Halfords Car Battery Problem

If you go to your favourite search engine and search for the term "halfords battery unserviceable warranty", you’ll likely find many threads on various forums from people who have experienced the same problem as me.

A few weeks ago, my car battery, which I bought from Halfords with a 3 year guarantee stopped holding a charge. I would get in the car in the morning and it would not have enough power to start the engine. So I took it back for replacement under the guarantee. The people in the store tested it, and the test machine said the battery was 'unserviceable'.

However, according to the staff at Halfords, this means that the battery had failed for some reason which is "not covered by the guarantee". I could not understand how the battery can fail to hold a charge after normal use and not come under the guarantee. What seemed worse to me, was that they were happy to solve the problem by selling me an identical battery. That just didn't feel right to me.

But... I felt like I didn't have much choice, so under protest I paid for the new battery, even though I thought that it should have been done under the guarantee. But I decided to take this up with Halfords by sending an e-mail to their customer services department when I got home.

An e-mail discussion followed for about two weeks. At first they held their position saying that the fault with the battery was not covered by the guarantee. However, I started pointing out that under the Sale Of Goods Act it would be reasonable for me to expect the battery to last for 3 years, since the battery has "Maintenance Free Battery 3 Year Guarantee" written on the side in big letters:

In the end, whilst Halfords stuck to their guns and even suggested that something may be wrong with the electrics in my car, they decided to refund the cost of the replacement battery anyway. Personally, I don't have any reason to think there is anything wrong with the car. It's a well maintained Honda and everything seems to be fine. But Halfords did indeed send me a cheque for the full price of the battery - so fair play to them. I didn't end up out of pocket.

So if you have a similar problem, then complian to customer services and don't give up. A few e-mails to Halfords customer services may get you your money back. When writing to them, be nice, but firm... and persistent. It may come out in your favor, just for the effort of writing a few e-mails.

Raspberry Pi at Work

For the past couple of weeks I've been bringing my Raspberry Pi to work with me each day in my bag. But my desktop PC only has one network socket which is already in use, so I've only been able to connect the Raspberry Pi to my laptop. To make things easier, I bought a USB Ethernet adaptor, so that I can use my Raspberry Pi in the office with ease, in fact I can use it on any PC with a free USB socket. Here it is in action:

That works OK, which is cool. You can see I'm still running the Pi from the battery - which is still on it's original charge. It's given me light use of the Raspberry Pi for over two weeks. But at some point a Raspberry Pi powered laptop will appear I expect...

For my part, I'd be happy if somebody made an integrated Raspberry Pi case-and-battery. Then you could just carry one box around and recharge it like a phone or a kindle. But there may not be a market for crazy people like me who carry their RasPi around with them.

Raspberry Pi gone mobile

I'm writing this blog entry using my new Raspberry Pi, it's the second one I've bought. Not much unusual about that, but I'm doing it in Costa Coffee in Cambridge:

It's good that you can get your hands on a Raspberry Pi much easier now. I ordered this one on Friday night, and it arrived Tuesday morning. So that's less than 2 working days, which is much better. I got this one from Cool Components and I got the red ModMyPi case from the same place too. So because I had a Raspberry Pi in a case, I decided to go out on the road with it, well why not?

To get power to the Pi I'm using an emergency phone charger, mine is a TeckNet iEP380 which I bought from Amazon. It's rated at 5000mAh and seems to power the Raspberry Pi very well (although I've got nothing connected to the USB ports of the Pi). It might struggle if I connected any devices but I'm using the Pi 'headless' with just an ethernet cable to connect to my laptop.

So... now I can sit here in Costa Coffee, sipping my Cortado whilst working on my Raspberry Pi. Excellent, it's a good way to spend an hour or so in the morning.

Getting electricity from pocket change

When I was on holiday recently I read the book "Electrified Sheep" which amused me. But it mentioned the voltaic pile - an early kind of battery. So I decided that I should build one :-) I used some US coinage that was sitting in a drawer. I cleaned the coins by soaking them in coca-cola. Then dissolved some dishwasher salt in warm water to act as the electrolyte. I soaked small bits of kitchen towel in that solution and put them between the coins, like this:

voltaic pile 1

To my amusement, this was enough to light a suitable LED. This is what I got on the voltmeter:

voltage

...somewhere around 2 volts. I'm wondering what I could run off it, umm ... interesting.