Award-winning comparison website announces latest addition to team of staff – expert writer and photographer

Popular motoring industry photographer and writer Neill Watson is the latest addition to the blogging team employed by hire car website Carrentals.co.uk. The award-winning online resource has partnered with Neill who will deliver expert commentary and articles to the online specialist’s car sector blog.

Throughout the past 25 years and more Neill Watson has worked in various roles within the motoring industry. Neill began work in the sector back in 1984 and has been photographing and writing on a professional basis since 2002.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, comments: “It is a genuine pleasure to make this announcement this week, adding someone like Neill Watson to our blogging roster shows the profile that Carrentals.co.uk enjoys in the sector now. Neill will offer our readers some really interesting views and opinions based on his many years of working in the motor industry.”

Neill’s job has seen him road-test many of the motoring industry’s supercars and throughout recent years he has also been a contributing writer to magazines like Total 911 and Banzai. He is a qualified and experienced racetrack instructor and has also been a motor rallying driver too.

Neill Watson says: “It is a real honour to join such a well-known brand as Carrentals.co.uk – the company has a really high profile in the online motoring world today. Site users can look forward to reading my views and opinions on all manner of motor industry issues and stories over the coming months.”

Carrentals.co.uk is the leading car hire comparison site comparing deals from up to 50 rental companies, including Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, in over 15,000 locations worldwide including car hire throughout the UK in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a wide choice of pickup locations including car hire in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and car hire in Edinburgh.

For more information visit www.carrentals.co.uk and for additional information on Neill Watson visit www.neillwatson.com.

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Europcar Goes Electric And Adds Peugeot iONs To Its UK Fleet

Europcar, the leader in car hire services in Europe for both leisure and business users, is reinforcing its commitment to the environment by being the first UK rental provider to add the new Peugeot iON to its fleet. This follows the announcement of Europcar’s global partnership with PSA Peugeot Citroen last October and responds to increasing demand for access to electric vehicles to rent.

Providing travellers arriving at several of London’s airports and heading into the Capital with a congestion-charge-free option, Peugeot iONs will be available for customers at Europcar’s Heathrow car hireGatwick car hire and Luton Airport car hire locations. Vehicles are also available from the company’s King’s Cross location – ideal for travellers arriving on the Eurostar – and at Marble Arch.

“This is a tremendously exciting initiative for us,” confirmed Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar Group UK. “Demand for electric vehicles to rent is really starting to pick up as both businesses and leisure drivers want to make the most of both the environmental and cost advantages. Demonstrating the fact that we are listening to our customers’ constantly evolving needs, Europcar is the first UK rental provider to add the new Peugeot iONs to its fleet. This also reflects our core commitments to sustainable development and technological innovation.”

The first new-generation electric vehicles to hit the European market, the Peugeot iON will allow Europcar customers to drive up to 60 miles (100 kilometres) with a fully recharged battery. These electric vehicles are silent and will not emit any CO2 or other pollutants, further enhancing their ecological benefits. They are also exempt from congestion charges in key UK cities providing important cost advantages for business users.

Initially, the vehicles will be available for one day hire only, in order to ensure they are properly recharged, and can only be returned to the Europcar locations designated for electric vehicles – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton airports, Kings Cross and Marble Arch.

As well as the addition of the Peugeot iONs, Europcar is continuing to pursue a range of other green initiatives in support of the environment, including giving maximum visibility to its eco-friendly cars and encouraging consumers to choose a greener car when making reservations. Europcar’s eco-friendly fleet includes vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 140gr/km and models equipped with alternative engines (hybrid or electric).

In addition to adding a section dedicated to eco-friendly cars, specific information is available on CO2 emissions for all models of its rental car fleet. The European energy rating system from A to G is given with the description of each vehicle, the greenest of which is labelled “eco-friendly”.

