How's This For A Rubbish One?? - Long One!

Have just got back from what should had been a relaxing week at a French campsite with friends.

I will tell my little tale of woe but if you could kindly suspend all cries of STUPIDO until the end i would be grateful!

We moved house in April of this year which cost us a bleedin fortune and meant we needed to sell our car (was too big and expensive to run and being changed anyway) to cover the cashflow until we could raise dosh from another remortgage which we were assured would only take a month or so. In the meantime we have been using my Dad's car (he is unable to drive at the mo) which kind as it was of him has been crippling us in petrol - it is the most uneconomical car EVER!

The remortgage has turned into the slowest one ever in history and it got to the point where we were faced with a 900 mile drive to the south of france and no car to do it in. We couldn't poss take dad's.

We looked into hiring etc but they stiff you when they know its going out of the country so not economical. Course dear old hub wanted to cancel but i said no way! Got to Sat 2 weeks ago and with the mortgage offer all through and just had to wait for 2 weeks for completion we decided it was safe to buy a car on my empty credit card as the money would be through no problem.

We had done loads of research and found a fab dab car - diesel not far away - went to look, loved it, bought it and congratulated each other on our luck.

Can you see where i'm going with this?

Next day an alarm went off telling me it was out of coolant. No sweat - filled it up.

Later that day the alarm went off again. Checked the reservoir and it was empty! (For anyone remotely mechanical it didn't do this when the engine was hot - coolant full after a journey and then disappeared over the next 3 hours - no visible leak??!! WTF?)

Took it back to the garage - they were lovely - told me that it was evapourating out of the coolant filler cap and they changed it.

Next day did the same thing. By this time i am getting a tad anxious as we were leaving for france friday night. They said fair enough - the reservoir bottle can become distorted and changed that - this was Thursday pm.

Set off to my parents which is on the way to the tunnel friday night - arrived, checked it - nice and full. Hub popped out 2 hours later - alarm went off! He called the garage who said ok - as the temp was fine (never budged off normal) to just keep it topped up every 2-300 miles and drop it in when we get back.

We had decided on a night crossing and drive (big mistake) and off we set! As we got further into our journey the alarm became more frequent - started going off every time we slowed down at a peage - culminating in it going off whilst driving along the motorway and when we looked down the temp had rocketed! We weren't prepared to carry on with thee temp now playing up so called the RAC (i took out cover the day before just in case hehe) - had to speak to the French police (us not a word of french) who sent a surly recovery bloke to took us off into the back of goodness knows where - topped it up and ran it (stationery) for 10 mins and said it was fixed! We spoke to the RAC - told them we were unhappy but they said we had to take the car.

40 miles down the road - same thing happened. Pulled over - at this point it is beyond peeing down, it is what's known as "Black Saturday" in France as its the weekend of their major bank holiday and the roads were packed. Hub went to use roadside phone - got an electric shock off the button with all the rain and managed to speak to the police again.

Another recovery vehicle was sent - this guy didn't speak english or french for that matter so we just trustingly hopped in and off we went! I had already taken pictures of the girls in the cab on our first "exciting holiday adventure" recovery so didn't bother this time.

He took us to a service station where he proceeded to pick up another broken down car and took us to the smallest village furthest from anywhere in france. Luckily the other family he picked up could speak english and translated everything so lines of communication were at last open!

In liaison with the RAC - was decided the car had to go to a main dealer for diagnostics which wasn't going to happen until Wednesday due to the bank holidays - they eventually tracked down a hire car and got us a taxi to take us to it 40 km away.

Off we trundled again - having told our friends to not to wait for us for first lunch and then dinner and finally made it to our campsite at 11.30 pm - after being on the road 26 hours!

Phew - thats just the journey down there!!!!!!!

Hels x
Next Bit!

We actually had a very nice time with our friends - the kids had a great time - oblivious to our stress (as it should be) but from Wednesday onwards we were speaking with the RAC 3 times a day and not getting any response as to what was wrong with the car.

We told them it was under warranty to the garage we bought it from and would rather just have it repatriated but they wouldn't do that without the diagnosis.

They were suggesting to us we had to collect it on the way back - but bearing in mind we were again driving through the night for a 7 am tunnel this would have affected our departure time and they were humming an haaing about this all day friday. They finally told us at 7 pm friday night that the garage reckoned it was - guess what - losing coolant out of the reservoir and cap!! Aarrggh - couldn't of course tell them that this had already been changed!

They said their technician would speak to us and the garage on the sat am - by this time it was obvious the car would have to be left in france. Sat am we called and - the garage was shut and their technician off!! Then the fun and games started!

They decided we couldn't bring the hire car back to england (even though the hire agreement said it could be driven in the uk) - they said we had to leave it at calais and go on the ferry as foot passengers!!!!! We explained that our luggage had been packed for car travel not suitcase travel and that we would be arriving at calais at about 3 am - with two kids! Non non non they said - no way could we take the car on our original tunnel crossing and bring it back next week when we collect the car.

Their best offer was for us to drive to calais - wait until 2 pm (only another 11 hours then) when the Hertz office opened - change the hire car for another one which we could take on the ferry and then change it for another one at Dover?!! WTF??

