AA Customer Service: Making Me Glad I Don't Drive

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(Report of AA customer service, from email to a friend.)

On the way back from Ireland in the department's big Peugeot 306 estate, whilst driving down the A something near Uttoxeter, the car (specifically its engine) stopped going. Katy, who was driving, pulled over to the side of the road, where we ascertained that the car was broken.

(This procedure involved opening the bonnet, scratching our heads a bit, and exclaiming `Look at all them WIRES in there!', and also pulling out and re-inserting the fuses in the fuse box, which didn't help but did ensure that we couldn't use the radio any more, on the basis that it had one of those funny security code things which reset itself upon being powered down.)

So, we decided to call the AA. The AA indicated that they would send someone to sort things out, and so we sat around and waited. Eventually, Mr. AA Man pitches up in his bright yellow `To Our Members, We Are The Fourth Emergency Service' van. He had a look at the car, and asked whether there was any petrol in it. We explained that it was a diesel car, and that it did contain diesel. Unwilling to take our word for it, he had a go at starting the car and observed that it did not, indeed, start.

At this point he told us that it would be simpler to tow the car to somewhere else to have a look at it. This seemed fair enough, so we all got back in the car, and he attached a towing bar to the towing eye on the front of the car, and started to tow it. He got us off the dual carriageway, and, when he got to the top of the slip road, stopped fairly sharply. This broke the towing eye:

``Oh dear, I broke your car''

apparently because the towing eye on a Peugeot 306 is not in fact designed for towing, but merely for lifting the car onto the back of a recovery truck.

At this stage, the friendly AA man observed that:

  1. there appeared to be a problem with the engine;

  2. it is not AA policy to fix problems with engines in cars;

  3. we did not have tow-home cover for the car;

and that therefore

  1. he was going to leave us at the roadside in the middle of fucking nowhere.

We explained that (1) was obvious, (2) was fucking stupid, and that whatever he might have thought about (3) and (4), our view was that since he had pitched up and broken our car even more than it was before, he ought to make some effort to be even a little bit helpful. He did not agree, so he buggered off.

Now, it turns out that Katy has RAC cover of the sort which covers any car she is driving. So she rang the RAC and explained the position; they said that, under normal circumstances, they would not attend a breakdown which had already been visited by another recovery service. However, in this case, given that the AA had fucked things up royally, they made an exception and sent a flat-bed truck to retrieve the car and return it to Cambridge, where the dealer identified that the fuel pump (and towing eye) were broken.

As you can well imagine, neither I nor anyone else involved was very impressed with either the AA or Peugeot.

Copyright (c) 2002 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.