Break Down Cover.
Last Wednesday I scraped the ice and harden show off my car front window, it took awhile, I’d used the de-icer but although usually it does wonders, this morning it did nowt! If I’d a chisel I would have used it. My daughter Megan sat in the front passenger seat looking smart ready for me to take her to her interview at the University here in the other side of Town. I put the heating on my car and tried to turn on the windscreen wipers but they didn’t budge! That was a first. I did get a bit nervous for the clock was ticking, Megan had to be at the university for nine that morning and quickly the time seem to be going that bit faster, than it usually did. Originally she had wanted to be there fifteen minutes before nine and now it was fifteen minutes before nine and we were still outside our home! I told her, “Everything will be OK, it only takes five minutes to get there.” But when she mentioned again five minutes later, “I don’t want to be late,” I did remind her, “I told you yesterday, you can leave the house at eight in the morning and walk, as I don’t drive in the snow, which was expected any day now.” There was no snow today but it was cold, really cold. Now if there was no traffic on the road and no traffic lights one could indeed drive to the university in five minutes, but to walk it, it would take about forty five minutes! So it didn’t look too good, it was rush hour and there was a strange thick ice on all the cars. I didn’t manage to clear off all the window in front of my car window my visibility was about fifty percent, when I said to Megan, “I can’t see much,” As I started to drive of down our road, she replied, “I can see clearly from where I’m sitting.” I said, “Well tell me if you see someone in the road!”
I then drove another five hundred yards and then just as I went across the cross roads, I didn’t quite make it to the other side when the car broke down! So I was on the corner, technically speaking I broke down on two roads. I immediately put on my hazard lights, but it made no difference for the traffic on my left that was trying to now turn left couldn’t see my hazard lights on, and was pipping their horns! Those coming up the road and trying to turn right into that road was pipping their horns at me too I’m not sure what those behind me was doing for they could clearly see my hazard lights. It was complete chaos! Suddenly an Asian gentleman sprang into action he put his own life in danger when he came over to me leaving his car on zig zag area and he said, “I will push your car for you,” I replied, “Thank you, do I leave my gear in one or neutral?” He replied, “Neutral,” (about two years ago I broke down at traffic lights, for usually I break down at traffic lights or round-a-bouts and Paul was trying to push the car away from the traffic lights, but nothing was happening, till a policeman arrived to help, it was then he as a driver found out I had it in first gear!!!!!! Well how was I to know? Others at work who drive too didn’t know it had to be in neutral) so anyway, this Man pushed me out of danger risking his own life.
So back to Megan, she burst into tears as soon as I broke down! It reminded me of the puppet Sweep from the kids programme when I was young. She said, “I’m going to be late, you should have cleared of the ice earlier,” I reminded her, “I was getting ready for work, and I was doing you a favour,” so as I’d broken down in front of the school, as the gentleman was pushing me, as we approached the zebra crossing I waved and said, “Hello,” To Angela the lolly pop lady, she of course said, “Hello,” back to me, then at the same time I could hear Megan say to me tearfully, “Stop the car, I want to get out!” I said, “Go on then, it’s not going fast,” And I meant it, he was going at about three miles per hour, in my view. Megan repeated herself, “I want to get out!” So as my door window was down, I said to the kind Man who was pushing my car, “Can you stop pushing please, my daughter wants to get out.” The car stopped, and Megan got out. I saw through my rear view mirror move back to the corner of the road where we’d broken down, crying while on her mobile. The kind Man pushed me to outside the Caretakers house and disappeared! I got out and went to Megan, as I approached, I could hear her say as she was crying buckets, “I need you to hurry, I should have been there now.” When she finished her phone call I said, “Phone the university and tell them the car broke down and you are waiting for another lift, they will understand as cars from time to time break down.” She dialled the university as I walked back to my car.
I was in my car five minutes when three workmen came over to me and said, “You can’t stay here, is it OK if we reverse your car into this driveway?” I said, “I’ve broken down,” One of them said, “We know, is it OK if we move your car?” I said, “Yes that’s fine.” I got out my car as one man sat in the driving seat steering as the other two Men pushed my car off the main road, the entrance to the school car park. I said, “Thank you.” The workmen then proceeded to close one side of the road and set up traffic lights, for one lane traffic.
