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A Breakdown Of The Breakdown Services

, , , | Right | October 17, 2018

(Our roadguard insurance covers quite a lot of stuff, like sending a road guard for repair on the spot or for towing your broken vehicle to a garage. It does not, however, cover the costs of repair at the garage — since these tend to be quite high — or any unforeseen additional hotel costs. Somehow, many people just assume certain stuff is covered, without carefully reading the terms and conditions. We often receive phone calls from people who don’t get it.)

Caller: “Hi, my car broke down in Germany, a while ago. I’m back home now, but I have a question. It’s [license number].”

Me: “Yes, I found it.”

Caller: “The repair costs at the garage were €150. Apart from that, I had to book a hotel for two nights, with some meals, making that a bill of €140. Can I get these covered?”

Me: “Unfortunately, sir, these costs are no part of our roadguard insurances. However, it might be possible to declare the unforeseen hotel costs at your travel insurance. Do you have a travel insurance, sir?”

Caller: “Yes, I do. So, I should declare the hotel costs there?”

Me: “Best thing you could do, sir. You should contact that insurance to check that.”

Caller: “But how about the repair costs?”

Me: *tactically* “Well… usually that is not a part of the roadguard insurance, either.”

Caller: “Well, I have been a member for ten years, and have paid my insurance premium every time, without any trouble or damage. I think that should be worth something. If not, why do I have an insurance?”

Me: “For road help, sir, which you got. We covered that.”

Caller: “Is there really no way?”

Me: “Well, you could try to declare the hotel costs through our declaration form. However, I can’t guarantee any success.”

(I’m just saying this in order to finish the call. I know this won’t work, but at least the guy will stop, and I have pointed out it might not work.)

Caller: “Okay, I’ll go to my travel insurance with the hotel bill. And I’ll try to declare the garage costs through your online form. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll simply terminate my insurance with you.”

(That means he won’t get any covered assistance at all next time. With an insurance, he could contact us and report his problem to us in his mother tongue, while we sent out the order to the foreign roadguard and covered the costs of that, which in a worst-case scenario can cost over €350!)

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Help Is Coming Never-lands

, , , | Right | September 3, 2018

Me: “Good morning, [Emergency Centre]. How can I help you?

Client: “Hello, our car broke down here on the German roadside! We need help very quickly! Are you far away?”

Me: “I am in the Netherlands, ma’am, but that doesn’t matter, since I am able to send out an order to the German road guard.”

Client: “Thank God! There’s a lot of smoke coming from the car and it’s not running anymore!”

Me: “All right, I’ll fill in the case file for you, ma’am. Could I have your licence plate number?”

Client: “[Licence plate number].”

Me: “I’ve found the car, I think. Is it a [Brand]?”

Client: “Yes!”

Me: “And your zip code and address?”

Client: “[Zip code and address]”.

(Usually, zip code and address make me able to see the membership number and the insurance policy. But this time, no valid insurance comes up.)

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t see a valid insurance policy. Do I have the right membership? Is it [number]?”

Client: “No, it’s [correct number].”

(There is still no insurance policy.)

Me: “I still don’t see anything, miss. It seems there is no valid insurance.”

Client: “What!? How’s that possible? My husband received help two weeks ago!”

Me: “I believe you, but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a right policy here.”

Client: “But that has to be a mistake! Can’t you just send help and we will sort it out later?”

Me: “I can’t, miss. I can’t send out an order without a valid policy. Maybe there’s something I can do, but I’ll have to ask my superior. I have to put you on hold.”

Client: “Okay.”

(I go and ask my superior. The answer is that if they don’t have a valid insurance policy, they haven’t got the right to get our help. The only thing I can do is to put them into contact with the German road guard. Costs won’t be covered.)

Me: “Hello, miss. Sorry to keep you waiting. The answer is that I cannot send out the order. The only thing I can do is put you into contact with the German road guard.”

Client: “But we have a policy! Does this mean we don’t get coverage?”

Me: “It seems so, ma’am. I’m very sorry.”

Client: “But I can’t afford that! We already paid a huge sum to get the insurance! Why can’t you just send help and let us sort out things later?”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, that’s not how it works. But—”

Client: “But I can’t afford to pay for the road guard!”

Me: “I understand, ma’am. That’s a very unpleasant situation for you, of course. But this is the only thing I can do.”

Client: “Yes, but I can’t afford to pay for the road guard!”

(The conversation starts repeating itself, going in circles several times. Every time when the lady says “Yes, but…” I know we’re back at the sentence that she cannot afford to pay for the road guard. Finally, she snaps and starts getting personal.)

Client: “Sir, I’m getting really sick of this! We… Oh, God! We have been talking for over seventeen minutes. And yet you haven’t done anything to help us!”

(After quite some pointless bickering, I offer to ask for one last option. My superior came with a way to check their membership for any policies at all.)

Superior: “Oh, God, just as I expected. They’ve only got an insurance for the Netherlands. No wonder you can’t help them!”

(I went back on the phone, but I didn’t get any response. My superior told me to hang up. Looking back at the incident, I’m especially wondering why the client blamed me for the long phone call with me “doing nothing,” despite me offering her an alternative after several minutes, while she was the one dragging on and on about the same stuff.)

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Lost In No Translation

, , , , , | Right | November 9, 2010

(A lost-looking tourist enters the shop.)

Tourist: “Do any of y’all speak American?”

Me: *joking* “I’m sorry, but we can only speak English.”

Tourist: “Okay, sorry to bother you.” *leaves*


This story is part of the More Clueless Tourists roundup!

Read the next More Clueless Tourists roundup story!

Read the More Clueless Tourists roundup!

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