Thursday, October 14, 2004

Customer disservice

Yesterday, I received a “final demand” from Green Flag for over £200.00. I hadn’t had the "initial” demand, nor any “interim” demands (if such things exist). Only a final demand. The thing is, you see, they’d addressed it to Witho, “x” Witho Road instead of “y” Witho Road (where x = y – 10). (I always like to express things in an algebraic fashion wherever possible). Only on the “final” occasion did someone decide to “try number y” (as per the scrawl on the envelope), and it’s handy that they did, otherwise I could have had some debt collectors on my doorstep.

So, there I am with this final demand. There was no indication as to what it was for, although I *knew*.

Exactly 2 months ago, on a bright summer’s day, someone nearly killed me and the BF on the A303 by driving on the wrong side of the road, about here. I still shudder when I think about it. When you’ve seen a car driving straight at you, at speed, and there’s nowhere to go because they’re on *your* side of the road, that picture takes a while to become erased from your memory. I haven’t yet replaced the (written-off) car – to a certain extent, I’ve lost my nerve on A roads. Soon after the accident, I drove the hire car (paid for by the other person’s insurance company) over to my sister’s house, via A roads, with BF in the passenger seat. The tension in that car was tangible. Before we'd even arrived at my sister’s, we’d decided that on the way back, we'd use the motorway...

When you’ve been through something like that, you need someone else to sort out all the paperwork, so that you can get on with your life. That’s what you pay your insurance premiums for, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?

This final demand from Green Flag was the final straw in a long line of crap that I had to deal with after that accident. The problems began at the roadside, as I struggled to find anyone to help me.

Picture the scene. I’m standing beside my badly damaged car on the grassy verge with cars thundering past me. The BF has gone down to get the details of the other driver, who had stopped behind us and turned her car around to face in the right direction.

I’m in shock, I’ve never had a car accident before and I don’t know what I’m doing. First instinct – call the Police.

After claiming that they didn’t know where I was (I read out the name on the big green roundabout sign which was yards away and the operator said: "I’m sorry, I don’t know where you mean. Have you been through the Ilminster by-pass?" "I don’t know, I’m not from round here, I don't know the "local" names for things, I’m on the A303 in Somerset, heading East, there is a sign right in front of me that says 'Hayes End Roundabout', that’s where I am", "I’m sorry, I don’t where that is" – WTF???) the Police said they wouldn’t attend because no-one was injured and we had exchanged details. They advised me to contact my breakdown company to get the vehicle moved.

After going through the rigmarole of being told that the 0800 number I'd dialled wouldn't be free because I'd called from a mobile and therefore had to call again, omitting the initial zero (yeah, like I need that at a time like this...) the AA said they only come out for breakdowns, not accidents – you learn something new every day, don’t you?

Okay, I need to get onto the insurance company. In my confusion, I phoned the “Breakdown” number. They said I didn’t have breakdown cover. At this point I became virtually hysterical “I’ve just had an accident, no-one will help me, the Police won’t help, the AA won’t help, I can’t drive my car….” – luckily the breakdown guy realized that what I needed was to be put through to claims. By this time, the “third party” had driven off (we later found out that she was just moving her car to the nearby service station) and the police had turned up after spotting the scene as they drove by in the opposite direction – evidently, they (unlike the operator) felt that this did warrant Police intervention...

To cut a long story short, the final demand from Green Flag was the bill for recovering my vehicle from the side of the road on that day. It didn’t actually say that on the final demand, but that’s what it was for. It should have been sent to the insurance company, like so many other pieces of paper I was sent…

As far as I’m concerned, I pay my premiums to the insurance company. In the event of a claim, I believe I should only have to deal with them - they should be sorting everything out and act as a central point of contact.

Throughout this débacle, I had to deal with the following companies/organizations/crocks of shite* (*delete as applicable)

Well done, you've reached the end of a very long post - now go and have a sit down.

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