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AA European cover......be warned!!


Bulletguy

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I've just returned from my shortest ever "tour".......just 15 days, 12 of which were spent being p*ssed around by the AA Breakdown. But it's not actually AA as we know it. Read on;

 

After setting off from Bray-Dune for Germany the engine management light came on so i turned back, parked up and called B/down. 2 hours later the guy turned up and promptly went off for something to eat (well i was in France after all!). Van was driveable but in "Limp Mode" so followed him to a Ford Garage in Dunkerque......who were closed for lunch until 2pm! *-)

 

They spent the afternoon trying to get to the bottom of it but couldn't sort it so was told by B/down they would have another look at it next week! *-)

 

Since i was low on water and gas i decided to move to a Campsite just over the border in Belgium. A local there helped me locate a Bosch Garage who sourced the fault in 5 minutes....but could do nothing until 23rd July!!

 

I contacted the B/down and they wanted the van repatriated back to UK and me to book a flight! I told them i could see no sense in that and suggested there must be someone somewhere in Belgium who could sort it. They said they would "phone around".....which i don't believe for a minute they even tried.

 

Eventually i contacted my insurance and asked them to intervene on my behalf as it seemed i was getting no sense from the B/down. Within minutes they phoned me to say they couldn't locate anyone. They also told me if i drove it anywhere and it broke down, they would not recover....so they had me boxed in a corner!

 

Then they told me neither P&O or DFDS would take vehicle breakdowns on their ferry crossings (i've since found out this is not true). Both will.

 

Eventually they booked me on a DFDS ferry from Dunkerque 1400hr sail yesterday. B/down truck to pick me up at mid-day. At 1210 i phone to ask where this guy is as he'd still not turned up. "He will be with you in 5 mins" i was told. 1235hr still no sign so i phoned again...."we will give them a call". *-)

 

He turned up at 1315hr so by then i knew damn well there was no chance i'd make the 1400hr crossing. Fortunately DFDS put me on the next crossing at 1600hr.

 

Once i got to Dover Port everything changed. The AA B/down truck guy was on the phone to me checking my exact location and arranging where to park up to load my van. As he only had 4hrs drive time left before he had to take a break, a second truck was waiting to do the final leg.

 

I told him the farcical dealings i'd had with AA when i was in Belgium and he told me it's not actually the AA. In Europe it's like a subsidiary of UK AA and is controlled from an office in Lyon who are forever "messing things up" (he used another term which won't be printable!).

 

So if you have AA breakdown cover......great for UK but virtually useless outside. I will be looking at alternatives for next year.

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Guest JudgeMental

I hope you get it sorted soon and can continue your holiday. But to expect a yellow AA van in Europe is a tad nieve!:-)

 

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Perhaps the main obstacle to dealing with breakdowns in France is the availability of garages because they seem to close more oftem (eg for lunch, public holidays etc) and you certainly hear stories of garages being unable to repair promptly because they are already busy with other work or parts are slow to be delivered.

 

But I've been lucky. I use Britannia Rescue and they've always been wonderful on the phone and with follow up enquiries. Not that I make a habit of breaking down often but they've recovered me twice and got me moving again quickly. I misfueled and they got me recovered to a Fiat garage where a Frenchman, with fag in mouth throughout, rigged power to the fuel lift pump to extract the petrol mix into an old tub - back on the road after three hours. My engine battery failed one morning while on an Aire and the recovery man jump started me and suggested buying a battery from Auchan in the next town because it was Sunday morning and the garages were all closed on Monday for a holiday as well - which I managed to do before the supermarket closed at 12 noon. I changed the battery in the supermarket car park but Britannia would have got someone out to fit the battery for me if I hadn't been able to fit it myself. (Battery was probably a lot cheaper that way too!)

 

So for easy repair problems, the Brittania system works well and I've been very pleased and grateful. But I've always worried about somthing so bad that recovery back to UK is needed because I guess that's bound to be a pain, especially since I tow a car on a trailer. I read somewhere (probably before we switched to Britannia, that you have to unload your MH of all your stuff when you leave it to be recovered to UK and that would be a hopeless challenge. We would need a big van to unload all our stuff from the MH rather than a hire car and we'd probably have to buy suitcases too since we load clothing straight into the lockers from home. I suppose we'd have to set off back in our tiny car (with the dog) and a change of underwear in our pockets, stay in dog-friendly hotels (if available) trusting the MH contents to luck on its slow reovery to UK!

