A few weeks ago, I was involved in a minor road traffic incident on my commute to work, when a lobotomised ape in a van, decided to drive into the side of my car – destroying my wing mirror, and causing additional damage to the side of the car in the process.
At the time, he didn’t request any of my insurance details (because he was clearly at fault), and merely offered me his own, however he has evidently realised there were no witnesses, and is now trying to suggest we were equally to blame. I’m not one to get angry and hold a grudge, as you know, but let’s just say that if he were to now contract a flesh-eating disease on his scrotum, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I would, however, visit him in hospital, if only to rub salt into the wound.
When faced with such a situation, it’s always comforting to know that you have a competent insurer, accident management company, and repairing garage on your side. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that might feel like, because my insurers have been useless to non-existent; the accident management company have been utterly incompetent, and the repairing garage have made the other two look thoroughly professional.
Since the claim is ongoing, I probably shouldn’t mention who I am insured with (let’s just say there was a battle there in 1066). I contacted them straight after the accident, because I didn’t think for one second ‘van scumbag’ was going to try and wriggle out of hitting me – he was, after all, in the middle of the road, and not looking where he was going at the time – so I naively thought there would be a prompt admission from his insurers (again, I won’t mention them by name, but it’s a city in Switzerland), and I’d have my car back swiftly.
I never expected there to be a fight on liability, with my no-claims discount compromised, and my premium likely to rocket next year as a result. But, above all, I didn’t think it would take more than two fucking weeks to fix one wing mirror. I’m pretty sure I could have had a decent stab at taking the entire car apart, and then re-building it, faster than that.
To give you some idea of the incompetence I have been dealing with thus far, let me summarise the chronology of my misery:
Monday 16th April – van wanker drives into me around 9:05am. Accident reported to insurers an hour later. Hire car delivered early afternoon. So far, so adequate.
Tuesday 17th April – my car is collected late afternoon, from Poynton, by a recovery company in Crewe, to take it to the repairer in Stoke. Genius. If you don’t know where those places are, grab a piece of paper and a pen, then scribble like you’re having some kind of seizure. That’s the route they took.
Wednesday 18th April – bugger all happens.
Thursday 19th April – bugger all happens again. I contact my insurers, and the repairing garage, to find out why I haven’t received an estimate yet. The estimate arrives at nearly 6pm, but is only for the wing mirror, not the scratches down the side of my car. They query whether I want the additional damage including. No, it’s fine, I’ll just stick some pretty pictures over that when I get the car back, dickhead.
Friday 20th April – I email back, to explain that, yes, I would like all the damage repairing (please), and to express my dissatisfaction at the delays – pointing out that, had I used my local repair centre, I would almost certainly have my own car back by now. I demand the updated estimate by the end of the day.
I also phone my insurers to complain, who inform me that once the estimate has been corrected, it could take the accident management company a week to authorise the repairs, then another week or so for the garage to order the parts and actually carry out the work. The reason for it taking a week to authorise the repair? They still had a backlog of work since The Beast from the East two months earlier.
Needless to say, I didn’t receive the updated estimate by the end of the day.
Saturday 21st April – or the next day.
Monday 23rd April – or the next.
Tuesday 24th April – still nothing. At this point, I was getting slightly pissed off, so I decided to contact my local repairer, in the hope they could provide a quick estimate my insurers might be satisfied with. They provide the quote very quickly, but it is higher than I expected, so I phone the repairer in Stoke to see if they have bothered to finalise their own quote.
Having got through to ‘Sally No-Stars’ on reception, she places me on hold to check the present position, following which the conversation goes thus:
‘Yes, the repairs have started, and your car will be ready for Friday.’
‘The repairs have started?! And who authorised that?’
‘Erm, hang on, I’ll have to put you on hold.’
[5 minutes later]
‘I’m going to have to get the manager to call you back.’
‘Yes, you do that.’