It was a bitter cold day, it had been very cold since Sunday and today was Wednesday and it was freezing! I looked at my mobile and the time was eight fifty five, I went to the app on my mobile for my break down cover and pressed the section for breakdown then followed on through what I should press next then after three or four presses it showed that a company called, Strength would be with me at ten o’clock. I was covered up from head to toe with my black ankle boots, knitted gray tights, knitted bottle green dress with navy tan top over that, and black gilet feather and down then my trusted black duffle coat, and pale pink woollen hat and hood up! It all made no difference, I was still freezing! I’d made Megan a tiny flask and wished I’d made myself one, but I didn’t know I was going to breakdown one minute from my home. I did have my gloves with me they were a fab gift the ones where you can cover your fingers up or pull the ‘cover’s off so you can use your fingers, the thumbs section stays covered at all times, but it was SO cold that I simply put my phone away and covered up all my fingers and sat on my hands, putting my hands behind my knees! I felt I was sitting outside, I thought of those who didn’t have the shelter of a car. I got out my car and walked over to Angela the Lolly pop Lady I told her, “The break down cover would be with me by ten,” She said, “When the Man stopped his car on the white zig zag lines, I said to him, “You can’t stop there, then he pointed to you and said he is going to help, I nodded to him my approval.” She went on, “In a very short time, he was back in his car and gone.” I said, “I know, I’d thanked him, but wanted to thank him again, but he’d gone.” I think it’s very important to say, “Thank you.” To let people know that you appreciate them. After a bit more chit chat with Angela I went back to my car, shivering I then watched the world go by.
I took my hands from behind my knees and looked at my mobile to see these dreaded words, “There seem to be a problem, please can you phone us.” I was a tad annoyed for I thought I hope I have just wasted two hours for nothing! For I’d tried to phone my breakdown cover after I’d pressed the app several times to get to the bit where it had shown the Company Strength would be on their way. I wanted to hear a human voice but just couldn’t find a phone number and had ‘trusted’ the app. So I rang, it took a while, but I wasn’t going anywhere, after about ten minutes a sales advisor answered the phone, I said, “It shows on my app that I should phone you, is everything OK, is help on the way?” She replied, “Help is on the way, we just need some more details from you as your app doesn’t give us all the details about you,” She went on, “What is your car registration?” I thought, “Flipping heck, that’s the basic stuff they should have.” I gave it her and she said, “It’s not coming up on our system,” My heart sank, and I said, “I’ve been with you for years, I hope I am on your system.” I then said, “I’ll get out my car and check my reg,” And yes I had missed a letter off, I’ve only had the car ten years! So then she said, “I have you, you are on the system, Strength will be with you by one o’clock.” I said, one o’clock?” I went on, “I live only one minute from here, I can see my road from where I am, please can I go home and can you ask the engineer to ring me before he comes to my car?” She replied, “Yes that won’t be a problem, when he is fifteen minutes away I will get him to phone you.”
As my car was on double yellow lines I went into the school and said to the receptionist, “I’ve broken down just outside the school car park please can I have a bit of paper so I can write a sign for the traffic warden?” She was lovely and went over and beyond she got two A4 sized cards, white and handed me a fat black marker pen for me to write my message on she said, “I’m giving you two, one for the front window and one for the back, and here is two poly pockets to keep them dry and sticky tape.” I said, “Thank you SO much,” And rushed back to my car. There was so much frost and ice on the back window there was no point putting anything there, I hadn’t used de-icer on the back, so it was still caked over in thick frost and ice, I placed the two notes on the front of the window inside the car and made sure my car was all locked up and off I went home, was looking forward to breakfast.
It was great to get in the warm, I decided on cheese on toast, I had taken two bites then my phone rang, it was Strength my breakdown cover, he said, “Hello, I’m Collin from Strength, I will be with you in fifteen minutes.” I replied, OK see you in fifteen minutes.” I got my two slices of cheese on toast and put them into a sandwich bag and wrapped them up into a thick Tesco bag to try and keep some of the warmth, the time now was eleven thirty, I made my way to my car a short distance away.
