Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - daryld
On Saturday I was on ye olde booze cruise to Calais at the Citie d'Europe shopping mall.

Whilst wheeling my shopping trolley around the Carrefour supermarket I saw that they sold all sorts of branded motor oils at non-discount prices that were still cheaper than Halfords so-called '20% discount'.

Example: Castrol Semi synthetic Diesel, 4.5 L:
Halfords 20% discount=£17.65 (usual price £22.00).
Carrefour normal price=£14.20 (i.e. E19.95 euros@1.4 exchange rate).

Another example of rip-off Britain?

I bought 4 bottles (of oil, not Chablis!).
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
Another example of rip-off Britain?


Of course, not. But you can have your motor oil at the same price in the UK, providing you have the same business rates/rents/wages/insurance/etc. costs as in France.

Did you know it is cheaper to buy a house in Calais and travel by Eurostar to London to work instead of living in Dover and commuting to London? If life was so much cheaper and better in Calais, there would be a "Sangate" in Dover stopping people emigrating to France.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Baskerville
>Did you know it is cheaper to buy a house in Calais and travel by >Eurostar to London to work instead of living in Dover and >commuting to London?

But who would want to do either? I commuted from Faversham to East London for a year and it was near enough 1.5 hours each way, by car or train. Train was marginally more expensive but much more predictable. On the train you could also sleep when necessary (it usually was). Even so it was a terrible experience though better than actually living in filthy old London. I have vowed never again to commute more than half an hour.

Come to think of it it was actually quicker to get to Calais if you timed it right.

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Glutton
It certainly is another example of rip off Britain.

Given that currency fluctuations should be making goods in the Euro Zone more expensive (the Euro has depreciated around 10% since the start of the year) it is even more amazing that goods are cheaper in France than in the UK.

As for your unit cost argument, why are goods still cheaper in NYC than in London (cities of comparable costs). In fact, you would be hard pushed to find a country that is more expensive for goods than the UK.

As for the emigration issue - of course, its very very easy to up sticks and move to a foreign land??!? Isn't it? I'm totally with Chris on this one - I'll do up to half an hours travelling (that usually involves a seat too), anything more is hell.

Surely the fact that even a handful ofpeople are prepared to make a 2hr+ commute from France to London shows that something is drastically rotten in Britain? I'm lucky as I bought a place here at the right time - loads haven't been so lucky and I'd love to know whats going to happen to them.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Gen
>If life was so much cheaper and better in Calais, there would >be a "Sangate" in Dover stopping people emigrating to France.

I'm not sure that sangatte was full of french M.B.

Still, I suspect that the reason the oil is expensive in england is because of the silly mindset people have. It's expensive, so it must be good...bet Castrol etc would lose sales if they reduced their prices...how many times have i heared the 'the supermarket petrol is cheaper since its slightly watered down' talk...
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
I'm not sure that sangatte was full of french M.B. >>

Gen: I didn't say or imply French. The same people who were dossing in Sangate would be rushing back if the choice between Calais and Dover was one of which sold Motor Oil cheaper.

Other replies: The point I am making - but obviously not so clearly - is that there are extra costs in the UK (including higher labour costs and cost of land). Now I can understand if a motorist in Cumbria was complaining "why do we have to pay same national chain prices for Castrol up here in the North as you lot pay down in London/Kent/Surrey - after all our wages are lower and the rent/rates are lower". Nationally fixed prices do mean that the poor/cheaper North subsidises the rich/expensive South.

As for comparision with N.Y. - you have to look at their total costs, including duties/taxes/VAT as well as cheap Latin labour. There are published tables (available for a fee) of purchase price, labour costs, etc., indices that you can use to compare like with unlike.

