Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - catsdad
My wife's car wouldn't start this morning. Annoying as the new owner is due to collect it tomorrow. Given that I didn't want to mess about so she called Britannia, her breakdown service. She has comprehensive cover, last used about 15 years ago when they were excellent.

She described the symptoms (won't start, dash lights on, knocking sound). The operator said it wasn't something they could deal with on the drive. We would have to call and pay a garage ourselves but Britannia would cover up to 10 miles of tow fee if necessary.

Some readers will be ahead of me here but the "knocking" would slightly better be described as "clicking". Classic signs of a simple flat battery and relays not holding. A typical breakdown service driveway job if ever there was one.

Rather than call out a garage at our expense (if I could find one on a Saturday) and possibly not achieve a fix before tomorrow's sale, I dug out the charger and gave it an hour. This enabled me to start the car and give it a quick 20 mile run to ensure all was well. It seems to be and I guess it's her low recent miles at the root of it.

As to whether it's a knock or a click, Google searches using both terms flag up the battery as a prime suspect. It's surely reasonable to expect a couple of simple diagnostic questions from a trained breakdown agent before leaving a customer to their own devices.

I would hope it's an isolated incident but I am having second thoughts about moving to them for my own car when the VAG cover expires.


Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - misar

Every year I um and ah a bit about renewing the AA because they seem expensive even after haggling every few years. So far I have always stuck with them anyway. You have just convinced me to keep to the AA, at least unless they go way up on price.

Over many years I have called them out several times for a flat battery which I knew was almost dead but put off replacing until the inevitable very cold morning. They have never quibbled and the last time (about 2 years ago) the guy did the same as before. He offered to go off and get a new battery which he fitted for me. I know that cost me a bit more but I was happy at no hassle (he attached a booster to avoid have to reset the radio code etc) and he was happy no doubt because he got a bit of commission.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Ethan Edwards

Never had to use them so it's a punt. Late last year signed up to Auto Aid.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Avant

'Never had to use them.'

You have two Suzukis.

I think the two facts are connected!

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Bromptonaut

I'd be contacting Britannia's customer service quoting the date/time and any incident reference number you were given and asking them review the call and examine whether the guidelines were correctly applied.

If they were they need reviewing if not the agent my need 'advice'.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - galileo

I'd be contacting Britannia's customer service quoting the date/time and any incident reference number you were given and asking them review the call and examine whether the guidelines were correctly applied.

If they were they need reviewing if not the agent my need 'advice'.

Since 1961 I've been with AA, then RAC, then Britannia.

The one time I called AA they took 90 minutes to turn up and were useless, their fix for a burst radiator hose was to bind it with insulating tape, could have done that myself, it lasted half a mine where I found a garage. Changed to RAC, used them once, OK but a long wait for them to arrive. Changed to Britannia who on 3 occasions (once when I was a passenger in daughter's BMW) their agent was there in 20 minutes or less and did a good job each time.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Bromptonaut

Since 1961 I've been with AA, then RAC, then Britannia.

Originally joined National Breakdown Recovery Club through Civil Service Motoring Association and stayed with them, later as Green Flag, after CSMA set up Britannia. At some point subsequently moved back to Britannia.

They've always been pretty good though last couple of times I used them I had a very long wait. On one I'd managed to get Berlingo with broken clutch into a bay urban road in late spring so probably lower priority than a parent/child/hard shoulder combo. Same on other when I couldn't get Roomster's wheel off the hub.

OTOH conversations with previous agents and with local indy is that penny pinching on rates has seen off local providers in favour of big outfits with economies of scale. Locally we'd get Freeways from up the road in Weedon or Westbridge who were right by the station. Westbridge were there for a flat battery on station car park before I'd got back from the payphone.

Both those companies are gone and it's been CMG every time in last six/seven years.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - bazza

I've always found that if you clearly describe the problem, they do listen. For example, I had a Citroen zx that broke a rad hose, I told them it had boiled and needed a tow, and they did indeed send a tow truck. I had a blowout on the bike and again asked for a tow truck not a van and along it came. Conversely I asked for a jump start and along came a van, so I'd be speaking to the customer service people if you are signed up to home start type of thing. These experiences were with green flag and GEM.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - dan86

'Never had to use them.'

