Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Car breakdown woes.

Afternoon all.

I had a nightmare in France. Below is my letter to the manufacturers of my beloved car, hopefully edited so DD can sleep at night. Lets just say I?d have expected said vehicle to be reliable!

I?d be interested in any comments.



21st August 2006

Dear [Manufacturer],

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and dissatisfaction at the handling if the breakdown of my car. My [Estate car], registration F*55 **V, was bought new on the 14th January this year, and had it?s 12.5k mile service on the 6th of June this year.

This is a long letter, as the series of failings take some effort to reproduce as they are extensive. You may wish to skip to the section where I outline the steps you will take to correct them.

I took my car down to France, leaving on the Saturday 5th August. Once most of the way there, we noticed a strange smell, something like sulphur, and by the time we had reached our destination, having talked to the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] who could offer no advice on route, the smell was very strong and we all felt ill. On opening the bonnet, I could see that the battery was steaming. I rang the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] again, and they dispatched a tow truck.

Within two minutes of arriving, the recovery outfit had put a voltage meter on the battery, and diagnosed that the voltage regulator on the alternator had failed, explaining the battery boiling and venting sulphuric acid. Annoying, but these things happen and easily mended ? a steam clean of the engine bay, a new alternator and battery, and we would be sorted. The car was towed there and then, and I was told I would be collected to get a hire car in the morning until my car could be fixed on Monday.

From this point onward the service was a mixture of indifferent, confused, incompetent and contradictory, combining to ruin a good part of the holiday and to leave my girlfriend in tears over the whole affair.

The taxi arrived, and I was then taken on a 1.5 hour, nearly 200? trip from La Grave back into Grenoble to get a hire car. I had not been warned about the length of the trip, and had to field several calls from my friends wondering where I was. I also had to wait for nearly an hour for the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] to authorise a car larger than a Corsa ? I pointed out that I had four passengers and enough luggage to fill the [Estate car] and a 350 litre roofbox! In the end, I was given a 307 SW, which was only just adequate as other friends joined us with a second car. I didn?t get back to my friends until nearly 3 pm ? one day ruined, as they could have spent time in Grenoble had we known where the car was coming from.

The next few days saw me having to contact the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] to find out what was happening ? at 35p a minute every time. Finally they rang me on Thursday to give me the good news that it had taken them five days to find nothing wrong with the car. I corrected them that the alternator was putting out too many volts, boiling the battery, and that this had been confirmed and measured by the recovery agent. They hadn?t known this, and promised to ring him to confirm this and get onto it.

At this point, I was getting very worried about the effect of this simple breakdown on my holiday. I had pointed out to the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] that we had not been planning on staying in one place for the holiday, and that once I had returned a friend to Grenoble station on Thursday, we had been planning on leaving the area. This didn?t happen ? we had heard nothing, and therefore had to stay put in La Grave, which in itself was a 2-hour drive from Grenoble once the traffic we encountered was taken into account.

By Saturday, seven days after the original breakdown, the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] rang me to say that the garage had identified the fault. There was a problem with the alternator overcharging and boiling the battery! New parts had been ordered, and would be there by Wednesday, possibly Thursday. I confirmed with them that I could keep the hire car until then, and resolved to try and salvage what we could of the holiday by moving round to Ailefroid, on the south side of the Ecrin National Park, four hours from Grenoble. This was a safe move as we finally knew what was happening with the car.

Except we didn?t.

On Monday, I received another call from the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE]. The gentleman enquired if I still had the hire car as there was a ?problem? with it.

?Yes?, I replied, ?you have extended the hire until this Thursday as my car is not ready?.

The [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] man then proceeded to inform me that the policy they had with you only allowed for a maximum of three days car hire, and that I already owed for four days hire and would need to return the car by 11:30 the following morning if I was not to incur more charges. I told him that this was completely unacceptable, that I had been in daily contact with them (at my considerable expense) to confirm what was happening, and that my having to pay had never been mentioned. He promised to go and listen to the calls and call me back. When he did so, he agreed that payment was never mentioned, and said that as a result the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] would pay up until the following morning, the Tuesday, when the car would have to be returned.

In fairness, the guy I spoke to seemed sympathetic, but indicated that poor service was the norm during the French holidays, and my predicament of having a simple problem take an age to fix was not unusual. He also offered to allow me to return the car locally, but did accept that leaving us stranded with 200 kg of luggage in the middle of the mountains was not really an option. Under protest, I agreed that I would have to pay for a further two days rental, as if my car was going to be ready on Thursday then we could return to Grenoble and swap back. Although the car would need to be returned by 11.30 am, necessitating getting up at about 5 am to get tents down and cars packed, this would at least minimise our out of pocket expenses.