“Our goal is to give our customers the widest possible choice,” concluded Ken McCall. “That includes giving them access to the new generation of electric vehicles. Ideal for short city journeys we anticipate these will be immensely popular with many of our business customers who will really relish the cost savings they offer.”

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Europcar Gives New Level Of Flexibility For Corporate Fleets

Europcar, the leader in car hire services in Europe, is keeping businesses on the move with an innovative new service that tackles the issues that company fleets face when waiting for new vehicle delivery.

6 Advantage offers vehicle hire for a fixed period of six months, but with all the benefits of short-term business car hire, reflecting Europcar’s sustained commitment to bring corporate customers services that reflect the changing needs of the marketplace, delivering flexible and cost effective car hire solutions.

“Currently there is a real gap in the solutions available to fleets when ordering new vehicles,” explained Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar Group UK. “Short-term vehicle hire would not be cost-effective for what can often be as much as 6 months waiting for new vehicle delivery and leasing requires a longer-term commitment from a business that is equally unsuitable. We have therefore created 6 Advantage to fill that gap.”

6 Advantage offers businesses a real alternative to car leasing, making it the perfect solution for drivers waiting for their new company car or for employees on secondment. Customers can choose from a range of vehicles in the colour of their choice, including estates, compacts, hatchbacks and vans.

Businesses can order as many 6 Advantage vehicles as they require, allowing them to benefit from cost savings through Europcar’s fixed rates. All 6 Advantage vehicles are brand new, so there’s no servicing or MOT needed and all vehicles come with 24 hour breakdown roadside assistance and recovery.

6 Advantage includes delivery and collection and a 12,000 mile contract on each vehicle. Customers also benefit from monthly billing and customised monthly reporting, as required. With one telephone number and a dedicated team for all queries, vehicle booking is fast and efficient.

“We understand that our corporate customers need access to a range of car hire solutions designed to offer them flexibility and reduce fleet costs,” continued Ken McCall. “We have designed 6 Advantage to provide competitive fixed rates on six month contracts, offering the benefits of short-term hire at cost-effective rates. We believe this gives corporate fleets the best quality Europcar service as an affordable alternative to leasing.”

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Europcar Reveals Car Hirers Under Estimating Risks Of Damage

Europcar, the leader in car hire services in Europe, has recently analysed UK consumer attitudes towards car hire insurance, revealing what it believes are some worrying patterns in behaviour that see drivers facing high costs they could easily avoid.

Analysis from Europcar has revealed that nearly 90% of its UK fleet suffered some form of damage – from major bodywork damage to flat tyres and windscreen chips and cracks – during 2010. Yet only just over 30% of customers opted for Risk Reduction Cover in order to ensure they didn’t face any additional costs at the end of the rental. It appears that consumers think that car hire insurance is an unnecessary cost, without realising the financial implications if their hire car suffers damage during their rental.

Anecdotal feedback from consumers who have used car hire in the last year reveal that buying additional car hire insurance was considered most important if driving in an unfamiliar country but consumers didn’t believe it was important if driving in the UK.

Ken McCall, Managing Director at Europcar, believes this betrays a considerable lack of understanding about the financial risks if a hire car is damaged or involved in an accident: “If a motorist is driving their own car and has a windscreen chip or a small dink or dent in the car’s bodywork, they can choose to ignore it. Car hire companies simply cannot do that. The next customer will expect a pristine car, so we must ensure damage is repaired as quickly as possible and that means we must recover the cost. That’s why it makes so much sense for consumers to take out insurance for damage they may incur, including cover to reduce the excess to zero.

“We know that car hire insurance is an area that customers are often unsure about. That’s why we are leading the market in providing customers with all the options available to them when booking online or through our call centre. That includes the availability of Risk Reduction Cover, to reduce the cost of the excess to zero, so that whatever happens to the vehicle, the customer will not face any additional costs.”

For customers renting in the UK they can reduce their excess to zero for as little as £9 per day for a hire of 7 days or more. This means that if they have an accident or incur any damage, Europcar will not pass on any charges to them. Alternatively, drivers can simply cover the cost of the excess for damage to high wear and tear items, such as windscreens and tyres, with Europcar Value Cover.

