or am i naive to think that the RAC are a bunch of fuckers who are going to struggle to explain this

(70 Posts)
YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 22:48:06


This year has been shit. My in laws are calling it the year of death. The weekend was hard - trying to clear out my dead uncles house.

Sunday. We set off home, and should have been home by 9.30 ish. 20 minutes away the water tank on the car split, so it overheated and we had to stop.

9.30 - We called the RAC, told them that we are by the side of the road with a 13 year old and a 6 year old.

RAC say someone should be with us in about an hour, and they will call us before then.

10.30 we call back - the RAC say that someone will be in touch shortly

10.48 - we call the RAC again. While on the phone to the RAC the rescue truck firm call, and say that they should have someone with us within 60 minutes. DH asks them when they got the instruction from RAC to come collect us, they say 3 minutes ago

11.25 - rescue arrives

11.40 - car is on rescue truck

12:15 - dropped off at home (my children are even more grumpy and tired than initially anticipated)

So the fuckers at the RAC, apparently, did not bother to do anything about us for an hour and a quarter, on a Sunday night, with 2 kids, on the side of the road.

DH has called them today to complain, they say that somebody will call us back within 5 days. I can't wait to see what they say. Though given their track record so far, the reply will probably take 15 days.

We are cancelling, and we have been members for 15 years.

This is NOT the first time that we have been let down by them.

mummydarkling Tue 18-Jun-13 22:52:49


cansu Tue 18-Jun-13 22:53:11

That's terrible. I have always had v good experience though I must admit have never been stuck at night. I did complain once about the person I spoke to when trying to upgrade for home start and was given an apology and a free upgrade.

Euphemia Tue 18-Jun-13 22:55:36

Same here - we're going to move when I get around to it!

DH's car wouldn't start one morning at 6.30am so he phoned the RAC. The bloke finally turned up at 9.30am, having come on shift 60 miles away at 8am!

DH asked what would have happened if it had been me and DD broken down at the side of the road at 6.30am and he said "Same thing."

Rubbish service! Up until this year we couldn't but praise them. No more!

MalcolmTuckersMum Tue 18-Jun-13 22:58:43

Funnily enough I used to subscribe to them through Club Toyota (very attractive price) and then suddenly CT switched to the AA. Something's obviously going very wrong at the RAC which is a shame as they used to be superb.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:01:15

I have heard from the bloke/contractor who rescued our car that we would have been better off staying on the motorway. They rescue you quicker on the motorway

moonbells Tue 18-Jun-13 23:02:59

Ouch. Sorry for you...

I switched to the RAC when the AA did something similar to me... I had to sit and watch two AA vans rescue people in cars which broke down after me, an hour before a non-AA truck turned up, misdiagnosed the fault and charged me £150 for a wholly unnecessary tow.

They refused to refund the tow fee and grudgingly upgraded me to one step higher policy. I told them to stuff it! So I think this sort of thing is sadly all too common and not restricted to one or the other breakdown firm.

pigsDOfly Tue 18-Jun-13 23:04:31

Green Flag here through my insurance.

Had to call them out on a few occasions. Have always turned up very quickly. Came in about 15 minutes once because I was on my own in a car park at 5.15 in the evening.

cece Tue 18-Jun-13 23:04:35

I had similar treatment from the AA so moved to RAC a few years ago. I have never had to wait more than 30 mins for someone to come, often less. I think they are wonderful but what you described is bad. Sorry for you. sad

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:04:53

Can anyone find me an email for a senior at RAC, or tweet them this thread?

moonbells Tue 18-Jun-13 23:05:36

Oh and I was on the motorway, in a roadworks jam, at 8pm. Alone. They took four flipping hours to get the incompetent towtruck out. So no, they don't necessarily rescue you faster.

