Get A Free Ride With Your New Car: European Delivery Programs

Vintage Volvo ad - European Delivery programsLike many longtime New Yorkers, I don’t own a car and know little about the finer points of purchasing or owning a vehicle. A recent Volvo ad caught my eye in an airline in-flight magazine: If you purchase your car and pick it up in Sweden, they’ll pick up the tab on your trip. A new car and free travel? This was something I could get behind! Doing some research, I discovered quite a few of the top European car makers offer an overseas delivery program.

While you’ll have to plan in advance (generally 3-4 months) to get your car and your trip, you’ll save on the vehicle cost, plus get to pick it up hot off the presses and drive it around European roads. Once you have it shipped to the U.S., you will wait another 8-10 weeks or so to be reunited stateside. Some programs include free airfare and hotel nights, most include factory tours, European road insurance and import/export fees.

Here’s a look at the most popular programs, including travel costs and savings.Audi (Germany)
Travel perks: European Delivery customers get 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa, chauffeured pick up from the Munich airport and a free night at a 4- or 5-star hotel near the factory. On the day you get your keys, you’ll visit the Audi museum and factory, with free meals and snacks all day. You then have two weeks to tool around Europe, with free drop off (by advance arrangement) at any one of 16 locations in Germany and western Europe.
Extra options: Serious Audi fans might consider an additional driving or race “experience” in summer or early fall (many of the winter events require special experience like driving in Scandinavia), where you can learn to drive like a pro, take on a racing circuit, or tour Europe in a luxury vehicle. It’ll cost extra, of course, from a few hundred euro per person. Note that all vehicles ready between November 1-April 15 must have winter tires installed at the factory, but that may be included in the cost of the car.
Car pricing: Audis are priced from $33,800, before the discount up to 5 percent off MSRP, except for the highest end models such as the R8 Spyder.

BMW (Germany)
Travel perks: You can get to Bavaria with 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa. At the BMW Welt facility, you’ll get free museum and factory tours, and refreshments at the cafe. They’ll cover European road insurance for up to 14 days, then you can drop off your vehicle at one of 12 locations free, except Italy which has a supplement of up to 850 euro (must be those Italian drivers!).
Extra options: In addition to airfare, you’ll pay to get to the factory from Munich airport, as well as any hotels on your trip. As befitting a luxury automobile, BMW offers a range of luxury add-on trips designed to make the most of driving the Autobahn in the ultimate driving machine. (The “optional” note indicates they aren’t included free in the deal, but they are specially designed for BMW customers.) Winter deliveries will also require seasonal tires in Germany; it is possible to rent the winter tires if you don’t have them factory-installed.
U.S. pick up: Another option entirely is the Performance Center Delivery Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If you travel down south for your car, BMW will pay for your hotel and meals, plus a tour of its U.S. factory and museum, and best of all, professional driving instruction. You won’t get the savings you’d get on a European delivery, but the travel costs are much lower.
Car pricing: From $29,065 with savings, up to 7 percent on MSRP. See all models here.

Mercedes-Benz (Germany)
Travel perks: While airfare discounts aren’t included, you’ll get Mercedes’ travel assistance for booking your trip, airport transfers and one night hotel accommodations. When you pick up your car, you’ll have a tour of the factory and museums, meals at the delivery center, 15 days road insurance and a tank of gas to get you on your way.
Extra options: You can add a self-guided tour of the Black Forest or Alps at additional cost. Drop offs in Italy, England or Spain are additional (Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands are covered at no cost), and you’ll have to arrange for winter tires as with the other programs.
Car pricing: Vehicles from $35,800, with a 7 percent discount on MSRP.

Volvo (Sweden)
Travel perks: The best “deal” of the European Delivery programs, Volvo will include two round-trip plane tickets from the U.S. to Scandinavia (we’d assume Stockholm, but it’s 4-5 hours from the Volvo factory), one night in a hotel in Gothenburg, as well as the usual factory tour and road insurance.
Extra options: You will have to pay if you drop off or pick up anywhere other than the factory location, several hundred dollars or more, but it makes sense given the location of Volvo in Sweden as opposed to more central Germany. You may also see some seasonal charges: $150 per passenger supplement for summer flights, and the rental costs of snow tires between December and April. Volvo offers a variety of trips for more Scandinavian travel if you’d like to extend your trip.
Car pricing: Eligible Volvo models are from $31,420 after savings up to 7 percent on MSRP. See available models.

Bottom line: If you’re buying a new luxury vehicle, you likely aren’t a budget traveler. The savings even with free airfare, road insurance and a night at a nice hotel won’t likely offset what you’ll spend on the rest of your trip, let alone a car. However, if you are in the market for a slick new ride, driving it home on the Autobahn after seeing how it’s made is likely to be an unforgettable trip.

Extra Travel Fees Here To Stay, Like It Or Not

Extra Travel Fees

Extra travel fees bring customization options that can make for a more pleasant air, hotel, land or sea experience. Also called “user fees,” those who value the option they provide are relatively happy to pay. After all, these are not mandatory fees but options. Still, just the dollar amount makes experts wonder, “What’s next?”

