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Just drive on by...
Member Name: nicola21
Date: 27/04/01, updated on 16/06/01 (1274 review reads)
Advantages: They assist you when it suits them.
Disadvantages: Again - they assist you when it suits them.
I was inspired to write my account of the RAC services after a particular incident that happened with them yesterday. I have been with this breakdown service company for about two years, pretty much happily until today. In the past their service has pleased me and been quite satisfactory but yesterday I saw a completely different side to the infamous RAC who claim so many promises to their customers but when it comes to the crunch do not deliver.
As anyone with a second-hand car knows - they have a tendancy to have the inevitable odd problem here and there. I have a 1990 model Nissan Sunny which is mechanically sound except for the fact that various parts are now wearing out after 122 000 miles on the clock and 11 years on the road. Last year my clutch burnt out and I broke down on the M27. The RAC came out to assist within 45 minutes (although I was a priority with it being late at night and myself alone in the middle of the New Forrest). They towed me to the nearest service station and passed me on to a recovery firm to tow me to my destination. The chap was polite, friendly and reassuring, although his part in the service was short. I was happy that I had a reliable breakdown service with them.
Since January 2001 they have home-started me when my car battery finally died and fitted a new one there and then. My headlight wires came loose when I was out and about in town one evening and they came out to fix them. All the while the service I received was good and I praised the RAC to friends and family persuading them to join their services. Yesterday was a completely different story and I am disgusted at the way I was treated by them considering the serious nature of my situation. I shall briefly explain;
Travelling long distance between Buckinghamshire and Somerset, I left my friend's house in Bucks at about 1:30pm, got two miles down the dual carriageway heading towards the M4 when all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, there
was a very loud cracking sound and my whole windscreen shattered. I screamed! It was the most terrifying thing I have experienced so far in my young life! I don't know what caused it and I certainly didn't see anything. I assume it must have been a stone that had flicked up from a car ahead of me, or maybe a nail, or maybe some thing someone carelessly threw out of their car window, but before I knew it my whole screen had shattered into millions of pieces.
Flakes of glass flew into the car with the pressure of driving at 60mph and cut my face and hands. I managed to pull over onto the grass verge as pieces of the glass started to fall inwards into the car and onto me. It was about to collapse so I abandoned the car and caught up with the shock on the other side of the crash barrier. I was shaking and it was very upsetting. It was unlucky to happen to me, but it could have been worse. I could be blind now, the cuts could have been much more serious, I could have crashed and taken a few other motorists with me - who knows - but other than bleeding everywhere and being in shock at least I was still here!
My first thought was to call the RAC to tow me away and help me out. I registered my situation and was advised by an RAC staff member that there was nothing they could do to help, however AutoWindscreens worked for them and in this situation they would come out and repair my car on the side of the road. I told them that the car was on a notoriously dangerous and busy dual carriageway, but "that didn't matter" according to the RAC. So I called their glass company who advised me that they could not repair on the side of the road, and certainly not on the busy A404! I could however have it repaired on Monday in Bucks but that was no use to me!
I called the RAC a second time and they said that a breakdown van would be with me in 45 minutes. Okay - fine. The police stopped and shifted my car further into the verge and to
a safer position. I said that the RAC were on their way and they were happy with that. They told me to stay out of the car in case of any more damage to myself from the flaking glass. They said I was extremely lucky. I suppose it depends on how you look at it! An hour later, it started to tip down with rain and I couldn't sit in the car and the RAC still hadn't arrived. I then got a call from the RAC man to verify where I was. Well, I was no more than two miles from the nearest town and it wasn't exactly hard to spot me shivering on the side of the road and dripping with blood from many cuts!
Another three quarters of an hour later he called again saying that he had seen me from the other side of the carriageway and he couldn't help so was sending out a tow truck to take me away. Half an hour after that he called once more to tell me that they had just contacted a recovery firm and they would be about 30 minutes away. This, quite frankly in Layman's terms, took the piss. I had had an awful shock, a near brush with blindness or worse, death, had already made about five phone calls to the RAC, waited over 2 hours with still no assistance and was soaked through to the skin. Assuming that the RAC man had come from the opposite direction and seen me and the nearest turning point was only 2 miles away, he obviously would return by where he came from and minutes later, a sheepish-looking man whizzed past me on the side of the road in his speeding RAC van, pretending not to notice me. Well, lets face it, this is not service by any stretch of the imagination.
As they said, the recovery truck arrived within ten minutes and was the first friendly face I had seen in two and a half hours. He was a lovely man who took me off the busy road to a quieter location where he and his recovery firm (note: - not part of the RAC, it was an independant firm called "On-time recovery") attepted to find a local place where I could fix my car. A
t his base, his colleagues rang around every glass repair agency in the area to try and fix my windscreen. They did their best and they were genuinely helping because the recovery guy held all his phonecalls to them on handsfree so I could hear them. Unfortunately by this time, it was gone 5pm and everywhere had shut, so they just towed me back to the town from where I began travelling over three hours ago.
He couldn't tow me back to Somerset and despite his negotiation with the RAC, they insisted that they couldn't either. Apparently, I didn't warrant towing to my destination as my car had not mechanically broken down. Apart from the fact that there was no way in hell that I could have possible driven another 150 miles with my windscreen smashed into smithereens, their ignorance had left me on the side of a dangerous road for three hours, alone and in the rain, miles from home, and they had the gall to tell me that I didn't warrant their service. Although not mechanically broken down, I had a major problem which in effect prevented me from travelling and they definitely didn't want to help. They made that perfectly clear and I cannot belive how I was treated by them. Their RAC serviceman just drove on by.
I ended up staying another night locally in order to get my glass repaired the following day. Had the RAC not messed me about for three hours, I could have had it repaired that same day and driven home that evening. I am shocked and disgusted that a breakdown service as reputable as the RAC can treat anyone this way considering the seriousness of the problem. How they can leave a young female on the side of the road having seen the state of affairs from the opposite carriageway is beyond me. They advertise recovery to your chosen destination and I certainly warranted recovery, but they just left me alone without even stopping for a few minutes to shelter me from the cold and the rain, and then refused to tow me home.
br>In the past I have been happy with their service but yesterday really changed my mind. I was treated with such bad manners and lousy service with no help whatsoever. The poor recovery chap did more in 20 minutes for me than the RAC did at all. As he towed me back to my friend's house, he told me how dreadful he felt that he couldn't help more. As for the RAC, they will definitely be receiving a strongly-worded letter of complaint from me in the next few days and I will not be renewing my membership with them later this year. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that they left me for so long and then the man just drove right by me and it was obvious that it was him. Even worse, they thought I was an insignificant customer without a valid problem. Yes my engine worked but you cannot drive a car with broken glass flying at you.
My verdict is that the RAC can take their gross profits and choke on them. They won't be getting a penny more from me, nor any further support. When I needed them the most the walked on by and dismissed me. What is the point in paying for a serice and not receiving it? I sincerely hope that particular RAC man has a guilty conscience and I would advise that anyone looking for a breakdown cover service should avoid the RAC. You never know what will happen next and you need to know that you are safe should a situation ever arise. The RAC have proved that they are incapable and incompetent and even the thought of what they put me through makes my skin crawl. And as for their adverts promoting "ABC - we RAC to it!", well they really need to practise what they preach because at the moment, all their ad campaigns are simply a load of bull.
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