wellbeing of students during this period,” Mr Merlino said.

“This year is like no other, it is an unprecedented year, and we need to support our students in an unprecedented way.”

Mr Merlino said the changes would help students go into their VCE exams, which start in early November, with confidence “knowing they will not be disadvantaged as a result of COVID-19”.

“This is a way that we can give every student and every parent of a VCE student the comfort and the confidence that their student will receive their final scores that take into account their individual circumstances. It puts them on a level playing field with every student across the state,” he said.


Signs of healthy new life are growing out of coronavirus hell

It’s day 126 of lockdown in London and as I write, the dog is curled at my feet, the cat snoring on a cushion nearby. It should feel like Groundhog Day, time caught in a never-ending, repetitive loop but instead of cabin fever I’m flooded with an unexpected (guilty) contentment.

COVID-19 has taken its terrible toll the world over: more than half a million are dead, many more locked down, too many without enough food on the table or a decent roof over their head. And yet, despite the pain and fear, adversity seems also to have brought with it a new perspective.

Photographs of the world’s great cities empty of tourists have gone viral. People marvel over the return of wildlife to the metropolis, hearing birdsong instead of traffic and gazing into vast skies untrammelled by aircraft. Freedom from the grind of the daily commute to the office has liberated workers, others revel in the liberty to say “no” to relentless social demands.

Last week, a survey published by strategic consultancy BritainThinks found that just 12 per cent of people want life to return to normal “exactly as it was before”.

And Britons surveyed also flagged they are prepared to pay higher taxes to help turn the country into a kinder, more equal and supportive place to live after the pandemic is over.

Researchers were told that people want to find ways to keep this extra time they’ve had with their families and want government to focus on “ensuring high employment” and protection of the natural environment.

This made me wonder if Britons’ reluctance to abandon some of the changes forced by the pandemic was also felt in Australia, the US and other parts of Europe and Asia?

Had others found some silver linings in the viral gloom?

I decided to conduct a mini global poll, on Facebook, and the query appeared to strike an immediate nerve.

As an expatriate Italo-Aussie, colleagues and friends are scattered over several different time-zones but within a few hours, 160 had responded — all but two identifying things they want to keep, or are fearful they will lose, after lockdown.

In New York, Australian lawyer Katherine Mogg — newly appointed legal counsel to the city’s Green Bank — writes a long and enthusiastic list: “Morning exercise, gardening, cooking meals planned and organised, reading, art making … less manic socialising!”

Architect and interior designer Craig Longhurst, a fellow expatriate to New York, has fresh, non-consumerist priorities: “Less is more in life.”

From the wilds of Bellingen in New South Wales, leather artist Gabrielle Tindall says the quiet of lockdown has offered a “glimpse of how things should be”: “And no aeroplanes clogging up the beautiful blue skies.”

Professor Malcolm Fisher, the Sydney-based intensive care specialist who discovered an antivenene for the funnel-web spider, is enthused by the new way of communicating: “I always remember Dag Hammarskj√∂ld (the Swedish economist and diplomat), writing in his book, Markings, that his isolation and loneliness was not about having no one to tell his troubles but because no one was telling him their troubles,” he wrote. “Every call is appreciated.”

Common themes emerge from Copenhagen to New Zealand, from Canada to The Philippines. A sense of release at not being forced to be productive all the time; not sweating the small things; valuing access to parks and nature; a return to old-fashioned pastimes like games and puzzles, away from screens.

Many reported that trying to mitigate physical distance led them to make more of an effort to pick up the phone or use video platforms to communicate with loved ones — and were doing so more often.

In Los Angeles, Branimir Kvartuc, the award-winning photographer who took the iconic shot of OJ Simpson’s police chase in 1994, agrees with the new effort to communicate more: teaching his mum to use FaceTime and more frequent conversation has been a big deal for him: “I use it with Mum all the time now. She’s much happier being more connected to the people in her life.”

While many reported missing the pub, restaurants and cafes in the earliest days of lockdown, most acclimatised to restrictions and say they’ve even enjoyed them.

A resident of the remote British crown territory, the Isle of Man, TV producer and journalist Mary Rose Trainor says she has “seen” and talked to many more friends during lockdown than ever before.

