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ACCAN proposes automatic payments to users for missed appointments and repairs

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has put forward a recommendation that consumers should receive automatic compensation when a telecommunications provider misses an appointment or is unable to resolve an outage within a determined timeframe.

“Payments for connections and repairs outside the maximum timeframes should be automatic by both the network provider and retail service provider”, ACCAN wrote in a submission to Part B of the Consumer Safeguard Review conducted by the Department of Communications.

“If a wholesale network provider has connected a customer after the maximum timeframe it should automatically trigger a payment to be made against the retail service provider’s account. Likewise, the retail service provider should automatically make a payment to the customer.

“Automatic compensation requires systems and processes for payments and will not rely on customers knowing their rights or being informed by a provider with no incentive to do so.”

The department said it is conducting the review as current reliability regulations only apply to fixed voice services, and not to broadband networks. Any action from the review is expected to commence after the National Broadband Network is completed in 2020.

Among the proposals put forward in the review are: Mandatory rules to cover how consumers and small business are connected to fixed networks, including appointments; providers needing to focus on keeping consumers connected if timeframes cannot be met; the publishing of network reliability metrics by infrastructure providers whose services are onsold to consumers; and, the collection and publication of data from wholesalers and retailers by the Australian Communications and Media Authority relating to fixed connections, repairs, and appointments.

ACCAN agreed with a department proposal to have consumers be paid AU$100 for a missed appointment, but said that this should only be the starting point.

“We believe that the frequency of missed appointments should be monitored and the regulator should have the flexibility to recalibrate the compensation (penalties) in response to circumstances,” the submission said.

“The Department’s proposal for mandatory timeframes with significant penalties for non-compliance is absolutely necessary.”

Consumers should be able to exit contracts if they suffer from recurrent faults, ACCAN said, however it did concede that if the problem is with a wholesaler, changing retailers may not fix the issue.

On the topic of usable data, ACCAN put forward the idea for telcos to measure network reliability on a suburb-like level, and for that information to be accessible online.

Making public its submission yesterday, the Communications Alliance struck out at one of the department’s proposals, that consumer safegaurds are best delivered through direct regulation.

“Consumer safeguards are best delivered through competition, and regulation should only be used where competition is not delivering,” the Comms Alliance said in an all-bold statement.

Part A of the Consumer Safeguards Review, which focused on complaints handling, saw the Australian government decide against abolishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, following consultation that showed strong support for the external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme.

“[There was] near universal support from both consumers, industry, and other industry Ombudsman schemes for EDR in the telecommunications sector to continue being provided by the TIO, but acknowledgement that improvements could be made to the TIO Scheme,” the review said.

“The review suggests that it would be appropriate to implement reforms to the current TIO scheme rather than establish a new EDR body at this time. This approach would see the existing EDR arrangements maintained, but further reformed and enhanced.”

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Mini John Cooper Works convertible and coupe pack style and performance

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Mini has unveiled its convertible and coupe John Cooper Works sports cars. The hardtop is rated for a combined fuel economy of 7.1-6.8 l/100 km, with the convertible rated for 7.4-7.1 l/100 km. The vehicles also have low CO2 emissions making them sporty, fun to drive, and green. Mini said that the cars have fresh design features and new equipment for the current year model.

Both versions of the John Cooper Works have round LED headlights and a larger hexagonal radiator grille. The larger radiator grille works with larger side openings to channel more cooling air to the drivetrain and brakes. Mini also paints the bumper strip in body color and has modified the side scuttles on the front side panels and the rear diffuser on both models.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with TwinPower turbo technology. The engine produces 231 horsepower and 320Nm of torque. The car can reach 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds in hardtop form when fitted with the standard six-speed manual transmission. When fitted with the optional eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, the vehicle can reach the same speed in 6.1 seconds.

The convertible is a little slower to 100 km/h needing 6.6 seconds with the manual and 6.5 seconds with the automatic. Buyers of the convertible get an electrically powered textile soft top and can choose an optional Mini Yours soft top with woven in Union Jack graphics. The top can be opened at speeds up to 30 km/h.

Both models feature Brembo brakes and 17-inch wheels; 18-inch wheels are an option. The latest version of the optional Adaptive Suspension is available to provide a balance between sportiness and ride comfort. The car also gets standard heated steering well, lane departure warning, and stop & go function for the active cruise control. An 8.8-inch touch display is used for the infotainment system. Pricing for both models is unannounced at this time.