For UK customers renting cars overseas, Risk Reduction Cover is available to purchase upfront, reducing the cost of the excess to zero, along with all the other options for car hire such as SatNav and child seats. This is offered at the point of making a reservation online for all the countries in Europcar operates and is also offered by the company’s call centre.

“Our aim at Europcar is to take away any uncertainty about the charges a car hire customer may face by providing clear, easy to understand options,” concluded Ken McCall.

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Daily Car Hire from £10 for August Bank Holiday with Carrentals.co.uk

Award-winning car hire price comparator Carrentals.co.uk is advising UK travellers that there are still incredibly low rates available on rentals for the upcoming Bank Holiday in August. For just £10 per day, car hire can be had at many hot getaway spots such as Mallorca, Nice and others.

The world’s leading rental car companies such as Hertz, Budget and Avis are holding their summer rates low for the end of the summer travel season. Brits can still enjoy superb value deals on car hire in favourite locations around Greece, the south of France and the Mediterranean – with deals on show for as little as £30 for a three day package.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Whether it’s a car hire in Menorca booking or the French Alps the tourist is looking for, great value rental rates are available on cars for this long weekend in August. The car hire companies are enjoying a good year, and they want to maintain this level of business throughout the summer’s end.”

“Because this is last Bank Holiday of the year and it is such a busy travel period, it is particularly important to make rental bookings early. Popular items like sat nav, infant safety seats or vehicles like a 4×4 or people carrier often sell out ahead of time during holidays. You can avoid disappointment by simply making a reservation in advance.”

Carrentals.co.uk, the top online rental car rate comparator, lists the latest specials and prices from international rental firms like Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, and has processed over 650,000 rentals to date. To compare the latest offers for car hire in Spain and many other popular locations visit www.carrentals.co.uk.

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Survey from Carrentals.co.uk Shows Tipping a Major Concern

When travelling abroad, UK residents find the issue of tipping more confusing than anything else and value advice on what to do in restaurants and taxis – a recent survey from Carrentals.co.uk reveals.

The online comparison experts interviewed 1,000 people who used car hire UK services in the past year to discover what issues they wanted advice on the most. Interestingly, more important topics like legal points and important festivals were passed over for the subject of tipping etiquette.

Although many countries still maintain a culture of no tipping, leaving a gratuity in restaurants is increasingly becoming the norm. When to tip or not to tip is a dilemma many travellers face, along with how much to leave the waiter. As many restaurants add a service charge to the bill, this only adds to the confusion.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of car hire specialist Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Lately it seems like wherever we travel in the world, waiters expect a tip when we eat out. When you come from a culture that doesn’t tip, this can feel like an uncomfortable process concerning how much is an appropriate amount. Places like the USA have a deeply entrenched tipping scene with tips averaging a whopping 20% in most restaurants.”

“When you know ahead of time what to expect from the restaurant in terms of service and gratuity you can avoid a mountain of frustration and embarrassment. We learned from our survey that people want to know what to do in restaurants, taxis and even hotels before they head off on holiday. Our goal now is provide our customers with everything they need to know in clear easy terms right on our car rental booking website.”

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Europcar Scotland Raising Funds for BEN

Europcar’s team in Scotland are pulling out all the stops to raise money for BEN as the automotive charity celebrates its 106th birthday.

Fundraising efforts started in June, and Europcar staff have organised a number of local events which have been continuing through the Summer, culminating in the Grand Finale on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

On 28th August, up to 15 cars will be revving their engines to take part in Europcar’s Wacky Treasure Hunt which, together with a Wacky Raffle, is hoped to raise around £3,000 for BEN.

