November 13, 2015

So frequently are phonetically named minor-motor-repair-to-matey-banter providers Kwik Fit investigated by the BBC that they’ll probably have their own TV series soon, possibly called Spare Tyre Heroes or Vehicle Servicing Live or some such.

Their latest outing, on Watchdog, revealed how Kwik Fik staff have been charging customers for filling their tyres with Nitrogen, when all they’d actually used was boring old air. Customers without sophisticated testing equipment to hand (e.g. a lit splint) would of course be none the wiser.

In their defence, it seems the Kwit Fit staff in question weren’t doing this all the time: mostly just when they had monthly sales targets to meet. Even so, some weaselly sneak of a whistleblower decided he couldn’t live with his conscience and spoilt the game for everyone else.

Watchdog, of course, went hyperbolic in cliché-pun-land, teasing its eagerly scandalised audience: with “They sell 5 million tyres a year, but are they inflating bills by charging for thin air?” No, in fact, they are not: they are inflating bills by charging for (but not actually bothering to supply) Nitrogen.

It should also be noted that the programme provided not a shred of evidence that Kwid Fit’s air is any “thinner” than that injected by other air providers. Unless, of course, they are suggesting it has been ‘diluted’ with pure Nitrogen, which is, after all, only very marginally less dense than air.*

It all seems like a bit of a fuss (a lot of hot air?) over nothing very much worth worrying about. What, after all, is a dash of Oxygen and a soupçon of water vapour between friends? Now, if they were filling tyres with Hydrogen or Methane or Butane, then they might have something to complain about.

But why would they do that when there’s perfectly good air (naturally rich in Nitrogen) just lying around all over the shop? They wouldn’t, would they.

And, let’s face it, you’re going to get charged for something or other before you get your car back – and it it might as well be watered down Nitrogen as anything else. Don’t make them go ‘creative’ on your sorry ass!

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* At 0 degrees Celsius and one atmosphere, air has a density of 1.2929 kilograms per cubic meter; while under the same conditions Nitrogen has a density of 1.2506 kilograms per cubic meter.


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