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RAC Europe... cautionary tale

Velma's Dad

Velma's Dad

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I know posts about how badly someone has been treated by some business or other can be tedious. But you might have a similar shock to me if, as a lot of us do, you're relying on RAC Europe Assistance. And anyway I have to off-load to someone. So here goes.

Basically, I currently have a car with a broken gearbox stuck in the Spanish Pyrenees because RAC have declined (a week after the breakdown, now that I'm now home in UK) to repatriate it. Their grounds are that my planned trip involved shipping the car home unaccompanied at the end of the trip, from Lisbon. That doesn't meet their definition of a valid trip as (apparently) being one in which you and the vehicle leave home and arrive back home together.

Fortunately my RAC cover is provided through my insurer rather than bought by me directly and my insurer is now making moves to recover the car for me without RAC's help (cost about £3,500).

Needless to say I will never, ever rely on RAC again (will be cancelling my UK cover with them at next renewal). They are evidently desperate to find excuses however tenuous to refuse to assist on potentially expensive continental Europe incidents. So be very wary about any assumption you might be making about relying their services for your trips tis summer (sorry!).
 
I know posts about how badly someone has been treated by some business or other can be tedious. But you might have a similar shock to me if, as a lot of us do, you're relying on RAC Europe Assistance. And anyway I have to off-load to someone. So here goes.

Basically, I currently have a car with a broken gearbox stuck in the Spanish Pyrenees because RAC have declined (a week after the breakdown, now that I'm now home in UK) to repatriate it. Their grounds are that my planned trip involved shipping the car home unaccompanied at the end of the trip, from Lisbon. That doesn't meet their definition of a valid trip as (apparently) being one in which you and the vehicle leave home and arrive back home together.

Fortunately my RAC cover is provided through my insurer rather than bought by me directly and my insurer is now making moves to recover the car for me without RAC's help (cost about £3,500).

Needless to say I will never, ever rely on RAC again (will be cancelling my UK cover with them at next renewal). They are evidently desperate to find excuses however tenuous to refuse to assist on potentially expensive continental Europe incidents. So be very wary about any assumption you might be making about relying their services for your trips tis summer (sorry!).
Sorry, I’m not sure I fully understand. You drove the vehicle out there, but we’re not going to be driving it back?
So, how was the vehicle going to be returned to the U.K.?
 
Thanks for that.

I do rely on them, with cover taken out direct with them.

In Portugal I keep an MGB & a Vespa which I only use out here. The MGB is U.K. reg and the Vespa is Portugal reg.

In the U.K. I use my Cali & another car, both of which I could take as and when to Europe.

From what you are saying, I perhaps should not rely on them for my vehicles out here in Portugal ?
 
Sorry, I’m not sure I fully understand. You drove the vehicle out there, but we’re not going to be driving it back?
So, how was the vehicle going to be returned to the U.K.?
It was a rally (which incidentally was fully declared and nothing to do with the refusal or the breakdown), route was London to Lisbon and along with several other competitors I'd arranged to have the car brought back to UK on a pre-booked truck from Lisbon at end of trip. Actually I'd originally planned to drive the car up to Santander and ferry it back but the truck option came up.

As my insurer said to me, even if most people do go out and back in a 'conventional' way (eg tunnel/ferry) others in practice have all kinds of legitimate itineraries that may not follow that pattern.

But anyway it became obvious to me after the breakdown that RAC was looking for a way to refuse the repatriation (they were also spectacularly useless in helping with any onward travel, that's another story).
 
From what you are saying, I perhaps should not rely on them for my vehicles out here in Portugal ?
I would say almost certainly they won't cover you. The first thing they asked me was "when did you bring the car out of the UK?".
 
It was a rally (which incidentally was fully declared and nothing to do with the refusal or the breakdown), route was London to Lisbon and along with several other competitors I'd arranged to have the car brought back to UK on a pre-booked truck from Lisbon at end of trip. Actually I'd originally planned to drive the car up to Santander and ferry it back but the truck option came up.

As my insurer said to me, even if most people do go out and back in a 'conventional' way (eg tunnel/ferry) others in practice have all kinds of legitimate itineraries that may not follow that pattern.

But anyway it became obvious to me after the breakdown that RAC was looking for a way to refuse the repatriation (they were also spectacularly useless in helping with any onward travel, that's another story).
I see. I would have thought they could at least have transported the vehicle to Lisbon to meet the pre-booked lorry.
 
I see. I would have thought they could at least have transported the vehicle to Lisbon to meet the pre-booked lorry.
Quite. In fact I initially suggested that to them as an option, but they declined and said they preferred to take it straight back to UK. Which they then reneged on, a week later.

So the car's still in a little town called La Pobla de Segur, if anyone is passing with a tow rope. ;)
 
I would say almost certainly they won't cover you. The first thing they asked me was "when did you bring the car out of the UK?".

Yes, thanks. Just checked my policy wording and am alarmed. My Portugal registered Vespa will be ok as Portuguese policy’s have to include breakdown cover, but my MGB is U.K. covered with a 365 day green card, and has no associated breakdown cover on the policy. BT calls in the morning I think.
 