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Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD teases innovative Pixel-Vizor front grille

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Last March, Opel gave us a teaser of its latest Manta GSe ElektroMOD concept, an all-electric version of the brand’s popular sports coupe from the 1970s. The German carmaker is back to reveal more about its latest electric restomod, notably its unique Pixel-Vizor front grille that allows the car (and driver) to send animated messages to other road users.

“The Manta GSe ElektroMOD is the work of passionate designers, 3D modelers, engineers, technicians, mechanics, product and brand experts,” said Pierre-Olivier Garcia, Opel Global Brand Design Manager. “With the Manta GSe, we are building a bridge from the great Opel tradition to a very desirable sustainable future. This mixture of zeitgeist and modern is absolutely fascinating.”

Other EVs like the Mustang Mach-E and Kia EV6 have blanked-out grille designs, while others have illuminated units. Opel’s Pixel-Vizor front grille takes it further. It’s a digital screen spanning across the entire front of the vehicle. It can display a bevy of messages to communicate with pedestrians, onlookers, and other cars on the road.

In Opel’s video, you can see the car displaying “My German heart has been ELEKTRified,” “I am an ElektroMOD,” and “I am on a zero e-mission.” You can also see an animated manta ray gliding over the screen between the headlights. Yes, we’re talking about a concept vehicle, but we can’t see any reason why this feature won’t make it to production.

Opel utilized a Manta A model from its classic warehouse in creating the GSe ElektroMOD. If you’re old enough to remember, the original Manta was an iconic sports coupe with twin round headlights, a Hemi Cuda-esque hood, and a sporty two-door coupe silhouette.

Opel’s first electric car, the Elektro GT, debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1971 and is based on the Opel GT sports car from 1968. It came with a pair of Bosch electric motors and an all-electric range of only 27 miles. Despite this, it rockets from zero to 60 mph in under six seconds, pretty quick even by modern standards.

As you can see, Opel’s been dabbling with electrification since the early 70s, and it seems the incoming Manta GSe ElektroMOD is bridging the gap between the old and the new. We have no idea if this electric Manta is entering production, but there’s a glimmer of hope.

According to Opel, the Manta GSe ElektroMOD is getting its final touches at the company HQ in Rüsselsheim, Germany. It will also reveal the concept in all its glory this May 19, 2021. Until then, we’ll be back to share the deets.

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Ferrari 812 Superfast Versione Speciale has the most potent Ferrari V12 engine

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As the name suggests, a standard Ferrari 812 Superfast is, well, a stupendously quick supercar. However, Ferrari recently unveiled a ‘faster’ and more potent version of the 812 Superfast. It will debut on May 5 as having the most powerful and highest-revving V12 engine in Ferrari’s history.

Ferrari refers to it as Versione Speciale or Special Version, although the name might change upon the vehicle’s debut in the next couple of weeks. Despite this, Ferrari was able to whet our appetites by releasing a couple of tidbits about its latest high-speed creation.

The Versione Speciale will have the same 6.5-liter V12 engine as a standard 812 Superfast. However, it now pumps out an astonishing 830 horsepower, 30+ more horses than stock. It has the same power output as Mansory’s Stallone GTS convertible (a highly-tuned version of the 812 Superfast), and we reckon it’s going to just as quick.

Officially, the 812 Versione Speciale’s V12 is the most powerful gasoline engine in a roadgoing Ferrari. Granted, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale and Spider have 986 horsepower from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, but the SF90 is a hybrid.

The new V12 also revs with authority, spinning close to 9,500 rpm. Considering a stock 812 Superfast produces maximum power at 8,500 rpm, we’re pretty sure the Special Version will sound more epic at full chat. Ferrari failed to mention the torque numbers, but we expect the new V12 to have more twists than a stock motor’s 530 pound-feet output.

We have no word yet on the performance numbers. But with more power than stock, the Ferrari 812 Superfast Versione Speciale will go like stink. A standard 812 Superfast goes from zero to 60 mph in 2.9-seconds, zero to 124 mph in 7.9-seconds, and has a top speed of 211 mph. Meanwhile, the Mansory Stallone GTS accelerates to 60 mph in 2.8-seconds and has a top speed of 214 mph, all while having the same power output as Ferrari’s latest 812 VS.

Other juicy features include Ferrari’s Slide Slip Control vehicle dynamics system and four-wheel steering for better handling. The exterior mods consist of more oversized air intakes, a new lip spoiler, new bumper fins, and an aluminum lover panel covering the rear glass. We also heard it’ll weigh less than a stock Superfast, tipping the scales at under 3,362 pounds (1,525 kg).

We’ll know more about Ferrari’s most extreme version of the 812 Superfast in the coming weeks.

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