You have two Suzukis.

I think the two facts are connected!

Suzuki's just seem to keep soldiering on our current Suzuki is 9 year old and never let me down. Even when the battery was flat at 8 years old I got it going with a bump start.. still on it's original headlight bulbs

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Steveieb
I am beginning to wonder if Brittania operate a two tier service , one for Nationwide customers who get the service with Flex plus and those who pay direct.
They have recently featured on Rip Off for leaving two members stranded abroad.
Both were Nationwide customers.
I'm switching to Start on renewal who recently provided a taxi for an elderly passenger I know who had difficulty getting in to the recovery vehicle.
Also they are the only firm who will accept pets as part of the family.
I was stranded at Donnington services when Brittania s rep refused to take the dog in the truck and insisted it travelled in the car under tow.
Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - glidermania

Britannia were started by the CSMA many years ago and were then sold off to LV. I dont understand why they didnt come out to your home if you have comprehensive like me with home start.

I can only assume when the term 'knocking' was used, they immediately thought, as did I, big ends gone!

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Bromptonaut

Britannia were started by the CSMA many years ago and were then sold off to LV. I dont understand why they didnt come out to your home if you have comprehensive like me with home start.

I'd expect them to come out, try and get car started then flat back or pole tow to garage if no joy. Exactly what they did with my Xantia when it had a wiring harness issue that was mimicking a flat battery.

OP's wording suggests they'd refund a garage's tow fee rather than use their own contractor.

On reflection I think they were short of capacity and the agent was 'gatekeeping' so trying to divert callers away.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - gordonbennet

They were wrong to not attend, even if the wording used was less than perfect for rough diagnosis so the right sort of breakdown vehicle attends.

The opposite can be true, in my previous work the company outsourced the breakdown cover and the standard of operator and communication between operator and the person sent to breakdown could not be more useless if you tried to make it so.

I've had starter failure on the truck filling pumps with a fully loaded truck, despite me saying, pleading almost do not send a van with jump pack no prizes for guessing what arrived and the same chap had to drive twenty miles back to fetch his wrecker in order to tow start.

I've had starter failure another time where i've managed to bump start the thing and keep it going all day (trying bump starting automated manual junk), and when i got it back to the pre booked agent he insisted on proving me wrong by producing his magic jump pack and saying abracableedingdabra, guess what it didn't start so he had to change the starter outside instead of inside in the warm.

Give the breakdown chap the phone number of the broken down vehicle to get the story direct? don't be silly, this is modern Britain, we are not all as dumb as those in suits who make these idiotic practices assume, lots of us have a decent idea of what's failed, a quick chat between the driver and person attending can often mean the correct likely parts being brought, or at least the correct vehicle attending.

The whole country is being systematically dumbed down, this will not end well for UK PLC.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Ethan Edwards

Yep. Happy owner.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - Zippy123

I have cover with the AA via the car service (get the car serviced and AA cover is free for the next year).

Can't fault them.

I have had to call them 3 times and they have been prompt, courteous and efficient.

About 3 years ago I was stuck at services on the M40 and called them via my company car scheme at the time.

They subcontracted to a local firm who were terrible. They came, looked at the car and said it should be towed to the garage for repairs.

The AA turned up and said it couldn't be towed as it was a full 4x4 and fixed the fault there and then and wondered why the original co couldn't fix it.

The AA van then followed me for about 30 minutes on the motorway to ensure that my car was still ok.

Any - Poor breakdown service - Missing the obvious - catsdad
Well re my original post Britannia have responded today with apologies and the promise of a £50 cheque. They accepted the complaint in full which is reassuring.

Financially I guess that's an OK resolution. It's probably what around what they pay out to their third party agents for the attended visit we ought to have had. So it's hardly generous but, as I only spent time rather than money in resolving it myself, I am not out of pocket.

In any case I am not a fan of compo culture.

 

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