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European Breakdown Service


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Only 3 days into our recent holiday in France we had the misfortune to suffer a broken exhaust pipe. The bit from the exhaust manifold broke away right on the clamp fitting, and the noise was horrible. We were close to a Renault agent, our van is a Peugeot, and a young man there was extremely helpfull in helping me to work out what had broken, but apologised that he couldn't help us, but pointed out that there was a Peugeot agent about three kilometers away.

We drove noisily there, it was a veritable temple in which one might worship that art of Peugeot, but no-one was available to have a look at the van, and they offered us an appointment in 4 days time, when they would have a look at it, but it would be another week or more before they could actually fix it.My response is probably another nail in the coffin of the Entent Cordialle, and we drove nosily back to the campsite, where we phoned Saga to see if they could help, and they promised that their French agent would contact us shortly.

As good as their word a charming young Frenchman, speaking impecable English, was calling us within 30 minutes. He insisted on speaking to Cosmopolitan Girl, because her name is on the insurance, and it was fascinating to listen to two people who didn't have a clue what they were talking about arguing about what should be done. He wanted to put the van on to a low loader and ship it back to the UK, and because our van was too big for a normal breakdown truck it would not be covered by our insurance, she insisting it was only a little campervan, and she had specifically given Saga all the measurements, so it must be covered. The van is a Pilote Galaxy 25, so I guess they were both wrong.

After about 20 minutes of heated exchanges he said he would seek advice and call her back.

30 minutews later the phone rang and I picked it, and as soon as the voice on the other end spoke I knew we would be alright. He said his name was Eric and he worked for the AA, his beautiful Dudley accent re-assured me instantly and we exhanged Brummy memories for a few minutes before we got down to business. He explained that the AA maintain a presence in France during the summer, and that he had a man in Bordeaux who would be with us first thing in the morning.

At 8.0 o clock next day I was amazed to see a yellow AA van, right hand drive, and UK registered, driving through the campsite to find us. I explained the problem, he got under the van and had a look, he produced a little device that comprised a roll of steel sheet about 6 inches long and of about the right diameter for our exhaust pipe with a bolt through it. He inserted the device into the two broken parts, tighted the bolt to make it a really good fit, gobbed some stuff to seal the leaks, and th job was done. We did a further 2 thousand miles with it and still no problem, it goes in to be fixed at the weekend.

We made hima cup of coffee and the means of washing his hands, and started to chat. They are allowed to spend 90 days in France each year, and they beleive that they save British breakdown companies a fortune by dong simple repairs like ours, and thereby avoding rip off French companies.

After a rew minutes he asked me if I was a chauffeur, I said yes. He asked me if I drive a blue Audi with a private plate, I said yes. He asked me if I go to the Clockhouse Garage at Bedfont for coffee, Isaid yes.

He said he thought so, because he lives close by there and goes there when he is waiting for work, and he had seen me often.

Small world then, but Brilliant service.


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Good story, with a happy ending. Reminds me of the time when, in my youth, my car developed a rather large hole in the middle section of the exhaust pipe. I repaired it using an empty Coke can and some jubilee clips. It lasted the two weeks to pay day and a new exhaust.

Cattwg :-D

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