 

I make sure my MH is serviced to death every year to optimise reliability!

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Guest pelmetman
StuartO - 2015-07-09 8:06 AM

 

 

I make sure my MH is serviced to death every year to optimise reliability!

 

Preventative maintenance is my motto too ;-) ...........

 

Just having Horace MOT'd, full service, new timing belt, plus rear wheel bearings as they started grumbling after coming down from the Somport tunnel :-| ..........

 

 

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Is this 'breakdown' another emissions control problem ? as this seems to be the 'norm' these days, vehicle not 'actually' broken down, but in 'limp mode' by a cautious ECU. Not really a 'breakdown' in the accepted sense of the word. And very annoying, I don't like a computer telling me whether I can use my vehicle or not. Just a visual warning light would be enough.Forget the limp mode thanks.

Sorry a bit off thread, let us know what the cause was. Ray.

 

Ps mine is serviced regularly and I still get DPF problems.

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Hi

 

I have pan European breakdown, injury and vehicle insurance with AXA in Switzerland. In February I slipped on black ice, bruised my arm and it swelled up after two hours forcing me to stop in the middle of nowhere! AXA organised a nearby hotel and a mechanic to come and drive the MH there. That's service! I was even able to reclaim cost of hotel, which given the painful arm, I was glad of.

 

AXA have UK offices, so might be worth a quote?

 

Alan

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Guest pelmetman
pepe63 - 2015-07-09 10:04 AM

 

I'm probably getting mixed up with another poster..but I thought BG had a Pelmet-Dave type of Transit..?

 

.and if so,.I didn't know they (the vans, not the owners (lol)) had such things as "limp-modes" etc... :-S

 

Not quite Pepe, Horace is a MK 3 so definitely no ECU's, DPF's, EGR's, CAT's etc etc :D .............

 

Although I thought BG's camper was a MK 5 like my Fanny? ........

 

Must confess I was never aware of any ECU's :-S ..............

 

Definitely wont be any now with her 38 year old Essex transplant (lol) .....

 

 

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pelmetman - 2015-07-09 12:14 PM

 

pepe63 - 2015-07-09 10:04 AM

 

I'm probably getting mixed up with another poster..but I thought BG had a Pelmet-Dave type of Transit..?

 

.and if so,.I didn't know they (the vans, not the owners (lol)) had such things as "limp-modes" etc... :-S

 

Not quite Pepe, Horace is a MK 3 so definitely no ECU's, DPF's, EGR's, CAT's etc etc :D .............

 

Although I thought BG's camper was a MK 5 like my Fanny? ........

 

Must confess I was never aware of any ECU's :-S .....

 

Oh I see

I didn't realise there were so many different "Mks", all using the same/similar body shell.

I had assumed that the many tweaks were just "facelifts"....

 

(..For quite a while I hadn't realised that the Duetto we had was designated a MK6!? :$ )

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Had a wheel bearing go in France last month.....but still drivable.

Local Tourist information office then Red Pennant insurance both found me the same local dealer.

Tourist information also discussed the problem with the garage and arranged for me to visit garage next morning.....kept Red Pennant informed.

Visited garage Thursday AM....test drive to check problem....can't obtain spares and fit until Monday AM.

Service manager arranged a local campsite.....repair completed by Monday midday.

Campsite, garage and town centre all on the same tram route (Grenoble).

 

This was our first visit/holiday in France and the people involved in our breakdown were excellent....sadly some others were not mainly due to our lack of the French language!

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StuartO - 2015-07-09 8:06 AM

 

Perhaps the main obstacle to dealing with breakdowns in France is the availability of garages because they seem to close more often (eg for lunch, public holidays etc) and you certainly hear stories of garages being unable to repair promptly because they are already busy with other work or parts are slow to be delivered.

 

I make sure my MH is serviced to death every year to optimise reliability!

 

French have long dinner breaks and everything simply shuts down. Quite how they make any money or how much they earn, God alone knows! I sat outside the Ford Main Agent in Dunkerque until they opened the gates at 2pm! By comparison my local Ford Main Dealer, the mechanics work from 9am - 5pm Mon - Fri and 8.30am till 1pm on Saturdays.

