Published:
17/08/2003
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17/08/2003

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RAC European Breakdown
Bristol
Dedicated Page in the Public Domain
Complainant:
Mr S Carpenter
Town/City of Residence:
Southampton

I made arrangements for an extended holiday (3 weeks), by renting a villa in Javea (Alicante). I was to take the ferry from Dover to Calais and slowly drive down. As I had just purchased my vehicle LXXXX XNP Peugeot 306XND I decided to take out European Breakdown Assistance, as from the leaflet that I was sent it seemed adequate.

The salesperson on the phone took my details and started the cover. I was asked if I would like the policy to be emailed to me, which I welcomed as I was leaving on the trip in the next 36 hours. It didn’t come.

I left the UK and headed down through France. 400 miles into the journey the car started to overheat and pulled off at a motorway junction. I rang the UK control centre and they gave me the number for LYON Control Centre. After a short while a recovery truck came and took us to a Renault garage. It was 12.30hrs. When they had returned from lunch 14.00hrs a check on the vehicle was made, they decided to change a part, and effect a repair. On stating it was €250 I asked if Lyon were making a contribution to the labour charges and they said no (As in RAC cover).

I called Lyon to dispute this and they eventually agreed to pay the labour charges, after this work began. Four hours later I was told that the repair made was not the initial problem and that they would have to test the car the next day. I asked the garage what they thought was wrong and they said a problem in the Engine Head, I asked if this would be expensive and they stated the least it would cost would be at least € 800, and depending on parts could be a lot more.

This was the last point where contact was made with Lyon. A taxi came at 19.30hrs, the garage had been shut for an hour and we were sitting on the street. We were taken 40km to a small shabby hotel in the middle of nowhere and after spending the whole evening trying to contact anyone at Lyon to find out what was happening failed. No one was there to answer the phone, one call lasted 40 minutes on the automatic answering service before my mobile battery died (great if I had just broken down). Basically we were left stranded with no vehicle, no evening meal, no contact with Lyon, in a hotel I wouldn’t pay €20 to stay in let alone the € 35 per person which we were entitled to.

The next morning after eventually getting through to Lyon, they stated that the vehicle had now been tested and it would cost another € 550 to repair, it would also take at least 6 days and we had an option to stay in a hotel for that period (hopefully not the one we stayed in the previous night) or to take a hire car which must be returned to Chateauroux to collect the repaired vehicle.

I explained to the woman on the phone that the repair would likely cost a lot more than this extremely low quote and that I was not willing to pay this. I had just purchased the vehicle and under UK law it was the garage that sold me the vehicle responsibility to carry out the repair. Thus all I required was that the vehicle be repatriated.

The attitude of the woman now became more and more sarcastic and unhelpful. She stated I had a choice either to repair the vehicle at the garage or they would have to scrap it. I also explained that my holiday would be ruined if I stayed in Chateauroux for 6 days or if they gave me a hire car for that period, to no avail. After many more phone calls she offered me a hire car to the French border, a taxi over the border, a hire car to Alicante and on the return journey the same, but I would have to have the car repaired.

By now I was getting more and more disgusted. I rang the UK and eventually got someone to transfer me to the Manager at Lyon. After calling back we both came to an agreement. I would take the car out of the garage unrepaired and he would arrange a hire car for us for 14 days. Also after I had stated that I could repatriate my car for £150 myself he laughed and said if I could manage to do this he would pay these costs. He also agreed to arrange a hire car for a hire car on the UK side to return us to home.

To top it all, Hertz wanted a € 380 deposit on a credit card. We only had travellers cheques and cash. So I had to arrange with my bank a temporary overdraft, which took a while. This deposit took half of our remaining spending money for the trip. We got to Alicante but had to leave early as we had now run out of money. We returned the hire car, returned back to our vehicle (which had been sitting in a street for two weeks) and a French friend of ours helped us tow the car to CAEN. Where we drove it onto a ferry.

So much for RAC breakdown cover. I trusted RAC; I have RAC Breakdown cover and RAC car insurance. I feel completely let down and the fact that everyone I spoke to also couldn’t believe that they would not repatriate the car (the French garage, RAC salespeople at European breakdown, RAC breakdown crew in the UK, friends, relatives, and my bank). The vehicle was taken to the garage I purchased it from where it was repaired free of charge. The Head was cracked and if we had continued with the repair in France with Peugeot new parts it would have cost up to € 3,000. Therefore the statement that they wouldn’t repatriate the vehicle as the repair cost was below the value of the vehicle was untrue.

So I will address what happened, I broke down on holiday, It would have cost me € 3,000 to repair my car (far more than the value of the vehicle), RAC refused to repatriate me on the grounds that the car was repairable in the duration of my trip and that the repair was less than the value of the vehicle. I wish to dispute this and I am willing to take legal action if necessary (with regards to their leaflet, which is misleading to say the least).

Our entire holiday was spoilt and I had to repatriate my vehicle myself at my own cost, plus at least £200 calling Lyon and the UK from my mobile. Since returning to the UK I tried to claim the cost of repatriating the vehicle back. European breakdown support contacted the control centre manger at Lyon and he denied that he agreed to pay for repatriation, I am now basically being called a liar by their agents! .

I am also considering whether to continue my business with RAC on the whole and also take my case up with BBC Watchdog. I would like to make sure nobody else presumes that RAC European Breakdown is an adequate service.

Link to Other RAC Complaints: Link 1| Link2|Link3|Link4



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