GibberTheMonkey Tue 18-Jun-13 23:06:50

A friend and I broke down with 3 preschoolers in the car.
We were told that we weren't priority as our local pickup truck had to make breakdowns on the motorway priority.
Except we live in norfolk and there are no motorways and the nearest would be far beyond the reach of anyone based in our region unless they only have about 10 trucks.
Might explain why it took them over 3 hours in December.
Lucky for us we managed to breakdown near a very good pub.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:07:43

To be fair- when I have just needed an RAC man to turn up in his van (cos I was stupid and flattened the battery by leaving the lights on), they were quick and nice. It seems to be with recovery that the re is a problem.

The last time I needed recovery - about 8 years ago - it took so long (over 3 hours) that I got a taxi home and got them to come out the next day.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:11:06

Are they all shit?

From what I hear Green Flag could be the future

LalyRawr Tue 18-Jun-13 23:12:42

Try ops@rac.co.uk to mail your complaint.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:13:36

Thanks Laly grin

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Tue 18-Jun-13 23:15:12

Chris Woodhouse.

CEOemail is a very useful website.

LalyRawr Tue 18-Jun-13 23:16:12

CEO email is cwoodhouse@rac.co.uk

Similar to my experience- called for a breakdown truck, as engine was making noise, and garage haf advised me to stop and under no circumstances turn engine on again. Guy came 3 HRS later, no truck. Turns on engine, revs hard and blows up engine block, then calls for truck. Truck arrived another 2 hrs later.

Had to take them to small claims court as they denied causing damage to engine block.

Been with Green Flag since.
Never never use RAC!

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:18:47

Ohhhh CEO email coming on.

Older - that is truely shite

Snowballed Tue 18-Jun-13 23:21:37

Green Flag are brilliant - less than half an hour. Really nice too.

ChipsNEggs Tue 18-Jun-13 23:23:54

But companies like the RAC/AA have to prioritise due to need, its not first come first served. I broke down a couple of months ago lone female at night and not at home/safe place, i'd only be prioritised higher if I had a child with me. Its fucking inconvenient and annoying but should your DH not being able to leave his home on time be seen before a lone parent with a young baby at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere just because he phoned sooner?

Ideally they'd be able to get to everyone quickly but a paid for service would be very expensive if they needed to ensure they could get to everyone quickly at all times. That does not mean you need to accept bad service just that the bad service may be a one off because others were in greater need at the time.

FWIW I was once involved in a major multi vehicle pile up, there was an AA van just behind who provided emergency medical care to the most seriously injured and continued to help and support us all as the police and ambulances struggled to get through the jam. It was him who helped a paramedic get me into an ambulance about 40 minutes later (my injuries were not life threatening). He was probably on the way to a call when our accident happened and there was probably someone bristling with anger on being forced to wait to have a flat battery sorted.

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:24:23

So - Green flag - are they good on rescue, not just on getting out to fix if they can?

Our problems have always been when we need an actual rescue - as in put my car on the back of something and take me home in your truck (this is not a euphemism)

pingulingo Tue 18-Jun-13 23:25:24

I used to work for the RAC. Green flag are good at getting there quick but their repair rate isn't as good. But sometimes you just want to get home asap. To be honest all the breakdown companies are pretty equal and they all fuck up.

PM me if you want any further details on complaints etc, I can probably get you an email address. All the calls will be recorded so list all the wrong ETAs you were given

What's happened is you should have had a patrol to attend (evn though its usually pointless with overheating). Jobs have stacked up and eventually the dispatcher has been allowed to send it over to a contractor for probably a direct recovery. It's annoying but most jobs have to go to a patrol first these days even in jobs when its unlikely to be fixable

Contractor was right, 30 min response time if you are on a motorway hard shoulder - but that's because they are so dangerous. Wouldn't recommend stopping there if you can ever help it. What contractor was it out of interest?

YoniMatopoeia Tue 18-Jun-13 23:29:07

Chips - are you saying that they should have left us there saying 1 hour, and not even started the process of getting us rescued until an our and a quarter afterwards. We were at the side of the road with children.