 

My van had a full service just one week before leaving. The service showed one rear brake cylinder slightly 'weeping' plus low viscosity in the brake fluid.......so i had a new cylinder and all old brake fluid flushed out and new in. I don't use a Ford Dealer here but a family owned private independent that's been in business almost 100 years, so well established.

 

Belt 'n braces.

 

 

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JudgeMental - 2015-07-09 7:45 AM

 

I hope you get it sorted soon and can continue your holiday. But to expect a yellow AA van in Europe is a tad nieve!:-)

LOL no of course i wasn't but where i thought i was dealing with the AA, it turned out i wasn't as i explained in the post.

 

Rayjsj - 2015-07-09 9:55 AM

 

Is this 'breakdown' another emissions control problem ? as this seems to be the 'norm' these days, vehicle not 'actually' broken down, but in 'limp mode' by a cautious ECU. Not really a 'breakdown' in the accepted sense of the word. And very annoying, I don't like a computer telling me whether I can use my vehicle or not. Just a visual warning light would be enough.Forget the limp mode thanks.

Sorry a bit off thread, let us know what the cause was. Ray.

 

No not emissions but fuel pump related. Am praying and hoping it's just the electronics as Lucas Epic pumps aren't made any more.

 

Yes the van was in "limp mode" so was driveable but unfortunately it was more than just a computer telling me not to drive though. The breakdown had me boxed up a corner by saying if i drove it anywhere and it broke down again, they would refuse to pick up. But then the line of communication broke down and things went from bad to worse as i wasn't getting any definitive answers from them. That's when i contacted my insurance to ask them to liase on my behalf and try and get some sense out of them. It took 12 days!

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Guest JudgeMental
Bulletguy - 2015-07-09 5:25 PM

 

StuartO - 2015-07-09 8:06 AM

 

Perhaps the main obstacle to dealing with breakdowns in France is the availability of garages because they seem to close more often (eg for lunch, public holidays etc) and you certainly hear stories of garages being unable to repair promptly because they are already busy with other work or parts are slow to be delivered.

 

I make sure my MH is serviced to death every year to optimise reliability!

 

French have long dinner breaks and everything simply shuts down. Quite how they make any money or how much they earn, God alone knows! I sat outside the Ford Main Agent in Dunkerque until they opened the gates at 2pm! By comparison my local Ford Main Dealer, the mechanics work from 9am - 5pm Mon - Fri and 8.30am till 1pm on Saturdays.

 

My van had a full service just one week before leaving. The service showed one rear brake cylinder slightly 'weeping' plus low viscosity in the brake fluid.......so i had a new cylinder and all old brake fluid flushed out and new in. I don't use a Ford Dealer here but a family owned private independent that's been in business almost 100 years, so well established.

 

Belt 'n braces.

 

 

More strength to them I say! They have safeguarded their way of life and value it....Sunday opening as well!

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Not just the AA, my experience with the RAC was abysmal. Car ran a diff bearing in central Spain and the RAC arranged immediate recovery from the hotel by a contractor. The car was held in their premises until a covered trailer outfit arrived from the UK to bring it back to the UK. When I examined the car on its arrival at the UK dealership, having had a concerned call from them, there was a tear on the driver's leather seat and the rear diffuser was badly damaged and looked as though it had been reversed into a wall. I immediately informed the RAC and sent them an estimate for repairs which was rejected on the grounds that the recovery company were not acting as their agents. A surprise to me as I certainly didn't engage their services. I paid the four figure sum myself and joined the AA only to read their T&Cs and find exactly the same get out clause. The RAC offered to give me the name of the Spanish company so that I could pursue the matter direct! Chances of winning that I thought would be about nil.

Back to the RAC again now I'm afraid as I need the cover that RAC Arrival affords through C&CC. Hope to hell I don't ever need them on the continent. Had to use them 3 times in the UK so far in 9000 miles of motorhoming. Don't believe that motorhoming is a nice stress-free pastime for retirees!

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JudgeMental - 2015-07-09 5:38 PM

 

More strength to them I say! They have safeguarded their way of life and value it....Sunday opening as well!

 

I'm surprised the Tunnel and Ferries don't pack up for dinner break! But the next time i hear anyone talking about "idle British" i will suggest a breakdown in France will quickly change their opinion on that!

 

As for Sunday opening, here in UK folk couldn't bear life without it. It's like a drug to them!