The Wacky Treasure Hunt, organised by Europcar staff, starts in Edinburgh with each car given a number of clues, taking them to various tourists point across the central belt of Scotland. The treasure hunt finishes at Europcar’s location at Glasgow Central, where fundraisers and supporters will be able to enjoy a BBQ and disco to say ‘thank you’ to everyone involved.

Before the disco kicks off with a rousing performance from Scottish tribal band, Clanadonia, Europcar has organised a grand prize raffle. Prizes up for grabs include pairs of Rangers hospitality tickets, Manchester United tickets, vouchers for the Burgham Park PGA Championship Course and an iPod Touch. All the prizes have been donated by Europcar suppliers, who also work within the industry, with the winners set to be announced on 30th August.

“The whole Europcar team in Scotland have been throwing themselves behind the events to raise funds for BEN and we hope to reach our £3,000 target by the end of August,” said Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar Group UK.

“Each Europcar branch is responsible for raising their own funds and we are awarding prizes for the greatest amount raised, as well as best dressed team and most creative team name for the treasure hunt cars. The fundraising has also featured BEN collection tins at each Europcar station across Scotland throughout the Summer, casual dress days, car boot sales, cake bakes and raffles to ensure everyone feels they can get involved.

“We are delighted to see staff getting behind this fantastic charity, which does so much valuable work for people in our industry,” concluded Ken McCall. “Europcar is committed to supporting BEN and the events and activities offer people a chance to raise valuable funds for a worthy cause and have fun in the process.”

BEN is the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund, providing practical, emotional and financial help and support to employees past and present from the automotive and related industries, as well as their dependants.

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Another first for Auto Windscreens

Auto Windscreens is the first national automotive glazing supplier to receive accreditation from SAFEcontractor, an SSIP scheme (Safe Systems in Procurement) that recognises very high standards of health and safety practise amongst UK businesses.

Under the SAFEcontractor accreditation system, Auto Windscreens went through a vetting process, which examined health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice.

“Health and safety has always been high on the corporate agenda of Auto Windscreens, and our Management Team encourages an interest in health and safety amongst all colleagues” said Vanessa Jones, Health and Safety Manager.

“We ask our colleagues to take time to report problems with standards, work instructions, procedures or any other aspects of health and safety that they have concerns about.”

Windscreen repair and replacement involves not only heavy pieces of glass but sensitive bonding substances which need to be regulated by health and safety procedures.

“SAFEcontractor accreditation has shown that this approach pays off”.

A comprehensive schedule of companies that are accredited by the scheme, and have therefore achieved the prescribed high standards, are accessible in an online database at the website, http://www.safecontractor.com.

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Latest app for Android features instant car hire booking from popular online comparator

Anyone with an Android mobile phone can now enjoy instant car hire booking on the move with convenient new app from popular online car hire comparator, Carrentals.co.uk.

With more than 15,000 locations around the globe and 50 of the leading car hire companies to choose from, customers have everything they need to make the best booking possible for a car hire in Ireland or a beach holiday rental car in sunny Mallorca.

Smartphones have made life on the go easy to navigate, and now car hire is just as simple and convenient thanks to the new Android device app from Carrentals.co.uk. From anywhere, an Android phone can compare rental prices from 50 companies and provide an instant booking. A confirmation number is sent to the mobile phone and the rental voucher is emailed to the customer. It’s that easy.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Our new app for Android makes it incredibly quick and easy to arrange car hire in Dublin airport, the beach at Faro or the exciting city of Berlin. Now you can keep moving without interruption, using our app to book a car hire from anywhere your mobile phone gets service.”

A version of this popular app will be available for Apple iPhone by the end of the year. For now, the Android version can be had for free at carrentals.co.uk/about/carrentals-mobile/carrentals-android-app.

Carrentals.co.uk is a popular car hire rate comparison website that lists the latest deals from 50 rental agencies such as Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, to over 15,000 popular travel destinations worldwide.