I have to say that this is on top of the incident I had some years ago, when they could get nobody out to me at all for 3 hours, so I got a taxi home. The next day, when the recovery guy came out, he had no calls all night. The RAC had not even tried to get me home

HoHoHoNoYouDont Tue 18-Jun-13 23:33:03

I was with Greenflag for many years and they were first class. Although they tell you they'll be with you within the hour, the companies they contract out to have an agreement with Greenflag that they'll reach their customers within 45 mins. Not sure if this is still the case but it used to be.

I'm with the RAC now and to be honest they've been good so far. They can be a bit grumpy but wouldn't you be if it was freezing cold and pissing down and your head was stuck under a bonnet!

My ex worked for the RAC and to be honest the guys are under so much pressure. He used to tell me some rum tales.

Footface Tue 18-Jun-13 23:34:01

Rac are shit shit shit bags, four hours with a newborn and two year old. Lucky for me I walked home, but they didn't know that and didn't care on iota.

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 23:43:37

Maybe they had been ringing round various towing companies... and the one that came to you was the first available to get to you.

ChipsNEggs Tue 18-Jun-13 23:45:51

No Yoni ideally they should have been their much quicker and in my limited experience they normally are. Just that depending on what else was going on at the time you may have been down the list and you were being bumped down repeatedly. You run the same risk whoever your breakdown cover provider is. I switch regularly to get the best price deals as as far as I can see they all operate in the same manner. You can't base your view of an entire operation on one incident. If you'd been left in a very vulnerable position that is different but given that you had your DH there and the ages of the children it is fucking annoying but you were not in a highly vulnerable or dangerous situation.

pingulingo Tue 18-Jun-13 23:50:53

Squeakytoy - no they have a contract with one contractor per area. If they pass the job to that contractor and they can't do it within a required timeframe then that contractor is responsible for sub contracting it out. But that rarely happens unless you are somewhere extremely rural or have had an accident that needs specialist equipment.

Sunday evening in the summer is an awful time to need a recovery - not that it's the OPs fault. But it's really unpredictable and used to either be totally dead or manic.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Tue 18-Jun-13 23:51:09

How bizarre, a Greenflag advert came on the tv whilst I'm reading this thread. Have the advertisers got into our heads now. It's like those adverts at the side of the page, always stuff you've just been browsing on tinternet.

pingulingo Tue 18-Jun-13 23:55:02

Chips - you are totally right regarding the vulnerability and response time. A call handler will note the priority of an incoming call and the note "has children please prioritise" goes on a lot - but the dispatcher still has the same number of patrols / resources to send out and not everyone can get an immediate response.

DollyTwat Tue 18-Jun-13 23:57:45

Green flag have always got to me within 30 mins, even on a campsite on a Sunday when I'd run my battery down
Best recovery co I've ever used

VirgoGrr Tue 18-Jun-13 23:59:05

My RAC membership got cancelled last year after they left me 3 hours from 11pm to 2am on my own and feeling very vulnerable. Sub zero temperatures too. No apology, no nothing.

SpooMoo Tue 18-Jun-13 23:59:28

You get what you pay for. Are you on their basic cover?

LazyMonkeyButler Wed 19-Jun-13 00:07:12

Green Flag are amazing. We have two cars at any one time, and always have older cars (we don't do finance, so the cars cost whatever we have at the time). For the princely sum of £9.50 per month they will turn up promptly every time (IME at least) and recover your vehicle anywhere in the country if they can't get it started.

I often say that my £9.50 per month is the best money I ever spend. So much so, that I have free AA cover on my bank account but choose to pay for and use Green Flag every time.

I think it's clear who I would recommend grin.

WeAreEternal Wed 19-Jun-13 00:11:35

I was with AA for years but after two breakdowns where the misdiagnosed a simple fault (that could have been fixed at the roadside) and insisted on towing me home I decided to switch to the RAC.

The first time I broke down with them it was about 7pm in late November of 08, DS was one and asleep in the car.
The electrics had gone and I couldn't get the car to even turn on, so I had no heat or lights, and it was freezing, and dark, and I was alone on a quiet country road.
Because there was no street lights and it was getting really datk it was not safe to stay in the car without any lights on, but it was far too cold to wait outside the car with a one year old.

