Saturday, November 11, 2006

Parked Car Crash - The Sequel

As the heading states, this is the sequel to Parked Car Crash, found here.

Our parked car got smasharoo'd by a drunk driver on Sunday October 8th. Friday the 13th we went to our ICBC appointment, expecting to see our car and find out what damage there was. Didn't happen. We were told the police still had our car, and that he didn't know why they had us come in. Nice, that's what we want to hear after taking 45 minutes to bus there. Nothing better we could have been doing. We ask about the woman that hit our car and he looks at his sheets and says it's disappointing. That it looks like the police are only going to do a 24-hour driving suspension. I'll let that sink in. Keep in mind that this is a drunk driver who hit a parked truck, kept driving, hit our parked car, kept driving, and only stopped when her car lost a wheel. Cracking down on drunk drivers, my arse.

We asked our rep about getting a courtesy car. We had thought that we had to wait until the repair shop had our car before we could get one, but our rep said that we could have gotten one right away. Not too big a deal, it had been a sunny five days and we'd walked to work and such. He gives us an ICBC business card with our case number on it, and tells us we can take it to any car rental place. We ask him what to say when the rental place asks us how long we want the car for; "you'll just have to return it when you no longer need it". Sounded sooo simple. We hopped a bus and, unfortunately, headed to Burrard and 2nd - Budget Rental.

It took a while, them figuring out the whole courtesy car aspect of it, but we eventually got a car. They didn't have anything equivalent to our car, a Chevy Tracker, so we got a Nissan Sentra. We drove it home, happy to have something. Looking at the contract, we noticed that the return date said: Saturday October 14 2006 9am. Interesting. We had made it quite clear we would need the car for a while, definitely longer than the twenty hours they had given us. We decide to call sometime during the middle of the night, hoping to get an answering machine in order to leave a message saying that we are renewing our courtesy car, and will return it when we have our car back. The next morning, Saturday we realize we had forgotten to call. So I call. A woman answers.

Her: "Extend your rental? Sure, no problem! And when would you like to return it?"
Me: "Well, I don't know. It's a courtesy car."
Her: "Oh. Let's see what I can do. (Pause) Okay, I've extended it to Wednesday the 18th."
Me: "You can't extend it any longer than that?"
Her: "I'm afraid not."
Me: "So we now have to call on Wednesday to extend it again?"
Her: "Yes"

Great. So Biscotti calls on Wednesday the 18th and gets an even shorter extension: three days, to Saturday the 21st. Budget policy they tell us. Frickin' waste of our time we tell them.

Meanwhile, we get a letter from the police. They have estimated the damage at a cool ten grand, and have finally released our car, but not to ICBC. Oh no, they released it to Buster's towing, who now have it sitting in their lot. We phone and tell ICBC this. Couple of hours later ICBC calls us and tells us that they can't get the car from Buster's because it's missing a vital piece of paper. Holy fucking shit. Why are we dealing with this?? Why are we the middle man between ICBC and the police, especially when they share a building at Cambie at 2nd? So we call the police station and inquire. The woman Biscotti talks to confirms that the car is at Buster's towing. Biscotti asks why it didn't go directly to ICBC? Woman says that she doesn't know why the car didn't go through the normal procedures and that there's nothing they can do about the missing piece of paper as the police have closed their file on our car; to them, the case is done. Sigh. We call ICBC, and leave a message for our rep, getting him caught up and asking him to please get on this as we don't think we should be the ones making all these phone calls and dealing with this shit.. And we would like our car back! With an estimate of $10,000, they're gonna go ahead and repair the car. Thankfully, they're going ahead with full charges on the driver: dangerous driving, leaving the scene of an accident (times two), driving while under the influence, and whatever else fits the bill. (Sidenote - in the letter and forms the police sent us, they included the full name and address of the truck owner, and the full name and address of the drunk driver. Weird, eh?)