Collin tried to jump start my car, he said, “It’s not your battery,” He went on to pull something off I don’t know what it was called then he put it back of again, after about five minutes he said, to me, “You have two choices, I can either tow you to your home or a garage of your choice.” I said, “The garage I use is two minutes from here, I want to go there please,” He then said, “This is not my van so I don’t know how to use the tow, so I will ring the office, and ask them to bring a van that can tow you to the garage.” I was shocked, that a breakdown company came to a car that was broken down and he don’t know how to use the tow!!!! So he rang the office and said, “Rosa, the Customer needs a tow to the garage and I haven’t got my van with me, it has a tow on it but I don’t know how to use it, can you send another van so the Customer can be towed to the garage?” It was on loud speaker and I heard her say, “Yes will send another van,” Collin then said , “The Customer will be at home as she lives one minute from here, please get the engineer to phone her before he arrives so she can come and meet her at her car,” I heard her reply, “OK will do, tell her the breakdown cover will be with her before one o’clock,” I thought one o’clock!!! Collin then said, “Shall I stay with the Customer?” Rosa replied, “No you are needed three miles away,” Collin was friendly and repeated what Rosa had said to him. So off he went in his van and I walked back home and to wait for the phone call from Strength, thinking what a waste of a day!
I had lots to do, I’d planned to make two important phone calls at home, where my notes were, my points of reference, before I’d gone to work, this was planned after I’d dropped of Megan and now at home I was unable to make those calls, as I had to keep my mobile so I was ready to receive the call from Strength, it was very frustrating!!!!!
Then at one twenty I decided to phone my breakdown cover back as I’d heard nothing! I rang and said, “Can you tell me what is happening? You sent a Company out to me but I’ve heard nothing,” I told her everything, including the lack of knowledge of the tow from them, I went on, “They should have been to me before one o’clock.” She said, it shows on our system the job is complete,” I said, “The job is NOT complete!!! I am STILL broken down!!!!” She said, I will phone the Company can you please hold the line?” I looked at the timer on my mobile and sixteen minutes later she got back to me and said, “Basically they said they couldn’t be bothered to go back to you and close the case,” I replied, “They could have told me!!” I’ve been waiting around all day for them.” She said, “I will send out one of our drivers, he will be with you before three o’clock.” I rang work and told them, “I broke down at eight fifty five this morning and I’m still waiting for help to arrive, so sorry I’ll now be late for work.”
I’d also asked her, “Please let the driver know that I am home as I live one minute away and to phone me when he is near and I will go and meet him OK,” She replied, “I will pass all that on to him.” She did also say, “Sorry for the Company’s behaviour,” But I already knew I’d be sending a complaint by email.
It was unbelievably cold, it had been years since I was th is cold. And it wasn’t just me saying it, everyone was talking about it, it was big on the news. The phone call arrived at my mobile the time two twenty I went to my car to meet Tony. It was GOOD to see the proper van and the easily recognizable letters, known all around the United Kingdom. I told him everything that had happened! He said, “I don’t like it when the Company uses theses smaller breakdown companies, for it makes us look bad,” I said, “They do indeed, for I pay fourteen pounds a month to the Company and I get sub standard, useless breakdown cover, I’m going to tell everybody about today.” He got the material tow from the boot of my car, as he said, “The metal one will take twenty minutes to attach to your car, he went on to say, “Many parts of cars had frozen today.” He told me, “Break harder than usual, so you don’t crash into me,” I told him, “I’m nervous, I don’t want to crash into you,” He said, “You’ll be OK, just use your brake more than usual.” Then just as he drove off with me on tow, it suddenly started to snow heavily, and I couldn’t see, for my wipers didn’t work as I had no power, it was scary, for even when I braked, I kept going and stopping inches from the back of him.
Two minutes later, we were at my garage, Tony said, “I can’t believe the engineer couldn’t tow you here,” I said, “I know it’s ridiculous!” I’d already rang my garage earlier to let them know I was coming, and told them the whole sorry story! The engineer dropped me back home. It took my break down cover FIVE HOURS to move my car two minutes away to the garage.
I got to work late, I told those at work all that had happened. Chloe said, “Didn’t you know they are famous for arriving between five to seven hours late!” I replied, “I didn’t know that,” I asked two of them who they are with, two mentioned the same Company and said, “They always arrive within an hour,” And that she, “Paid only nine pounds a month,” A huge difference to my fourteen pounds a month.
The following day I emailed the break down cover, leaving nothing out. I told them that, “I was thinking of leaving them, when I am due next.” Two days later I had a phone call form my break down cover, she rang about Strength, I mentioned my email of complaint she said, “I hadn’t seen it.....” Yet she had rang to tell me she was sending me forty pounds to say, “Sorry for Strength.” That same day, the garage rang me to say, “Your car is ready for collection,” I asked, “How much was it?” And, “What was wrong?” Rob from the garage said, “Your water was frozen because you didn’t put in any antifreeze in and other stuff,” It cost me a staggering ninety six pounds! I asked Rob, “Will that antifreeze last this Christmas?” Rob replied, “Yes.”