Drivers' Submission To GPS Units Prompts 'Ignore Your Nav Unit' Road Signs

from the telling-people-to-not-be-told-what-to-do dept

We've written before about cases of people blindly following GPS units' advice even when they're pretty clearly wrong -- such as people so trusting of their nav units that they ignore signs saying roads are closed due to flooding and try to drive right through. Another problem is that the machines aren't often discriminating enough, and think that any possible route is a good one, leading to plenty of stuck vehicles and other problems. Now, one village in England has put up the first "ignore your sat nav" road signs after truck drivers kept getting stuck on a road that narrows to just six feet wide. Locals say that about two years ago, the road started getting a lot more traffic -- all from truck drivers following directions from their GPS units. It's a bit hard to put all the blame on the drivers here without knowing more about the area, since presumably this hazard might be a little harder to see coming than a flooded-out road or a 200-mile route for what should be a 10-mile trip. But it does reflect just how much trust and belief people will put in machines like GPS navigation units these days, which can be troubling -- and also gives makers of such machines some responsibility to ensure they're not doling out bad directions, since people will so blindly follow them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 4:28am

    ...just how much trust and belief people will put in machines like GPS navigation units ...

    Its 3:20AM... I don't blame you...

     

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  2.  
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    Bill, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 4:29am

    Nav system chaos! GPS banned!

    People going the wrong way down roads, drowning in their cars, wrecks, death, destruction! The anecdotal evidence says nav systems will be soon be banned worldwide!

     

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  3.  
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    EdB, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 4:42am

    Seems like a great way to get rid of all the stupid people. On the busiest driving day/weekend of the year have all the electronic direction tools tell people to drive off a cliff or into the ocean.

    Problem solved.

    Yer welcome!

     

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  4.  
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    lar3ry, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 4:55am

    Another very old story...

    Yup. The Great Prophet, Chuck Jones, predicted this very thing way back in 1957...

    "Pismo Beach, and all the clams you can eat! Wait, this isn't Pismo Beach... Maybe I should have taken the left at Albuquerque..."

     

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  5.  
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    Sherman T. Potter, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:00am

    To me that's just a tiptoe through the tulips.

     

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  6.  
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    Evil_Bastard, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:20am

    @ EdB, your plan has my vote!

    We need to stop wasting money on idiots.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:30am

    The beginning of the end

    This is just Skynet alpha 1, peoples! Judgement day is coming! :)

     

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  8.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:33am

    GPS

    When I first started at my new job I used my GPS all the time. Got lost all the time too. I finally switched over to mapquest instructions and haven't got lost since. That was two years ago.

     

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  9.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:38am

    I knew it!

    I used to say all the time that those units could not be accurate all the time and people would argue to the death about it with me. The only way GPS units can be 100% dead on correct is to constantly monitor every road, highway, interstate, and path in the country. And not just to plot out where the roads go but also weather warnings or else you'll blindly take a road that leads to a bridge that is down for construction.

    I say an out of commision bridge because that is not as obvious as a flooded road. Those people are just dumb.

     

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  10.  
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    Luke, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:48am

    Hehe

    Personally I just get on the road and follow the first guy that looks like he knows where he's going and figure it can't be too far from where I'm headed.

     

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  11.  
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    keymjg, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Not always right

    Work a job where the correct direction are the difference between life and death and the GPS I use is correct less then half the time. Most times is a small error, a right instead of a left, but non the less an error. Not to be trusted. That being said most of the people I know that have them in thier cars are always double checking with plain ol' paper maps. It's just not there yet.

     

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  12.  
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    Ryan, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 6:01am

    wait..

    Why an ignore your sat nav sign? Why not a more correct "narrow road" sign.

    It seems to me that the directions are only wrong for people in trucks, and that if I'm in a normal car I'd have no problem using that road.

    Don't tell me to ignore my sat nav if the directions are correct. If the road is too narrow, tell me that and I won't take it if I have a wide truck.

