Here is a little video demonstrating BMW’s later feature, the Comfort Access System.

The comfort access system puts an end to searching for car keys in your handbag or pockets. Simply approach your BMW, open the door and press the Start button. Your unique key is recognized remotely by the comfort access sensors as soon as you come within 1.5 meters of your BMW, wherever you happen to be carrying it – in your pocket, your handbag or briefcase. Touch the door handle and the door unlocks.
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World biggest Internet based auction eBay has finally started to realize what impact some of their policies have. Recently vice president of eBay has made and announcement that the company is changing policies to remove negative feedback left by customers for sellers because they would not mark item as a gift in order to avoid customs fees.

eBay will be removing feedback if listings meet Customs Requirements and seller gets negative feedback that talks about customs delays or customs fees. To qualify sellers must advise customers that customs fees and taxes are not included in price nor in shipping fee and those fees are buyers responsibility.

eBay also announced that it is going to include two competing online payment services Moneybookers and PayMate.

The feedback policy was on the list of most biggest frustrations for eBay sellers. Let’s see what else we have on that list so eBay could start working on it.

  • CEO John Donahoe – many have commented negatively regarding him. The significant drop in eBay stock is associated with Mr. Donahoe being in the office. There is even a petition online to get john Donahoe resigned.
  • eBay deal with buy.com – many small businesses just can not compete with huge corporation list buy.com
  • Lack of communication and customer service.
  • Payment policy practically eliminated any other option than PayPal. Many look at this is as unfair and just because the company also owns PayPal.
  • High listing fees.
  • Unwarranted Account Suspensions – they are a lot of complains that accounts were disabled simply because it looked like there was a security concern without any justification.
  • Glitches and lack of innovation.

So if you have a eBay business what do you think about the changes? Do you feel like it is going to help you a lot or not?

via Ecommerce Journal

Two major insurance companies Allied and Nationwide announced new commercial auto product features with the Commercial Auto Plus Endorsement. It provides the following coverages:

New Vehicle Replacement Cost Coverage – can cover new private passenger vehicles, or pick up trucks up to 20,000 gross vehicle weight, without depreciation, if they are in an accident resulting in a total loss.

Hired Auto Physical Damage with Loss of Use Coverage – can cover rental vehicles for collision or comprehensive coverage, if the business also purchased hired auto liability coverage, and has collision & comprehensive coverages on owned vehicles.

Auto Loan or Lease Coverage – If a leased vehicle is a total loss because of an accident, Commercial Auto Plus Endorsement can cover the difference between the unpaid amount on the loan or lease and the actual cash value of the vehicle.

Expanded Towing – Standard business auto policies do not provide towing coverage for trucks. With Commercial Auto Plus Endorsement, Allied Insurance covers trucks and private passenger autos for the cost of towing, jump starts, and minor roadside repairs.

Rental Reimbursement – Standard business auto policies do not pay for a rental car, but Allied’s Commercial Auto Plus Endorsement makes sure that business owners are covered when they need a replacement vehicle.

Personal Effects of Insured and Property of Others – Commercial Auto Plus Endorsement provides $250 of coverage for property of others that is in a business’ custody or control while it is being transported. It also provides $500 for personal property of the insured that is lost or damaged while being transported, with no deductible.

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In case you missed it. There is some interesting article on WSJ web site, “Europeans Raise Pressure on Detroit”. According to the source US auto makers will face new stronger competition from European car manufacturers.

While US companies shorten production and facing cash flow troubles Volkswagen AG (further VW) and BMW AG are preparing the expansion of their US market share withing few years.

US small vehicle market historically is dominated by US and Asian auto makers. Autodata’s research from 2001 shows steady decline of US manufactures share and Asians and Europeans shares are steadily increasing.

VW is building their first US factory since they close their previous one in July of 1988 due to some quality problems and high cost of production with unionized labor.

This time VW is betting on non union workers. They plan to introduce several new models specifically designed for US market. VW get its optimism from other markets. For example VW has bigger market share in China than Toyota has. I would attributed that to centuries old tension between China and Japan so Chinese do not like to buy anything made in Japan in my opinion. New US factory is going to open in 2012 with production of 250000 cars a year. VW’s luxury unit Audi is also planning to increase its marketing spending. So we are going to see more Audi ads including on Super Bowl.

BMW is also planning to increase its market share by introducing more One  series cars and by selling more of their Mini cars. Although BWD has already increased prices for most of 2009 models. So unless hyperinflation really hits the US as most classic economics law suggests. It is going to a little harder for them to compete on price level  with other manufacturers when they start to clean up stock.

