24 Hours to get home after RAC left us to beg help from strangers
I'm still shaking as I compose this and it's takn me this long to calm down enough to write it....
Last Saturday we broke down about 50 miles from home on the far side of the Pennines. I called the RAC about 1440 on a borrowed phone from Raby Castle gift shop, a walk of some minutes through rain from the car. Great relief to get through as having paid for membership for a number of years I believed we'd get help.
During the course of the conversation the operator told us we were not covered. I'd mentioned bad weather and road conditions but made the mistake of using the word flood at some point. We had actually encountered spray on the A66 with water at one point possibly to a depth of an inch or so, enough to beware of aquaplaning but no more but she would take no clarification and being on a borrowed phone I realised she'd spoken her final word on our situation. I concluded by asking her to confirm that we were "on our own" which she did.
So there we were, 4 of us (I'm 56) with 2 children, our one begged phonecall gone in bad weather with dusk an hour away and the RAC not even interested in where we were or what had actually transpired. They didn't even get a full list of symptoms as we had electrical and mechanical problems with the steering. No way to contact anyone (we only had the RAC number as we had put total faith in what we perceived as a "4th emergency service"). Hundreds of pounds spent to be left utterly on our own and dependent on the goodwill of strangers. Luckily we had a jump start from someone who'd heard the goings on in the gift shop and who was appalled, like the rest of the witnesses in the queue, at the way we had been abandoned by a big name.
That got us on our way for 15 minutes or so till the battery was flat again .....
Suffice it to say it took till 2pm the next day to get back home after help from lots of equally appalled strangers. I ended up walking for more than 8 miles in the rain on backroads in Teesdale looking for help (hoping to get to Bishop Auckland from Lynesack) with my wife left in a dark car with the children, one of whom needs daily medication, as do I (I'm 56 and have flat feet so the walking hurt). In the end I was picked up by a relative near Toft Hill.
I'm still shaking as I write this and every night I've been awake for an hour or two in the small hours going over it all again. I still can't believe that an organisation in which we placed total trust can be so guilty of maladministration that they don't get the full details of a call or take account of the peril they are placing a family in in an effort to avoid providing the contracted service.
Should I be seeking publicity or litigation or both?
Publicity - they are quite clear that they won't come out to flood victims. This policy must be losing them customers as many, like me, will have switched to the AA who do come out.
They have a script to read from and no mechanical knowledge and cannt get that right or pass on correct imfo to the patrols to attend
Working with the AA, I once attended a car on the M25 in pouring ran where the member advised me his engine was flooded. He had pulled out to pass a lorry, and after being in the lorry's spray for a couple of seconds, his engine cut out. As it was still chucking down with rain, I only opened the bonnet enough to get a torch in to have a look. I reinserted the king lead into the coil, and asked the member to start the car. It started instantly, and ran fine. He was firmly convinced that it was water ingress into his electrics that had stopped his engine.
My car is covered for breakdown under my VW maintenance warranty, and is RAC supported. A little over two years ago, I had picked up a nail in a brand new tyre, and was on a campsite near to Winchester; some 160 miles from home. My call for assistance was initially refused as not being covered, but then the operator corrected it to 'change wheel only' and I would have to find a garage to repair it (the next day we were due to catch the ferry for France). I said that I could change the wheel myself, which I did, and found the local VW garage who did the repair very quickly.
For many years I have also been a member of Green Flag, through the Caravan Club, and would never consider dropping out of that membership.
My VW/RAC cover ends on 28 Feb 2013, and reading posts like this gives me the feeling that my Green Flag cover is sufficient for the future.
All these companies have problems from time to time, and the wet weather is showing up the RAC policy of not attending flood incidents. I would not expect any of them to repair a puncture though.
It did make me wonder though; what if I didn't have a spare wheel, as with my previous car? Would I have been given no alternative but to use the tin of gunge - resulting in having to then drive to a garage or tyre depot, and then having the cost of a new tyre, simply because the gunge had made an otherwise good (and new) tyre unrepairable?
Originally Posted by Santa
This has been discussed before.
I would insist on the car being recovered to a tyre depot. It would also be a problem if the tyre wall was damaged - in which case the gunge would be useless. Of course I would not own a car without a spare wheel, although the Audi we hired in Portugal was not supplied with one.
Quote............"I would not expect any of them to repair a puncture though."
I always thought they all did that? Just goes to show, we learn something new every day
A patrol would not have the required equipment. It take more than a couple of tyre levers and a sticky patch these days.
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