     

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  13.  
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    Evil_Bastard, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 6:06am

    Everyone get a compass and a sextant. If you can't use them, enjoy being lost you asshole.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sextant

    Just in case. ^^

     

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  14.  
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    The infamous Joe, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 6:28am

    Re: wait..

    Ryan, your comment makes too much sense. That being said, any signs at all, regardless of message, are going to be useless to those few special people who drive down a clearly flooded street because a machine told them to-- as they are clearly not looking at anything outside the vehicle.

    I, for one, welcome our tiny, direction-giving overlords. (Sorry, It was there, I had to take it.)

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 6:31am

    Before getting lost with nav units, they used to get lost with ... can you believe it ... paper maps! And, get this, sometimes, there might be a road not on the map! Or even, maybe the map said there was a road, but conditions had changed ...

    Were there signs that said, "Ignore your map!"? I don't think I've ever seen one ...

     

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  16.  
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    Ceconix, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 7:00am

    I wonder...

    1. Purposefully make errors on GPS system
    2. Watch Idiocy
    3. ...
    4. Profit!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 7:01am

    I use the Nav system in our Mini Cooper a fair amount, and the only time it's directions were wrong were when the address we were given was incorrect. There have been times when roads have changed since the DVD map we had was updated, but those are generally not the destination, just some intersections along the way. Sure, it tells me I need to be 50 yards in a different direction, but when I'm on a new on-ramp to a highway I know I'm doing the right thing.

    Anyone who blindly follows the directions to turn without looking out their window first deserves to wreck their own car.

     

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  18.  
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    Torkel Grisnjure, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:14am

    neverlost

    I forget which rental car company uses these, but if you're crossing the Tappan Zee bridge heading West it always tries to make you take a left turn right in the middle of the bridge in to the Hudson River.

     

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  19.  
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    Mikey, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:14am

    GPS

    Hey! How did I get here? My GPS said I was on the 'Girls Gone Wild' web-site.

     

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  20.  
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    Luci, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:29am

    Re: GPS

    I won't even use MapQuest except for the most general of directions or to show me my destination on a map, as I find the directions they give are a bit too convoluted or heavily trafficked. I trust my atlas and that toll free call to the state DoT for construction reports. It still comes down to the human brain and your own direction sense (or suction-cup compass on the windshield) being the tools for the job.

     

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  21.  
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    Geeger Shmeegs, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:36am

    @ EdB, I'm behind you 100%. It's great that we have all kinds of advances in safety and medicine, but unfortunately, we have done away with Darwinism. What ever happened to survival of the fittest/intelligent?

    As for using something other than GPS, I hate to make this plug, but I would recommend MS Streets and Trips. The most recent version will even tell you about portions of road that are under construction, something that Mapquest doesn't do.

     

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  22.  
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    Dr. Rings, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:56am

    How about an "open source" NAV database and NAV device, that users can modify, kind of like Wikipedia, with some sort of oversight and accountability. Updates could be downloaded daily via wireless or USB.

    I would love to be able to make corrections to obvious errors in my local NAV database (Lexus, Mercedes and a TomTom)

    Our TomTom is the best of all three, but does have it's errors: on Oahu it shows a navigable road around the Northwest part of the island. Any local knows that road has not been used in decades, and is completely un-navigable in almost any vehicle. But the NAV units will show you the road as the quickest way around to the other side of the mountain range.

    Another example is here in Pensacola where a builder submitted plans for a neighborhood, but it never got built. Well, all the planned roads from ten years ago which never got built are on every paper and electronic map in the world, with no chance of being corrected. I guess the map-makers just perpetuate the errors of those before them. Any satellite photo confirms the roads don't exist.

    If users could submit errors, and after some confirmation process, make the correction available...

    Ahh, I forgot, there are lawyers and idiots out there as road-blocks to improvements...

     

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  23.  
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    zantilley, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:56am

    If people are ignoring road closed signs at the command of the GPS, why are they going to pay attention to this sign?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:57am

    There was a commercial for the Ford Ranger a few years ago where a girl was driving and a guy was barking out directions while staring at a GPS device, not once looking out the window. He finally said "welcome to downtown Minneapolis!" and looked up, only to find they were offroad in the snow in basically the middle of nowhere.

