My tyre blew on the M4 one evening and I was forced to stop on the slip road because it disintegrated as I tried to exit the motorway.
I called the RAC which took over 10 minutes to answer. While I was trying to contact them, a Highways England team arrived and made the car safe as I was in a “live” lane.
The RAC said it would be with me within the hour. After 90 minutes the Highways department had to ring their own breakdown people to tow me to a place of safety. In order to release the car, I had to pay £150. The Highways staff assured me that the RAC would reimburse me.
I was then left at a motorway service station until the RAC finally turned up at 1am. I tried on numerous occasions to ring them but, despite hanging on for up to an hour, failed to get through.
The RAC has since offered me £30 to compensate for the poor service but refused to refund the £150. I am a pensioner and can ill afford this.
When I asked the RAC why a pensioner was effectively abandoned for eight hours, it says it does prioritise calls and aims to attend within 45 minutes, but that night the waiting time was averaging four hours.
In any case, it says you would not have been there even if it had made the 45-minute deadline, because it says you informed them that your car was being moved by Highways officials 20 minutes after you reported your predicament.
Your call records dispute this. You’d been on the slip road an hour and a half when your car was towed away.
Nonetheless, RAC stands by its £30 apology and states that it’s not “policy” to refund Highways England charges, even though you would not have incurred one had their service not fallen short.
Your next step would be to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman service, which covers breakdown insurance. You can do this after eight weeks since your original complaint, or after the company sends you a letter of deadlock.
If you need help email Anna Tims at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions