Motor Insurance Quotes – Are Motor Insurance Quotes Legally Binding?

Q: Are the motor insurance quotes I receive from insurance companies binding? If so for how long?

A: The answer to that is yes and no. Let us explain. If you receive motor insurance quotes from an insurance company – then that is the price they are going to charge you. However, they are not legally bound to quote you the same price if you call them back three days later.

It is likely you will receive the same quote from the same company provided there were no incidents from when you first received the quote, but just because it is likely doesn’t mean that the company is bound to stand to by the earlier quote.

A good way to find out how long the quoted rate is good for is to ask the agent or representative who is giving you the quote. Be wary of a hard sell at this point however as the agent is going to realize you will be requesting quotes from other companies.

Motor insurance quotes are liable to change suddenly due to market changes, new insurance legislation, or a driving offense that may have occurred. To avoid this we recommend doing all of your insurance shopping over a one or two day span. This will ensure you get the price that was quoted to you.

Lastly, we strongly recommend that you take comparison shopping seriously when it comes to finding the best deal on auto insurance. While it may sound like common sense, there are many drivers who don’t take the time to compare quotes from different companies and end up overpaying for their coverage as a result.

Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

Which Wood is Best For Outdoor Furniture – Teak Or Cedar?

If you are looking to landscape your backyard, reinvigorate your tired porch or patio, or even create a warm and welcoming living area out of that new deck, you may need some new furniture.  After all what good is having a great place to entertain if your guests don’t feel comfortable while they’re there?  When you need a few chairs to fill some space on the porch, or that plush, comfortable, deep seating sofa for the veranda, chances are that Teak or Cedar will be your best choice for this outdoor living furniture.  Which to choose will depend on a variety of factors however most importantly you will need to consider the look you are hoping to achieve, maintenance required, and the price you can expect to pay in order find the best fit. So read below and you’ll be lounging by your new poolside bar in a new sun lounger in no time at all!

The Look

One of the most important features of any new furniture is the appearance that it gives off.  Is your outdoor patio living space better suited for a rustic appeal or luxurious contemporary style?  Perhaps neither.  Maybe just a simple, yet warm, elegance speaks to you more.  But whether you’re looking to create a fun, relaxing environment with a pool side bar and some sun loungers or a simple conversational seating area you will have many choices with both Teak and Cedar.

Cedar usually has a very natural look, accenting your living area with soft red, light brown, and gray tones.  Lightweight and porous, cedar can easily accept a stain, sealer, or even paint, but most commonly is left in a raw finely sanded finish to preserve its natural look, feel, and smell.  Cedar is aromatic by nature which not only adds to the ambiance of a relaxing evening, but also helps preserve and protect the wood from insects and weather.

Teak is almost the polar opposite of cedar in terms of just about everything.  Teak is by nature a hardwood and as such, is more dense and heavy than cedar.  Grown exclusively in subtropical and tropical regions, and most commonly in the dense jungle of Indonesia and other Asian countries, teak is almost always imported and therefore is also more rare.  As a result of the exoticism associated with teak furniture it has achieved a perception of rarity and wealth and thus portrays a look of luxury and prestige.   Teak outdoor furniture is commonly purchased in one of two ways.  It can either be oiled, to achieve a darker “stained” look, or it can be left in its natural unfinished state where it will gracefully age and turn a soft patina gray color.  This color, unique to teak furniture, contributes to its exotic appeal.

Maintenance

Another very important factor to consider when deciding to purchase outdoor patio furniture is the level of maintenance that you wish to employ in living with your new furniture.  Luckily the maintenance factor, or lack of, is one of the main reasons that both teak wood and cedar wood are top choices of furniture manufacturers and consumers. 

Cedar, by nature is a very resilient wood whose properties help to resist weather of all climates but specifically heavily climates with heavy precipitation.  Snow, sleet, and rain are no concern for the long lasting properties of cedar, which will maintain its brilliance for many years.  This is one of the reasons why leaving cedar furniture in a sanded unfinished state is by far the most popular finish.  Like with many other woods though, some wish to finish their cedar furniture to achieve an altogether different look.  Several refinishing options are listed below in order of popularity.

