Dear Mr W,
After our telephone conversation this afternoon, I would just like to follow up with a few thoughts. When you called me you were in a state of anxiety, I understand that. You were driving around in circles in Montpellier, where it was probably 35 degrees just like here in Lyon, and you couldn’t find the hire car firm, and I heard the annoying polite voice of your GPS system consistently telling you to turn around. I knew you had driven 200 km to return the temporary hire car, to then go and pick up another hire car at a different location in Montpellier. The latter was necessary because you are on holiday in the south of France with your caravan, and you need a car with tow hook. I would like to know why you decided that, despite Mr Rutte advising everyone to not go abroad this Summer, it was a good idea to ignore that advice, and hook up the caravan and drive, not to Luxembourg or the Ardennes, no all the way to the south of France. Indeed, that was your decision, and you decided to accept the risks that belong to such decisions. And then it all went wrong didn’t it. Your car broke down, and it broke down badly. The ANWB towed your car to a garage for you, who were able to diagnose the problem. This took a few days and in the mean time we provided you with a hire car so you could enjoy your holiday awaiting the final diagnosis. And you didn’t have to pay for all that, what joy! But the diagnosis turned out to be bad. So bad, that the ANWB was able to offer you the service of transporting the car back to Holland, where your own garage (who serviced your car and let you drive all the way to France in it) would be able to do the repairs. All at our expense. And then what happened? You had to return the temporary hire car and exchange it for a big hire car with tow hook in Montpellier, it sounds easy doesn’t it? But it wasn’t, it was a bit stressful for you. So when I did my best to make sense of your dossier in our system, and I have to admit there were a lot of comments and a few times some miscommunications, you decided to lose your temper. You screamed in my ears so loud, that it brought shocked tears to my eyes. You were cursing, I could hear your blood pressure rising to dangerous heights. And did I detect some panic in your voice too? Even a choke like you were on the verge of tears yourself? You were lost in Montpellier, and now another - little but there it was - obstacle, another task to do had come up. You had to pick up another car at a different address. It was too much wasn’t it? I was shocked with your reaction. A colleague came to pat me on the back. I wasn’t so much emotional or hurt as plainly shocked that someone who I was trying to help, would curse and shout like that at me. I promised to call you back in a minute and - as I expected - you were a lot calmer. We agreed that I would make sure the second hire car company would stay open a bit later, so that you could return the first hire car and then go and pick up the second one, thank goodness also in Montpellier, we had arranged that beautifully I thought myself. We also agreed that I would add the address of your own garage in Holland to our system as the drop off point for your personal car, which was about to be transported. I found the garage, it did not exist in our database, I had to add it, like some kind of clandestine place. Again, you chose to use that garage yourself Mr W. I was glad that despite your dreadful rant I had been able to fulfil all the tasks that were necessary to make sure you could be on the road home by tomorrow. And your car too. I could see and feel your frustration, but will you please realise that you are talking to a person, who works for much less than the minimum wage and still tries to do their best to help you out of a situation that you wilfully brought yourself into? Why did you decide to go on this holiday? Because you wanted to have some sun on your face? Because your family was bugging you about it? I do not understand what has moved you, or anyone this Summer to go on holiday to France. The difficult situations that people get themselves into, and the surprise when their car abandons them, with the only plan B being to call the ANWB, where they moan and whine and treat us like we’re their parents and have to organise their lives for them, is astounding. Traveling is a risky thing, and your car may look plush, but it’s just a machine and many things can go wrong with it. And then what are you going to do? The ANWB is there to help you with the repair of your car and that’s it. No we don’t have our own garages with Dutch speaking mechanics, and no if you don’t speak French, it was your decision to go to this country, where our tout le monde parle francais! And yes if your camper breaks down, your life has broken down. Make a Plan B please! Have a nice trip home Mr W, I hope you will drive safely and that you will enjoy being back in the Netherlands, so you can relax.