While riding to our vacation in Switzerland, our car broke down at 21:00 in the middle of Italy. Wow, this was the first of this kind, and therefore we did not really know how things work. The car was just the day before in service and passed the 'control technique', the mechanic (with a bill of more than 2000 Euros) said with a smile, but now you have 2 years free of trouble! Luckily we were close to one of those alert boxes and called for assistance. They confirmed coming in about 15 minutes. While waiting we called our insurance (AXA). We did not really know that we had an assistance pack. They would have organized the towing service and hotel themselves. But as we already got it organized, they would re-reimburse you if the hotel is within their price range. The phone battery was at it's end and also the tow truck arrived. The mechanic had a quick look and saw there is nothing to fix it on the spot. He told us to bring us to the garage, organize a taxi and hotel.
The next day, we went back to the mechanic. He confirmed us the suspicion of the transmission belt being broken and that this will take a while to repair and be not below 2000-2500 Euros. Further the 2 weeks lasting Italian summer vacation was about to start and nothing could be done ever as they were open but would not get any spare parts. We called again our insurance to get the options: We can continue our vacation with a rental car for 48hours and then return by train or plane. So we had the insurance organizing a rental car for us. We had several calls that day (about 15) asking about the status, and some more information on how things work further. We called the insurance in France and they had to contact always their agent in Italy. It took them the whole day (till 18:00) until they confirmed us the place where we can pick up our car. The taxi has been organized as well. We finally arrived exhausted at our vacation place around midnight.
We called the garage again and from now on it was more like 3 weeks to repair and the cost from 2500-4000 Euros depending to whom we were talking. We decided that this was not worth the value of the car, and began searching for a replacement. The Elsas being the closest french area seamed ideal for us. We began searching for a used car, not too old to avoid similar troubles. We found one in about 1 hour driving distance and headed to have a look. It was OK and the agent wanted to sell the car on the spot. No way, always sleep over such a decision before you sign. We searched a little further on the internet and found that the car brand had a special sale ongoing and with the french scrapping incentive, the new car would be the same price as the one year old with 25'000 kilometers. Now this new car was sold out almost anywhere neither close to our home in the Côte d'Azur. The only car available we found was at the same garage that was about to sell us the used one. Time was running out, we had to organized everything before our return from our vacation. With the insurance we had to organize the return of the broken car to get the scrapping incentive, as scrapping it in italy is not accepted (what a waste of money).
We also called Opel to see what they mean about doing a service and the car breaks down completely the next day. Opel claims no responsibility for a 9 year old car. What we learned later is that our type of car (Zafira A, 2.2l) has not a transmission belt, but a chain that should not break, possibly only be loose and you would hear a slight roaring of the chain. That's exactly what we were hearing since a couple of weeks before. That gives not a good light on the mechanics of Opel doing the service and not hearing such an alarm sign. Well, this Garage will be avoided from now on.
We claimed the expense for the Hotel and Taxi, but so far did not get anything re-reimbursed yet.
What we learned from this incident and want to give you for remembering if the hopefully never existing case occurs:
- Have a mobile phone charger for your car and the hotel
- Have the phone number of your car insurance handy, ask for all your options and organize everything yourself if you can't relax and wait
- Avoid passing Italy during their 2 weeks 'full stop everything' vacation.
By AWeb Design