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Afternoon, everyone. How are we all?

(That was just me being friendly, by the way, so don’t bother responding to tell me how you actually are, as there’s a very strong chance I won’t give a shit – unless you are genuinely in a bad way, and feel you have no one else to talk to, in which case I am always here for you, buddy).

Anyway, enough pleasantries. This week’s entry is about car phones (don’t worry, it’s going to be funnier than you think… or your money back).

Despite my previous issues with Ford a few years ago (see: https://middlerageddad.com/2015/07/03/once-upon-a-blog/), last year I bought my second ever Ford Kuga.

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My current Kuga is a few years old (it’s a ‘15’ plate, like the one in the picture above), is by no means top-of-the-range, and it was not expensive. Well, it was expensive compared to my first ever car when I was 21 (coincidentally, another Ford), but that only lasted a few weeks before falling apart, and by modern standards I spent less than most people do on a car.

It isn’t very quick, it doesn’t have fancy gadgets, and it isn’t as economical as I was hoping it might be; but what it does have is lots of space, a massive boot, and a decent audio system. Best of all, the audio system allows me to connect my phone via Bluetooth so that I can make and receive calls, and whilst I know this is quite common in modern cars now, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the main reasons I returned to Ford after a two-year absence.

I hadn’t realised just how good the in-built phone system is in some Ford cars, until I switched to the Volkswagen Tiguan for my previous motor. That is not to say ‘Tiggy’ didn’t have a good in-built phone system, more that she didn’t have any phone system at all, because Volkswagen are notoriously stingy when it comes to adding technology to their cars (for example, my parents-in-law owned a VW Passat until a couple of years ago, and that still had a fucking cassette player in it).

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As a result, when Tiggy joined our family in 2016, and I realised how handy being able to make and receive calls in the car had been (usually to determine who out of my wife and I was meant to be collecting the kids from school), I purchased a ‘Parrot’ system from Halfords, assuming it would more-or-less the same.

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Well, you know what assume does.

To say the Parrot system was utterly shit, would be an insult to shit. It was worse than terrible, and for anyone inclined to see my review (which was banned from Trust Pilot for over-use of the word ‘wanky’), I wrote a blog entry about that, too: https://middlerageddad.com/2016/05/20/the-old-blog-and-bone/).

As a result, having a decent phone system was pretty crucial to me when changing cars early last year (it featured at the top end of my priorities list, somewhere near ‘good mileage’ and ‘fancy cup holders’); and because nothing else on the market tickled my pickle, and I had enjoyed my previous Kuga – despite the issues I encountered with Ford as a company – off I trundled to get myself another one. And, for the most part, this car has thankfully been faultless (if a little thirsty on the weekday commute).

Once I had made my purchase, I was relieved to learn that the phone system was actually better than in my previous Kuga, since not only does the microphone allow those I am calling to clearly hear what I am saying (take note, Parrot, as this is pretty crucial), but the voice recognition software, whilst a little judgmental*, is usually spot on.

*I think it might be the same woman who voices my sat nav, as she can be a sarcastic little bitch at times, too.

Best of all, unlike in my previous Kuga, the phone system in this one allows me to read, listen to, and reply to text messages as well.

By that, I mean that when an incoming text message arrives on my phone, the car informs me with a pleasant alert ‘ding’, then offers me the option of reading what the text says on the dashboard; or – for safety reasons – I can choose to have it read out by the same judgmental woman instead. I usually opt for this latter method of receiving the text – not for safety, but for the comedy value of her mispronouncing words and names, so I can once again feel superior.

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Anyway, I then have the option of responding to the text message via a series of pre-set replies, which the boffins at Ford have determined to be some of the most widely used communications by British drivers.

Unfortunately, this is where the system lets itself down, because Ford are – as you may be aware – an American company, and what they think are the most common responses to text messages, is not necessarily true of us Brits. Furthermore, they seem to think that no driver over the age of 25 would want to use such a system, so everything is geared towards the [gulp] millennials, even though I doubt a Ford Kuga would be the car of choice for your average skinny-jean-wearing, crushed avocado scoffing, craft beer enthusiast.

Let me give you a few examples, to illustrate my point. Here are some of the responses Ford have determined to be the most useful when responding to a text via your car’s phone system:

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Ok
  4. Thanks!

(pausing there for one second, I do accept that these first four responses are, whilst a little abrupt for us Brits, relatively common and practical, but bear with me…)

  1. See u in 10 min
  2. See u in 20 min

(pausing again here, I would never abbreviate ‘you’ to ‘u’ – nor would most other Kuga drivers, I suspect – so this really annoys me. Even worse, those are the only time-based options offered by Ford, so they evidently assume very few British journeys take longer than about an hour to complete, what with us being on an adorable little island ‘n’ all).

  1. Stuck in traffic

(the only one I might actually need/use).

  1. Too funny 🙂 

(don’t get me started on this one. It makes me so fucking angry to think this is considered a common text response in Britain, especially among the Kuga driving community. Who the hell uses this kind of response when texting from their car?)

  1. Yee-haw
  2. OMG! There’s been another shooting

(ok, I made the last two up)

However, the one which really surprised me, was ‘I love you’.

Now, not only would I argue this an odd thing to tell someone via the power of automotive text messaging, but they have placed it directly below ‘Thanks!’ on the list – which is the only other response, aside from ‘Stuck in traffic’, that I tend to use.

As a result, when my (female) colleague texted me during the morning commute a few weeks ago, and I tried to thank her in response, I inadvertently declared my love for her. That took some explaining when I arrived at the office, let me tell you.

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Consequently, I have decided to contact Ford in order to suggest a series of more suitable alternatives for the British market, and ideally I would like my own personalised list (having checked online and in the car’s manual, I don’t think it is possible to change the replies manually myself, but I’m sure Ford could re-programme the car for me).

In truth, my list of ‘common’ text responses is quite extensive, but having whittled it down to just the top ten, and in particular those I am most likely to need whilst driving, I’ll be asking Ford to replace my own list with the following:

  1. Knobhead
  2. Who’s picking the boys up?
  3. Stuck behind a sodding tractor.
  4. Why are BMW drivers such arseholes?
  5. There in about an hour
  6. There in about two hours
  7. May not get to you before midnight at this rate
  8. Fucking roadworks again. I’m going to take a shit in a box, and post it to Cheshire East Council
  9. Old people should be banned from driving during rush hour
  10. Just killed another cyclist. Oops 🙂 

There. That should cover it.

Thanks for reading x

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