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When I purchased my first car upon turning 17 I received 3 years free RAC cover with the deal. Fantastic. Fast forward 5 years and I have only ever used their service once, something I would consider to be a good thing.
However, my one single experience was a very positive one and I am now with them as a loyal member in my new car also. I thought I would share my experience to show the level of service that I received.
My Experience --------------------
As I said, my level of cover came as part of the deal I got when purchasing Rex, (Rex being a now 5 year old black Hyundai Getz and my first true love) unfortunately though; Rex wasn’t the best of cars. He was cheap and cheerful and a perfect first car for a 17 year old girl. He however, started to show his cheaper quality after he turned 3 and a half.
I’d been having a few problems with unusually high fuel consumption and on a return trip from my local shopping centre one Saturday, with a quarter of a tank of fuel when I left home, I pulled up to some traffic lights to join a roundabout and there it happened. Rex shuddered to a halt and refused to re-start to my horror as the lights turned green and those ever so patient English drivers started beeping me.
The roundabout I had broken down on is a large 3 lane roundabout with duel carriage way junctions leading to the M25, M1 and A41. Joy! A busy road at 7 in the evening when it getting dark, Rex was so far gone I couldn’t even get him to the side of the road, and with the traffic and darkness, I wasn’t prepared to let my other half start pushing.
At this point I remembered I had cover with RAC and reached for my glove box and the car manual with all the details on my cover stated inside.
First Contact ------------------
I called the free phone number that was clearly printed on the membership card I had been given and explained to a very friendly lady, that I was under the impression I had cover needed assistance. She took my license plate number and informed me that I did indeed have 3 years cover from when I brought my car...which was 3 years and a few months ago. My heart sank, but to my complete delight she continued to explain that RAC have an “honour” system where they will honour any previous membership within 3 months of expiration. I was gobsmacked, what a lovely gesture, especially to someone who didn’t actually pay for the cover themselves.
The lady on the phone took my name, mobile number and a brief description of the problem. She informed me that the longest I would be waiting was 45 minutes and she would call me with any more developments or if anything changed.
The Call Out / Repair ---------------------------
After 10 minutes I received a call back from the call centre advising me that someone would be with me in 20 minutes. After hanging up, I had a voicemail, the voicemail was from the road side assistance engineer stating that he was very close but had a more urgent motorway breakdown to deal with first, but estimated he would be with me in ten minutes. This was great. I had gone from a reasonable 45 minute expected wait to 20 minutes from placing the first call.
Ten minutes later as promised, the RAC man and his van we’re in sight, as he whizzed straight past me my phone rang. The engineer explained that from the obvious nature of the problems my car had been having recently, putting petrol in and trying that first before anything else would be logical. He had rung to say he would buy £10 worth of petrol and this would be up to me to pay for, I agreed luckily having money on me and he came back a short while later, petrol can in tow.
The gentleman was polite and friendly and happily chatted to me about my car and also my day while filling my car up for me. He advised I stay in the car with my other half due to the traffic etc.
I tried the engine and Rex was alive and appeared well. The engineer had a quick look under the bonnet and advised me to go fill up my tank fully. He also said he would follow me to the nearest petrol station which luckily is only a few miles down the road encase Rex conked out again. After making it safely to the garage, I was surprised when the engineer also pulled in. He waited until I had paid and asked if everything felt ok and normal driving Rex. He then asked me to fill out a short 5 or 6 question survey about how I would rate the service I received. This brings me on to:
I was honestly taken back by the whole experience. I had heard such horror stories about breakdown companies and their services that I couldn’t believe I had such a nice simple and easy service. They kept me informed at all times what was happening and when I would be seen to, as well as being extremely polite and sympathetic towards my situation. I can imagine having to take calls from silly little girls not putting enough fuel in their tank all day would be frustrating, but the call centre staff down to the engineer really sounded like they cared. The little details like the engineer making a point of telling me not to get out of the car due to the traffic and such, really made me feel valued as a customer and as a person it was nice to think that someone is thinking about your safety.
I of course gave the engineer glowing ratings on his little questionnaire and I hope he got some sort of praise for it. He was polite and knew what he was talking about with regards to the ongoing problems with my car. He even asked me about them and told me a few key things he would suggest I mention to the garage when booking Rex in for a thorough look.
I was very relieved and happy with the whole ordeal and RAC really did make it a lot simpler and more of a pleasure than a pain. Being the first time I have ever broken down and it being late and dark, I would have imagined the whole thing to be horrible, but it really wasn’t so bad. I knew I had someone on the phone I could talk to and a friendly engineer who didn’t make me feel intimidated or silly for running out of fuel in the first place. Of course having my fiancé in the car with me made it a lot better, but even without him I think RAC did a wonderful job of making the situation a lot better.
Prices and cover ----------------------
All of RAC’s different levels of cover are priced differently, obviously depending on what level of cover you need. My experience cost me £10 in petrol and about half hour of my time. Obviously unless cover is free from a car deal or something similar, you will have to pay either a monthly or yearly fee.
I am now on an annual cover just encase and have recommended RAC to my family and friends.
All options of their services and a lot more detail on their different aspects are available at their website: www.rac.co.uk