On the Wednesday afternoon, having heard nothing, I phoned the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] to confirm that the parts were in and the car would be fixed. They instead confirmed that no parts had arrived but they would ?hopefully? arrive tomorrow. It was at this point I rang [Manufacturer] UK, as I was starting to get extremely worried that we would not have a car even in time to get home. In fairness to your offices, a lady called Jo called back fairly promptly despite the offices being ?closed for training?, and got onto the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] and [Manufacturer] France quickly. She also extended the hire car past 11.30 am, meaning we could get up a little later.

On Thursday we still had an early start, but when we phoned at about 12:30, having heard nothing, the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] ?hadn?t got around? to ringing the garage to find out what was happening. Moreover, the garage would be closed for lunch until 2, when they would then try and give them a ring. With a sense of astonishment, given that I thought they knew that this was the crunch day ? we had planned to try and get as far as Arras to at least try and rescue a day of holiday at the end given our enforced curtailment. The [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] guy was sympathetic, and said that they would organise a hotel for us as it would be far too late to be allowed onto a campsite by the time we?d got the car and made the five hour drive. He also agreed to ring and confirm that the hire car garage was open, as a text earlier in the week had indicated that they might not be. We left it that he would ring me back and let me know if it was not open.

I got the address of the [Manufacturer] garage from them and drove there to try and find out what was happening. When I finally spoke to them, they had had the part since that morning. They showed no idea or interest that we needed the car urgently, and said it would be ready by 6 pm. After much protest by us about our desperate need for the car, they agreed to have it done by 4.

At four, the car was indeed ready, albeit nothing had been done to clean up the stains left by the sulphuric acid steam. We moved all our kit back into the car and drove the two cars the five miles to the hire garage. Which was closed.

A further call to the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] yielded sarcastic enquiries as to why I had not phoned the number they had supplied by text to check, to which I had pointed out that their guy had specifically said that they were and that he would ring me if they were not. They then said they would ring the garage and call me back. When they did, it was announced that we had to return the car to Grenoble station. I was furious at this, as we were already hours late and suffering from a catalogue of incompetence. I demanded to know if I could get a taxi back from the station to where we were now, as my girlfriend had only driven my car once before it broke down, and had never driven in France except for on the autoroute and was very nervous of driving a fully loaded car through Grenoble in rush hour.

After checking, the lady confirmed that I could have a taxi, but that as my car was now fixed, they were not after all going to organise a hotel, despite our travel plans being wrecked as a direct result of the problems caused by their lax incompetence. I have to admit I was incandescent, and eventually hung up after telling the lady (hopefully politely) exactly what I thought of the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] and [Manufacturer] France.

A very stressful journey took us to the station, where I checked the hire car back in, although I got no receipt as they didn?t have the staff to check it in ? I have more than 30 photos showing all aspects of its condition interior and exterior. We finally left Grenoble at about 5.30 pm, with a six hour drive ahead of us. It took us another hour and a half to find our Ibis hotel that we had managed to book, as we had the wrong address for it. We got to bed around 2 am.

The following day we tried to salvage something, visiting tourist attractions around the Arras region. The [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] still managed to intrude, ringing to ask where exactly we had returned the hire car? I told them, and have not heard again so presumably they found it, but my lack of paperwork coupled with this question caused further huge stress, and finally actually got my girlfriend to cry rather than just look miserable.

We got back to the UK on Saturday as planned, but our trip was pretty much ruined from the Wednesday night onward, and certainly massively interfered with for the rest of the trip. This should not have happened. Small failures like this do happen occasionally, even on reliable cars ? I?m not quibbling that and the failure itself is actually not the point. The abysmal service and handling since is what ruined the holiday, and I mean ruined!

I want, at an absolute minimum, the following:

1. My car taken in by you ASAP, with a replacement [Estate car] supplied at no cost, for the following:
a. the engine bay to be steam cleaned, and you to provide a written warranty that all future paint or component damage caused by the acid steam will be upheld and remedied by [Manufacturer] at no cost
b. the work done by the [Manufacturer] technicians in France to be checked; in particular, I am not convinced that the alternator is aligned correctly with the drive pulley
c. the bonnet soundproofing that has been partially melted by the vapour to be replaced
d. all electrical systems to be checked for any damage for the over-volting
2. Reimbursement for all my out of pocket expenses, including phone calls to the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] and yourselves, and the wretched night at the Ibis [no criticism of Ibis as such, just nasty circumstances].
3. A written apology from the [BREAKDOWN SERVICE] for their vague, incompetent and stressful handling of this whole episode.
4. An explanation of how exactly a simple repair, instantly diagnosed in the dark by two engineers with headtorches and a volt meter, could have taken so long to diagnose.