    Then there's that Reader's Digest joke (true story) about a guy and his kid out hiking in the mountains. The dad wonders where exactly they are, so his kid pulls out a GPS unit, and supposedly after triangulating through 3 different satellites, he pointed and said "we're on that mountain over there."

    GPS units do have their place, but the technology is still too unreliable to be a commonplace item, IMO, and they allow themselves to be abused by lazy and stupid people. Now they're trying to come out with farm equipment that drives itself via GPS so farmers don't have to run it (welcome to the lazy farm). I can't wait to start seeing complaints and lawsuits when said equipment starts driving into ditches, or knocks down your neighbor's crops and whatnot.

    I myself will not spend money on one of those things unless I find it absolutely necessary someday, which I doubt will ever happen. Places like Mapquest and Google Maps get me where I need to go just fine, as long as you do a little planning ahead, which you should do before a trip anyway.

     

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  25.  
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    Dosquatch, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 9:21am

    Re: I knew it!

    The only way GPS units can be 100% dead on correct is to constantly monitor every road, highway, interstate, and path in the country.

    To split a hair, the GPS locator and the driving directions engine shouldn't be confused with each other. A unit giving bad directions can still tell you exactly where you are.

    But that's not your point. I use MS Streets on a laptop with a USB GPS receiver. I plot my course before I leave on any major trip, sanity check the directions, tweak where needed, and - this is the part you're speaking about - the program will go out to a national database that checks for any adverse road conditions. Oh, it can't tell me about accidents or gridlock or whatnot, but it does tell me about any construction and whatnot along the way. That lets me reroute before I ever leave home.

    It has other nice features, too, like a location database ("Find me a restaurant!", "Damn, I need gas soon..."), and a "Re-route from here" function when I venture off of my path.

    Does it always pick the route I'd pick in an area I'm familiar with? Heck, no. That probably means that it doesn't ever pick the "best" route, it picks the route that's the hardest to muck up. I can appreciate that ;-)

     

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  26.  
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    Dosquatch, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    How about an "open source" NAV database and NAV device, that users can modify, kind of like Wikipedia, with some sort of oversight and accountability.

    Heck, I don't even feel any particular need to share with the class... if MS Streets would just let me tweak my own maps for my own purposes, I'd be happier. There are a couple of roads and subdivisions that don't exist in my database, and I get tired of listening to the stupid thing bellyache about being off course.

     

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  27.  
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    Trouble Maker, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 9:56am

    two cents worth

    ...as I step up on the soapbox

    Self Responsibility

    As a Pilot in Command is responsible for aircraft and the lives of all those onboard, as driver is responsible for their vehicle and the lives they touch with their car.

    GPS, it is a tool, as a paper map is a tool. Most Self Responsible craftsmen will not use a wrench to hammer in a nail or a screwdriver to pry apart a pressed fitting.

    How much money did you spend for your GPS? Is it a GPS with INS? Do you have updateable data sources? If you don’t know, maybe you should learn how to use your tool.

     

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  28.  
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    DT, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 10:32am

    They are ALL wrong

    My GPS tells me I live a couple houses down at my neighbor's.
    So does Mapquest, Google Maps, and Yahoo Maps.

    Still, I don't show up on my neighbor's doorstep whenever I come home.

    Having cool technology to help us with stuff does not mean throwing common sense out the window.

    However, if you didn't have any sense in the first place, maybe you belong on a flooded road with your GPS.

     

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  29.  
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    mrgrimm, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 10:58am

    Congratulations

    "we have done away with Darwinism"

    That's the stupidest thing I've read all week.

     

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  30.  
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    Kevin T, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 11:28am

    Why would the city not request the digital maps up

    Why would the city not request the digital maps update the problem? This is really easy to do at http://mapreporter.navteq.com/dur-web-external/secured/submitDur.do?userType=CONSUMER&langua ge=en

    Typical politics/government, rather than fix a problem they waste money to create a patch.

