'The AA left me stranded and petrified all night through the side of the road'


I RAN over a pothole at 10pm on the Sunday night which blew my tyre and busted the wheel rim.

I was by myself also it would be a very busy stretch of road without any street lighting, and so i was petrified.

My Toyota warranty includes AA roadside assistance, and so i called straight away plus they explained they'd be there in an hour.

At 11pm there was still no sign of anyone.

Cars kept stopping to see if I had been ok, but every time that certain slowed up me stopped when i didn't have way of knowing whether it was someone dangerous.

I phoned again in tears and the AA explained someone would be there in Forty-five minutes, but two hours later there was still no one.

It would be a freezing cold night with driving rain and I was needing to wee by the side of the car holding an umbrella.

I couldn't keep your car heating on because the battery would go flat and I was worried my phone would run out of charge.

Around 3am a recovery driver finally opened up and tried to fix the tyre, but because I had already told the AA on the phone, the wheel needed replacing and that he didn't possess a spare.

The driver told me he couldn't tow me home as he have been called to a different incident elsewhere, but I don't realise why which was more urgent.

He gave me his can of Fanta as I am thirsty by this point and told me I'd have to watch for another AA man to come and get me.

There wasn't any one else I could call in the future and makeover as my parents live abroad.

I didn't wish to leave the car and get taxis because it was such a dodgy stretch of road, I was sure it might be stolen or smashed in through the morning.

Besides, each time I rang in tears I was assured it wouldn't be much longer.

The AA's call centre staff even suggested I place the keys behind the wheel and leave the car for them to get, but I wasn't prepared to do this because it wouldn't be covered by insurance whether it was stolen.

Eventually I Googled local tow companies and found someone myself who came to pick me up at 4.30am and required home.

After the ordeal, I complained towards the AA but all they offered was a lb150 cheque to pay for the towing bill.

Can you help me get a proper apology and some acknowledgement of methods badly I was treated?

I don't feel like the AA took this seriously at all.

Gemma Rzepa, Braintree, Essex

Leah Milner replies: Everything you experienced that night was bad enough, but I'm shocked that the AA didn't do more to place this before you contacted me.

It was once referred to as "Britain's fourth emergency service", but leaving a 23 year-old woman alone by a dangerous road for the entire night certainly doesn't merit this title.

Sadly the AA only appeared to realise how disastrous its failings had been after i got in touch.

It has offered you lb300 "using a sincere apology for that delay and distress caused like a good will gesture," that you've accepted.

An AA spokeswoman says the service attends around 10,000 breakdowns a day and the majority of members are very happy with the service they receive.

However, on the night you called it was Easter bank holiday weekend and the service was receiving very high demand.

She says: "I am disappointed to hear that in Ms Rzepa's case, we didn't satisfy the usual high standards our customers expect.

“Given the circumstances, Ms Rzepa should have been offered alternative transport in this particular time and I'm sorry this didn't happen and that she had to create her own arrangements.

“The safety in our members is our utmost priority and that we always do good to go to when we are able to, particularly where a member is within a vulnerable situation similar to this."

"It was our every intention to get to Ms Rzepa as soon as possible. However, we recognise that the service she received fell far short of her, and indeed our, expectations.

"We are extremely sorry that poor communication on our part increased her distress during an already difficult breakdown situation."

The spokeswoman adds that they hopes the apologies "goes some way towards restoring [your] faith in the AA.”

Call centre staff should have provided an authentic timeframe and, in light of the severe delays, they ought to have told you they'd cover the cost if you made your personal arrangements.

The suggestion that you ought to leave your keys behind the wheel, which may have been at your own risk, is appalling.

I'm grateful that you shared your story when i hope the AA will learn lessons from your case and never allow any other young female drivers to become left stranded like this in this risky spot.

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