I look forward to hearing from you. I would very much like to continue to recommend [Manufacturer], but at the moment I might struggle.


Dr Gordon McKenzie

Car breakdown woes - JH
Wow. That was a disaster. Sorry you had such a bad holiday and I hope you're coming down from incandescent, but I suspect this isn't the end. I don't think I can offer any advice, you seem to be doing al the right things, but I'll offer sympathy. That's appalling.
Car breakdown woes - neil
"Dear Dr. McKenzie,

Thank you for letting me know of your unfortunate experience with your xxxxxxxx estate car.

Although such failures are extremely rare, I am sure you will appreciate that with several thousand components, even a minuscule failure rate of fewer than one in a hundred thousand means that some vehicles, even of quality manufacture such as yours will suffer component failure relatively early in life. For that reason we provide a warranty, which we extend throughout Europe as a matter of goodwill.

I am sorry that your experiences with yyyyyy breakdown services have proved less than satisfactory on this occasion and would assure you that this is not the normal level of service our customers experience. I shall seek assurances that the local agents will be reminded of their responsibilities.

I would recommend that you contact service reception at your xxxxx supplying dealer to arrange for the acid residues to be cleaned from the car and the damaged soundproofing material to be examined and replaced.

Any failure of a component or finish as a consequence of this incident will be considered under the normal terms of the warranty.

Assuring you of our best attention at all times and wishing you many years of happy xxxxx owner experience.


Global Head of Customer Relations (pp)"

My best guess...! I'd say, yes, annoying, but these things happen. You're not actually asking them for a great lot - if you ask them for a free service as compensation for the run-around from johnny foreigner, you're quite likely to get it, as they'll just tell the dealer to stand it and it will cost them very little compared with the 'perceived value' to you - ie what would have been a £200 oilchange anyway! Also - its ruined your week, don't let the follow-up ruin your month!


Car breakdown woes - Avant
Gordon - a lot of sympathy I should think from all of us. A ruined holiday is the most frustrating consequence of all. Your profile gives the identity of your car away - makes it even more interesting (I won't make it obvious but it wasn't the much-maligned-by-Backroomers VW or Renault !).

Do let us know what sort of reply you get, and for your sake let's hope it's not as bland as Neil's incredibly lifelike parody. I'd like to think that if it was, a 'global head' would roll.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Cheers for the sympathy guys, it's much appreciated. I'm hoping that Neil's reply won't be typical, the British arm have been really very good so far, and have done everything that they could.

Neil - I've deliberately not asked for very much in the first letter - it's only a list of what they *will* do, as a minimum, stuff that I don't think is up for debate. I figure the asking for free services etc is best done verbally. Hopefully this will be the right course of action, lets just say the company concerned have a very good reputation for customer service in this country, or that's what I'm banking on anyway. The letter is almost for the benefit of their French arm and the recovery company, who are being CCd.

Of course now I'm turning into a car hypochondriac ('ooh, did the turbo sound like that before?; was it slightly hesitant before?'), which is just as irritating, but I guess that will pass. Or I'll go mad.
Car breakdown woes - IanJohnson

Looks like your problem is with the breakdown cover provider rather than the manufacturer. Presume you had travel insurance which provided this cover. Apart from the poor service does the contract limit their obligation to provide an alternate hire car and onward travel in the way they did?
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Ian, the breakdown cover was provided directly by the manufacturer via a third party company (okay, that's a contradiction, but you know what I mean, I think you have identical cover if I'm correct?). The manufacturer made every effort to rectify the problems as son as they were aware of it, I'm just sorry I didn't contact them sooner.

The breakdown company's contract did indeed limit what they could do, but the manufacturer were quite happy to extent their options when asked. As the cover was thru the manufacturer under their branding, I'm persuing it through them initially. I've actually modified the letter before posting to make it clearer that I'm not having a go at the UK arm, and more specifically praising the UK lady that was dealing with me. You can be sure that the breakdown operator will hear directly from me as well though.

Car breakdown woes - IanJohnson

Mine is leased so I get a recovery package (provided IIRC by the AA) at the expense of Inchcape. Must check what the cover is but a colleague whose Renault failed in France two years ago got very good service (equivalent replacement car provided, bring it back when yours is fixed). Risk is getting bigger since mine has 77k on it.

One concern I have is how few [manufacturer] dealers there are in France, plenty of Peugeot/Renault/Citroen. Actually I have never seen a [manufacturer] car dealer, only bikes, although they are listed on the web.