My point is "the grass always looks greener ... "

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - king arthur
Not sure this is a case of "rip-off Britain" as much as "rip-off Halfords"...
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
Not sure this is a case of "rip-off Britain" as much
as "rip-off Halfords"...

i think that is jsut a bit unfair without any figures to back your case. Boots plc used to own Halfords until a few months ago. It was sold off a "bargain price" to new owners due to uneconomic operational costs. I have yet to check whether the business is doing any better under new management.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - frostbite
The DT recently ran a feature on the pros and cons of 'commuting from France' and the general concensus was that, primarily for tax reasons IIRC, it was likely to be very expensive.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Glutton
Interesting what you say - considering labour costs are relatively cheap in the UK compared to the rest of the world (even lower than in the US).

Halfords was sold for a song. The previous owners couldn't make a go of it - but then again, what do chemists know about the motor spares game. In the eighties, Boots (when part of the Ward White group) went on an acquisition spree in an attempt to become a retail conglomerate (conglomerates were all the rage then) and ended up with a ragtag of businesses which it failed to make a go of (it owned Do It All for a while) and this included Halfords.

That era of Boots management doesn't look too good now and the outgoing Chief Exec has dragged them kicking and screaming into the millenium but he decided that oil filters and brake pads wasn't part of the new look Boots.

So that's why Halfords was sold for a song - decades of mismanagement. A venture capitalist bought it - only a VC would go near a business like that, but its their business to turn companies around. Especially when there's a few bob in it for themselves.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - king arthur
>> Not sure this is a case of "rip-off Britain" as
>> as "rip-off Halfords"...
i think that is jsut a bit unfair without any figures
to back your case. Boots plc used to own Halfords until
a few months ago. It was sold off a "bargain price"
to new owners due to uneconomic operational costs. I have yet
to check whether the business is doing any better under new

Uneconomic operational costs because they have huge stores full of junk and you only ever see one or two people in there at a time (usually fiddling with the stereos). My local motor factors are in a tiny high street shop but I can buy everything there that I can buy from Halfords (err....except bicycles perhaps), at lower prices. E.g. Haynes manuals, Halfords = £14.99, local motor factors = £10.99...that's just one typical example. Oils and fluids are sure to be cheaper from a motor factors than from Halfords, and the staff are usually a lot more clued up (and you don't have to wait ten minutes before they realise you need serving).
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Armitage Shanks{P}
I am not sure that it is all rates and wages. I used to buy Mobil 1 for $2 a litre, in Germany, when it was £7 plus in UK. I think it likely that all Mobil 1 is made at some refinery in Rotterdam and shipped all over Europe with different labels and prices on it. We pay what the manufacturer thinks the market will bear and they think we can bear a lot! With trips thru Eurotunnel at £9 return for an afternoon and early evening in Calais you don't have to buy much of anything to justify the cost of the journey!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Flat in Fifth
Not sure this is a case of "rip-off Britain" as much
as "rip-off Halfords"...

Hoping to tread carefully here as we are fairly close to breaking the requirement not to name and shame.

Couple of years ago desired to buy a couple of roof rack type cycle carriers from..... a well known motor store. Had looked at the particular range of goods on offer and when the 20% off sale came went back to check the reduced prices.

Found that now the "base price" had gone up by the exact amount to allow for a 20% discount thus ending up back at the original price.

Expressed my disappointment to the store staff, at which they offered, seeing as I wanted two carriers, to knock 20% off the "sale" price.

I forget the actual cash numbers now but the deal we both settled for in the end was for me to pay the full "sale" price for two low spec carriers, but actually took away two much much higher spec versions. Anyway I was well pleased and didn't see much complaint from the sales chappie either.

Actually it embarrasses the hell out of the missus but this national trait we have to pay the ticket price with no questions asked really bugs me.


I'm not mean, just a careful Yorkshire lad.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - M.M
King Arthur was close in his first post. I don't subscribe to the phrase rip-off Britain unless you've done your homework.

Just been in a retail motor shop with the oil mentioned at £11.99 for 5lit...cheaper than "rip-off France" then.

Currently buying same spec (diesel s/syn) major brand oil for £7.45.

It's there if you look for it.

(Hi FiF)

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Flat in Fifth
"cheaper than "rip-off France" then"

:-) nice one MM.

Did you get any/enough rain to get the hay up and on the right path?
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - M.M

Not enough rain really but grass always tries doesn't it. You can lose an un-maintained gravel drive to it in three years.

