Day 22: Still in Berlin.
I want to start this blog by saying I do not for one second take for granted the opportunities I have been presented. To be able to travel Europe in a motorhome is a luxury, and one I worked hard to achieve. That said, today has been the most frustrating day of my life and here’s why.
As you’ll likely know, Doris, our motorhome didn’t start on Saturday. We had ADAC come out to us and try and fix her, but to no avail. Fortunately we have good European breakdown cover, we thought, and it wouldn’t be an issue. Just lost time and some money but we’d be fine.
Enter today. Monday 20th May, the most frustrating day of my life.
The morning started with us getting up early as we were promised that we’d be recovered and collected from the parking space we’d agreed to stay at by 9AM. A couple of day bags packed, sorry and sad faces that we were leaving Doris and 9AM came around pretty quickly.
It was 9:45 and there was no recovery for Doris to be seen.
Queue the absolute shit show of communication and management I have ever seen.
Our first phone call was a relatively simple one and one just requiring an update of what was happening. Did we have to wait near the van, could we leave to go into town, what was the score? We were told that recovery had been delayed and that yes, it was OK to go for a little wander and to just expect a phone call when recovery was on its way.
We left the van for maybe 20 minutes whilst we went to get some supplies for the day. Back at the van, some tidying and a nap later it was nearly 3PM.
Still no recovery.
A second call was made and promised that it was a mistake in the system and that someone was to be there within the hour. That was true, within 45 minutes the ADAC recovery truck was here and Doris was to be taken to a garage near by. We thought the hassle and fuss was over and we were finally sorted.
How wrong were we. Queue the next 5 hours in an absolute masterclass of how not to communicate and manage customers who you’re serving.
The original garage Doris was meant to go to was fully booked and wasn’t able to fit us in for 3 weeks. Which, obviously we weren’t willing to sit around and wait for her to be fixed. A solution was found and we’d be taken to the ADAC yard where their garage would be able to fit us in sooner, like tomorrow. Some light at last.
Oh no, wait a minute, enter DAS (Our European Breakdown) and their absolute communication nightmare.
We were told once Doris was at the garage and safe to call back and they’d arrange for a taxi and a hotel for the evening. Oh how simple and easy does that sound? How naive was I to believe their bullshit.
The first phone call was interrupted by a passing thunder storm. Yes another one! But with the phone line dropping, service cutting out and some general annoyingness we finally manage to pin point our location and confirm that we wanted a hotel booking and a taxi on its way to us. All done and booked, they’d be back to us within the hour and someone would be there to collect us.
An hour later? We’re back on the phone again.
Nothing was booked. No hotel. No taxi. Another hour of our time wasted. I was getting annoyed now because we could just do this ourselves but they had insisted that it was on them and they’d sort it out. With the threat of the closing garage I stayed on the line with this gentleman who had booked and ordered our taxi over the phone.
Something came up about how the last time it wasn’t booked because it was so far away. It was 8KM away from the garage we were at. Being in the city of Berlin I thought there would have been a better option that was closer, but apparently this was the best we could do.
Hotel booked and an offer presented. Instead of a taxi, would we be willing to walk to the hotel. 8KM away, with a passing thunderstorm and with 4 bags, a laptop and a bag of food with us. I wasn’t as polite as I should have been, but it was a no. However, the hotel was booked and a taxi was on its way.
45 minutes later…
Still no taxi.
I’d got the address of the hotel on my phone so ordered my own uber and crossed the city. €25 and 30 minutes later we were at the hotel and now well out of our way from Doris.
‘Hi, can I take a check in name please?”
“I’m sorry, there is no booking under your name.”
I couldn’t believe it. We’d crossed the city, to a hotel that was already out of our budget, in a taxi we had to pay for to get to the hotel and feel humiliated when trying to check in. (More so because it was a nice hotel and I was in flip flops and a tough mudder t shirt).
Back on the phone it was.
Apparently all that we’d discussed and done wasn’t right. They couldn’t book a hotel directly for us and we’d have to pay for it and get it reimbursed.
Which I was totally fine with, not a problem. The problem being they had SAID it was booked and paid for and it was a selected hotel chain THEY work with. So not only was it 9KM out the way, €50 in taxi fares and the potential to have to pay for a swanky hotel we didn’t want.
It was 8:30PM and I was tired, angry and getting annoyed with constant mixed communication and messages. I thought, I’ve got the money in my account, be done with it lets just stay here and sort this out tomorrow when I’ve slept on it.
No rooms left.
NO ROOMS LEFT.
I had to laugh as I couldn’t believe what had no happened.
Here’s what we should have done.
Booked the £55 room that was in walking distance away from Doris.
Instead we were lead across the city, 9KM away, to a hotel that was far too fancy for our needs and NOW it was nearly 9PM and we had no confirmed place to stay for the night. You literally couldn’t have made this up.
We’re not in the centre of Berlin, both looking like scruffs, smelling like them too with time passing and our brains tiring with no where booked to stay. Obviously the insurance weren’t going to help and suggested we call back tomorrow.
A 10 minute walk across the river and into a small, not very good, hotel for the night. I’m too tired to be angry, but I’m so frustrated that we’ve basically been fucked around all day (all weekend really as we broke down Saturday) and then when the time came, just left to it.
We’re in a hotel room tonight and whilst it feels nice, it’s not Doris. It’s not our bed, our space and it just feels weird. I should be grateful but I’m not. Well not right now anyway.
Tonights hotel: Apple City Hotel, Berlin.