Commiserations and good luck.
Car breakdown woes - Altea Ego
I have never relied on standard manufacturers warranties and recovery policies when driving abroad. They are always limited in scope, control, remedies, and management. You will also find the policy is littered with liability exclusions and limitations.

To fill this gap I use AA 5*
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
As have I in the past TVM. Let's just say that the product bundled with the car was *supposed* to bear a remarkable similarity to your suggestion in terms of provider and scope.
Car breakdown woes - mike hannon
You certainly fell foul of the wrong sort of garage, Gordon.
I have never known a ***** part not arrive by the next morning, once ordered.
Unfortunately, I have found myself having to kick some French garage staff up the Arras (not I hasten to add, at the ***** dealer - usually at the fast-fit type of chains) because their lazy, over-protected, take-it-or-leave-it attitude means they will often automatically tell you something will take a week to arrive just so they don't have to put themselves out straight away.
When, as I made the mistake of doing in my early days here, you go back after a week, you find they still haven't bothered and it will be another 'huit jours'!
It's sad, but a fact of life over here. Maybe things will change when the approaching asteroid finally strikes the French economy.

Car breakdown woes - glowplug
Maybe it's me but I'd be wanting to burn down buildings at this stage...

Xantia HDi.

Buy a Citroen and get to know the local GSF staff better...
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Steve, I do reserve that as an option!! It took a huge effort of will not to just throw the hire car keys over the razorwire fence and drive off when in Grenoble.
Car breakdown woes - DP
What an odyssey!! Good luck getting it sorted, Gordon.

If their customer service is as good as I've heard about another manufacturer of the same nationality, you might be pleasantly surprised. Fingers crossed for you.

Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Oh, I forgot to mention. A stone broke the windscreen on the way home as I was passing Oxford as well - it's being fixed on Thursday.

I was not a lucky man this last couple of weeks.
Car breakdown woes - IanJohnson

Read the words in the service book last night and essentially they failed on provision ot parts:

Spare Parts - We'll get any spare parts...dispatched . . to get you back on the road as quickly as possible. In the car industry that is normally next day delivery.

You could also have left the car and come home using one of the following:

Vehicle Recovery - you are covered for unaccompanied recovery...if your car is out of action for eight hours or more....

Vehicle collection - expenses to collect car.

I would take the line that I had expended considerable time and effort (effectively ruining the holiday) to ensure the car was fixed and if I had not done this the cost to them would have been significantly greater. Ultimately I would expect them to pay all car hire/taxi costs because they did not meet the "as quickly as possible" and expect a sweetener to cover the ruined holiday.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Ian, thanks, I read that carefully as well as soon as I was aware there was a problem.

I'm pretty sure the UK arm know there has been a major problem. They offered to pick up all expenses as soon as I spoke to them and without me having to ask. They have also offered to pick up the hotel cost, and I don't expect a problem with getting my phone costs back as well.

The problem really was the amount of gear we had with us. It rendered most of the usual options unattractive in terms of coming home without the car. Sixx of us had gone mountaineering for two weeks - I'd taken four people and probably five people's luggage, as two were flying down. With the boot full to the roof and a full roof box, trains and taxis were not going to happen!
Car breakdown woes - quizman
When a VW goes wrong and the dealer is poor, this site is filled with tales of rubbish VW.

When the broken down car comes from a supposed quality far east manufacturer, the identity is hidden!

I am sorry for GM's troubles, it could happen to any of us. I am going to France soon in the Passat, fingers crossed but it must go wrong soon.

My lawn mower runs very well, it is made by a far eastern firm which also makes motorbikes and cars. I've heard that they are very reliable, but you never know.
Car breakdown woes - Bill Payer
When a VW goes wrong and the dealer is poor, this
site is filled with tales of rubbish VW.
When the broken down car comes from a supposed quality
far east manufacturer, the identity is hidden!

The car's in his profile, so not very well hidden. Is there really a problem saying it's a Honda Accord diesel estate?
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
The identity was hidden (okay, not too well, but if someone's that bothered they could just ask me - you could find me from my profile) because I was effectively naming and shaming the service received upon breakdown. The actual fault is just one of those things that happen sometimes, but in my view, the service afterwards was atrocious.

Maybe it didn't need hiding, but I'd prefer not to risk bringing this site into disrepute, it livens up my coffee breaks.
Car breakdown woes - quizman
The reason that I commented on hiding Honda's name, is because I am amused when a Japanese car breaks down.
People always say how reliable they are, I am not so sure. My brother had a Landcruiser which let him down in Bordeaux, it took the Toyota dealer 2 weeks to get the parts and fit them. Then when he got it back, it stopped in the fast lane of the M6, the English dealer said that the parts had been fitted wrongly in France.
So it looks like French Japanese dealers need to buck their ideas up.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
"So it looks like French Japanese dealers need to buck their ideas up."