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Europcar Locations Set To Open 7 Days A Week With 24 Hour Opening To Be Launched At 6 Key Airports

Europcar has announced that from September 2011, busy travellers will be able to benefit from 7-day opening at more than 60 Europcar locations across the UK, allowing them to pick-up and return hire vehicles on the day that suits them, even if that’s a Sunday.

“Conventionally, the car hire market comes to a halt for the weekend after 1pm on Saturdays,” explained Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar Group UK. “So customers either have to use an out of hours service or take another day’s hire, which is not always convenient and adds to the cost. And this is pretty inconvenient for customers who are used to accessing most other consumer and retail services 7 days a week. Therefore we are extending the opening hours of these key locations to make hiring a car even more convenient for our customers.”

As Europe’s leader in flexible car hire services for both leisure and business users, Europcar is the first car hire provider to open seven days a week at many of its UK locations, setting the benchmark for improving the car hire experience. It is also launching 24 hour opening at six key airports, offering customers access to quality car hire whenever they need it.

McCall continued: “We want to ensure that car hire fits in with our customer’s needs, by offering as much choice and flexibility as possible. By extending our opening hours at more than 60 locations to cover the entire weekend and at key airports staying open 24/7, we are offering the most adaptable car hire product possible. This is an exciting initiative for us and we think it is great news for our customers.”

From September 2011, Europcar will be operating 7 day car hire across 60 locations, including 22 airports and 38 city centre branches, as well as 24 hour car hire operating at six major airports. The remaining 128 locations, including airports, will be open 6 days a week, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, with 7-day openings in these remaining locations being rolled out to respond to customer needs.

“We have been trialling extended opening hours at selected locations over the last few months, with considerable success,” added Ken McCall. “It therefore made perfect sense to roll out this service to more locations.

“Once again, Europcar is setting the standard by delivering a service that meets the changing needs of our customers, helping them save time and enjoy quality, flexible car hire that suits their busy lifestyle.”

Europcar offers the most flexible pick up and drop off locations and services in the UK, utilising an outstanding fleet including vans, family and prestige vehicles. Europcar will be the largest car hire company in the UK to have branches open on Sundays, reflecting its position at the forefront of the car hire market.

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Chester Firm’s Fun-Day Raises Smiles And Charity Cash

Sponges and sponge-cakes both took centre-stage at a charity fun-day held this week at the headquarters of a major finance group on Chester Business Park.

Organised by ACF Car Finance, retail subsidiary of The Funding Corporation, the event offered the chance for staff to pay to have their cars hand-washed by the company’s bosses.

Managing Director David Challinor was among business chiefs rolling up his sleeves and setting-to with sponges and leathers on staff cars at International House.

And for those who liked sponge-cakes as much as seeing their supervisors sweat, a cake-sale did a roaring trade in swelling both tummies and the charity coffers.

The day-long activities at the car finance company were aimed at raising cash for the automotive industry’s charity BEN – chosen charity of group company ACF Car Finance.

The charity provides help and support to people connected with the motor trade, and operates four care centres around the country, with the closest on Merseyside.

All 160 staff at The Funding Corporation were given the opportunity to join the fun day, and representatives from the charity were present to describe its work and the Payroll Giving scheme.

Support was also received from various suppliers to the company, including the car-care firm Autoglym which provided car shampoo and other products for the sponsored wash-in.

Helping to mastermind the event was the company’s Marketing Manager Jane Whittle who is possibly one of BEN’s most extreme fundraisers.

In the past she has leapt from a plane flying at 14,000 feet on a tandem sky-dive, and earlier this year plunged 750-feet on a zip-wire from the top of Manchester’s Imperial War Museum.

But although this latest fundraising initiative had its feet firmly on the ground, Jane believes it will have done a great job in helping to raise the charity’s profile among staff:

“All the donations received will go towards the total which will be collected in October this year when two of our ACF Car Finance employees drive to Maranello in Northern Italy as part of BEN’s event – Banger4BEN.

“Participants must spend no more than five hundred pounds on an old car to make the journey, and we have bought an old Volvo which is currently being transformed into the famous Ghostbusters Ectomobile.

