On Friday my 18 day European summer bike trip started. First, up through North Wales to the HU meeting in Ireland, and then a quick sprint to Bulgaria for the HU event there the following weekend.
Not exactly my time frame of choice, to pass through so many countries and cover so much distance. However the fact is, the two events are 3500kms, 2 ferry trips and 5 days away from each other, anyway I had time to meander on my way back.
Europe, I was going all over Europe, on a new (for me) bike that was far more capable of keeping those distance destination deadlines a reality than my plodding KLR. I took the KTM, the mileage muncher. It performed… sporadically. Intermittent fuel pump problems made the joinery to Ireland less than enjoyable. Still it made it there, and half way back. On the M6 the noise from the engine seemed to be coming from under me and not the Akrapovics behind me. Plus my higher speed and garden shed aerodynamic panniers conspired to make the bike drink fuel quicker than I did my first Guinness.
I pulled off the Motorway to address these two issues. The front header pipe had sheared away from the flange. Kind of temporarily terminal, at least unridable until fixed.
I have 30 hours until my ferry to Holland leaves, but it’s OK, I had the foresight to book European breakdown before I left.
So I called them. First the boy at the end of the phone puts me on hold, to establish my location? Assistance availability? To give me an ETA? No to check my policy. He comes back to tell me my policy, purchased just the previous week, was invalid. My bike is over 12 years old. Knowing you can’t argue with stupidity, I demanded to speak to a manger. She, Susan Reed, confirmed that my bike was over 12 years old, and I confirmed that ‘In my hand, I am holding a piece of paper that says…Restrictions – 14 year old bike – max days per trip 18.
This is day 3 of my trip, and my bike is 2003, she was adamant that I was not covered as my bike was over 12 years old. Despite the fact I was the one holding black and white evident that a bike up to 14 years of age is covered.
She said there was nothing they could do.
I spare you the details that follow but after little sleep and favours called upon, I was back home. Monday morning at 9am, determined, angry and sleep deprived, I called Euro-breakdown who instantly confirmed I was covered. They would listen to the phone conversation recordings and their insurance company would be in touch. More apologies followed and a promise of a complementary policy in the future. I don’t want apologies, I want compensation for a valid policy that was not honoured and I was left to fend for myself.
Meanwhile I have a dead bike on my hands and there is no way I can get parts in time for Tuesdays 8am sailing. I pointed this out.
So you are at home?
Yes, I’m at home where did you expect me to go?
He says my trip is a one trip policy and is now invalid.
But my house is between Ireland and Holland, I wanted to spend the night here, restock the panniers with clean underwear and more books. What, you want me to camp in a field a mile from my house?
Well now you are home your trip is over, further cover is invalid, but you just offered me a complimentary policy, I’ll take I now. I’m scheduled for a ferry tomorrow, I wrote my entire itinerary on your website before I purchased my policy, you knew my plans.
So, all day no one returned my call, I can no longer get to Bulgaria, the ferry fee is wasted, as was the breakdown policy purchase, not to mention the time and expense to get my dead bike back independently.
I don’t want to play the ‘do you know who you are speaking to?’ card. But luckily I am in a position where I have direct contact with a lot of people who will be very interested in this experience. A large majority of which will be preparing for their European bike trip.
I await the call back and while I wait, my plans cancelled and my anger reaching levels of livid rage, I would like to advise you that perhaps EuroBreakdown is not the company you want to invest your money, trust and safety in.
If and when they return my call I will update this.