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RAC refuse to attend with heavily pregnant woman after car becomes stranded in snow


Not really related to the subject matter of the blog but as I know various news organisations will want some background on this story, I have put it here rather than fielding calls all morning.

Anyone based in the UK will be aware that the AA have accused local authorities of not gritting roads early enough. What are the RAC up to during this time of national crisis. Read on to find out…

Woman who is 6 months pregnant gets stranded around midnight in blizzard conditions on hilly country lane near Hillsborough, Co Down.

She rings RAC who tell her that as her car isn’t broken down they can’t come and help her. She then phones her husband who rings RAC, and after getting a less than sympathetic female operator,  he is told that the RAC have issued guidance that they will not respond to such situations as firstly it isn’t a breakdown, and secondly responding to such snow rescue calls would inundate the service. When told by husband that he was going to contact BBC to let them know of the RAC’s position, female operator sarcastically suggests that the BBC might help with a weather forecast. At least she has a chance of getting a stand-up comedy job when she loses this one.

Husband asks to speak to supervisor and after holding he is mysteriously cut off. Husband rings back immediately and speaks to a male operator, who takes his details again and puts him through to Scott, who claims to be a manager, and who apologises for cutting husband off earlier. Same response from Scott as original comedienne operator, who tells husband to contact the emergency services.

Husband contacts female officer at Lisburn police station who informs husband that police are unaware of RAC not responding to call outs due to snow. Passes husband on to ‘Call Handling’ at Antrim, who have also not been informed of the RAC not responding to calls due to snow. Antrim take details and send car out from Lisburn. Police officers are initially far from happy at being tasked this way but overcome their annoyance at the RAC and manage to to get car out of grass at side of road. Problem solved but by the police, not the RAC. Over to you guys…

Feel free to retweet and repost.

*****UPDATE 31st Jan 2009*****

Update of email correspondence including RAC reply and my response on 31 Dec 2009.

I was hoping this matter would be resolved quickly but as I have heard nothing back since NYE I will post this  correspondence up for completeness. It represents progress, but the full picture of what the RAC’s policy was on helping their members stuck in snow on the 23rd Dec 2009 hasn’t emerged yet.

The sad aspect of this case is that the RAC have needlessly damaged their business and can’t seem to find a way out of the mess, and don’t understand the power of social media. This blog post has been read many hundreds of time and I find it hard to believe that anyone who reads it would feel warm and fuzzy and rush to join or renew with the RAC. I would love there to be a happy ending for the RAC that involved them fronting up to their failings and giving their customers the service that they require in these climatically challenging times.

*******24 Dec 2009 22:25  UPDATE …RAC RESPONDS TWICE?????*******

Two responses have come into the blog about this post. One claims to be from the RAC and another doesn’t make any claim at all, but the name given was ‘Pauline Bates’ and email was pbates@madasafish.com.

The Official RAC reply says Just to advise, our RAC customer relations team are aware of this matter and are currently looking into what happened so this can be resolved. Thank you, RAC.”

The one from “Pauline Bates” is rather more pejorative, “Poor piece of “journalism”. If you’d been following the news, you’d know that tens of thousands got stuck in the snow. If the AA and RAC went out to rescue all of these, they wouldn’t get to people who had actually broken down, which is what they’re paid to do. Also love the sensationalism of the headline “heavily pregnant”, then qualified by 6 months. Hmmm…”

Strangely, both come from the same IP address, which according to my nerdy mates records this IP address is under the control of the RAC. Very strange?  Will update you more later but I have had enough of Scrooge for one night!

Have inserted the emails in PDF format underneath so you can check them for yourself. Feel free to use documents and retweet at your leisure

RAC customer relations reply

Pauline Bates? RAC? reply

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • RAC January 8, 2010, 11:02 am

    Dear Sir

    Details of your blog dated 23 December 2009 has been brought to my attention, as I address any concerns regarding our roadside service on behalf of our Board of Directors.

    Customer care is extremely important to RAC, I am therefore very sorry to hear that one of our customers has contacted you to raise concerns following their call for assistance. Unfortunately without her membership details or the date this incident occurred I am unable to investigate and comment on her personal circumstances.

    However, I am sure you are aware that the UK has recently experienced the worst weather conditions for many years, and this has unfortunately had an impact on our service despite our very best efforts. Since 16 December we have contended with severe weather across the whole of the country and have to-date attended over 200,000 breakdowns, with this number significantly increasing daily due to the continued poor weather conditions. We are advising motorists to avoid making a journey unless it is absolutely necessary and to check the local weather forecast in their area prior to doing so.

    We are doing everything we can to prioritise assistance for customers that are waiting at the roadside in order to ensure we continue to deliver our usual high standards of service. However, with such a high demand, waiting times are unfortunately higher than usual.

    I appreciate that it must be have been daunting for this lady when she became stranded in the snow. However, we are limited on what action we can take to assist as this was not a mechanical breakdown. We must also assess the possibility that our resource may not be able to reach her if the adjoining roads are covered in snow and ensure our own vehicle does not become stuck in the process. We have been assessing these situations on an individual and daily basis depending on the weather conditions in each region of the country.

    RAC are renowned for providing a first class service. Indeed our customers have recently voted us as the number one service provider for which we have received the JD Power award for the 4th consecutive year. Please pass on my sincere apologies to the lady who contacted you. If she would like to discuss the matter with me personally I am more than happy to do so. My contact details will be emailed to you separately.

    Yours sincerely

    Angela A Thompson
    Operations Executive

  • RAC December 23, 2009, 4:57 pm

    Just to advise, our RAC customer relations team are aware of this matter and are currently looking into what happened so this can be resolved. Thank you, RAC.