The picture below shows me and some friends, whilst on a pretty wet trip around the north coast of Scotland. The gentleman in the middle of the image is my friend Nick. Nick is a 79 year old pensioner with cancer; and this is the story about how the RAC left Nick to sleep rough with his bike in a petrol station!
First of all, I'd like to say how awesome it is that Nick still rides. The trip to Scotland wasn't easy, even for someone in their 30's like me. So to be able to still do this kind of thing at his ripe old age, really is incredible. I just hope that the experience he has suffered at the hands of the RAC hasn't put him off other such adventures.
The trip started off great (albeit wet), but on the third day of the trip, Nick started having electrical issues with his brand new Triumph Street Twin. His bike's traction control light kept coming on and the bike was constantly going in to "limp home mode" - where the bike's computer cuts the power significantly.
We managed to limp the bike to Ullapool, where Nick, a retired car mechanic, pulled out his tool kit to start having a look. It soon became clear that the issue couldn't be fixed at the roadside as it needed specialist equipment.
Luckily, when Nick bought his shiny new Triumph a few months earlier, he got Triumph Assist breakdown cover with the bike, which is run by the RAC. So, Nick called them up and insisted the rest of us plod on to the next hotel. Nick was hopeful that the RAC could fix it and said he would meet us at the next hotel. Great!
Little did Nick know that this was the start of a 48 hour saga where and elderly, vulnerable man was left on his own, to sleep rough, by the RAC.
Enter Triumph Assist (The RAC)
On the Triumph Assist website it says the following:
Triumph Assist is a breakdown assistance package developed by Triumph and the RAC which has been designed to give you peace of mind and help when you need it the most.
"Peace of mind and help when you most need it." Awesome, here we have a 79 year old pension who is stranded in the middle of Scotland, all alone with a motorbike. I think Nick needed a little help and peace of mind at this point.
Having finally managed to get through to someone in the RAC at 14:30 in the afternoon, a car mechanic turned up 3 hours later at 17:30! A car mechanic for an obvious bike issue! Needless to say, the mechanic couldn't help with the issue. In fact, Nick actually had to give him pointers on how to carry out a diagnostic test on the bike.
The lack of knowledge isn't the RAC driver's fault. He was a car mechanic, so no one could expect him to turn up and fix a bike - however, the call center should have either sent out a bike mechanic, or let Nick know that it would be a car mechanic turning up, who would have little knowledge of bikes. Needless to say, neither happened.
After claiming that the bike had a misfire, and Nick duly proving him wrong by showing the plugs sparking, the driver went on his way, claiming that Nick's bike was now ready to carry on.
Nick Vs RAC - Round 2
Ok, so rather than continue to babble on telling you the story, I'll let Nick tell this next part in his own words. The floor is yours, Nick...
"I rode the bike 500 yards and the same problem re-occurred. I managed to get back to the same starting point and informed the RAC (again, line engaged initially) and managed to get through in half an hour. They sent the same bloke, his garage was just around the corner. He explained the situation to the RAC and they said they could offer to take the bike to Edinburgh or Glasgow, to a Triumph Dealership and book me in a bed and breakfast somewhere."
Fan-bloody-tastic! We're finally making progress. Ok, at this point it's pretty clear that Nick's holiday is over. But the RAC are finally starting to take responsibility for the issue and have offered to get him to a Triumph dealer and put him up. Great news, here's some of that "peace of mind and help" that Triumph/RAC were spouting about - or so Nick thought. Carry on, Nick...
"When turning the bars on the bike to the right, it was then that I noticed the warning lights coming on. Looking at the main harness by the steering head, I could see the main harness was tight and pulling. I thought there may be a break in the wiring. The driver informed the RAC, and asked if I could be taken home, and the bike to my preferred dealership. They informed me that they would have to get permission from management to agree, and would ring back. The manager did ring back and informed me it would be OK. As it would be late at night, I was concerned about the relays and timings. The driver informed me it would be all put in place and not to worry. A new van arrived and was loaded up about 19:30 (excellent motorcycle man, knew his way round bikes)."
A night sleeping rough
At this point Nick must have be breathing a sigh of relief. After all, he was in an RAC van and had been assured by the RAC control room that all the relay vans would be in place, and it's now just a case of sitting back until he got home. It would be a long drive, but at least he was heading home. However...
"The new driver estimated we would arrive at Perth between 01:00 and 01:30, he informed the RAC en-route so they could have another relay driver ready. We arrived at 01:10 and waited until 02:00 for the relay driver, by which time we decided to call the RAC. Again, 20 minutes before they picked up the phone and they said there was no meet up for the relay, and no one would be available until the following morning.
