Monday, August 21, 2006

In case you were interested

The trip to Fife was in honour of my father's seventieth birthday, and a few other things besides. The Horse Doctor had a project meeting in Edinburgh on the Monday (which was handy as it means the travel expenses can be claimed back - 800 miles at 40p a mile anyone?), and the Batmobile was due its first service. Since there are no Alfa Romeo garages within a hundred miles of here, it made sense to book it in to one in Edinburgh and kill several birds with one stone.

Garages have never had a great reputation. Car dealers are down there in the circle of hell they share with Estate Agents and Telephone Salesmen, but mechanics are just as bad. The sucking of air in through clenched teeth - 'That's going to cost you now,' as they look at the perfectly functional innards of your car knowing full well that you haven't a clue how it all works.

I won't name the garage in question, but the smart will be able to work it out. They started off well, the clean young service agent giving me a red 147 TI as a courtesy car instead of the rusty old Fiat Panda you normally get. I bombed around Edinburgh in it all day whilst the Horse Doctor was in her meetings, great fun. No, things only turned sour when I returned to the garage to pick up the Batmobile, all shiny where they'd washed it to make it look like they'd done some work on it.

'12000 miles is a major service. We have to replace all sorts of things, which is why it's quite expensive.' The baby-faced service agent is smiling as he tries to soften the blow. 'It's two hundred and fifty pounds.'

I gulp, alarmed and confused both. I've already had to sign a form saying that the ABS computer has been replaced as part of a factory recall, but that shouldn't have cost anything. And the guff about a major service is bollocks; all they do is change the oil and kick the tyres. It's diesel, so it doesn't even have spark plugs. Still, it's an expensive car, and they have washed it. I get out my credit card, then spy the big board on the wall.

'Umm, what did you have to do in addition to the menu price?' I ask.

'There's a menu price?' To his credit, the service agent is good at lying. This menu board, with the prices for all the models and all the different mileage services, is hanging just behind his desk. He must see it every time he goes to sit down. I point at it. He looks round then rips up the first bill. 'I forgot they'd put that up.'

The final bill is a still pricey but more palatable £175 - so basically they were trying to stiff me £75. I won't be going there again.

Dad's birthday was on Sunday, but the party was on Monday evening. Mum hired the May Princess to take a group of family and friends up the Tay. We chugged along as far as Newburgh, waved to the bemused citizens of that town, then chugged back to Newport on Tay. Food and drink were served by grandchildren dressed as pirates and a great deal of toot was talked. The weather couldn't have been better, culminating in the most amazing sunset. All in all, a most splendid party. I can't wait until he turns 140 and we can do it all again. Mind you, Newburgh will be mostly underwater by then.


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Welcome home! Sorry about the mechanics - being jerks must be a universal rule.

And you know what? I was hanging out with my niece today, who happens to love the Arrogant Worms!

August 21, 2006 11:54 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

A young lady of exquisite taste! No doubt by now you'll have heard the delights of The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, and my particular favourite Carrot Juice is Murder.

But you really have to see them live to get the full flavour. Trust me, the next time they come to Calgary, you must get tickets. And they're very polite, so you could take your niece. Just think how many brownie points that would earn you.

August 22, 2006 11:21 am  

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