From my experience, that's an understatement. We'll see how the UK handles it.

Statistically tho, they are reliable. It's just annoying that a 1 hour, next day repair could take so long. Ah well.
Car breakdown woes - DP
A good mate of mine had no end of problems with his 51 reg Celica 190 including total gearbox failure, multiple catalyst failures, suspension alignment problems, wheels going out of true, engine management gremlins, build niggles and loads of other silly things. Even though he grew to ultimately hate the car, he said he couldn't fault Toyota UK or the dealer's support. They bent over backwards to help him out.

Hopefully Gordon, you'll get the same treatment from Honda.

Car breakdown woes - IanJohnson
One of the issues, as mentioned in an earlier post, is that there are very few Honda/Toyota/Subaru/Kia etc dealers in France. Nissan are on the increase with the Renault tie up and you are in a great position if you have a Peugeot/Renault/Citroen, better but not good with VW group/BMW. France is also big so you can be hundreds of miles from a dealer. This means that your car will almost certainly be in a garage with little experience or knowledge of the car if things do go wrong - hence parts on a landcruiser being wrongly fitted!

This certainly contributed to Gordon's problems
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Distance yes, but it was a large, franchised Honda dealer the car went to. At least as big as Francis Honda who I bought the car from.

Saying that, they did appear to have little experience or knowledge of the car, I'll give you that!
Car breakdown woes - IanJohnson
As an example the nearest Honda dealers to Erce where we stayed two weeks ago are 129km - Albi, 196km - Castres, and 205km - Toulouse.

Gordon - Was your car at the Honda dealer in Grenoble (ALPES MOTORS, Concessionnaire Honda, 43 Cours Jean Jaurès, 38130 ECHIROLLES (GRENOBLE) or didn't they tell you about them! See

Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Yep, that was exactly where it was towed. At least, that was where it ended up. I was told by the AA that it was at its third garage when trying to get the address to go and give them a piece of my mind.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Right, so far not so impressed with the speed of response from the manufacturer. My mates that were coming out to meet us were delayed 8 hours by KLM on the way out. They complained on Monday, and 500? compensation hit their account today. By an hourly rate, that would mean that I was owed about 6,500? by now based on hours directly ruined, should my woes be treated the same way, or 21,000? if you could the whole holiday as being spannered.

Frankly, I'm increasingly tempted to say f o n t s i z e s to them and try and go higher in the food chain.

Watch on the Technical thread, I'm about to enquire how to get my engine bay steam cleaned without invalidating my warranty.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
And as is always the way, I get a reply from them within a few minutes of posting.

No talk of compensation yet, I'll have to raise the issue. But.

Honda have agreed to extend the warranty on all parts that could have been affected by this. They have also arranged for an identical corporate demonstrator Accord Tourer diesel for two weeks while mine goes to Avonbridge (factory apprently) to be cleaned, checked and sorted. They are also promising a written response from the AA, and afull reimbursement for all costs.

So, for the moment, they are giving me everything I demanded. Perhaps not demanding compensation in my first letter was a mistake? Ah well, we shall see.
Car breakdown woes - No FM2R
>>Perhaps not demanding compensation in my first letter was a mistake?

Perhaps. However since the mistakes were nto their fault and they seem to be doing everythign they can to help, perhasp trying to make money out of it would be a bit much - although I do aprpeciate the trauma and upset. But there ought to be some motivation for these people to sort everything out in this case and in the future, and perhaps moving away from such a culture may help.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Couldn't agree more about Honda UK. I've been careful to be explicit in my thanks to them in communications so far (and altered the letter copied in my OP to ensure this was obvious before sending it).

However, a combination of Honda France and the AA *ruined* a good part of my main annual holiday. I would feel no compunction at all at demanding compensation from them. They are currently feeling no pain from this situation, unlike Honda UK who are being very good.
Car breakdown woes - No FM2R
Fair enough. Just do target accurately so the right people get the pain (as you seem to be doing).
Car breakdown woes - PW
Gordon, as you have wated time and money on phone calls you could invoice them directly for this. I have done this on several occasions now where I have had to chase complaints- and has always worked. Normally keep it to £50 or less, but would need to make clear this is for time and calls, not compensation.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Well, just the cost of the phonecalls was £46.91, I'm sure I could charge another £3.09 for my time :-(
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Ah, plus VAT. A mistake I regularly make on expense claims. So my calls cost me £55.12.
Car breakdown woes - PW
Sorry Gordon, didn't realise was that much just for the calls. Would definitely invoice them for that, and would charge for your time as well. Really sympathise with you as sounds like a complete nightmare. Hope you get it solved to your satisfaction quickly.
Car breakdown woes - Robbie
I've been following this thread with interest as I have an identical motor, and it's my first Honda. I'm relieved, and impressed, that Honda have acted so swiftly and offered to put things right without any argument. .