“I loved it that people have had time for each other,” she says.  Family meals, once rushed and rare, are planned, prepared and have become pivotal, communal moments in the “new normal” daily routine people fear they will lose.

Empty-nesters have reconnected with teenagers who returned home for lockdown while working parents have embraced being out of the daily home/office juggle. “All that time freed up from commuting to and from work. Priceless,” says Sydney political consultant Luis Garcia.

Most strikingly, all reported a sense of relief to be living at a slower, gentler pace and being able to return to hobbies and pastimes, the extracurricular things they love, without guilt. With the concert circuit closed, pianist Lisa Moore in New York says she has had time to learn to make bread and new piano sonatas for four hands (Faurè, Brahms, Beethoven) with her composer husband, Yale professor Martin Bresnick.

Wales-based theatre director and writer Clare Williams is painting and revelling in gardening and observing local birdlife.

The one caveat in the new-found joy came from those with younger children — and especially working women with children — who admitted the struggle of home-schooling can be wearing.

WHILE 14th-century Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio was crafting his great masterpiece, The Decameron, in Florence, an estimated 75 million people worldwide lost their lives to the Black Death. Between 1346 and 1353, Europe alone lost around 60 per cent of its total population to bubonic plague.

The Decameron is essentially a collection of stories told by 10 friends who were trying to keep each other amused with ribald tales while shielding from the plague together, and it contains observations resonant today.

Boccaccio observed that as the power of medicine and doctors’ advice appeared ineffective and useless, people responded very differently to the uncertainty and terror of the disease and the daily closeness of death.

Some, he wrote, felt the foul disease could only be kept at bay by enjoying life’s pleasures to the full, pursuing fun and laughter, satisfying all appetites without pause, mixing freely and drinking heavily. (Surveys in Britain have shown that alcohol sales in supermarkets spiked at the beginning of lockdown and have remained higher than normal.)

Others, observed Boccaccio, felt that living moderately and avoiding great excess would be more protective and they chose to hunker down, creating small, self-sufficient units to live in isolation from everyone else.

In the 21st century, in Western, developed democracies, our socialising with others is often conducted as much outside the home as within it and while many reported missing the pub, restaurants and cafes in the earliest days of lockdown, most acclimatised to restrictions and say they’ve even enjoyed them.

For Australian journalist and TV presenter, Edwina Bartholomew, and her husband, Neil Varcoe, having a young child during lockdown has allowed them a slower pace of life — and they’re loving it.

“Instead of rushing around to see everyone and do everything, we are perfectly happy in our little family unit,” Bartholomew says.  “I think there are only about 10 people I feel a huge compulsion to catch up with in person but I feel like I’m communicating so much more with my wider circle and taking the time to make phone calls and video chats. It’s actually nice.”

The former Democrat turned independent NSW MLC, Richard Jones, lives with partner Jo Immig in the rainforest around Byron Bay and says the slowing of life’s frenetic pace has been treasured: “We have strangely enjoyed not having the option to go out … and have a sense of relief when we get back home from a trip out.”

In Rome, retired Alitalia executive Giorgio Vernengo says he has rediscovered the pleasure of simply “being … and staying at home”.

“I also think, over the following couple of decades, it will bring forth a great flowering of innovative creativity.”
Just as the end of the Black Plague heralded the end of the Middle Ages and a cultural and social revolution, there are many people who hope that this 21st-century pandemic will spark significant, lasting change.

Best-selling British novelist Maggie Alderson echoed the observations of many who admitted a feeling of guilt for secretly enjoying lockdown. It has been particularly special family time for her as it has unfolded on the cusp of her 18-year-old daughter readying to leave home.

“I am realistic about how tough the next few years are going to be — particularly for my daughter’s generation — but I believe that just as WWII and living through the London Blitz shaped and strengthened my parents’ characters, I think the upheavals from COVID-19 will give my daughter and her contemporaries some very useful grit.

“I also think, over the following couple of decades, it will bring forth a great flowering of innovative creativity — in the arts, technology and thought — as adversity always does. Around 2041 will be an amazing era, as good as the 60s.”

We can only hope.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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