“This event will help get their fundraising off to a really flying start,” said Jane.

The Funding Corporation, which was named Britain’s Most Responsible Lender in this year’s Credit Today Awards, specialises in helping car buyers with damaged credit records.

The company, commented Jane, has long been a champion of the motor industry’s charity as well as local causes including the Claire House Children’s Hospice in the Wirral.

“We always like to try and create a bit of a buzz around our charity work – and I think that this week we certainly succeeded in putting the fun into fundraising!” said Jane.

Local businesses which donated raffle prizes included: AAA Cheshire Handyman, La Cantina, Hickory’s Smokehouse, The Greyhound Inn and The Club and Spa at Hoole Hall.

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More Used Car Buyers Make A White Turn

White cars are in the fashion fast-lane among second-hand buyers, according to a major used car retailer which has just completed an analysis of shifting colour preferences.

But although sales of white cars increased seven-fold in the six months to spring 2011, says ACF Car Finance Limited, the new chic shade still has a lot of catching up to do.

Less than one percent of sales in the period were white, compared with the evergreen favourite shades of silver (25 percent of sales), blue (25 percent) and black (21 percent).

However, the top trio of colours did fade slightly in popularity in ACF Car Finance’s most recent survey, and recorded an average of 10 percent fewer sales.

Colours gaining ground, in addition to white, include beige, gold and orange.

In the view of Leyton Cooper, Divisional Group Buying Manager, used car sales provide a more accurate measure of changing tastes than colour preferences reported by motor manufactures.

“A new car showroom which places its orders long in advance is often not in a position to suddenly bring in additional quantities of a colour which is coming into vogue,” he said.

“But used car retailers can respond more quickly if, like ACF Car Finance, they are buying from multiple sources around the country on a daily basis,” added Leyton.

He thinks that the new trend towards white could be a follow-through from the “Apple Effect” following the introduction of pristine white iPods and iPads by the computer company.

Although colour trends come and go, Leyton says, white may yet prove to have staying power.

“White doesn’t show chips and scratches as readily, and can be more forgiving than darker shades if you haven’t been able to get out with a bucket and sponge for a while,” he says.

“White cars can also be more economical to run because they reflect the sun’s heat, rather than absorbing it as a darker colour does, meaning the air conditioning can be used less during the summer months,” Leyton points out.

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Drivers should not keep details from insurance companies in effort to reduce costs says online car hire comparator

Online car hire price comparison website Carrentals.co.uk is advising the UK’s drivers not to cut corners in seeking out ways to save on car insurance this year. The award-winning website, which is home to cheap car hire deals in over 15,000 locations, advises drivers to always announce penalty points on their licences to insurers.

With UK car insurance costs continuing to be higher than ever, some drivers look to reduce their premiums by not making insurers aware of penalty points and accidents they have been previously involved with. However many drivers don’t know that they are legally bound to report such facts to their insurance company.

Having been involved in an accident or incident in the past and not reporting it means that the driver can be left helpless should the insurance company decide not to pay out on a claim. In addition the driver is then also left driving without insurance under a void cover policy – also illegal under UK law.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, says: “There is no doubt that car insurance is really expensive these days so we are in a way not surprised that people would seek to lower their outgoings however possible. Not telling an insurer about previous points is inadvisable though.”

“People at this time need to know that should they be involved in an accident under a void insurance policy through not announcing points, they will risk incurring extra costs – paying for other people’s cars, medical bills, legal fees and such. Points on a licence and also big fines can be levied too – so holding back that penalty points information in the first place can end up costing people more money if and when they get caught out.”

Carrentals.co.uk is the leading car hire comparison site providing cheap car hire by comparing deals from up to 50 rental companies, including Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, in over 15,000 locations worldwide including car hire in Spain, USA and Switzerland, with a wide choice of pickup locations including car hire in Malaga, Denver and Geneva.

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