Friday, January 06, 2006

Quoting me haplessly

Back in November we stayed for a week in a lovely little old cottage in the Calvados area of Normandy. I was so taken with the beauty of the place and the superb hospitality of the wonderful English owners who lived next door that I promised I'd very soon be back for a week to throw myself into some work in the peace and tranquility of the place. Sharon would give it a miss this time though because, although she loved both the place and Steve and Caroline the owners, she found the steep stairs a bit hard going and she feels the cold more than I do. You wouldn't think she'd lived in Norway for 18 years but her problems are largely down to the diet of heparin she's on for her circulatory problems. Her blood's so thin that a) it knackers her just thinking about walking and b) it cools her down very quickly. She also wears a low-dose morphine patch that keeps some of the pain at bay. I call it her heroin patch as she goes a bit cold turkey if she goes too long without changing it. When that happens, it could be 90 degrees outside but I'll have to put the heating right up and temporarily forget any green pretensions.

Anyway, I booked it again a couple of days ago, no problems at all. The holiday company, French Country Cottages, tried to sell me the motor breakdown insurance that's part of the terms and conditions of hire (I was taking my own car and I didn't think I had it) but I said I'd have a shop around and see what I could get as I thought I'd probably need to join one of the breakdown companies anyway as my car's getting on now and it's been a stranger to a regular servicing for the last 40,000 miles (although I did have the radiator, front brakes and cam belt done last year).

I had a shop around the major roadside agencies and found that a week's breakdown cover to France for non-members varied between about £45 and over £100 (disgraceful, Green Flag!) . Then I remembered that I thought my motor insurers, Norwich Union, included breakdown cover in the policy and as I had to call them to extend my policy anyway I might as well ask them. They said they could extend the breakdown policy for £47 and that this would actually last for 14 months although my insurance policy with them runs out at the end of April. As I was having to pay a bit extra to extend the policy anyway I asked what the weekly rate would be. It was £75! I expressed mild surprise (actually I said it was a bloody rip-off). The customer service operative (sad to say, probably in India as he had absolutely no empathy with me whatsoever) kept saying that it was for 14 months, as if this was some kind of selling point.

I made two points rather forcefully to him and told him to pass these on to his superiors. I also said that I hoped the call was being recorded so an unhappy customer could be listened to. I said that if I bought a single potato, I would expect to pay 15p for it. If I bought a big bag of them I'd expect to pay considerably more, not LESS than an individual one. Imagine the waste if everthing was sold on that basis! Also, told him that I considered the fact that they were offering me an attractive deal as part of my policy for 14 months, way past my policy end date, was an incredibly cynical inducement to get me to renew with them and was completely out of order. What if I decided to change my insurer? Come on, I told him, do you honestly think everyone's going to remember to cash in the remainder of their 14 month policy after a few months have elapsed, especially when there would probably be an "admin charge" levied to do it that would eat up the remainder? It's cheap and nasty and not something I'd expected of a respected company and I told them where to put it.

I went back to the holiday company and got a cracking deal for £30 or so that covers me from a couple of weeks before I go in case the old Rover hands in its cards and I need to hire a car for the trip. Now that did quote me happy.

0 Vegetable peelings:

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