In the circumstances I shall change my present Accord for the new model when it emerges in 2008.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
A quick follow up.

My car goes to Honda to get sorted out next Wednesday. A good thing, because as of yesterday the alarm sounds whenever I open a door. Oddly, the siren appears to be in the boot not under the bonnet, and the car will lock, unlock and start as normal without affecting the siren, and the lights/indicators are not flashing. Very odd, but very annoying.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
You couldn't make it up.

I've now got a brand new (800 mile) top spec Accord Tourer loan car sat outside my house. Unfortunately, I've also got my own Accord as well. The demo has been delivered here, not to the dealers, and I can't raise anyone at the dealers and Honda UK are closed "due to unforseen circumstances".

I'm not even sure which car is insured, as there wasn't supposed to be an overlap as my own insurance was set to cover the demo car for the two weeks.

Ah well, c'est la vie.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Right. Things are resolved.

Honda were unavailable as a fault at their exchange had disconnected all their phones. The local dealer was simply understaffed and busy, but did call me back sounding as confused as I was.

The demo car was delivered here to my place by mistake, and was indeed uninsured, so I have paid to have it put on my policy as an additional car for 48 hours. Hardly a hardship at £12.

Honda UK rang this morning, confused as the car should have gone to the dealers as planned. They have now come and picked up my car.

So, for now, all is sorted, albeit with another couple of hours wasted trying to sort things out. Interesting though - I've got a £23k car, but I've had to show no proof of identity or insurance. Would worry me if it was my car.
Car breakdown woes - Bill Payer
... but I've had to show no proof of identity or insurance.

I never had to show any details when I was loaned several different cars by manufacturers for demo purposes. Honda where the only ones to specifically say it was on my (companies) insurance which I assumed covered me, although I'm not 100% sure. The loans were arranged through our fleet company so I just regarded it as their problem - the insurance cert says any car, so I would have been OK is stopped.
Would worry me if it was my car.

You're not a multi-billion $ corporation though!
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
"You're not a multi-billion $ corporation though!"

A very good point.

I wasn't meaning it as a criticism anyway, just an observation. I'm in a much more tolerant mood today than yesterday, when lots of petty annoyances combined to waste a good chunk of my day and make me verge on unreasonable (see the IHAQ thread for an example).

I've been loaned the car by Honda's fleet evaluation people, so I've got all the paperwork that would go with that, so I guess out experiences are very similar.
Car breakdown woes - Micky
Hot sulphuric acid in the engine bay? Is it too late to reject the car?
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Sadly about 8 months too late. Honda UK are going to underwrite any problems I have in the future though, so all is not lost. I hope.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Have had a call yesterday afternoon, I get my car back tomorrow. I'm told that it?s ?all fixed and all fine?. Here's hoping.
Car breakdown woes - Enoughalready
I bet they turn up with a Jazz :o)
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Sitting firmly in the ?you couldn't make it up? category, yet another thing has gone wrong.

I spoke to Jo from Honda customer services yesterday, and she had confirmed that my car was absolutely sorted out and ready for me to pick up from the dealers this morning. We agreed that it would be convenient for me to go along first thing this morning, drop off the demo car, and pick up my own. Accordingly, at 9 a.m. this morning I was at the Honda branch in Sutton Coldfield. Only problem was, my car wasn't there, and the dealership weren't quite sure where it was.

Having just rung my insurance company to change my insurance back onto my own car, I had to ring them again to cancel that, and then came home again in the demo car. A hugely apologetic Jo rang on my way back, offering profuse apologies for yet another mix-up. Apparently, that she had been talking to someone at the dealership yesterday, confirming that my car was at their compound, and that the dealership would go and pick it up because I was coming in first thing this morning. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the dealership have gone to get my car and are going to bring it to my house this afternoon to swap back over.

I've also yesterday had a response from the breakdown company. Unfortunately, I can't really tell you anything about that response because of the site's no naming and shaming policy. Let's just say they've had a not entirely friendly letter in return, and I won't be recommending their services to anyone.

Watch this space for news of my car's eventual return this afternoon. I hope.