The RAC told me that someone would be with me ASAP, I had to call them a dozen times, each time being told someone was on their way and would be with me soon. When someone actually turned up. It was 11pm.

I was so angry, especially when the RAC man told me that he hadn't been told to come to me until 30 minutes before.

The RAC claimed it was a computer error, they never apologised or said anything else.

I canceled them and have been with green flag since. They are fab, I've had to call them out three times and each time they have made me a top priority if I have DS with me. They have also got to me in under an hour each time (I worked it out and it's clear that they set off to me as soon as I called)
I definitely recommend them.

DizzyPurple Wed 19-Jun-13 00:16:56

We broke down on the motorway last summer. 2 adults and a 2 year Old. Took them an hour and a half to come (RAC). Not impressed. Luckily it was a nice day so we sat high upon the bramble covered grass verge in safety but not exactly in comfort. Hardly the place with a 2 year old! Gave them very poor feedback in an email they sent requesting feedback but wish I'd complained properly really.

Euphemia Wed 19-Jun-13 06:45:50

We pay the full cover from the RAC - from home, get you home from wherever you are, everything, and still their service is crap.

You don't get what you pay for - you get the service they're willing to give, having pared down the service to the bare bones so that they can pay their staff less while still charging the customers a fee which increases every year.

Glittertwins Wed 19-Jun-13 07:05:26

We had AA cover until we found they didn't recover after an accident so we suspended it and used the company that was free with the new car.

We've had to use AA now twice in 4 years now on the current car. DH only had to wait 30 mins (no DCs in car) and I had someone within 5 mins of ending the conversation with call dispatcher (Christmas with 2DCs).
We live near the M25 & M1 so there could have been a motorway excuse but there wasn't.

Euphemia Wed 19-Jun-13 07:08:41

We moved from the Glasgow area to the Dundee area and we wondered whether being in a less populated area was the reason for poorer service. The RAC man told DH that the service has been cut back across the board, so service in the Glasgow area was no longer as good as it had been.

MrsGeologist Wed 19-Jun-13 07:17:39

I'm with Green flag and they have been excellent. Sorry you've had so much trouble with RAC. I'd fuck them off and switch.

YoniMatopoeia Wed 19-Jun-13 09:20:32

Yes we have the full cover too. Homestart, roadside, get you home. All of it.

If there had been other people who were higher priority (lone female, younger kids, dangerous location) then I could understand it. But the call was never even made to the towing company until we chased them. They made no attempt to even start the process of getting us recovered.

And if they have said an hour, and we get bumped because of something more urgent, then ring us up and tell us. Don't leave us there with no idea when we are going to get the kids home and to bed.

YoniMatopoeia Wed 19-Jun-13 09:21:08

Sounds like green flag will be getting our business!

The service is appalling but I think you could have rung a friend or relative or a taxi to collect you and your children and take you home leaving DH with the car if the safety of your children was an issue.

I'm all for complaining and think you should but you could have been more proactive.

I originally thought you were going to say you were 200 mile from home not the short distance that you were!

miemohrs Wed 19-Jun-13 09:39:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Osmiornica Wed 19-Jun-13 09:53:55

They left us once overnight despite ringing several times miles and miles from home - the eventual excuse was that they thought we didn't renew our membership - we had but they messed up. They still should have sent someone or at least have told us that so we could sort something else out.

The issue is lack of communication. If they ring back and say, sorry, we're very busy and we can't get out to you for another couple of hours you could perhaps do something but if you think they're going to be there any minute it's trickier.

LL12 Wed 19-Jun-13 10:11:00

Have you looked at AutoAid?
We have been with them about 3 or 4 years now, have used them once when my clutch went, I was very impressed.
It is the same level of cover as AA & RAC top cover, but you pay about £36 a year for yourself and spouse and then if you breakdown you call them they send someone to you who you pay by credit card.
You then send the receipt and claim form back and get your sent money refunded to you within 7 days.

