An open letter to National Car Parks

Dear National Car Parks,

As it seems the existence of your call centre is to goad people into a state of rage and you insist that everything has to be put in writing, I shall put my complaint to you in writing via my blog, before sending it to you in writing.

I am a season ticket holder for the station car park at Harold Wood.  My car is parked there on a daily basis.  On return to my vehicle on February 28th, I was surprised to find I had been ticketed.  Here’s the ticket:














Note the contravention: “Parked on double yellow lines”.  This was a surprise to me because there were and are no double yellow lines present.  For the non-drivers reading this, and confused NCP parking attendants, double yellow lines tend to look like this:










This is quite clear, right?  Two parallel yellow lines at specific distances from the side of the road with a crossing bar at each end.  Now, here’s a picture of where I was parked:

See the bay to the left of the red car? That’s where my car was, wholly within the confines of the white border.  You might want to check out the full size version of the photo but, looking at the example double yellow lines above, can you see where the double yellow lines I was ticketed for parking on are? I’ll sit here quietly while you check.

Done? Good.  You didn’t spot the double yellow lines, did you? Correct, that’s because there aren’t any to spot. I can read your mind.  “Ahhh, Martin, you silly boy.  You’ve parked on a restricted area, there are yellow hatchings. Tsk.”

That’s almost true, there are indeed yellow hatchings but that’s irrelevant.  Why so?  Just this:  When NCP took over the car park many years ago, they repainted all of the bays with fresh white markings.  Here’s a closeup of part of that bay:

Note that the white line is painted over the yellow one.  Had NCP not intended for people to use this as a parking bay, why on earth would they specifically paint bay markings there?  The answer is, they wouldn’t.  Those markings used to denoted an area where you weren’t supposed to park because it’s where a fast food place used to have its bins.  Rather than scraping the old lines up, they just painted new ones over the top.

Add to this the fact that I have been parked in that exact same spot dozens of times over the past couple of years, and this is the first time my car has been ticketed, I think what we’re dealing with here is an overzealous or brainless parking attendant.I currently can’t even talk to you about this over the phone because even after 4 days, the ticket hasn’t appeared on your system. I now have to waste some of my life sorting this out.

No love whatsoever, merely tired rage,

Martin A. Brooks

There’s a hole in my door, dear Renault – part 2

So I arranged to take my car in Saturday to have the bit-of-plastic-on-the-driver’s-door fitted. I turn up, chap at the desk expected me and was very helpful.

Him> Ahh yes, part’s right here, shouldn’t take a mo to fit, I’ll just get some tools.

Me> Super thanks.

<fx>fiddling with the door happens</fx>

Him> Just going to make a phonecall, this isn’t looking how I expected

Me> It doesn’t look like a door with a well understood piece of plastic missing, I didn’t say.

Me> Uhh, sure.

<fx>phone call happens</fx>

Him> Sorry, but it looks like I can’t fit this part.

Me> You can’t fit this part.

Him> No, I think the inside door panel needs to be removed.

Me> The inside door panel needs to be removed, you think.

Him> Yes, and I’m not qualified.

Me> You’re not qualified. Super. Thanks.

I still have a hole in my door.

Meanwhile, 75cm toward the rear of my car….

You may recall that Renault Romford mistakenly did work I didn’t ask them to do, then insisted I pay for said work or I couldn’t have my car back.  I decided to take them up on their offer to simply undo the work and put back the faulty door mechanism and then give me a full refund.

Me> I’ve decided to take you up on your offer to simply undo the work and put back the faulty door mechanism and then give me a full refund.

Renault Romford> We can’t, we’ve thrown the old parts away.

Me> You’ve thrown the old parts away. Can I have a refund?

Renault Romford> I’ll need to call customer services for you….

I’ve had no call from Renault UK Customer services today, I left messages, Yvonne’s been a bit busy.

Still, nice to know I’m dealing with a reputable professional company, and not some east-end railway-arch crook.

There’s a hole in my door, dear Renault

My nearly-four-years-old Renault Clio was due a bit of tender loving care.  The rear door lock had stopped being able to lock the doors, a small piece of plastic fell off the front driver’s side door and, the one that tipped it,  the driver side wing mirror was shattered; someone hit it in a car park – thanks!

I booked my car in to Renault Romford, dropped it in before work, and waited for a call back letting me know what everything was going to cost.  The call arrived and the suggested shopping list was a little longer than I expected.

  • Rear engine mount starting to split – £103.00
  • Front disks and pads should be replaced – £245.60
  • Coolant and brake fluid drain and refill – £49.99
  • Air conditioning service – £79.99
  • Replacing the bit of plastic that fell off – £7.76
  • Replacing the mirror – £27.87
  • Replacing the rear door handle – £365.68 – wait, what?

I totally accept that most of the stuff in that list falls under the categories of “normal wear and tear” and “you broke it”, but things like a door handle should reasonably last the lifetime of the car.  It’s not like it’s even the most commonly used door.  Had this been the driver’s door, I might have grumbled a bit but understood.

I asked Renault Romford to replace the glass, replace the bit of plastic and service the aircon, explaining that I would sort out the brakes etc next month and would call Renault UK Customer services to talk to them about the rear door handle.

Renault UK customers service have still not contacted me, despite Tweets, emails and a telephone message asking them to do so.

I got a call yesterday saying my car was ready to be picked up, and that I owed them some £450.00.  I was confused.  They’d changed the rear door lock, despite me very explicitly saying that I was going to talk to Renault customer services about it.  Opinions were exchanged, we agreed this was most likely a misunderstanding.

I went to pick up my car this morning.  The car would not be released to me unless I paid in full.  In other words, I have paid hundreds of pounds for parts and work I didn’t ask to be done.

Insult to injury?  Hell, yes.  The didn’t replace the tiny piece of plastic that fell off the front door, one of the three things I did very specifically ask them to fix.

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY DOOR, DEAR RENAULT.   And I’m hundreds of pounds out of pocket.