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - SjB {P}
In defence of Halfords, I've just got back from my local branch, having purchased two new tyres for the missus's push bike.

I received excellent, knowledgeable, help in choosing the most appropriate construction, but the best bit was the price: TWO high quality 7.00x35 road & trail Michelins for £10.98!

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Aprilia
I travel to Europe quite a bit (just got back from Munich at the weekend). I have to say that just about everything is better & cheaper in Germany. Food, beer, oil, hotels, you name it. Vehicle technicians get paid more in Germany than in the UK, but garage labour rates are quiet a bit lower - work that one out.

I for one would be very keen to emigrate to Germany (I was offered a job at Bosch, Stuttgart a couple of years ago) - sadly my wife is determined to stay in the UK. I have met large numbers of British (and Irish) over there and very few want to come back to the UK.

BTW - anyone travelled on the new 'ICE' trains in Germany? - they're good enough to make you want to give up driving!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - PhilW
It's not just rates, rents etc. Fact is that you can walk into ANY supermarket in France (including the middle of Paris and other major cities)and buy oil that is cheaper than in Britain unless you really hunt around - motor factors etc. Same goes for most motoring supplies even comparing like with like (Champion wiper blades etc,) Same is true of hotels. I'm not familiar with the expensive ones but if you take the "Travelodge" type, they seem to be about £50 per night here (I paid about £60 in Leeds), yet IBIS in Paris are about £35 -40 (for a double room) and they also have a decent restaurant and bar where you can get a good meal for about £7 - here you have to eat in the nearest MacDonalds. Main dealer labour rates in a huge Citroen garage in Rennes I noticed were less that £40 per hour (though not having used a main dealer here in years I'm not sure what they are!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - martin
As someone who has lived off and on in France for the past 5 years many of the observations about rip-off Britain do (to an extant) ring true. Ironically, it is not because France is structurally cheaper that makes its off the shelf products any cheaper. Labor rights, minimum wages, paid holidays, business taxes, VAT, employing people are all more expensive/elaborate than the UK. As Gordon Brown says, you can start a business for £60 in the UK. But what he has failed to account for is that your £60 will not go anywhere as far as its equivalent in euros in France. Moreover, 8 out of 10 UK new businesses fold within the 1st year, not a good statistic for entrepreneur Blighty.

I think the reason why the UK and particularly the SE is so ridiculously expensive (London being on par with Tokyo as the world's most expensive city, read this in the Times some months ago) is the profit seeking and monopolization strategies of big business. How many independent traders have folded in the last 10-20 yrs (I bet it's enormous). Halfords are more expensive on just about every product compared to my local parts shop, plus there is never any staff member around and they tend to be bad mooded. The point is that we now have a situation of less competition, not more and monopolization of any product always means price fixing and or increases as there is no other competitor to adjust the market value of the goods on sale.

Working as I do at a language school in Grenoble, I can do more with my Euro salary here than I could do with its greater equivalent in the UK (even if it was augmented to account for standards of living and national salary averages of Britain). All the important things in life, mortgage repayments, paid holiday, food, wine, driving, transport, music are cheaper than any of the places I lived in the UK. For instance, base rate French mortgages are 5% going down to 4.7% for teachers such as myself, and this is fixed to the European base rate which does not fluctuate so I know that I will not get repossessed 10yrs down the line, when the nest economics minister balls's up like the Conservatives of early 90's Britain with interests rates at 14%!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - madf
Hmm: I suggest it's all about several things:
1. UK land and buildings are more expensive: we have a VERY complex and slow planning process - designed to produce work for lawyers and planners and to take a long time:-)

2. UK transport costs are very high becuase of overcrowding and underinvestment.. hence goods will cost more

3. Halfords as mentioned before have high overheads.

4. The UK market will stand high prices.

Local Motor Factors are much cheaper and if Asda did to motor acessories what they did to clothes prices (Asda George brand jeans are very good quality and vlaue for money) then I suspect they would undercut everyone.

