Friday, 28 January 2011

The tragic tale of Roy and the Pavement

So, I promised a long time ago in this post that I would tell you about poor ickle car Roy, the pavement, and Auto and General (a South African insurance giant).

Last year, I was driving somewhere near the Johannesburg CBD. I was a bit flustered from having to search around for the theatre we were headed to, and street lighting in the city centre is a distant dream. Long story short, taking a right turn at an intersection, I didn't see the small piece of pavement between the two directions of traffic in the street I was turning into, cut the corner and mounted it split seconds after Steve's shout of "Look out!".

Have you stopped laughing yet?

How about now?

Then I'll continue. Luckily we're members of the AA (on the off chance that any 'mericans ever read this, that's the Automobile Association; not Alcoholics Anonymous). We got towed home and ended the evening on a rather flat note. The next morning I used the web based system to put the claim on the Auto & General website and got a message promising to phone me back within four hours.

I did not get called back until the next day (Saturday). I was not able to actually speak to someone until the Monday. The car did not get towed to a panel beater's until late Tuesday afternoon. And that's sort of the highlights of my interactions with A&G. I had to constantly call them to try and get an update; my calls were almost never returned; I got conflicting information on the damage and ETA from the A&G agents, their assessor and the panel beaters. I had to pay for my own rental car for almost three weeks - A&G claim I declined the option to have a hire car, which I contest, but I've asked five times for the recording of the sales call to be pulled and transcribed to settle the matter but to no avail.

After two weeks I went to pick up the car. I didn't even make it home before every warning light and alarm started freaking out; I pulled into the nearest petrol station. When the guys there who were helping me pulled out the oil dipstick, the oil was smoking it was so hot. They poured a bunch of coolant into the radiator, only to have it streaming out underneath. NO-ONE THOUGHT TO CHECK UNDERNEATH A CAR THAT LANDED WITH ITS UNDERCARRIAGE ON TOP OF A PAVEMENT. They fixed the frigging wheel alignment and no-one noticed the entire radiator system was totally buggered!!!!

At least (after a very, very large piece of my mind in no uncertain terms to the complaints department) A&G paid for my hire car this time. Another two weeks later Steve and I went to pick up the car again, and it started flashing lights and beeping again! At least the radiator was fixed, but no-one bothered to put any water in it (or oil, it seemed).

I'm still trying to get A&G to take my complaint seriously. Their approach seems to be to give you the run around in the hope that you'll eventually give up or die. Luckily for me they've published a service charter that promises a R250 penalty any time they don't live up to it; I ought to be able to make most of my excess payment back by now.

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