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Gold standard European breakdown cover, my a**e

(10 Posts)
IloveJudgeJudy Sun 07-Aug-16 18:32:34

Been planning the family holiday and looking forward to it all year. We always take out breakdown cover and this year, as the car is getting on a bit, we took out the highest level - gold.

The day after we arrived the car started leaking something. No problem, I thought, we've got gold cover. Wrong!!

Initially all went well. Breakdown guy turns up, shakes his head and takes car away. We had been led to believe we'd go with him to the garage and it would get sorted. No. We're camping and we had to take absolutely everything out of the car and I mean everything. Still no problem we thought, we'll just be provided with a hire car.

That appeared to be impossible as we are a party of 6sad. There seemed to be no MPV anywhere in France that would be available to us. They initially offered us 2 small cars which we naturally refused cos of double hire and fuel costs. I am a polite person, especially as I work in a sort of customer service role. It took DH to be very forceful, bordering on rude for them finally to provide us with an MPV after nearly 2 days which we had to go and collect. It will take 9 days for our car to be fixed and we'll have to take another half day of our holiday to hand back the hire car and collect puts, assuming it's been fixed.

We've also had to pay out about £350 on damage waiver for the hire car.

This is a rare family get together for us, including my DM, DS1 who lives away and is going abroad to study, along with DD and DS2, DH and me.

Has anyone else had the unfortunate experience of their car breaking down abroad and AIBU to have expected better service than this and what compensation should I ask for?

Thanks in advance for any advice or words of wisdom.

AnneEyhtMeyer Sun 07-Aug-16 18:36:04

I can't see the issue.

They came and got your car, asked you to take out everything so it didn't get lost / stolen, offered you replacement vehicles and are getting it repaired for you.

You admit your car is getting on a bit, so you sound like you were expecting trouble.

It is breakdown cover, not a miracle worker.

PaulDacreCuntyMcCuntFace Sun 07-Aug-16 18:39:23

You need to look at your policy document and find out what you are actually covered for. 'Gold standard' means nothing - it might imply a great level of cover but the devil is in the detail.

It's common for BD policies to not automatically include a like-for-like courtesy car, unless you have specifically paid for an upgrade. It's also common for there to be high excesses attached to the loan cars - hence the damage waiver, which also is not usually covered by the BD policy. If you drive abroad regularly it might be worth you taking out an annual excess waiver policy - which you can rely on in the event of this happening again - as it will be much cheaper.

Compensation-wise I am not sure what you'll be able to ask for. You could try for something in respect of how long it took them to provide you with an MPV, but if your policy doesn't guarantee a like-for-like vehicle then you aren't likely to win that argument. In terms of having to take time off to drop the car back and collect yours, again there will probably not be any guarantee over the length of time that repairs take - so again you aren't likely to get anything from that. I'd also guess that your policy has an exclusion in it for loss of enjoyment.

teletone Sun 07-Aug-16 20:07:35

We broke down in Germany mid way through our holiday. We took the car to the local German dealership as it was new and they said it couldn't be driven.
Rang breakdown and they sorted out another car and immediately no problems and no fee. Kept car for entire holiday (MPV).
Our Car however had to be brought back on a breakdown truck and took 4 weeks. Couldn't take hire car to England so had to book foot passenger ferry with hand luggage and leave hire car at Calais.
Was told to keep all receipts for any expenses incurred and claim back. All fine. Was also gold standard.
I found it depended who dealt with initial breakdown call. I asked for the same person to handle case through and they rang me every day.
I would ring back and ask for a designated person for your case as they can do all the ringing to the garage and they know your case without having to keep repeating to random people.

BeenThereDoneThatForgotten Sun 07-Aug-16 20:31:07

We have super levels of insurance but I never read the small print. Our car broke down on the French motorway last year. They paid for 2 nights b&b in a hotel, whilst we waited for it to be fixed, but in the event it would have been longer we would only have got a small hire car for one week (of a 3 week holiday). And we had to pay the repair bill ourselves and claim it back when we got home.

MisterGumpy Sun 07-Aug-16 22:09:31

When we were first seeing each other DH took me to France to meet his folks, but the fuel line on our van burst (dramatically) only an hour or so out of calais, leaving us in the middle of nowhere at all.
We got the local garage to tow us and arranged for the AA to speak to them. The part required couldn't be sourced in time and I was miserably thinking we'd be on our way home again but they got us a replacement van straight away and sent us on our holiday.
On our way home we returned the van, went to the local garage and got on a tow truck with our van and were delivered onto the ferry. At the other side we were fetched onto another tow truck and taken home.
We paid nothing above what we'd paid for the initial cover.
I'm pretty shocked at others stories! Will definitely be reading the fine print next time I brave that journey, and whatever 'gold standard' is i'll be sure to avoid it

(name changed obvs, that Adventure would out me in a second).

IloveJudgeJudy Wed 10-Aug-16 11:15:55

Thank you all for your advice/stories. The company/repair place are leaving it until the last minute to get our car back to us. It's meant to be fixed tomorrow, but again, we're having to take time out of our holiday to take back the hire car and then get a taxi to pick up our car which is in a different town. Evidently in France hire car companies don't pick up their cars which is in complete contrast to our experience in the UK.

I think I'm going to write to the MD when I get back to the UK to ask for some specific compensation. If you don't ask, you don't get. I think I'm extra miffed as we don't really ever claim on insurance. We've had things go wrong in our house where our friends have asked didn't we claim on our insurance.

Stillunexpected Wed 10-Aug-16 11:37:24

Struggling to see what exactly you want to be compensated for? It is not the breakdown company's fault that your car was so broken that it has required all this time to repair it. If they can't get it back to you in time for your original return, that is also not their fault is it?

I would absolutely expect to have to remove everything from the car if you were sending it for repair. Would you have been happy to be without all these items for 9 days? Would you have been happy if they had had to empty the boot or footwells to access something and your belongings were damaged or dirty on return?

Lack of a suitable car is annoying but it is peak season so again not a lot anyone can do about it.

Being "extra miffed" because you don't normally claim on insurance is irrelevant.

fascicle Wed 10-Aug-16 11:59:31

You need to look at your policy document and find out what you are actually covered for. 'Gold standard' means nothing - it might imply a great level of cover but the devil is in the detail.

Yes, check your policy. What does it promise in terms of the specification of a replacement vehicle and timescales for making one available? Does the policy make clear that you would be responsible for fetching the vehicle? If you spoke to somebody when you took out the policy, is the service you have received at odds with any specific assurances that you might have been given? Is 9 days a reasonable timescale to mend your car's fault?

heron98 Wed 10-Aug-16 13:55:45

I used to work in the call centre for Greenflag on the lines that people rang when they called in from Europe.

The issue was that Greenflag have to use local garages and in August particularly they all bugger off on holiday and close and nothing's available.

I have never had so much grief in a job as when I worked there. People (rightly) think that because they've paid for service they'll get it, whereas it's a lot more hit and miss than the UK.

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