YoniMatopoeia Wed 19-Jun-13 10:29:46

Family lives over 100 miles away. We did try friends. The only friend we could get hold of (who would have been able to come out) only has a 2 seater. The local taxi firm only has 1 car, I don't carry their number or know their name, as I rarely if ever use them (because they charge an absolute fortune). Anyway, I thought the RAC were coming.

DeWe Wed 19-Jun-13 10:33:28

Green flag was excellent with us. There within 20 minutes, dropped us home and car at garage (even though I directed them to the wrong garage blush the body works one rather than repairs). And ds had a ride in a pick up truck. At 2yo this was very exciting, he still remembers it!

My favourite story was from a friend who had to call the AA out her maximum (3 I think) number of times in a year over totally unrelated (and easily fixed) issues. They sent her a formal letter:
"Dear mrs. X, Just to let you know that you have reached the maximum number of callouts you are entitled to in a 12 month period. If you wish to upgrade to our premimum package then please contact ups on 012345879.
Yours sincerely
AA man"
At at the bottom, handwritten, was an extra note:
"Ps. Have you thought about buying a new car?"

Owllady Wed 19-Jun-13 10:39:23

The RAC cover motobility, i am not sure whether that makes a difference to how they prioritise. I have them through motobility and they have always been excellent but it's a matter of life and death leaving a severely autistic child at the side of a busy road/motorway

Sokmonsta Wed 19-Jun-13 10:47:26

Green flag were shit for me. I broke down, on a blind bend with 4 dc in the car. 150 miles from home at 3:30pm. Van eventually turned up at 5:30pm and despite me telling them I'd got two rear facing car seats, I still had to call my husband out when they spent 3 hours faffing about working out what they could do to get me home once they'd established my car couldn't be repaired by the roadside, and telling me I didn't need to call anyone to fetch me, they could take me to a train station! We got home eventually at 1:30am.

I took out aa cover the very next day. They have been wonderful and always with me within the hour, even when I had to call them out for a Homestart for my mums car, which I was borrowing.

sonlypuppyfat Wed 19-Jun-13 10:53:11

They are useless I broke down on the way to our holiday destination we broke down I was with my DM and 3 DC all under 11 I called the RAC who told me that my cover runs out tomorrow I said tomorrows not today! We waited an age a policeman on a motorbike turned up and had to call them to make them come I would never go with them again

plainjaney Wed 19-Jun-13 11:08:23

I actually can't fault the RAC for us.

DH broke down on his way home from work earlier this year, it was 5pm, rush hour and snowing like buggery. Roads were atrocious and there were a lot of issues that night. He managed to get off the motorway and called them. They were with him by 6pm and decided to tow him home (gearbox had gone).
By the time they got to the bottom of our street it was heavy snow. Tow truck could have made it to the top but the driver offered to take our car back to their yard and say the street was impassable, this meant that on Monday morning they could deliver the car to our usual mechanic, otherwise we'd have had to have it towed from our drive to the mechanic privately.

He did us a huge favour that night. Not only was DH home on one of the worst nights of snow we've had for ages he saved us about £80 in further transfer fees which when paying £2k for a gearbox meant a lot.

PunkHedgehog Wed 19-Jun-13 11:30:32

I'm with the ETA and have always had great service. They don't have their own vans, they contract out to a network of local places so you don't have someone sent from stupidly long distances away. Fast response (I've never waited more than 40 minutes), they tell you who is coming and an expected time, and if that time changes they ring you with an update instead of leaving you to chase them for info. They also do cycle rescue.

My one dealing with the RAC was through my insurance company after an idiot driving on the wrong side of the road ran into my car.

7.30 pm, unlit country road, middle of nowhere, -2 outside, on my own, phone battery low, far side of some gates that needed a code to get through. They said an hour and they'd give the gate details to the driver. I had to call them repeatedly to find out where they were, and sprint half a mile to the gate when I finally saw orange flashing lights at close to 11pm. Driver was just turning round to leave because he didn't have the gate code or my number. And he'd come from almost 2 counties away.

