This blog is starting to read like some ‘soap opera’ or ‘docu drama’ ….
First off I neglected to mention last time that my first outing with the RV was not without incident. One of the things that ‘goes with the territory’ of driving a large vehicle is the steep learning curve, the gaining of experience and the hopefully minor mishaps along the way that lead to becoming a competent and capable driver. You also start to learn that some drivers, particularly HGV drivers, can be courteous and understanding whilst others ‘don’t give a sh*t’, will pull out in front of you or do a ‘dodgy’ overtake, just so they are not ‘stuck’ behind you.
On our first drive out to Newark a kind HGV driver held back on the main road as I negotiated a left turn pulling out of a narrow side turning and having to swing over the centre line to avoid striking the kerb. Sadly my spacial awareness and width awareness skills were a bit lacking and a meeting of wing mirrors occurred! Fortunately the more robust wing mirror on my RV won the day and escaped injury, whilst the HGV was not so lucky. Still dealing with the fall out from that but hey ho!
On the driving front we have since travelled to Somerset as mentioned and it has become apparent that a Dash Cam is much more of a necessity in an RV rather than a luxury. Now that I am retired and no longer a serving officer, the fact I am driving our home not just an RV, I am learning to let the idiots get on with it! I no longer lose my temper or stress out but just hope to see them further down the road when they make contact with a lamp post, or some other unforgiving object. With a dash cam you can always report these prats and with a bit of luck you may get to see a bit of poetic justice. One thing my years of Police driving experience has taught me is patience, patience to give people enough rope and they will hang themselves! Additionally, we all make mistakes but as an Advanced Driver I had to make allowances for all the ‘Knobs’ on the road and expect the unexpected, especially when on a “hurry up” drive. It still amazes me that with all the bright luminous paint jobs, sirens and flashing lights that is the livery of modern emergency vehicles, people still pull out in front of you like rabbits in the headlights, or just panic and do something daft, but I digress. Some of my Instructors mantra’s whilst receiving my advanced instruction have stuck with me and stood by me ever since e.g. when assessing hazards and what people are trying to do, the phrase “give them time and room to move” stands out, or “behind every slow moving vehicle is a faster vehicle waiting to overtake” is another, and “position your vehicle and drive in a manner that other drivers are in no doubt as to what you intend to do” is yet another that have all stood the test of time and kept me safe over the years.
As mentioned last time we made it to Somerset after a 7 hour drive which thankfully was virtually all Motorway and dual carriageway, so was much more relaxing and enjoyable. The last mile however was a bit stressful as we had to navigate a housing estate with quite narrow roads, and with vehicles parked all over the place, despite it being on a bus route. We made it through to the farm at the end of the road without mishap but if I were a local resident I would dread it if the Fire brigade had to get to my house in a hurry. Scary!
My last entry ended with the visit of the AA and a pending trip to our nearest Toyota Dealership at Somerset County Cars so that they could put the car on their diagnostic system to determine what was wrong and if it could be repaired. We duly attended at 2.30pm on the Friday and waited patiently whilst they did their stuff. The resulting news was not good news! Despite the diesel engine only having 63,000+ miles on the clock, the diagnosis was that the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) was clogged and the EGR (Exhaust Gas Re-generator) had not been able to do its job. The Garage informed us that they had had a similar issue on one of their vehicles last week and the repair bill had come to over £3,500!!!! To add insult to injury, despite the vehicle coming with a 3 month warranty, which we had paid to have extended to 12 months, this issue would not be covered as the fault was due to the way the vehicle had been driven and not down to an inherent failure of a piece of equipment etc. It would appear that the majority of the previous journeys were ‘short hops’ which doesn’t enable the EGR to do its job, which only occurs on longer runs. Needless to say we were not impressed with the Toyota Garage in Worksop from whom we had bought it as this should have been picked up during routine servicing, maintenance or pre-sale check, and the fault, after only two weeks of ownership, was not down to our driving!! To cut a long story short the Worksop Garage agreed that they would have the vehicle picked up and taken back for them to look at and carry out the repairs which, under the Sale of Goods Act, they had no other option other than to refund our money. So it was the following day that the AA took the vehicle away on a low loader and we were supplied with a hire vehicle from our local Enterprise shop.
Over the next few days we hardly ventured out and had regular contact with the Garage in Worksop. We were informed that by midday Tuesday the 19th we would have an answer but when 3pm came and went we were getting worried. We had decided to visit Glastonbury that day too, which had been a real joy both for us and the dogs, when on the trip back the call finally came. This time it was the general manager making contact with not very good news!! As far as he was concerned the vehicle was beyond economical repair but before giving us a refund he would search his local dealers in an effort to find a replacement, which is his duty under the SOG Act. We agreed that we would ring him before 5.30pm to clarify if he had found such a vehicle or that we would have to have our money back.