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Our tour lasted a great deal shorter than yours, around 45 minutes from the tunnel the engine went kaboom. We called the foreign emergency number and were connected to an English speaking operator, the police arrived within ten minutes and stayed with us until the recovery truck arrived even though we were on a long straight with little traffic. We were insured by Safeguard and recovery was by the AA and their affiliates in France, true the garage shut for two hour lunch on arrival and were no help anyway. The service we received from the AA was exemplary we were home in two days, they even brought right hand drive car over to Calais in order to pack our stuff in prior to embarkation.

 

 

Just a couple of weeks ago we had a tyre blow out on the junction of the A1/ A1M two weeks ago in one of the worst spots I could imagine, we huddled behind the barrier and a traffic sign for an hour until the AA truck arrived, he reckoned that the police should have attended and closed the lane or that we should have been a priority. In France if you breakdown on the motorway network an emergency vehicle is usually despatched with haste to warn other users of you predicament.

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audiseller - 2015-07-09 7:52 PM

 

Not just the AA, my experience with the RAC was abysmal. Car ran a diff bearing in central Spain and the RAC arranged immediate recovery from the hotel by a contractor. The car was held in their premises until a covered trailer outfit arrived from the UK to bring it back to the UK. When I examined the car on its arrival at the UK dealership, having had a concerned call from them, there was a tear on the driver's leather seat and the rear diffuser was badly damaged and looked as though it had been reversed into a wall. I immediately informed the RAC and sent them an estimate for repairs which was rejected on the grounds that the recovery company were not acting as their agents. A surprise to me as I certainly didn't engage their services. I paid the four figure sum myself and joined the AA only to read their T&Cs and find exactly the same get out clause. The RAC offered to give me the name of the Spanish company so that I could pursue the matter direct! Chances of winning that I thought would be about nil.

Back to the RAC again now I'm afraid as I need the cover that RAC Arrival affords through C&CC. Hope to hell I don't ever need them on the continent. Had to use them 3 times in the UK so far in 9000 miles of motorhoming. Don't believe that motorhoming is a nice stress-free pastime for retirees!

Regarding the "get out clause" that enabled the RAC (or AA) to reject your claim for damage to your vehicle while being recovered to the UK from Spain, can you quote, or do you recall, the wording please? I've been searching the recovery part of my breakdown/recovery insurance, which is provided by the RAC, and I can't find anything that seems to say, or imply, that damage during recovery would not be covered. Indeed, the policy says they will take "reasonable care" while doing so, which would seem to leave them liable when that care has not been exercised by them or their contractor.

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Brian Kirby - 2015-07-10 5:51 PM

 

audiseller - 2015-07-09 7:52 PM

 

Not just the AA, my experience with the RAC was abysmal. Car ran a diff bearing in central Spain and the RAC arranged immediate recovery from the hotel by a contractor. The car was held in their premises until a covered trailer outfit arrived from the UK to bring it back to the UK. When I examined the car on its arrival at the UK dealership, having had a concerned call from them, there was a tear on the driver's leather seat and the rear diffuser was badly damaged and looked as though it had been reversed into a wall. I immediately informed the RAC and sent them an estimate for repairs which was rejected on the grounds that the recovery company were not acting as their agents. A surprise to me as I certainly didn't engage their services. I paid the four figure sum myself and joined the AA only to read their T&Cs and find exactly the same get out clause. The RAC offered to give me the name of the Spanish company so that I could pursue the matter direct! Chances of winning that I thought would be about nil.

Back to the RAC again now I'm afraid as I need the cover that RAC Arrival affords through C&CC. Hope to hell I don't ever need them on the continent. Had to use them 3 times in the UK so far in 9000 miles of motorhoming. Don't believe that motorhoming is a nice stress-free pastime for retirees!

Regarding the "get out clause" that enabled the RAC (or AA) to reject your claim for damage to your vehicle while being recovered to the UK from Spain, can you quote, or do you recall, the wording please? I've been searching the recovery part of my breakdown/recovery insurance, which is provided by the RAC, and I can't find anything that seems to say, or imply, that damage during recovery would not be covered. Indeed, the policy says they will take "reasonable care" while doing so, which would seem to leave them liable when that care has not been exercised by them or their contractor.

 

They did not take responsibility until my car was collected by the recovery vehicle despatched from the UK. From memory it was something like "nobody on the continent act as their agents." Apparently they use some centralised outfit in France and that was who arranged the initial recovery. Once my car was collected by the UK company arranged directly by the RAC there were no issues, it remained with the same driver/vehicle until it arrived at the dealership. I will see if I still have copies of the many irate letters that I sent and the fob-off replies. I had detailed pictures of the car during and after loading to show the completely pristine condition of the car but all to no avail.