Due to a malfunction with our car, DS, then 22 months, got locked in at a motorway services. I was also 7 months pregnant. Greenflag took over 2 hours to get to us then. YANBU.

I have cover with Greenflag through my bank account and have had to call them out twice - both times they were here within the hour (same guy both times! - they must contract out as it was 911 recovery that he works for). The first time he recharged my car battery as it had run down for no apparent reason and the second time (2 days ago) I had an engine malfunction and he took it away to a garage of my choice where it is still waiting for a part to fix the fuel injection system.

TheCutOfYourJib Wed 19-Jun-13 13:45:15

Auto aid are fantastic, only £36 for the year as someone has already said.
I've used them loads and they're always quick.

CatelynStark Wed 19-Jun-13 13:50:32

Another vote for Green Flag here - they've been brilliant on several occasions.

I used to be with the AA but it just got way too expensive sad

34DD Wed 19-Jun-13 22:19:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

loubielou31 Wed 19-Jun-13 22:56:56

I don't know if this is the same for all recovery companies but RAC will charge you for recovery if it's because of an accident rather than a break down!! (I guess they would say you claim for it as part of the insurance claim)

We had to get VW assist out last week, (free for a year with the new car but we'll be taking it out for our other car too now) Their service was really good, they told us the name of the guy who would be coming how long he would be and he called to say he was on his way and a better approximation of his arrival time. (We were at home so how long he took didn't matter to us but I did think if I was stuck on my own on the road somewhere, actually knowing the name of the repair man would be quite reassuring if only to check it was a real repair man when he arrived.)

We're with AA, who are expensive but have been every time I've needed them, apart from one day when we broke down three times in one journey, which sent their computers into a tailspin!!

This thread has made me think though - if I broke down on a motorway how the fuck would I get and keep two toddlers safe on my own?!

CalamityJ Wed 19-Jun-13 23:26:14

Can't believe how much some of you are paying! Start rescue is £36 and the one time I called them I got text updates, the chap came within the hour, was courteous, got my keys out of my locked car and sent me on my way all in under 2 hours. £36! An auto locksmith in an emergency would probably charge over £100. Shop around OP. There's loads who use local garages which are closer.

GiveItYourBestShot Wed 19-Jun-13 23:33:16

AA made me push my motorbike half a mile down the road to the recovery truck because he'd parked in the wrong street and couldn't be persuaded to move. Won't be renewing with them come October!

NomenOmen Wed 19-Jun-13 23:59:00

Aviva sold the RAC to a US private equity group in 2011. If you've witnessed a deterioration in service, it is probably because the RAC is being asset-stripped and will shortly go under with levels of unsustainable debt.


YoniMatopoeia Thu 20-Jun-13 05:33:44

Still no call back regarding our complaint.

Slavetothechild Thu 20-Jun-13 10:50:47

I have disabled membership with the RAC bloodly awful service ! The last time i was stuck in a rugby club car park at night in a wheelchair they said it was not a priority as i was in a car park .....well yes but this was at the end of a game and quite soon it would have been deserted !! Luckily for me some of my sons friends bump started the car as it had a faulty battery i later discovered . Hurray for rugby palyers smile sod the RAC

VirgoGrr Sat 22-Jun-13 17:49:56

It is quite telling as well that when I've mentioned poor service on threads in the past, I've had a PM about it from the company. I bet no-one has had any contact from RAC, have you? I haven't. You couldn't pay me to take out cover with them again now, and I'd been a member for more than 10 years solidly.

edwardsmum11 Sat 22-Jun-13 17:52:37

Took an hour and a half to get through to them a few weeks ago. On side of road with 21mth old. Still annoyed tbh.

TimeofChange Sat 22-Jun-13 17:55:09

Green Flag.
They are cheaper too.

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