A Barnstaple family were left reeling after a routine three-hour summer holiday journey turned into a 22-hour breakdown hell.
Janine Beglin and her 11-year-old son Jonty were travelling to Maidenhead to visit family on July 22. They set off at 3pm, but Janine was forced to pull her Porsche Boxster into a service station near Bristol when it started leaking coolant.
They never made it though, with a call to the RAC at 5pm resulting in a five-hour wait, an overnight stay in a hotel and a recovery journey back to Barnstaple.
After the car was assessed by mechanic at 7pm, Janine and Jonty were expecting a one-hour wait for a vehicle to come and recover the car, but they were left in silence until three and a half hours later, when they were told there was still no solution.
It was gone midnight when Janine and Jonty were taken to a hotel in Chippenham, only to find the room booked for them was booked for a wrong day. They were eventually given a room due to the sympathy of hotel staff.
They were recovered the next morning, and after dropping the car at at garage in Braunton, eventually got back to Barnstaple 24 hours after setting off.
Janine’s husband Gary, who spent much of that time on the phone to the RAC from home, said the treatment was ‘shoddy’.
“The RAC were certainly not on hand,” he said.
“They were difficult to get through to, trying to speak to a duty manager was close to impossible and many promises to call back just did not happen.
“To be told by a duty manager with 17 years’ service constantly that ‘I needed to be realistic’ as it ‘was the first day of the school holidays’ does not show how the RAC are maintaining their service levels in the face of the toughest challenges.
A spokesperson for the RAC said an ‘exceptionally busy’ evening on the roads meant a lot of customers to try and accommodate.
A statement from the company said: “We’ve spoken to Mr Beglin to offer our sincerest apologies and a goodwill gesture, along with a full explanation of what happened.
“This was an exceptionally busy evening on the roads and demand for our services was extremely high. We therefore had to balance the needs of all our members who had broken down, whether this had happened at the side of the road, while at home or at another location.
“Mrs Beglin and her son were at a place of safety – at a motorway service area – and we tried very hard to book a driver who could recover them both with their vehicle directly back to Devon that evening. Unfortunately we were unable to do this and so we booked hotel accommodation and a taxi to take them both there.
“We sincerely apologise for the poor communication with Mrs Beglin after her car broke down, and for the problem with the initial hotel booking. We appreciate that this compounded an already difficult situation.”