Car breakdown woes - Dalglish
I've also yesterday had a response from the [???]. Unfortunately, I can't really tell you anything about that
response because of the site's no naming and shaming policy.

so, it was "that" breakdown service. ( as you have now named them despite the name having been deleted in the original post! )

Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Ah, yes, good point. Oops.

Ah well, I'll leave it to the Mods to decide whether to blank it out or not. Having had a response, I'm quite happy to name them!

{I've changed it to "breakdown company" just to be on the safe side, and to also be consistant with your first posting - DD}
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
17:04 and no sign of any news yet. I wonder if they've lost the car...?
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
They've found it.

Apparently it is in their compound, but my "freshly valeted car" (Honda UK) now needs "a clean and a vac" (Honda dealer), so "can we get it back to you tomorrow?"

Err, no. I'm out all day, so it can't come back tomorrow.

There appears to be an unlucky cloud hanging over y head on this one...
Car breakdown woes - Gromit {P}
"There appears to be an unlucky cloud hanging over y head on this one..."

Sounds more like a "incompetent dealer and customer support office unable to talk to each other" cloud, but good luck - hope you get the car back in A1 condition.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Okay, I'm sitting here seething.

Am I being unreasonable wondering how my freshly cleaned car delivered back by Honda UK to the dealership has ended up going AWOL for the day and now needs a clean?? A named contact at the dealer was told by Honda UK that the car was at their compound and needed to be moved to the dealers yesterday. They had signed the paperwork to acknowledge as such (I believe).

What else has happened to it today, other than getting dirty inside and out? Where has it been? What could I do about it?

Or do I need to get a grip, and realise that this just seems worse as it's about the 10th thing that's gone wrong in this whole sorry episode?
Car breakdown woes - Altea Ego

Get a grip man.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Cheers mate, needed that.

Still want to know where it's been tho...
Car breakdown woes - Avant
"What else has happened to it today, other than getting dirty inside and out? Where has it been? What could I do about it?"

No, you're not being unreasonable. Don't give in to this sort of sloppy incompetence, or they'll try it on others. Politely but firmly demand an answer to your question, and also push as hard as you can for at least one free service as a gexture of goodwill.

Car breakdown woes - Micky
The demo car costs them money, let them come to you. Give them your mobile number and tell them (in writing) to contact you when your car has been delivered to your home address/office/park bench. In the meantime, try and get the demo mileage over 10k :-0

Don't accept your car until you are 100% satisfied, and don't sign any acceptance document. Make it their problem, not yours.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
I've got it back. The dealer drove it over this afternoon. Engine bay has definitely been cleaned, rest of the car is tidy as well, except for some flecks of mud. It's only done 44 miles in total, including the 13 mile drive over, so my previous paranoia about a long joyride appears unfounded.


The car?s been damaged. Someone has clearly opened a door into the front nearside door. There?s two pronounced dents in the door, with the top layer of paint removed. I?m sure it wasn?t like that before, as the collecting driver actually commented on the dent higher up, which is much smaller and happened within about a week of getting the car.

Two questions.

1. Anyone have any good ideas about how to take pictures of small damage ? so far my efforts have been pretty poor, it?s hard to see anything except reflections.
2. What should I do now??? How do I prove it? I probably should have rejected it, but I thought it was dirt until I had a closer look. I did point it out to the manager that delivered it though, which is something.

I don?t think I can raise the energy to get angry any more, it?s too much.
Car breakdown woes - Dynamic Dave
1. Anyone have any good ideas about how to take pictures of small damage ? so far my efforts have been pretty poor, it?s hard to see anything except reflections.

Has your camera got a macro setting?
Also, if the car is dark coloured, try holding a piece of white paper / card so that it reflects in the paintwork and then take the photo. Also try taking the photo at a slight angle, rather than directly at it.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Cheers Dave, I've managed to get a good photo showing the dent by using my white garage door as a reflected background. It's got slats running across it which emphasise the dent nicely. You can also see the pre-existing, much smaller, dent nicely. I need to try and figure out a way to show the scuff up now.

Now just to wait until Monday when the people I'm dealing with are back in the office.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Honda agree they must have dented it. It's going to be repaired by them for free (and they are doing the dent that wasn't them as well).

Turns out the speakers do still rattle, but I'll get the dealer to sort that at some point.

[breakdown company] have sent another letter again failing to address what I'm actually complaining about, and saying nothing was their fault. Feels like banging my head against a brick wall. I've sent one back spelling out what I am and am not complaining about in words of one syllable. I doubt it'll help.