I bet you owners of newer BMW cars with that start/stop engine button did not know you could run your car without the key in ignition lock. Apparently if you had your engine running and when you turn it off, remove the key from ignition lock you then have 15 seconds to push start engine button and drive away without your keys.
Some say it is anti hijacking feature some say it is BMW new comfort access option. Hmm, I guess if hijackers got your keys and you are still sitting in your seat you can drive away… that is of course if you are still conscious and without gun pointing at your head. But by all means though if your life is in danger don’t try to be a superman and drive away from gunpoint. Your car is most likely insured, but scientists yet to discover way to resurrect people from death.

Several months ago I wrote about the how easy it was for one dishonest customers to initiate a chargeback and get money from our PayPal account. It seamed like we as merchant did not have any rights at all. Majority of people who we talked to about the situation was saying that chargebacks are just another cost of doing business and the rest of respondents blamed PayPal. They were saying that it was really the PayPal’s fault and it is very unfair to just withdraw money from merchants accounts. At the time we thought about looking for  alternatives to PayPal, not taking credit cards at all and quite a bit of other crazy things.

It has been a while since then, but today I am very pleased to report that PayPal has actually fought for our money and won. I am really impressed with how PayPal managed to win the chargeback from VISA credit card company. It took it awhile, but after several months we actually got our money back.

So if you are selling anything online or accepting payments via PayPal or any other service follow these simple recommendations to maximize your chances for keeping your money in your pockets:

  • Ship merchandise with carrier that provide package tracking and proof of delivery.
  • In case of returns, require from clients that they use your preferred (see above) carrier.
  • Keep all record. E-mails, snail mail, tracking numbers, proof of delivery, proof that you did not receive anything (like in our case), anything that is even remotely related to your business. You will never know when you will need that information, but it could literally safe your business in some cases.
  • In case of dispute with client and if it is not going to be resolved peacefully notify PayPal promptly about the dispute. I think their requirement is like within 20 days.
  • If chargeback is actually initiated you will have a chance to present your case. Keep in mind that in most situations it is your only chance. So present all the records that you have collected with your full description what they are and how they are related. Include history of the dispute. Most likely you will not hear from them until the case is either won or lost.

So good luck to you all.

After a brief struggle with my parsimony, I have finally decided to buy original BMW transmission fluid. Sticker on side of gearbox was worn out, but it was of yellow color indicating that I needed MTF-LT-2 fluid. Local BMW dealer had it for MSRP price about $140 for 5 liters. It is a bit more expensive compared to everybody’s’ favorite Red Line MTL, which one could buy from for example OGRacing for just under $9 per liter.

The manual gearbox fluid change is really easy DIY project.

You will need the following tools:

  • 17 mm 6pt socket
  • Some ratchet
  • 17 mm box end or combination wrench, 6pt is the best in my opinion since plugs made from some very soft metal and you can very easily strip plug’s flange if using open ended wrench.
  • Torque wrench
  • Some hand pump
  • one or two feet of clear plastic tubing
  • Floor jack or similar to jack up the car

First of all you’ll need to jack the car up. I usually just drive rear wheels onto ramps and jack up front of car with floor jack, then secure jack stands. Some people drive front wheel onto ramps and jack up the rear. I personally find it a bit dangerous since car can roll away once rear wheel s are off the ground and besides my E39 has rubber jacking point in the front and nothing except rear differential on the back that I could use as jacking point.

Find transmission under the car after car is off the ground and leveled. Read the label and make sure you are going to use the right fluid for you gearbox. Here is view of transmission from under the car.

Photo from BMW325i.NET

Before you remove drain plug make sure that fill plug is not seized. And definitely use either sockets or box-end wrenches to break seize. I almost stripped my fill plug flange when tried to use open end of wrench. Believe me it is very soft.

Here is what color fluid came from my gearbox after 52000 miles. I seriously doubt that it is healthy to have it in the gearbox for the life of car. Well I have to agree with thought that the lifetime fluid is most likely BMW marketing gimmick to attract more customers. It is very unlikely that BMW cares what happens to our cars after 50000 mile warranty and they will gladly offer us replacement transmissions for one forth of car price.

Once plugs are removed and old fluid drained. Replace drain plugs and torque it, on my BMW E39 car it is to 70 Nm. Using hand pump and plastic tube pump transmission fluid into fill hole until it overfills and it starts to leak out of the fill hole. Replace fill plug, tighten it to same torque as drain plug (70 Nm). Check for leaks and you are done.

One more thing, do not forget to lower your car on the ground.

I have discovered some unusual sound from my BMW E39 with M54 engine. I have noticed it when applying gas slightly in second, third and forth gears. I think I do not hear it on fifth gear or first or whenever it is in neutral or whenever gas is not applied.

Could you please listen to this Unusualy loud sound sound I recorded while I lightly shifted from first all the way to forth gear. And please let me know what could be the source of it.

I have changed transmission and differential fluids last weekend, but it did not help at all. Could that be the engine noise and I just do not hear it while it is not in gear?