Alright. Eventually, (in fact, two weeks after the police released it) ICBC calls to tell us that they now have our car. Their estimate is $5-$6 thousand. The car is sent to our repair shop where they are going to take it apart and see what hidden damage there is. All this time, of course, we've still been calling Budget every three or four days to extend our courtesy car.

It's Wednesday November 8th. We debate, should we return the Budget car and get a courtesy car from the repair shop, or just stick with what we have. We decide to stick with what we have. Less paperwork. Biscotti calls yet again for an extension. This time she's told that we'll have to return the car over the weekend as the 30-day limit is approaching. This is the first we've been told of the 30-day limit. Okay, we'll return the car the next day and get a car from our repair shop.

Biscotti was told that the car needs to go back to the Burrard location. No prob, we can return it and get to the repair shop to get a courtesy car before we have to be at work. We get ready to turn into the parking lot at Burrard and 2nd, and it's completely fenced off. Their tall sign says "moving to W. Georgia". WTF? First, you'd think they'd tell us this when we first got the car as they no doubt knew about it then, and second, why were we told the day before to return it at that location?? Fuck. We phone while parked and ask if there's any other location we can go to that's close to us and not downtown. Nope. it's gotta be W. Georgia. We go, and make a stink with the unlucky counter girl working there. We give them the key and leave, with no time at all to go to the repair shop before work. That's okay, programs are done at 4pm, and the repair shop closes at 5pm. It's a half-hour bus ride, 45 minutes tops; we'll go after work.

4pm comes, and there are two kids who haven't been picked up. Great. One parent comes within five minutes. And then there was one. 4:10 comes and goes. Child's mom is called, someone is on their way. 4:15 comes and goes. 4:20 comes and goes. Emergency contact is called. No answer. 4:25 comes and goes. 4:30 comes and goes. At 4:35 an aunt shows up. She got off work at 4pm and didn't know the child needed to be picked up by 4; she doesn't know why the mom had planned for her to do the pick-up. We are optimistic and hop a bus hoping to make it by 5pm. We don't make it far before realizing it's futile. We hop off the bus and on to another bus to head home.

Yesterday morning, now pouring rain, we go to the bus stop. We arrive half an hour later, wet and cold, at the repair shop. Sign this, sign that, here's your courtesy car, a Chevy Optra, bye-bye. No extension calls needed. And that's where we stand right now. Our car was hit on October 8th, today is November 11th, and we're told it'll be another 10-14 days minimum before our car is repaired.

One more thing. The main thing we use the size of our car for is to transport our two big dogs to large off-leash areas, namely the woods at UBC and Lynn Valley. We used the first courtesy car this way a few times, backseats covered in blankets but still getting very dirty. We did vacuum before returning it - afterwards a friend of Biscotti's said that we shouldn't have cleaned it; we have two dogs, that's our lifestyle, that's why we have a big vehicle. We used the courtesy car the exact same way we use our car. Upon getting home after getting the second courtesy car, we read in the contract that there was to be no smoking and no animals in the car -$100 fine. We didn't think to inquire about it beforehand. This coming Wednesday we have our final dog obedience class; we're hoping it's sunny so we can do the hour walk there, hour walk back, otherwise we'll be getting a ride from Biscotti's parents.

Will this become a trilogy?


Brad Cumiskey said...

I feel for you big time. I winced while reading your post. This is right up there at the all time top list of major f**k overs.

Long gone are the days of good customer service.

A couple of points:

- ICBC has a defacto monopoly on auto insurance coverage.

- When people buy insurance they don't think about things like this.

- Once a claim is made, there is really no incentive to give you good customer service.

- With multiply parties involved, ICBC, the police, Busters Towing, the repair shop - the blame game is made very easy.

jblueafterglow said...

Thanks for feeling our pain.

I just made a couple of edits:

1) the time between the police releasing the car and icbc telling us they got it: two weeks.

2) the addition of the second last paragraph, "One more thing. The main thing we..."