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This is a question Expensive Weekends

Chthonic says he's still reeling from a trip to a wedding that cost him nearly 600; while a friend of ours hazily presented his credit card to the bar staff in a shady club in the Baltic states. You know how that one ended.

(, Thu 13 May 2010, 12:03)
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This one is made for me.
Back in December, Mrs G and I decided a weekend in Cambridge would be nice. We'd stay in a nice-ish hotel, have a nice meal or two and pop down to that there London to spend a day with our fully grown sprog. The only possible thing that could go wrong was that our car was on its last wheels - it was over ten years old and had over quarter of a million miles on the clock (no exaggeration). Each MOT I'd cross my fingers and hope that it wouldn't cost me too much to coax it through - last time it needed a catalytic converter fitting just to get the emissions to a low enough level. It leaked oil wherever it was parked etc. etc.

Mrs G didn't like the thought of it conking out on the motorway, or even worse, being seen climbing out of an ancient, scratched, rusty Toyota Carina. So, I did what any sensible person would do, I decided to hire a car for the weekend. Only 78 which was about the same as train tickets for the two of us and much more convenient.

Worst mistake of my life (or in the top ten, anyway). Sunday morning, we parked at Cambridge station and got the train to London for a pleasant day with the daughter and her boyfriend. We went to the Tate, had some lunch then went to see their new flat - met the Aussie flatmates etc and then we took them out for an Indian meal in Stoke Newington, got a bus back to the station and arrived at Cambridge at around 10 pm.

That was when I discovered that I didn't have the car key any more.

I still, to this day, don't have any idea what the hell happened to it. I was wearing a warm coat with deep pockets. The car key was in the same pocket as my house keys, which were still there, but it had gone. We searched every pocket and section of my manly man satchel several times. Nothing. I searched the ground between the car and the station, looked under cars. It hadn't been handed in at the station.

I won't bore you further with a blow-by-blow account of the following day, but it involved a lot of hanging around, phone calls, AA man, tow-truck, waiting for dollies, Vauxhall dealership, and eventually a train back to York. The car hire people wouldn't let us take a different car from Cambridge and insisted that our locked one had to be returned to York. I arranged to return to Cambridge the following week, once a new key had been ordered from Vauxhall and delivered.

So, I got an early train and got to the dealership at about 10 o'clock in the morning. I thought that it would be quite nice to listen to Jonathan Ross on the journey home...

It was the wrong key. Some idiot had given the wrong key code and the key didn't fit the lock. I was still being charged for the hire of a car I couldn't use, I'd paid for train tickets, I had to pay for a new key (about 90).

After much complaining, they agreed to charge me only the hire fee to the following Saturday and diesel to get it back to York, and the new key. I accepted the extra 200-odd plus 70 for return train fare (twice) and one-way for Mrs G. as a 'stupid tax' and tried to put the whole thing behind me.

What I wasn't expecting THIS MONTH was for 300-odd to be taken from my credit card by the self-same car hire company (sound like: You-hope Car). This I discovered was for getting the car from the station to the dealership! [I've told the card not to pay it and put in a well-crafted complaint].

So, total cost for hiring a car that was less than 80 quid? About 650. I couldn't have bought a reasonable, second hand run-about for that, and I wouldn't have had one of the worst weekends of my adult life. And I wouldn't have had Mrs G bravely not blaming me for losing the key.

By the way - I have NEVER lost a key before in my entire life. I'm still cross with God about this and will be sure to mention it next time I see him.

Happy footnote: we took advantage of the scrappage scheme and got 2,000 of the price of a new car - our first ever car newer than six years old. It's a black VW Beetle and lots of fun (smugs).
(, Thu 13 May 2010, 15:27, closed)
I'm still cross with God about this and will be sure to mention it next time I see him
Gets a click alone.

Cars - pains in the arse, if you ask me. But look on the bright side, at least you got out of Stoke Newington without being mugged.
(, Thu 13 May 2010, 15:32, closed)
But yay scrappage scheme. We went to see a mate who'd been ill for a while, back in January. He wasn't in. On the way back home we traded in our workhorse but getting on a bit 306 for a shiny new car.

Hadn't planned on that at all.
(, Thu 13 May 2010, 15:50, closed)
If you'd have said
I'd have had the Carina off you. The scrappage scheme doesn't (didn't - it's finished now) really save you 2,000, it's all smoke and mirrors. The scheme was put in place to stop the new car industry grinding to a complete halt, but this dealer has made record profits on the back of it www.cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/vertu-profits-rise-thanks-to-scrappage/36343 shurely shome mistake?
(, Thu 13 May 2010, 23:44, closed)
Thanks but...
too many other factors to include - mainly Mrs G.

I'm not usually a sucker for schemes like this, and I know what the reasons for it were, but for me, it was the right bribe at the right time.

If you've got a very big, strong cuboid box, I might be able to arrange delivery of the old Carina.
(, Fri 14 May 2010, 10:54, closed)

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