After they assured us that there were trolleys etc for the ferry, with our backs against the wall we agreed to go as foot passengers but only if they would arrange a taxi to take us from Dover to my parents house in kent where we would pick up good old dads car! They agreed and off we set!

Made brilliant time and got to calais but before 3 am and even better saw their was sailing at 3.30 am. Went to buy a ticket and...NON foot passengers not permitted to go until 8.30 am!

I lost the plot. Hub called the RAC - who could apparently hear me screaming in the background (in the rain at 3 am at Calais docks) that F**k 'em - we would take the effinig car through the tunnel and they could effing well come and get it!

After a 20 min stand off where hub pointed out we could have just told them we were on a 2 week holiday - taken the car to the UK and bought it back when we collected anyway and they would have been none the wiser - they agreed to do JUST THAT! AARRGGH

So we hotfooted it over to the tunnel - and - first bit of luck - got on the 4.41 crossing - so arrived home at 6 this morning!!!

Fallout of the week (cos of course hub was making helpful comments like - he shouldn't have listened to me and taken the car in the first place, and should have returned home after first recovery) was that after a sleep (and me cleaning up the cat sick where the cats seem to have been ill while we're away)- we've had a lovely huge row, i've cried my eyes out and the air has been cleared!

First day home's always a bummer!

Oh well - just got to work out now a) how i can get insured on hire car b) how we are going to get the car home c)how we are going to get the garage to pay for it or d) start looking for another car!

C'est la vie!

Thanks for letting me get it off my chest!

Hels x
ROFPMSL!!!! Hels....only you darling!!! :D :D I'm just glad that you've all made it back in one piece!!! :D
Oh Dear, deep breaths, counting to 10, make that 10,0000, isn't going to do it is it? You poor thing, that sucks! Still, you are home now, row is behind you, in normal circumstances i would suggest a stiff drink but do not wish to be accused of being an appalling influence. So large hug on it's way!
Good god Hels what a nightmare!!!

Hope you enjoyed your holiday despite all that.

Serveral stiff drinks were had barb!

Latest update is that after over a week of scratching their bums the french dealership can't decisively say what is wrong with it and the RAC have agreed to repatriate it! So the garage where we bought it are on standby!

Only blip is that we have to return the hire care to Calais - by saturday - but being bank holiday etc is proving quite expensive for crossings - so i am rushing down there this afternoon - taking the hire car across on the tunnel then driving to the ferry port to drop the car and come back as a foot passenger (i've upgraded to the club lounge - what the hell!) and hub is hotfooting it from work (london) to maidstone to collect my dear old dads car he is kindly lending us again and then on to Dover to pick me up off the ferry else i would have had to wait an hour and a half for a train!

Hopefully this is nearing the end!!!
:D Have a good day, hun!!!! ;) :D
Wow, you wouldn't want life to get really complicated would you?
Oh Hels - you've been living my life again, haven't you, hun! I'm so sorry you had this nightmare - thought awful stuff like this only happened to me! Have you recovered now??

Well I'm exhausted after reading all that! Like Isobel I thought only I had such holidays! Youy are obviously in good company. I've got to the stage where if all is going well I become suspicious!

I think it is these situations where a large Pastis and ice goes down well, followed by a good French shrug of the shoulders ;)

How was your day trip to France yesterday?? :p
Hi Hels,

That was so awful, I feel so sorry for you!!! What a terrible thing to happen to anyone on their holidays.

Hope you have everything sorted and hubby is out of the dog house:)

Love Mini xxx

I am exhausted for you just reading all about your holiday and car "issues" (for want of a better word-or swear word!!):eek:

What's the score now? Bloody Nora, never ends, does it?

Bonjour!! I had my little adventure yesterday - TBH was nice to have an afternoon away from the kids (rotten mummy me) (i love spending time with them but am sorely missing my time on my own) and off i toddled.

Managed to get on an earlier shuttle (bit hairy driving the left hand drive on the train - very tight with cones and then went too far up the train so had to reverse it just at the point my mum decides to call "are you on the train yet?"!!)

Remembered to fill it up with diesel and drove no worries to the ferry port and posted the keys in the Hertz box. The lady then checked me into an earlier ferry which after pathetic dilly dallying i decided to take - would rather do my waiting around in england!

Then got all confused after going through passport control -i've never got a ferry before and managed to end up in the arrivals hall and had to go round in a circle and through passport control again!

Finally got on the boat and waded my way to the club lounge - fab dab!!! An oasis of tranquility amongst all the hoi palloi hehe

Had my delightful glass of comp champagne and read quietly - well as quiet as you can get with a hen party of 10 dressed as hula girls snogging every bloke in sight in the same lounge! (They went off to ravage the rest of the ship so weren't there for most of it) (Although they did get onto the bus back to the terminal - don't think the bride was going to make it to the limo let alone to the rest of her hen night! She was at that stage where she was draping herself over anyone about, not focussing and slurring hugely! I kept inching away as i know thats only a very short hop from chucking up and did not want that over my book!!)

Had to wait at Dover for a while but hub sped on down to get me and for now....all is well - although i anticipated the car getting lost / damaged / crashed on its repatriation!