If UK supermarkets bothered I am sure they could cut oil prices to French levels.

Expecting anything cheap at Halfords is like looking for cheap food at Marks and Spencer:-)

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Rebecca {P}
Yet the Daily Telegraph article mentioned above also claimed that the 40% tax bracket in France starts at the equivalent of £16,000 annual salary. eeeeek.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - martin
I agree, tax is france is high, but it is direct tax which hits everyone, including the well off and super well off. Most employers here in france get a 13 or 14 month salary to help cope with this tax, plus you get 5-6 weeks paid holidays and bank holidays. Moreover, indirect taxation is a lot lower, such as fuel tax, food tax, VAT on books, kids cloths etc. Moreover, tax de ville (community charge) is about half the English rate on average.

The French do probably pay more tax, but then they get more services: transport, museums, arts, good roads, totally free education including all higher education and vocational courses, health care which were elected best in Europe by WHO need i go on!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
re - rip off Britain.

Some of the replies above use circular arguments, and defy all logic - but it would take too much time & space to debunk them all.

If the profits to be made in UK were really that big, the big continental or US companies would be queing up to buy out UK businesses; or setting up their own chains.

The main reason for higher UK costs is the cost of land, and the cost of oil (due to high duties). The latter impacts on every other cost.

As for Halfords, their last published figures - in round terms - show that they made a profit of 7% (£35m) on a turnover of £500m (i.e. they make 7p on every £1). The venture capitalists who bought Halfords from Boots paid over £400m. So they make a return on their investment of about 9% (£35m from £400m). If the invested capital cost them about 5% to borrow, they are in effect making 4%.

So, you can decide for yourself whether this is a "rip-off" business or not.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Aprilia
"If the profits to be made in UK were really that big, the big continental or US companies would be queing up to buy out UK businesses; or setting up their own chains."

Hang on - isn't this just exactly what they have done/are doing?

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - martin
here here! Starbucks on every corner, Walmart under the name of Asda, McDonalds franchising every other food joint out of town...i could go on.

the problem i have is that most people contradict themselves by saying that they are patriots or at least feel more British than US whilst at the same time buying from the above corporations: can't see how these businesses really benefit the average UK citizen in either choice, quality or value for money. You gets what you pays for!!!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Mark (RLBS)
Enough! Motoring, or else the thread gets pulled.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - PhilW
Well, whatever the reason, I shall continue to buy Auchan own brand semi - synth oil at £6.50 for 5 litres (and sometimes a free litre thrown in) to change the oil in our 4 family cars (me, wife, two "kids") every 5k miles. Can't do much harm - 3 of the cars have done over 100k without any of the engines having any other "treatment". And new wiper blades for £4 per set every 6 months, and.....
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - pugdriver
Martin - a lot of good points well made. Now, how about Norauto; which seems to me to be the French equivalent of Halfords. I have bought stuff in there before, but it wasn't particularly cheap. Have you had any good/bad experiences there?
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - martin
I see it much like Fuevert, a little pricey and not that great on service, at least in my experience. I use Leclurc or Geant for car oils and general tid-bits, but as for more specific spare parts i find independent suppliers can beat the main chain stores hands down, which makes me wonder what the attraction of them really is, sure i save a euro on oil! For example, i needed new headlights for my Passat. Feuvert and Norauto could'nt even supply them and would'nt even try to give me any kind of price, just a flat No! Consequently i phoned a few local parts suppliers and found a great place called A7 Auto-pieces, they did both lights, new for 200euros, which considering VW price of 565 new was pretty good going!

honestly, the chain store myth is the biggest gone since petrol stations started telling you their fuel was more sophisticated than that at the local supermarket and would enhance driving. Never once noticed any performance boost my self from BP, ESSO etc.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Carl2
I thought that Halfords operated a price pledge policy. I don,t expect it to apply to France but it must surely be valid against the other parts suppliers quoted.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Flat in Fifth
"I thought that Halfords operated a price pledge policy. I don't expect it to apply to France but it must surely be valid against the other parts suppliers quoted."

