A Cautionary Tale

Apr 3, 2010
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Took a solo trip down to South of France. Car serviced, break down and travel ins booked hotel booked half way down - just a nice drive down calling in at Oradour-sur-Glane the morning of the second day then down to Bezier. Topped the car off at Dover to save the hassle later on etc etc. Just after leaving Oradour- a recommended visit for anyone, the engine management light came on. Stopped the car to see if it would clear on restart - it didn't, and got out the handbook to see what it said. Just take it to the dealer at the earliest convenience it said so off we go again. Once down at Bezier I thought I would call up the breakdown insurance and get it looked at. Mistake :( One 8 minute painful phone call later( something like a faulty towers sketch)) They send a breakdown truck. Now I naively thought the guy would plug in a diagnostic tool and tell me what was wrong but no we had to go to his garage. I declined to let him put my car on the truck choosing to follow in the car. We arrive at the garage and he takes the car into the garage firmly closing the gate after him. Second mistake :( . About an hour later I ring the breakdown people again as no-one speaks any English and I don't speak very much French. After another long phone call ( they go through the whole script each time) their French agent rings me and agrees to speak to the garage on my behalf. He says they will be about an hour doing a full diagnostics check. I wait another hour. My car appears from within the garage and is left in the middle of the car park and the driver disappears again with the keys. Some minutes later a nice little French lady backs her car into it, fortunately without causing damage. I wait another half hour - it is now almost 5pm and the garage is about to close. Suddenly I am presented with a bill for 108 euros and asked to pay. The invoice merely says that the fault codes have been reset - no indications of what said fault codes are or what needs to be done to fix them. Simple choice now - pay or come back tomorrow by taxi. I pay. 5 miles down the road and surprise surprise, the management light comes back on. I phone the breakdown people again on my arrival at the hotel and am apoplectic. Go through the script again and tell them in no uncertain terms that I shall be complaining on my return to UK.
8 weeks later after numerous calls and emails I get the decision from the company that handles all their complaints that there is no case to answer. This is because they accept no responsibility for the garage they send you to, it is merely the closest garage. All work carried out by the garage and the quality of it is down to you. They sent me two copies of their complaint procedure and they didn't adhere to any of it. I asked for transcripts of the phone calls that they based their decision on and they sent me one of the first call I made but not the subsequent 3 or 4.
Now I hear you say ' that's what you get from buying cheap insurance' I should tell you that this was the most expensive policy as recommended by many people on this and both CCC and MHandCC sites, supposedly the gold standard policy. I have used their services for years though I have never claimed before. I should have packed my tools and diagnostic tools as I always do when taking the caravan. Time to read codes - 5 minutes, time to change the sensor at fault 30 minutes. Total cost of repair £125. Break down insurance - rip off. :angry: My letter to the ombudsman went off this morning.
Nov 11, 2009
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Sorry to hear of your difficulties which must have really been frustrating. So the company you used was recommended on this website by users and the two clubs websites too. Yet you give no indication which one it was. So the cautionary tale isn’t a lot of help.
May 7, 2012
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It sounds like a disaster but not clear who the company are. Frankly they should use an approved repairer not just a name picked out of the phone book as it looks like here. Let us know what happens.
Jun 20, 2005
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Sorry to hear the stress and bother you have had.
I have used the Red Pennant CAMC many times with no problems. Who was your provider? Sadly things do go wrong but with CAMC you get a free car, or repatriation home and your caravan shipped back T&Cs apply.
Mar 14, 2005
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We had similar problem with them,when we got back they offered us discounts to be used following year,we just put it down to poor service and organisation, since then when we go to France we use Select Sites and do a package including sites, ferries and insurance, had to use the breakdown insurance twice. Both occasions spoke to people in England and car was recovered and hire car organised, together with taxi to collect us,once our car was fixed, battery and alternator first time, and starter motor second time, different cars,while it is stressful to break down abroad it is comforting to know the insurer you use can be relied upon, so we will stick with Select Sites next time, first came across them when they organised the PC readers rallies back in Nigel Donnelly 's reign