Wednesday 25th April – having received no return call, but having had enough of the incompetent bullshit, I send a rather scathing e-mail to my insurers, the accident company, and the repairer, in the hope one of them might actually give me some fucking answers.
My particular gripe, aside from the delays, is the fact the garage have gone ahead and begun repairing the car without my authority. When they finally e-mail back, rather than apologise, they have a go at me, stating that they don’t need my authority, as they get this from the insurers and accident management company, not the customer (typed in such a way as to imply the customer is a repugnant little piece of shit). I know this, because that particular sentence begins ‘with all due respect’, which is a term I often use in my own e-mails, to mean ‘listen, you repugnant little piece of shit…’
So, despite having no idea how much my repairs will cost (which I argue is important information, in the event my claim is settled 50/50 by the lazy confrontation-averse insurers, because I need to know the extent of the claim on my policy), I was at least guaranteed my car would be ready for Friday 27th April.
Friday 27th April – the day doesn’t start well, when I realise the hire car has just under a quarter of a tank left, and since I am obliged to return it with ‘at least a quarter’, this means adding the most meagre of amounts to take the needle above that level.
Having pulled in to Tesco on my way to work, I top the car up with a miserly £5, and set off again. However, as I pull out of the car park, I notice the needle hasn’t moved, and is still below the quarter-mark. Bugger.
I therefore drive around the Tesco complex and back to the petrol station, where I pull up to the same pump and try again to add £5 of fuel, assuming it somehow hasn’t worked. This time, before leaving the forecourt, I start the ignition to check – the needle again hasn’t moved.
Amidst much (uncharacteristic) swearing, I vow to try one final time, and if the needle doesn’t go above a quarter this time, I will keep the receipt as proof, and argue the fuel gauge is knackered when they come to collect the car.
I put a third £5-worth of unleaded into the hire car, get back in, and start the ignition.
At which point the needle goes to a little over half a tank.
Loudly referring to the car as a ‘useless piece of shit’, much to the amusement of neighbouring customers, I drive off and complete my journey to work, reassured that I will at least be driving my own car home that evening.
You can see where this is going.
Having heard nothing by my lunch break, I phoned ‘Useless Fucking Bodywork Repairs Ltd’, to enquire about when, precisely, they would be dropping off my car.
‘Oh, the repairs are finished, but you’ll have to come and collect it, as we can’t drop off today.’
Now, in all likelihood, this situation wasn’t directly ‘Julie’ (actual name) on reception’s fault, so it was perhaps a little harsh of me to suggest she might insert the nearest accessible car part into her anus, but I was becoming more than a little frustrated by this point.
As a compromise (read: me backing down slightly when Julie started to cry), it was agreed that I would drive the hire car to their premises on Saturday morning, pick up my own car, and then the hire company could collect theirs back from Stoke – which, to my amazement, everyone seemed happy with.
All that remained, was for me to use up a quarter tank of unnecessary fuel (to make my point), so I drove the 25 miles home that evening entirely in second gear. With all the windows down. Via Bolton.
That evening, I took up my usual residency on the porcelain throne to check my e-mails (you could set your watch by my bowels), whereupon I discovered one from the garage. Assuming it was an apology for the terrible service and constant lies, I opened it with anticipation:
‘The wrong part has been delivered for your car, so it will not now be ready to collect in the morning.’
I nearly shit myself with rage (although, had I done so, I was at least in the right place). My response:
‘So, when you confirmed the repairs were already underway on Tuesday, that was clearly a lie, because even I know you can’t repair a broken wing mirror with the wrong fucking part. You’d better let the hire company know of your incompetence, because they think they’re collecting a car from you tomorrow, and it sure as hell won’t be there, will it?’
I did finally get my car back on Monday (30th April), more than two weeks post-accident, and the repairs have been done to a satisfactory standard – however, I still don’t have the first clue what they cost, where I stand in terms of liability, the damage to my no-claims discount; and whether the other driver has contracted scrotum-plague yet.
Fuck ‘em all.
Thanks for reading x