A few weeks back, I was taking some visitors from England to Moncayo Market on the Lemon Tree Road. As I negotiated the Guardamar roundabout on the CV905, a silver BMW overtook me – yes, you read that right – and managed to plough into the side of my trusty, 10 year old Ford Fiesta in the process. He then drove off without stopping, but that was only the start of our troubles. The real problems arose when we tried to claim what our insurers, Liberty Seguros, trumpeted as the highlight of the policy – a courtesy car for up to 30 days while our car was being assessed and repaired.
In England, the garages that do the repairs usually have a selection of courtesy cars. When my daughter’s car needed a new clutch, we dropped it off, then collected a courtesy car, which we returned when we collected the repaired car after its spell in intensive care. One garage, one poorly car, one courtesy car, all located in the same place. Simples! But not in Spain, oh lordy, not in Spain!
The first problem was the speed with which we received our much-trumpeted courtesy car. We didn’t expect to get it immediately – it was a Saturday afternoon, and Spain grinds to a standstill on Saturday afternoons. But we did expect to get it when we went to the insurers office in Quesada on the Monday after the accident. Should have known better after 7 years in Spain.
Apparently, we couldn’t have the car until our car had been at the garage that was doing the repairs for 24 hours. So we could have the car on Tuesday, right? Wrong. Maria Jesus from Liberty Seguros told us she couldn’t book the hire car until Wednesday morning. So we could go home and relax. Yeah, right! My car has been pranged by a hit and run driver, we have friends visiting, and we don’t have a car to take them out and about. Very conducive to relaxation, isn’t it? With no other choice, we headed home to await Maria Jesus’ phone call on Wednesday morning. She would definitely call us before noon, so we wouldn’t have to hang about waiting all day for a call.
And she definitely did (not) call us by noon on Wednesday. So I called the office, only to be told that MJ would definitely call us back as soon as possible. It was a double negative, because she definitely did not call back. Thursday was a busy day for me. I had a morning meeting, and in the afternoon, we were taking our visitors to our friends’ hacienda, then on for an evening meal as it was the last day of their holiday. So we decided to forget about the courtesy car and call into the insurance office to track down the elusive courtesy car once our visitors had departed.
So, on the way back from Alicante Airport, we called in to see Maria Jesus in the Liberty Seguros office, and vowed not to leave without the keys to our courtesy car – or at least the promise of them. Her face lit up when she saw us walk in, and the conversation went something like this:
‘Ah, Mr Mrs Peedock. I call yesterday about your courtesy car.’
‘Great! So we have one now?’
‘No, I call again now to make sure your car is at garage, then I tell car hire company is there, then they send you text, then I see text, then I tell them you can have car, then you have.’
‘Why do I have to have a text before I can have a courtesy car?’
‘Because is way it work. They say text come in 20 minutes. You go for coffee, if no text in 30 minutes, come back here, and I sort it for you.’
With those confusing instructions ringing in our ears, we headed for the nearest cafe, waited 45 minutes just to be sure – we are in Spain after all – and then headed back for the office. MJ was occupied with another client, and although her two colleagues were eager to assist us, she insisted we needed to wait until she was free. That was fine by us – we didn’t fancy repeating the story again, or repeating the registration of our car umpteenth time that morning.
Although we’d filled in all the forms, and MJ had copious notes, including the car registration, we still had to repeat it every time she spoke to someone on the phone. As it had happened at least 6 times that morning, and about 10 times on the Monday morning, there was a fighting chance it might be embossed on her brain by now. We didn’t fancy having to begin the process all over again with someone new.
By the time we were sat in front of MJ again, the clock told us it was two hours since she’d first greeted us with a smile. While we were waiting, we were explaining our problem to another lady. Maybe we did her a favour, because she’d come in to change her vehicle insurance to Liberty Seguros. When she heard we’d waited for 6 days for a courtesy car, she decided to stay with the devil she knew, and hurriedly left the building.
3 phone calls later – and 3 repetitions of our registration number later – there was still no sign of the text or the car. During one of the waits for responses, MJ asked if we needed a taxi to take us to collect the car. As that meant we wouldn’t have to inconvenience any friends or neighbours, we said yes, and we would be very glad we did before the day was through.
The fourth call brought a glimmer of hope. The person who needed to send the text was out of the office, but he would be back at 2.00 pm, so we could return to the comfort of our home to await the text, then we would need to phone MJ to communicate the contents of said text so that she could order the taxi to take us to collect our courtesy car. Finally we were getting somewhere … or were we? Part Two to follow.