RAC left me waiting until after 3am for car recovery

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I feel badly let down by the RAC and want other women to know this could happen to them.

On the evening of 15 October I was driving home to London from Southend with my 23-year-old daughter when, on the A13, my car lost power.

I pulled over and called the RAC. It was about 7pm and the handler advised me to call the police, who would move us to a safe place.

He would also place us in the queue for a flatbed truck as we both suspected a mechanic would not be able to fix the problem.

After I had been moved to the slip road of a nearby industrial estate, I called back and a mechanic was booked. By this point it was 9pm.

The mechanic arrived an hour later and confirmed that the car would have to be picked up, so I paid the extra £90.

By this time my daughter was upset as she had work in the morning, so I ordered her a cab. This left me alone and I called the RAC to tell them this.

Throughout the evening I kept calling customer services, and while everyone was apologetic, they just gave me a new target for the expected arrival time.

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When I was told a truck wouldn’t be with me until 4am, I insisted on speaking to a manager. By this time I was very distressed: I had been waiting for more than seven hours, had no food or water and needed the toilet.

My case was escalated and the truck arrived just after 3am. I finally got home at about 4.30am.

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I thought the RAC would apologise when I complained but its response was that it was “sorry that I was upset” and £30 compensation.

I now feel worried about taking journeys in the evening or driving longish distances on my own, as I cannot rely on my vehicle recovery service.

This incident has shaken your confidence. Reports of long waits for breakdown recovery services have risen sharply over the last three years and we have reported on the bad experiences of other RAC members, including a 62-year-old woman who waited 20 hours for help. All of which is no advert for a company promising “complete peace of mind”. When we put your case to the company it apologised properly.

The RAC says: “Having investigated the breakdown, it’s clear things went wrong in arranging a flatbed for her vehicle for which we’re really sorry. We also fully accept we should have done a much better job keeping in contact with her during the breakdown and addressing her concerns properly when she complained to us. We’ve taken steps to avoid something similar happening in the future. We’d like to stress that her experience wasn’t in any way typical of the high standard of service we provide to thousands of our members every day.”

It has agreed to cover your membership costs until your contract ends in May – a gesture worth £210 – to refund the callout charge and to make a £90 goodwill gesture, which seems fair.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

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