I would need to see pictures of the car if I was Mr RAC :)
 
Nice to see you in full compliance with that humungous UK sticker
 
Like the extra handbrake help.
Well spotted! Box is seized in neutral and hydraulic handbrake (it's a rally car) has no locking mechanism. The original Alfa parking brake is still fitted for legality but not... (ahem)... 100% trustworthy.
 
Sorry to hear about the hassle. I pass through there a fair bit on my way to Girona... but usually on my motorbike (N260 Eje Pirenaico is one of the finest biking roads in the world) so can't help with the towing. Although the bike is a 1400 so might have enough oomph to tow it...
 
Yep I am not covered for my MGB as the ‘journey’ has to start and finish from my U.K. home address, within the policy dates & in addition a ‘journey’ cannot be for more than 90 days.
 
Sorry to hear about the hassle. I pass through there a fair bit on my way to Girona... but usually on my motorbike (N260 Eje Pirenaico is one of the finest biking roads in the world) so can't help with the towing. Although the bike is a 1400 so might have enough oomph to tow it...
Yes we were on the N260, it's certainly a lovely bit of road. The gb failed on one of the hairpins a couple of km further east, I got dragged up on a rope to the flattish spot where pic was taken by the sweep mechanics who then had to hare off to keep up with the pack heading west to the Pamplona overnight. What was most gutting was that we were lying in second place after four days, hey ho.
 
That's a very shabby way to treat a valued customer. I hope you get it resolved to your satisfaction soon. A strongly worded letter to the RAC's CEO perhaps?

On a slightly different note, some years ago I experienced two or was it three successive breakdowns in the same vintage car? All the said breakdowns related to the same rather tricky to eliminate intermitant issue. Despite several sessions of tinkering the problem persisted for a while. Some days after the last event I received a very snotty letter saying that if I called this yellow liveried break down organisation again they would cancel my membership!

After seeing red instead of yellow, I put pen to paper informing them that they had been eager enough to take my membership fee for the previous decade or so despite very little demand from my end and that accordingly, their letter was completely unacceptable. They eventually apologised.

I suppose that in these cut throat times, being a type of insurance product, these organisations will take every opportunity to try and limit their costs.
 
That's a very shabby way to treat a valued customer. I hope you get it resolved to your satisfaction soon. A strongly worded letter to the RAC's CEO perhaps?

On a slightly different note, some years ago I experienced two or was it three successive breakdowns in the same vintage car? All the said breakdowns related to the same rather tricky to eliminate intermitant issue. Despite several sessions of tinkering the problem persisted for a while. Some days after the last event I received a very snotty letter saying that if I called this yellow liveried break down organisation again they would cancel my membership!

After seeing red instead of yellow, I put pen to paper informing them that they had been eager enough to take my membership fee for the previous decade or so despite very little demand from my end and that accordingly, their letter was completely unacceptable. They eventually apologised.

I suppose that in these cut throat times, being a type of insurance product these organisations will take every opportunity to try and limit their costs.
No, a "valued customer" as far as RAC is concerned is one who never actually tries to use their services in an emergency. I'll not waste powder and shot contacting RAC again because their actions scream out what type of business they actually are. I know a lot of the others are imperfect but RAC goes into my "Never ever again" file where they will find themselves in good company with Ryanair.
 
No, a "valued customer" as far as RAC is concerned is one who never actually tries to use their services in an emergency. I'll not waste powder and shot contacting RAC again because their actions scream out what type of business they actually are. I know a lot of the others are imperfect but RAC goes into my "Never ever again" file where they will find themselves in good company with Ryanair.
what's wrong with Ryanair ;)
 
Insurance companies exist to take in premiums and not pay claims. Very few good words to say about any of them.
 
I love the Alpha handling but they do did have some issues. I had an Alphasud in the seventies it was an incredible driving car but the body work rotted in front of your eyes. Love the look of the styling of yours . Hope it is recovered OK. I gave up on the RAC due to there complete incompetence on a roadside repair. The RAC guy held the torch while I reattached the drive shaft to the Alpha.
 
I love the Alpha handling but they do did have some issues. I had an Alphasud in the seventies it was an incredible driving car but the body work rotted in front of your eyes. Love the look of the styling of yours . Hope it is recovered OK. I gave up on the RAC due to there complete incompetence on a roadside repair. The RAC guy held the torch while I reattached the drive shaft to the Alpha.
The Giuletta/Giulias (Tipo 750/101) are nimble and handle extremely well, much like an Mark 1 Escort rather than a car designed in the mid-50s. Mine turns in superbly on all surfaces, much better than British sports cars of the period (I also rally a TR4 which only knows dumb-insolence understeer followed by snap-oversteer). The rust problems were notorious on the Alfasuds because by the 1970s Alfa was using comedy metal sourced from Russia, but the earlier cars are much less rust-prone.
 
I love the Alpha handling but they do did have some issues. I had an Alphasud in the seventies it was an incredible driving car but the body work rotted in front of your eyes. Love the look of the styling of yours . Hope it is recovered OK. I gave up on the RAC due to there complete incompetence on a roadside repair. The RAC guy held the torch while I reattached the drive shaft to the Alpha.
My Alfsud was much the same lovely engine but the rest of it just fell apart.
 

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