As I had meetings last week in Belgium and France I decided to take the trusty company car; my PA booked the tickets via Eurotunnel, ensured that our car insurance had European Cover and bought Euros in order that I could at least entertain some clients.
In Dunkirk a French man took a dislike to an Englishman driving on their roads and subsequently took the front end of my car out thus leaving me in a dangerous position – now is the time when a contact centre can make or break their reputation.
Within miles of leaving the tunnel, Vodafone kindly sent me a text message advising me that as I was on the Continent I can take advantage of their special mobile rates which I confirmed by replying to their text; at least I could call the office, the French Police and my insurance company to arrange recovery or so I thought – but no.
My mobile could receive calls no problem at all – but to make a call on the side of the motorway no chance – I persuaded the French driver to allow me to borrow his mobile and sent a text to the office to get Vodafone to call me – the office called the number on the Vodafone text only to hear that the telephone number was no longer in use. The office called Vodafone and after a wait of 8 minutes advised that in addition to not being able to help as they weren’t the account holder did not have an option to call me. Are they a communications company?
As part of the Eurotunnel booking we opted for the Breakdown assistance package handled by the AA. As my mobile as was much use as a chocolate fireguard in making calls thanks to Vodafone and as the car was in a dangerous place it was recovered by a Police nominated recovery company after 3.5hrs, so initially their recovery was not required. When back in the UK I contacted the AA who could not have been better in handling the subsequent claim if they had been on a course which I am sure that they all have. The contact centre was efficient, quick and using a phrase ‘did not make a drama out of a crisis’.
The insurance company, Swiftcover could not be contacted on my mobile and after texting a relative in the UK to call them, they were told after 40 minutes on hold that they would not call a mobile, but being in the unfortunate position where I could not use a landline, the relative pleaded with them to call me upon which they did, where I was told I had to make my own way to a garage, although the car was not drivable and no signal, so no option but to plead with the emergency services who at first were reluctant to attend, but due to the dangerous position I was in they had no option.
Swiftcover, like the AA, responded to my call within minutes when back in the UK and were quickly on the case asking me what else they could do for me even though I was back in Blighty.
My conclusions? When in an emergency situation you need things to happen sooner rather than later; what’s the point of being held in a queue for a long period of time or unable to get signal.
The whole incident took 3.5hrs to get help and the car to be towed to a garage in Dunkirk which is totally unacceptable and very frightening, an experience I do not wish to repeat – ever.
Have a good week ahead