Airline fees should add up to $36.1 billion in 2012, according to a recent study from IdeaWorksCompany reported in the Los Angeles Times. That includes extra travel fees for checked baggage, Internet use, food, drinks, premium seating, quick boarding and more. Up more than 10% over 2011, online travel agencies and airlines have figured out how to position buying options in the booking process. Out of convenience, passengers make online buying decisions to save time at the airport.”They are understanding how to raise and lower fees to maximize overall revenue and how to better position items in the booking path to drive better sales,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorksCompany in the Los Angeles Times report.

While there are no hard numbers on cruise line extra travel fees, those can add up too, as travelers choose premium dining options, tours ashore and onboard extras to customize their travel experience.

Sure, we don’t have to check luggage, enjoy a drink on board or use the Internet in the air. It is a choice travelers make, an optional travel expense.

Air travelers can choose to carry on their luggage, take any seat they get, enjoy whatever is included with the flight and not spend one penny more on extra travel fees. Cruise travelers can indeed sail and spend nothing more than the price of the cruise.

But do we really want to?

Apparently not, as extra fees are becoming so commonplace that they are rarely questioned or even complained about. Optional user fees are designed to charge those who want the service and let others save the charge as we see in this video:


[Photo Credit: Flickr user mroach]

New A&E series “The Glades” looking for an extra – flights included!

On July 11, A&E will premiere their newest show – The Glades. As the name implies, the show takes place in the Everglades, and features everything that makes a crime show a great crime show – a moody Chicago cop exiled to Florida, mysterious murders and plenty of good looking people.

But unlike most crime shows, you can enter to become a walk on extra on the show.

The prize includes airfare for two to Fort Lauderdale, three nights at the Fort Lauderdale Marina Hilton, a meet and greet with the cast, a swamp buggy tour, an airboat ride, meals, transportation and more.

To enter, all you need to do is watch a video clip, and enter some personal information. Once you enter, all that remains is programming your DVR to record the show.

How to get out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend

Back in June, maybe getting away for Labor Day weekend just didn’t seem possible. Maybe there were too many looming commitments or perhaps money seemed too tight. But now your time has been freed up and you’re seeing all the low-priced flights and deals available for Labor Day. You’re ready to get out of town and three days just isn’t enough. But the odds of your boss granting you an extra day off this late in the game are slim. How can you weasel out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend?

Step 1: Assess the situation
Determine how likely your boss is to grant you the time off. think about what matters most to your boss and how they treat time off. This will determine your strategy. Is your boss a sucker for a sad story? Can you pull on his or her heartstrings to score the time off? How heavy is your workload, and will going missing a day put any of your co-workers in a bad position? Is your boss understanding when you are ill or does he or she expect you to come in anyways?

Step 2: Know the company policy
Some offices have a policy that if you call in sick on a day immediately before or after a holiday, you don’t get paid for the time, or you may need to provide a doctor’s note. Others limit the number of staff that can take vacation on the same day. Knowing what rules your company has will also help you form your strategy.

Step 3: Form a plan
If you think there’s a good chance your boss will give you the day off, it’s best to just come right out and ask. But, the way you ask can determine the answer. Asking for time off to go on a last-minute fun-filled vacation may sound frivolous to a hard-working boss. Taking the day to volunteer or get in some much-needed medical appointments might go over better. A more sympathetic boss might be swayed if you say that some cherished relatives you haven’t seen in years are coming into town just for the day, or that it’s “family day” at the assisted-living home where your dear, aging grandparents live and you’ll be so disappointed to miss it. Be sure to stress how important the day off is to you, and reassure your boss that you won’t get behind on your work by missing another day. If you think it’s highly unlikely the boss will give you the time off, a better strategy might be to just plan on calling in sick or having a “family emergency” come up.

Step 4: Lay the Groundwork
Now is the time to start building the base of your excuse. If you plan on asking directly, just do it. But if you’ll be getting sick, start working up a gentle cough, sniffling occasionally, and talk about how run-down you feel. Let your personal appearance get a little ragged, keep a bottle of cough medicine on your desk, and mention that at your spouse’s/roommate’s office, the flu is going around. Or explain that you have a mild toothache (which will then require an emergency root canal on your chosen day off) or that your car has been making weird noises lately (which is a prelude to it breaking down so you can’t get to work).

Step 5: Enjoy your day off. . . but be careful
If you’ve asked for and been granted the day off, good for you. If not, and you are going with the dishonest option, make sure you don’t return to work with the unmistakable look of someone who has just been on vacation. A deep tan is a sure giveaway. If you opted to be “sick”, you should appear to recover over the course of a few days. If your car “broke down”, mention the costly repairs and be sure to not park your perfectly fine car in the same lot as the boss’!

If a full day off isn’t what you’re after, you can still make the most of the three-day weekend by extending your travel time a little. Take off right from work on Friday, leaving a few hours early if you can. If you are flying to your destination, try to book the first flight back on Tuesday morning. You’ll get a few extra hours of vacation by not coming back Monday night, and you won’t have to miss more than an hour or two of work. you can keep your boss happy, and squeeze just a bit more time into your three-day weekend.