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
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
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
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
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
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