  1. Stain - many prefer the finished look of a nice stain on their outdoor furniture.  The benefits of using a stain include being able to change the color of the furniture to virtually any color for which stain is available.  Stains are now offered in many shades through the dark to light color spectrum.  The stain may also provide a slight protection from the elements although with cedar it’s not really necessary and so mainly should just be used to alter the color.  The disadvantages of stain are that in order to maintain the original stained look, the stain needs to be reapplied every 2-3 years as the stain itself is not as resilient against the suns UV rays and weather elements as the wood is.
  2. Sealer – some prefer to “lock in” the natural look of their cedar furniture and so choose to use a high end sealer.  Sealers are made by many companies and are available at any hardware or big box store.  The sealer will prevent the cedar patio furniture from fading and will slow down the aging process.  Keep in mind though that this aging is often a desired affect of the cedar.  The downside to sealing the cedar furniture is consistent with the drawback to using a stain.  In order to maintain its effectiveness, it must be reapplied every 2-3 years which can be tedious and cumbersome.
  3. Paint – like any wood surface, cedar can be painted with a fine outdoor wood paint.  This is not as common as staining or sealing the furniture because paint will crack and chip, and also drastically alters the appearance of the furniture from its natural state.  Once the paint cracks and chips the entire painted surface must be completely sanded and repainted, sealed, or stained.

Teak is also a very weather resistant and ultra resilient wood due in part to its propensity to secrete a natural teak oil which helps to self condition it and protect against the harsh demands of a wet and/or humid climate.  Many shipbuilders choose teak as a main wood for the decks of their ships for this very reason.  Many sunken ships have been raised from the depths of the ocean only to show the teak beautifully preserved and in tact.  It’s this property that makes teak more commonly found in its natural unfinished state as there is no functional reason to apply any external finish to the surface.  Some customers however choose to apply additional amounts of this teak oil to achieve a darker more stained look.  While this will preserve the “new” look of the furniture it must be reapplied every 2-3 years to maintain this appearance and so can become burdensome.  Also by leaving the teak in its natural state, the often desired patina gray look is naturally achieved where it cannot be, if a teak oil or other finish is applied to the surface of the furniture.

Price

While price is often a concern for consumers, sometimes it is not such a factor for consumers of wood patio furniture.  As with everything else, price is a measure of perceived value.  The more valuable a product is perceived to be in the mind of the consumer, the more it will cost.  This reason alone is why both teak and cedar patio furniture are generally more expensive than other common outdoor furniture materials such as plastic, wicker, or rattan furniture.  Teak and cedar themselves have a price difference too though which can be quite significant depending on the individual furniture item.  Here’s why.

Cedar – because of its lightweight, proximity, ease to harvest and availability, cedar is the cheaper choice of the two wood furniture types.  While it will last a long time and is very durable, typically teak will last longer.

Teak – for all of the reasons opposite cedar, teak is the more valuable wood.  Simply not having the availability of cedar or other woods helps to create this elite, rare, sort of feeling that teak carries with it, which raises the price.  The purchase of teak furniture is often perceived as a sign of affluence or wealth because teak has a widely known reputation for commanding a higher price.  More expensive to harvest, more expensive to ship, and its long lasting appeal coupled with its novelty together contribute to its higher cost to produce which in turn creates a higher price for the consumer.

In summary, “better” or “best” can only be determined by the customer.  However taking appearance, maintenance, and price into consideration, teak and cedar can easily be compared and contrasted for similarities and differences.  Cedar, the more light weight, commonly used wood makes great patio furniture because of its ability to resist insects, rot, and weather elements (specifically rain, sleet, and snow) and also because it is relatively inexpensive to produce.  Teak, the hardwood of the two, is more exotic, rare, and will last longer.  Therefore, it commands a higher price, but also delivers a greater perceived value in terms of prestige, longevity, and maintenance free ownership experience.

The Significance of Computers in Our Lives

2010; mankind has come a long way since the first discovery of fire a few hundred thousand years ago. Fire used to be a necessity then, now the computer is a necessity for us as we use it in our daily lives.

One way computers help us is in our lives. We use the computer to communicate with people such as web conferencing with friends who are overseas, to look up on information about a particular topic, socialize on social networks such as Facebook or even to do something as simple as sending an email or digital cards to friends and loved ones.

The computer has also managed to change us from reading hard copies of books, magazines and newspapers, to reading online digital documents such as online newspaper articles and e-books.

In education, lecturers are now using PowerPoint to make their lecture slides which are used during their lectures and students are now able to download the lecture slides into their computers and store it as reading documents.

In the working place, paperwork is now slowly converting from manual printing and keeping documents to storing documents in the computer. The problem with paperwork is that it takes up a lot of space and an office has limited space. Moreover, going digital will help the environment as there will be less demand for paper which results in lesser trees being cut down to be made into paper.

However, there have been some issues raised about digital documents. A digital document can be created and edited by anyone, thus this leads to the owner verification problem. It is dangerous in the working environment, because anyone can edit a contract or agreement after it has been signed and used it against the other party. Another problem would be if one accidentally deletes the document, it will be hard to trace the perpetrator and also very hard to retrace the document.