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audiseller - 2015-07-10 6:07 PM.............................They did not take responsibility until my car was collected by the recovery vehicle despatched from the UK. From memory it was something like "nobody on the continent act as their agents." Apparently they use some centralised outfit in France and that was who arranged the initial recovery. Once my car was collected by the UK company arranged directly by the RAC there were no issues, it remained with the same driver/vehicle until it arrived at the dealership. I will see if I still have copies of the many irate letters that I sent and the fob-off replies. I had detailed pictures of the car during and after loading to show the completely pristine condition of the car but all to no avail.

Yes please, if you still have them. I'd like to see what clause they cite for rejecting the claim.

 

My recovery insurance is provided through Comfort Insurance (whose cover is underwritten by Aviva, who in turn use RAC to provide the breakdown/recovery element), as an optional add-on to the the motorhome insurance. If I can see what they relied upon I will look again at the breakdown cover in my policy booklet as, if a similar clause is not present, the Comfort package may give you greater, ahem, comfort! :-)

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Guest JudgeMental
is your windscreen covered in Europe Brian..as apparently some policy's exclude this with A class
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JudgeMental - 2015-07-10 6:43 PM

 

is your windscreen covered in Europe Brian..as apparently some policy's exclude this with A class

So far as I can see Eddie, yes. The only conditions specific to glass cover generally are a £75 excess for replacement glass, and a £3,000 limit per claim. Repair is FoC. There is nothing in the exclusions relating to damage to glass while abroad.

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gocro - 2015-07-10 9:44 AM

 

Our tour lasted a great deal shorter than yours, around 45 minutes from the tunnel the engine went kaboom. We called the foreign emergency number and were connected to an English speaking operator, the police arrived within ten minutes and stayed with us until the recovery truck arrived even though we were on a long straight with little traffic. We were insured by Safeguard and recovery was by the AA and their affiliates in France, true the garage shut for two hour lunch on arrival and were no help anyway. The service we received from the AA was exemplary we were home in two days, they even brought right hand drive car over to Calais in order to pack our stuff in prior to embarkation.

 

That's what i would have expected but it just wasn't happening. It seemed the left didn't know what the right was doing. One time i called to ask what progress, if any, was being made, i quoted my case ref number to the operative who replied, "oh yes you are departing from Zeebrugge.....". I told her that's crazy as it's twice the distance from Dunkerque. She'd got my case mixed up with another breakdown! I just felt at times as though i'd been abandoned as they knew i was not on a road.

 

Once back in Dover though the pick ups by the two AA guys were very different. Everything ran like clockwork. My first driver was even phoning me just as the ferry had docked to find out exactly where i was. Then he called again a few minutes later to see if i'd exited Customs. The second pick up driver to do the final leg was ready waiting at the Service area where the first driver made it just in time with only one minute left on his tacho!

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Brian Kirby - 2015-07-10 6:41 PM

 

audiseller - 2015-07-10 6:07 PM.............................They did not take responsibility until my car was collected by the recovery vehicle despatched from the UK. From memory it was something like "nobody on the continent act as their agents." Apparently they use some centralised outfit in France and that was who arranged the initial recovery. Once my car was collected by the UK company arranged directly by the RAC there were no issues, it remained with the same driver/vehicle until it arrived at the dealership. I will see if I still have copies of the many irate letters that I sent and the fob-off replies. I had detailed pictures of the car during and after loading to show the completely pristine condition of the car but all to no avail.

Yes please, if you still have them. I'd like to see what clause they cite for rejecting the claim.

 

My recovery insurance is provided through Comfort Insurance (whose cover is underwritten by Aviva, who in turn use RAC to provide the breakdown/recovery element), as an optional add-on to the the motorhome insurance. If I can see what they relied upon I will look again at the breakdown cover in my policy booklet as, if a similar clause is not present, the Comfort package may give you greater, ahem, comfort! :-)

 

I haven't looked for the original correspondence yet but Section 9 states: " This policy will not cover any vehicle or their contents during transit". That may well have been the clause they relied upon to evade responsibility for the negligence of the recovery operator that had been engaged (but who did not act as their agent!).

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