Off their website
"If you can buy the same product cheaper within 7 days and within 20 miles of your local Halfords store, we'll match the price, even against trade outlets!"

seems fair enough but clearly there are some other terms & conditions available/applicable at your local store.

Without knowing the details of the specific price pledge it is difficult to say, but I find too many of these have so many caveats making them as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Eg missus took a department store to task once. The replies she got were,
We don't include Argos its a catalogue store.
We don't include X as its a small specialist toy shop.
We don't include Woolies because its not a department store.
In fact the pledge was against other department stores within a certain radius and, you've got it, the guilty party was the only dept store within that radius.

Above not particularly motoring but relevant I feel. Reinforces the advice to do your homework. Tricky if a crisis purchase, but regular homework allows you to have a feel for the market, thus knowing where to aim your best shot first time and give you a gut feel if being ripped off.

Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - jud
Fear not rip off Britain will soon come to a end, with in a few years we will see our life savings devalued when we join the Euro, along with the 'they have them so why don't we' toll motorways.
Then finally we will not be able to 'save' £3.45 after paying ferry fees and travelling for miles to get there. If you really want to save money on booze brew your own as i do.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - PhilW
Except of course that home brew doesn't taste like beer, it tastes like home brew, and you don't just save £3.45 since beer in France is one third/one quarter the price it is here, engine oil half price (motoring link), diesel is 50% more expesive here and if you smoke cigars they can be 4 times as expensive here. So even if I just buy £20 of cigars I have have saved £60 which goes a long way towards ferry and diesel costs of getting there. Anyway, while I can understand why those goods which attract duty/excise etc are more expensive here, why are everyday goods much cheaper (do engine oil, wipers, tools, tyres, filters etc attract duty?) especially since the French have a higher rate of VAT?
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - jud
i make wine not beer
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - PhilW
My home brew wine was even worse than my home brew beer - and that's saying something!!! And if you'd tasted it you would instantly know why I always buy it now - I used to confuse it with gearbox oil and LHM!!
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
Remember, Mark(RLBS) said to keep it to motoring or else thread gets deleted!

Aprilla and Martin -
Halfords = Motoring = "UK-only" business with no foreign competetion.

>>"here here! Starbucks on every corner, Walmart under the name of Asda, McDonalds franchising every other food joint out of town...i could go on.">>
These are all non-motoring, many are franchises, are found in most corners of the world including France; and by your logic therefore all these corners of the world are a "rip-off".

Back to Motoring: Halfords provide a service, in locations and a corporate style that suit the comapany, at a price that many motorists are happy to pay. Those who are not happy with the service or price, are free to shop elsewhere.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - OldOiler
Many a time I have gone to a "super store" for parts/materials only to find the the small shop down the road is cheaper, knows his product and will sell in smaller quantities.
Now I go to the small shop first !
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - Aprilia
Sorry MB, but we *are* ripped off on most motoring goods. I have an up-to-date print-out of typical German main-dealer car parts costs for a range of typical spares produced by the ADAC (German equivalent of the AA). Most genuine spare parts are much cheaper than we pay in the UK. Mercedes C-class parts are a similar price to Mondeo parts. I can list specific examples if you wish. Workshop rates are also a lot lower in Germany, despite that fact that their technicians are generally better trained and the dealers offer better facilities.
I don't pretend to understand how all of these differences occur, but they are real.
Halfords 20% 'discount' ?? - eMBe {P}
I don't pretend to understand how all of these differences occur, but they are real. >>

Aprilia: We agree then. I am not disputing that some/all car parts may cost more in the Uk than in some/all other countires. But that is not the same as saying that the UK is a "rip-off". Taking account of all factors, in all free market countries, the prices charged will be broadly the maximum that the particular market can bear. If the oportunity to make huge profits existed in the UK car parts/accessories market, you would see the likes of PEP-Boys from USA trying to muscle in here. As it is, Halfords is left alone to sell in the High Street and its out-of-town large warehouses. The profit margin is to small to attract competitors, but jsut enough to allow Halfords to sell £550m worth of goods to milions of its regular customers each year.

Value my car