Having said all that, I'm delighted to have my car back. I wasn't imagining the 5 speed box being nicer either - it's def better suited to the engine. I think I was imagining the 6 speed box having a poorer shift tho - either that, or it broke in while I had the car (800 to about 1700 miles). Otherwise, I prefer having the non-satnav stereo (although I'll agree the satnav *looked* way better, but I miss the electric folding mirrors. Car does handle better on the 17" alloys.
Car breakdown woes - Dynamic Dave
Honda agree they must have dented it. It's going to be repaired by them for free (and they are doing the dent that wasn't them as well).

I very much doubt that they will repair the dent, but subcontract the job to one of those mobile dent removal companies who charge a fixed price per panel. Still, as long as it's gets repaired....that's the main thing.
Car breakdown woes - Aprilia
I very much doubt that they will repair the dent, but
subcontract the job to one of those mobile dent removal companies
who charge a fixed price per panel. Still, as long as
it's gets repaired....that's the main thing.

There is paint damage so it'll be a bodyshop job.
Car breakdown woes - Dynamic Dave
There is paint damage so it'll be a bodyshop job.

I thought these mobile dent doctors could also blow in small areas of damage with paint?
Car breakdown woes - Pugugly {P}
Yep, they did some work on SWMBO's MINI. Nice blemish free job.
Car breakdown woes - type's'
I appreciate that contradicting a previous thread does not help much but I had a very bad experience with one of these mobile repair companies - name removed and generalised - DD - they made a complete mess of SWMBO's Corolla.
I had to take it into a reputable body and paint shop for them to remedy the mess.

I have used autohealer as recomended by HJ on my accord and he was brilliant at removing dents.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
It's actually unclear if the paint is damaged as I first thought, or if the damage was done by something that was painted silver. They've accepted responsibility for it in either case, so it's their problem, I'll see what they do.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
Right, I've almost achieved closure on this whole irritating episode.

I've had a letter this morning from Jo at Honda customer services. To be honest, the most refreshing thing about it is that she has said sorry things have gone wrong. That in itself makes me almost laughably well disposed towards Honda, getting an apology from anyone else has been trying to get blood from a stone.

I'm very pleased to say that they have given me in writing a promise that ?any fault that occurs with a component that was damaged as a result of the acid steam, including bodywork and paint, or the remedial work carried out in France will be covered by Honda (UK)?. I think this covers everything I was complaining about, and given that they appear to have done a good job in cleaning the engine bay, draws a line under that part of my problems.

She has also confirmed in writing that they are going to have the damage to my door repaired free of charge. That still needs to happen, but again, draws a line under that problem. I can?t be bothered to try and push for any freebies, I no longer care enough.

Finally, she has confirmed that she is raising a cheque to reimburse me for all my costs incurred. That includes the telephone calls, the hire car costs, the overnight stay in the hotel and also an additional sum to cover my ferry costs. This last thing I hadn't asked for, but it is of course extremely welcome.

All in all, Honda have managed to ensure that I will continue to recommend them as a company. The dealer network appears to be intermittently inept, but honest and willing to make good mistakes, so I'm not going to kick up a fuss.

Overall, it's been enormously stressful, but the stress has mainly been caused by the breakdown company. I've had a look on their web site, and the breakdown company have a formal procedure for elevating a complaint. I'll be following that procedure. In contrast, once the cheque arrives, I'll be writing to Honda head office to bring Jo to their attention, I think it's important to recognise good service as well as bad.

Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
P.S. by Honda dealers being willing to make good mistakes, perhaps I should clarify I don't mean "Wow, that was a brilliant mistake, do it again!"; 'make-good mistakes' would have been a better phrasing.
Car breakdown woes - Statistical outlier
One final update.

The cheque turned up, was for the promised amount, and has cleared without hassle.

The dent repair guy came to my house last night, and has done an excellent job. As promised they repaired the existing dent as well as the new one, and frankly you now wouldn't know either had been there.

So, that's it. I can't be bothered to pursue the breakdown company any more, I've at least finally managed to extract some sort of apology from them. if anyone is considering international breakdown insurance, I would recommend going for a company with more than two letters. As for Honda, I have written to the lady that has been dealing with me to thank her, and also written to her boss to point out how good she has been.

Saga over.
Car breakdown woes - Enoughalready
Congratulations Gordon and thanks for the updates.
Car breakdown woes - Brit_in_Germany
Seems Honda in the UK are more interested in customer relations than Honda Germany. My Accord was in for repairing the electronic boot door under warranty (boot did not open or close, controller reset but as a precaution new controller fitted in line with a Honda circular) but no chance of being provided with a courtesy car - "see the Honda guarantee, sir". Know which manufacturer will not be on the list when replacement time comes.


Ask Honest John

Value my car