     

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  31.  
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    Andy, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 11:32am

    I like the idea of an open source nav database or at least kind of a dictionary of corrections you can lay on top of your existing map in the gps, so at least errors don't get repeated.Just like MS Words "add to dictionary" I.e. tell the gps that this street is now one-way or that the street dead-ends, etc...
    We got at GPS not long ago, and while it is a great addition to an atlas and knows all the streets, it is not replacing the atlas. There was quite a few glitches we encountered so far. I.e. Point of interest is mixed up and not where it should be, address is incorrect because it is "south airport blvd" not "airport blvd" and other fine points.
    However, all-in-all it is a helpful addition and even in my neighborhood of 5 years shows me different, interesting ways to get to the freeway

     

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  32.  
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    SFGary, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 4:43pm

    Not quite joining this bandwagon

    Using a GPS to get from point A to B is one thing but ignoring posted signs about road hazards is just idiotic.

    I just made a trip to LA w/my Magellan and it got me around with no problems. For a direction challenged person like me, especially in LA, its a great help.

     

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  33.  
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    Intrepid, Feb 22nd, 2007 @ 8:18pm

    Re: wait..

    Exactly!

     

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  34.  
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    Hozen, May 12th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    COMMONSENSE, wait, what? im confuzed

    What ever happened to commonsense?

    maye they should put a quick lesson in the GPS instruction manuals or start teaching it in schools, but then i guess it would nolonger be called COMMONsense if it had to be tought. maybe just a sticker across the top of the windshield that say something like payattention dumb ass, but then people would pay too much attention to that and still get in accidents and drive off clifs in wich case good ridance.

     

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  35.  
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    Alsee, May 13th, 2007 @ 11:19am

    Actual road sign text

    To clarify, here is the actual text of the roadsign:

    ......NO WIDE
    ......VEHICLES
    ...Do Not Follow
    .......SAT NAV
    .Very narrow road

     

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  36.  
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    Alsee, May 13th, 2007 @ 11:20am

    Actual road sign text

    To clarify, here is the actual text of the roadsign:

    ......NO WIDE
    ......VEHICLES
    ...Do Not Follow
    .......SAT NAV
    .Very narrow road

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Al Morgan, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    Truck Route Info

    I can verify that "truck Route" in Garmin's is pure apple sauce.
    After being directed down "pipeline Road" on the bus setting, (which turned out to be a rutted track barely useable for off road vehicles AND with a barred gate across the road, a 'rep cheerfully informed me "oh no that doesn't work, don't know why they put that in there!
    If RV'ing or trucking, be very skeptical about GPS info.

     

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  38.  
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    sabre 1, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 5:20am

    Re: wait..

    i agree with Ryan i began driving truck 4 months ago and bought the magellan 4040,thinking i made this an easy job.i was wrong!The first mistake was following a mountain road in west virginia i learned after that one to check my atlas for truck routes.some non truck routes are not even marked from their point of origin at the exit.now i know when to tell miss magellan to shut the hell up and quit being a back seat driver.more improvement on road sighns would be nice

     

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  39.  
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    Martin Vlietstra, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 5:17am

    Was the sign in feet or in metres?

    Rather than putting up sings which read "Ignore your GPS", they should be putting up repeater width warning signs in BOTH METRES AND FEET. After all, a Polish driver knows exactly what "2 m" means - it is international, but he might not understand what "Ignore your GPS" means - he might be fluent in Polish, German and Russian, but not understand English.

     

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  40.  
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    raj210, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 11:21pm

    GPS UNIT

    it's a nice tech for the drivers

    Want to sale online for free then you are on the right place for online advertising

    http://www.caravanmarket.com.au

     

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  41.  
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    Jimmy, Dec 4th, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    In the future

    It is funny seeing this from the 2010 perspective. Now, even non-techies are dominating the road with their gps. That speaks out a lot of trust if you ask me. There is this whole magellan vs garmin vs tomtom race too. it really takes out the heat. An interesting article on it is at the following link: http://www.cheapgps-systems.com/cheap-gps-systems-information/magellan-vs-garmin-vs-tomtom-top-three -companies/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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