On our visit to the local Toyota dealership last Friday we had enquired if they had a similar vehicle to the one we had purchased, but the only one they had was a manual gearbox, 4 years younger and £5k dearer albeit with only 22k on the clock and one previous owner! We decided to make our way there to see if they could find us anything else locally or whether this other vehicle was worth paying out for. We met up with David, one of the Sales Managers, and we had a very pleasant hour or so discussing our options and for Irene to take this RAV4 for a test drive. I decided to stay behind as Irene hadn’t driven a manual car for over 2 years and she didn’t need me to make her feel more nervous. I also wanted her to make her decision without any influence from me as she would be the main driver and, as Irene knows her Toyota’s far better than me (this would be her 6th RAV4), any decision she made would be fine by me, I just had to sort out how we were going to finance it if the result was positive! When she got back from the drive I could tell her decision purely by the wide grin on her face!! We now just had get our money back on the duff one and sort out financing the extra 5k!!
We made the call at 5.15pm and Irene spoke with the General Manager who confirmed he had been unable to find a suitable replacement. We therefore informed him of our decision to have our money back which, to give credit where credit is due, he accepted without quibble, took our bank details and stated he would start the ball rolling for our refund in the morning. Irene made a start in completing the paperwork needed to purchase our new(er) car! I made contact with the bank and on the advice of the loans department, I quickly made an online loan request which was approved in less than 5 minutes, and in less than 10 minutes the money was in our account!!!
Wednesday morning dawned with the realisation that the hire car had to go back today and, unless we got things moving quickly, we would be ‘car less’ unless we hired one for ourselves in the meantime. David at Somerset Toyota had confirmed that if we were without a car to come over to collect our new purchase he would come and collect us! It was then that the sh*t started to hit the fan!!
The Sales Manager at Worksop Toyota made contact and informed us that we couldn’t have a refund and that they would repair the car!! Irene had taken the call and I watched as she nearly exploded with anger and promptly handed me the phone. Unfortunately the Sales Manager had not been made aware of our conversation with the General Manager the previous day as all he had received was a piece of paper with our name and bank details on and with a terse note to arrange a refund!! Once I had appraised him fully of the details of the conversation and our situation, what we had agreed and what our rights were, his tune changed and he became very helpful! However, the next spanner in the works was thrown by their accounts department who stated they could not ‘buy back’ the car without the V5. Despite me pointing out to them that the front of the V5 clearly states that this document is ‘NOT PROOF OF OWNERSHIP’ they were adamant that they wouldn’t budge on this even if I gave them an undertaking in writing that I would send it to them as soon as I received it back from the DVLA, and you know how slow they can be at times. Our only hope was that the V5 was now sitting in the mail room back at Plots Farm, despite only 2 weeks having elapsed since we bought the car. I rang the office at Plots and with trepidation I spoke to our neighbour Duncan who confirmed there was an envelope for us from the DVLA. I waited with baited breath as he opened the envelope and …… confirmed that the V5 had indeed arrived that morning! Agreeing to pay any charges that were incurred, Duncan also agreed to get the V5 posted to Worksop by Special Delivery so that it would be there by 1pm on Wednesday. Phew!
Wednesday came and at 1.15pm, having not received confirmation of receipt of the V5 from Worksop as promised, I rang them. “Oh yes” says the Sales Manager, “it arrived about an hour ago. I am trying to get your refund organised this end but the lady in the accounts department is in a meeting and is unavailable at the moment”. You couldn’t make this up could you? Two hours later and still no contact I decided that this ‘meeting’ had gone on long enough and rang them back again. “Oh these things take time” came the reply to which I responded, “Get the accounts department to get off their arses and get this sorted – we need our money NOW so we can get going purchasing another vehicle. YOU have left us in the lurch so YOU get your act together. I want this money in our account by close of business today”. I wanted to say “or else” but or else what? We really had no leverage to apply except perhaps to cause them all sorts of grief in their local press etc., but what could we do here in Somerset?
At 4pm I got a call from the accounts manager who informed me that she was processing the payment now and that the money would be with us by the close of business today! The money was in our account 20 minutes later! Maybe being a bit direct and aggressive worked after all.
Today is Friday, the money has been paid for our new car, our Toyota free 3 day ‘get you home’ insurance is sorted and we are just awaiting confirmation that it is ready to be picked up tomorrow. It is being fully serviced, valeted and a small ‘dink’ on the boot lid is being repaired and touched in. As I sit here writing this and contemplating the last few days events, it is no wonder I have no hair and what I do have has gone white!! Stress? Who needs it! Let’s just hope this is the last ‘big issue’ for the time being, we could do without it.
In a weeks time we will be leaving Somerset for Stratford Upon Avon to attend the annual River Festival there. Full report to follow!! Bye for now.