The past few days has raised my temperature higher than the ones outside and more than once I have chosen to walk away rather than lose it.
My car had a flat. Normally this should not be the start of a 3-ring circus but not this time. This, I was reliably informed, is not a normal car or a normal tire. Its a Z4 (okay so a bit posh - affordably so far) but it runs on the normal round rubbery things called tires. I've seen loads of them all round and never have I heard such a palaver over this.
I take it to the agency AGMC - their service has not been too bad or outrageous so far - but I digress. The lady (fairly gormless) asks me to drive it round.
Arrm - its a flat and unless I want to bend the rim out of shape, I would drive!!
Okay, then we can't do it today.
Its just a flat tire, someone needs to look at it and tell me how bad, how much and how soon
Not even take a look and give me an idea
Just a moment please
A little waitress comes to me asks me for refreshments - I am not exactly ready to bite someone's head off yet but getting there. I have a million things to do and catch up on and the last thing I want to do is be without a car or spend half a day in the garage.
15 minutes later
I am sorry ma'am (I hate it when anyone calls me that) but the team leader will be another half hour
Its a flat tire, why do I need to have a team leader
Just a moment please and before I can say boo - she's clicked her way out of my sight
I wander around looking for someone that I think might be useful and spot the one person that has been halfway helpful before - at least has better personal customer service skills.
Please help me - I need my car and the lady at the reception is probably new and cannot help me or give me a satisfactory response.
The problem is your Z4 has no spare tire and we don't stock spare tires here (don't know if she meant for my car or for all BMWs in general). I will check and try to get your car ready by the end of the day but they will cost you around 500 per tire and another 500 for labour.
Wow - thats steep but okay I will try to find the money from somewhere.
Later in the afternoon
Hello Miss Mita (I never understand this - it should be either Miss my surname or just my name), the spare tires are arriving only around 4ish and your car will be ready only at 9 am tomorrow.
Oh well - I have no choice.
9am the next day
Your car is ready but I have just been informed that the tires will cost you 850 each
Thats too expensive, I cannot afford it at this time - please just replace the tire with the puncture and I will get the others replaced when I can or elsewhere
Okay - I will call you to pick it up - should be okay to pick up after 2pm
I am so busy at work that I decide to pick it up first thing the next day since I have work appointments all day and it is not convenient. So I call the next morning to pick it up.
No answer. Then 20 mins later I get a call back.
I am sorry - I have not been well since last afternoon but did my supervisor not call you?
No he did not, What is it about?
We cannot fit your old tires back again but I have spoken to my supervisor and we can reduce the cost of your tires to around 700 each.
By now - much as I like this particular customer service agent (and she was as helpful as she could be under the circumstances), the lack of interest on the part of the agency was staggering. It is now going to be 3 days without a car - for a flat tire!!
What do you mean you cannot fit my old tires? You just removed them to fit the new ones.
Yes but it would not fit with the rims
Have you changed the rims too?
No but the old ones are worn out.
She meant the tires of course. What she probably meant or hasn't been told is that the tires have in all probability been thrown out and I am being told this because being a woman I will just accept the opinion of an "expert")
Right on cue - more because I was desperate to get this over with and get my car back - I said:
This is not fair and puts me in a spot where I have suddenly no choice - so get this done
Okay - I will call you back to tell you when you could pick up the car.
Well if you are not doing anything but reduce the price - it should be ready now.
10 mins later - sick or not - she calls back.
It will be cleaned and ready to pick up in an hour. This is around 8-ish am.
9:00am - the gormless wonder at the reception (since Ms Helpful is sick) has no idea what I am talking about - checks the computer and knows even less about where the car is, etc. Another 'just a moment please' (the cure all and staple diet of all gormless receptionists), she disappears.
I am getting antsy and am late for an appointment. My brother, who gave me a lift to the garage and hung around just in case - comes up to me to check what was taking so long. I start muttering that I cannot believe that its taking them 3 days to sort out a flat tire.
Half an hour - gormless returns to say she cannot locate her lovely team leader or the car. Could I please wait for another half hour? I am really annoyed and so that I do not lose my temper, I turn around to leave saying I cannot hang around and that they should call me when they find my car and it is ready.
2 hours later - I get a call that I can now pick up my car.
I am happy (under the circumstances) to get my car back - little did I know that there was a surprise waiting for me.
I am given the bill and the gatepass. Given a paper to sign that says I have received my car in good condition. I hesitate and then sign thinking that they would not take a chance with their reputation. Wrong.
My car has a dent in the back that I don't remember being there when I dropped it off (I would have noticed if it had happened when I had it). I immediately bring it up.
The mysterious workshop team leader shows up - knows exactly what I am talking of - how does he remember all the dents in all the cars - says that it looks old. I argue that this was not there when I dropped it off.
He argues back to say that it is older.
I realise that someone in AGMC is probably at fault but they would never acknowledge it since they would have to pay for it and also there is that small thing called proof. It would be my word against his and I did not have the time or the stomach for it.
Its what they count on.