Life online, where even car tyres are for sale
The internet has revolutionised so much of the world around us. It makes you wonder how we read the news, booked an airline ticket, sent a letter or even met before the World Wide Web came along.
How did we keep ourselves occupied before we had Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube?
And who was it who decided to place a capital letter inside so many techno neologisms?
While online dating seemed like a mecca for stalkers and an unorthodox way to meet not that long ago, my younger colleagues assure me that it’s now very much the norm.
The logical consequence of all that data traffic is the gradual decline of the traditional means of performing many tasks.
The most obvious evidence of this is the gradual extinction of newsagencies.
For years they were protected businesses, with a monopoly on the sale of newspapers in their local area.
Just like the “Rivers of Gold” that flowed from their classified ad columns.
But that monopoly is worthless when people stop buying newspapers, when no one sends cards anymore and people search for unique cars online rather than in a printed magazine.
I’m predicting that the real world will be completely replaced by the virtual world sometime before Christmas.
I’ve just discovered that the latest retail transaction to go online is the purchase of car tyres.
Until recently, I’d entrusted all advice on tyre purchases to a beloved local guy called Dave who’d watched my family grow up, and who always knew exactly the right rubber to put between myself and the road.
I never bothered to shop around because I knew that Dave would look after me with the best price and the best advice.
But a colleague with a Range Rover started looking for a cheaper price online after discovering that his 20-inch tyres were around $700 a piece.
Those 20-inch rims meant a very low profile configuration that also made the tyres rather prone to damage on kerbs.
Somewhat relieved to have finally worn out a set after 45,000 kilometres, he made the familiar telephone call to his local tyre guy and was pleasantly surprised by a quote of $578 each for Pirelli PZero 245/45R20 99Z tyres (that is, $2312 for a set of four).
Not exactly expecting to find a better price at another outlet, and denying that he was back on the dating websites, he nonetheless searched online and found a site selling car tyres.
Searching both according to the make and model of his car and, alternately, according to tyre size, he was given a quote of $311 for exactly the same Pirelli tyre, fitted and balanced!
That’s $1244 for four tyres, providing a saving of $1068 on a full set.
Checking twice in disbelief to be sure, he then ordered and paid for his tyres online, and had the option of having them fitted at any one of 1000 locations in Australia – most of them new car dealerships which, reassuringly, are still made of bricks and mortar.
But, as fate would have it, his fitting location was back at the same dealer he’d obtained the original $578 quote from.
So would I buy my next set of tyres online?
PS There is an additional $10 freight charge per tyre for non-metropolitan delivery.