"The driver explained the situation to the RAC, that I was an elderly gentleman and couldn’t be left on my own. He waited another half an hour and got in touch with the RAC again, but they put the phone down on him. He is an experienced relay driver and knew other firms in the area, that also did work for the RAC. He phoned them and asked if the RAC had been in touch with them - the answer was no. He took me to the petrol shop and unloaded the bike, so I would be safe. That driver waited 90 minutes over his shift, did everything possible to make sure I was safe, and he was only a contractor. No one turned up."
"After more phone calls and with no transport relay available until 08:00, “book yourself into the Travel Lodge, get a meal and we will pay the bills” was the advice of one of the RAC managers at 03:15. I told them I couldn’t leave the bike because of the insurance, and asked would they cover it. “We didn’t know that” was his answer.
At 09:20 on the 19th June, a big flat back lorry arrives, driver hasn’t driven a Motorcycle, he asked if would I instruct him or load the bike myself. The decking on the lorry had oil and grease everywhere and the driver said “I don’t do bikes”. The next change over would be at Newcastle."
So after being dropped off at a petrol station in the middle of Scotland at around 1 o'clock in the morning, Nick had to wait around, outside, with his bike until 09:20 the following morning before being picked up. Seriously?! Do the RAC really think that this is an acceptable way to treat any customer, let alone a vulnerable one? What if something had have happened to Nick?
Nick with his beloved Triumph Speed Twin
Homeward bound...we think
Nick wanted me to mention at this point that if he is given any compensation, he will be donating it to the Air Ambulance Service. So far he has been offered a measly £100, which was declined. Obviously.
Anyway, I'll let Nick get back to telling hist story...
"At around 03:30 during the night, I made two other calls to the RAC to ask what time in the morning would the meet be. First call it sounded like a young lady, she wasn't sure, but told me she would get her manager to call me back. No call back came (no surprise there). After trying to contact them again, no one was answering. I did manage to get through around 07:00, and asked to speak to the Triumph Assist manager to lodge my complaint for the service received. The complaint was accepted."
"The RAC phoned me back and said another truck would be waiting for us in Newcastle, and there would no delay - it would take me straight home. This was the case, but I still had to load and unload my own bike as no one would take the responsibility."
So, all in all, an elderly gentleman of 79 who is vulnerable and exposed to the elements was left in limbo by the RAC for over 24 hours. At one point having to sleep rough with the bike in a petrol station! All because the RAC couldn't get their act together and send a van, even though they have over 12 hours to make arrangements.
I'll let Nick wrap up in his own words...
"In my conclusion the RAC are NOT suitable for bikes, and they don’t give a toss about us. RAC Triumph Rider Assist isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and will do more harm to Triumph’s reputable name than good. The stress caused to my wife, family and friends, plus myself, has been unbelievable."
"Please also understand my holiday has been cut short, all the while with the stress of worrying that my “pay-as-you-go” mobile phone would run out of minutes and battery power - not ideal when you are stranded in the Scottish mountains."
The RAC are not geared up for bikers.
"I haven't heard anything from the Triumph Assist manager - he is a ghost. The best treatment I’ve had for the Cancer is riding my bike, but this has really set me back. I hope the RAC and Triumph can put this right!"
So, we're appealing to the RAC and Triumph to do what's right by this dedicated, long-term Triumph customer. You guys have really let him down. What are you going to do to fix it?
If a representative of RAC or Triumph wants to get in touch, please use the contact page on this site, and I can then facilitate a conversation with Nick.
Update (10th Aug)
Whilst the RAC have been pretty much useless and are still "investigating the issue", Triumph have really stepped up to the plate. As per the rest of the article, I'll let Nick tell you guys in his own words...
"Hi Kev, received a call from my local dealer,Triumph West Yorkshire, who have been brilliant since my return from Scotland. Triumph UK have been in touch with them and as a gesture of good will, they are going to give my bike it's annual service + plus remap + use of a bike. I have accepted this, as my complaint has always been with RAC which is on going. Any monies received from them is for the Air Ambulance. Triumph have not finished there inquiries into this matter."
Nice to see Triumph stepping up to the plate on this, but on a personal note, I'd like to that everyone who shared this post. The reaction has been amazing and I think the biker community is in no small part to "blame" for Nick getting the expedited response he has - nice one, bikers!
I'll provide another update if/when RAC get their act together and respond to Nick.