A Catalogue of Disasters

The original title for this post was going to be “Named and Shamed.” The conversation in the car went something like this:

“You can’t do that.”  That would be himself speaking of course.

“Why not?”

“It’s libelous.”

“How can it be libelous if it’s the truth?”

“It just is.”

“I’ll stick to the facts. Just say exactly what happened. What’s wrong with that?”

“A large corporation can come after you and sue you to protect their name. It doesn’t matter if you’re telling the truth.”

“Well I won’t bother writing about it if I can’t name them. What’s the point of rambling on about some nameless company?”

This sorry tale then went into the trash bin in my head. It’s an increasingly large space.

But the stories nagged at me, occupied that space in my head when I should have left room for happy thoughts and gave me toothache from clenching my jaw in anger and frustration.

They say moving house is in the top three of stress-inducing life events. I think a bereavement and marriage are the other two. (Doesn’t say much for getting married.) If moving house is so stressful, let me tell you an international move is off the scale. We should have had nervous breakdowns. I nearly did.

Shortly after that conversation I read The Jaded Apothecary’s blog referring back to a post she had written in April referred to cryptically as TirecDV. After lots of bad words and humorous jibes, she’s still around writing and posting in July.

So . . . gulp . . . himself phoned our satellite TV company before our move to inform them we were leaving the country. They assured him they would cancel our contract on the agreed date and send a post paid box to return the receiver. Needless to say the box never arrived. Two weeks before our departure himself phoned again and was told the post paid box would take 36 days to arrive.

This might seem a minor complication but in amongst packing up goods (which for the suitcase and which for the packing box?), throwing out long-held useless treasures, making friends with the guy at Goodwill, seeing our truck off for an ocean cruise, arranging for furniture shipment, arguing with credit card companies, insurance companies, and the motor vehicle division, saying goodbye to friends, family and neighbors, it was nearly the proverbial straw.

The digi box was still streaming programs through to our TV the day after the agreed cancellation date so himself disconnected it, wrapped it up, put it on the doorstep and I wrote a snotty email to the company telling them it was there for collection. I told them not to bother replying to the email. They didn’t.

More than one company insisted that our U.S. credit cards could be used in Europe.

“Where are you moving to?”

“England.”

‘You can use our card there.”

“I don’t want to. I have UK credit cards.”

“You can pay your bill online.”

“I know that. I already do. But I won’t have any funds in the U.S.”

“We’ll give you a good exchange rate.”

“I’ve been changing pounds to dollars and dollars to pounds for probably more years than you have been on this planet.” (This was meant literally. I don’t know how the insistent don’t-cancel-your-card representative took it) “I know that no financial institution will give me a good rate.”

They began to cave at that point.

I came to enjoy the patter once I was expecting it so was wholly disappointed when I cancelled my J C Penney store card by pressing a few phone buttons and not speaking to anyone!

The real laugh, if you think this is funny (I don’t but I can’t help what you are thinking) is that many U.S. credit cards cannot be used in Europe as they don’t use the electronic chip and pin system in place over here.

The motor vehicle division of the particular state where our truck was registered insisted we renew the license OR ELSE! was the gist of the email. This was after himself had phoned twice and written to them twice to inform them Mr. Chevy was emigrating to Europe.

Chevrolet Silverado

The medical insurance organization for old gits with which some of you may be familiar politely requested payment for July when we’d informed them of our departure in June. In writing. Twice. Or was it three times. I forget.

I thought all the tricksters, scammers and snake oil salesmen resided in the United States until I tried to buy a car in the UK.

Here’s where I’m on really dodgy ground as the dealer is not five minutes away from where I sit. They could swoop in, serve a writ and leave me bereft of worldly goods.

I so wanted that car. It was the right size, almost the right price, economical and most importantly, the right color. The only thing missing was its history. As it sat amongst six other identical cars with similar registration number plates, similar mileages and of a similar age, himself quite rightly asked the question:

“Is this an ex-rental car?”

“Not to my knowledge,” was the answer. My radar went up. That wasn’t a yes or a no.

“Can I see the log book (registration documentation)?”

“We don’t have that here.” Why not?

“I won’t buy a car unless I see the log book first.”

“I can get it faxed from head office.” Why didn’t she offer to do that when himself first asked to see it?

When the blurry fax was put in our hands it showed that it had been owned by ERAC Ltd.

“So it was a company car, not a rental,” I said.

She nodded a little bit.

Himself, the old cynic, was not convinced so looked up ERAC Ltd. when we got home.

Guess what ERAC stands for?

Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

I did not buy that car.

I was trying to turn this into a humorous tale but feel I’ve failed. So if you’ve read this far, I thank you for your attention and possibly your commiseration. If it has amused you at my expense that’s okay too!

61 thoughts on “A Catalogue of Disasters

  1. Oh gosh… I can just taste your frustration! I would have offered commiserations, but seeing as your stress has been numbed by all the food and wine, I’m guessing it’s moot.

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  2. Can you feel my commiseration across The Pond, Carol? Moving is without a doubt, a major endurance test. And an international move just adds a million new twists. If it makes you feel any better (or less frustrated), our friends moved to Singapore, and when the ocean freight company was unloading their container from the ship, something went wrong and they dumped all their worldly goods into the sea. Hope that things smooth out for you. 🙂 ~Terri

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  3. What a nightmare for you. I hope you found a good car. I must say I’m mystified by the credit card problem. I’ve never had any problems getting cash in Europe with my unchipped cards, and only once came across a point of sale where they wouldn’t accept it (at the Louvre). Even with my chipped cards I’ve had to sign in most places where I used them for purchases. But better not to take the chance and you’ll be better off with local cards anyway.

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  4. It.Can.Only.Get.Better. Keep Calm and Grit your teeth…

    OH had a US credit card which he could use here, but only with a card machine as he would have to sign the receipt. Now it has Chip and Pin which makes life much easier.

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  5. Oh wow. Situations like this inspire me to pull out the biggest hissy fit in my repertoire (and I am well trained in the art of a Southern hissy fit). I thought the trials and tribulations we experienced in packing up to travel full time were challenging. Clearly, they were nothing compared to what you’ve had to endure. Keep Calm And Carry On, right???

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    1. Do you know, Laurel, I coped with it all until just a few days ago when I threw a giant tantrum in the campsite launderette. I was alone fortunately. When I had dropped the fourth pair of my knickers (never his!) on the wet dirty floor while transferring them to the dryer, i just lost it! Payback for being childish was I chipped a nail on my newly manicured hands. Silly girl!

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  6. I cannot even imagine what you guys have gone through and are going through – WOW! Moving cross country in the U.S. was stressful enough and then to do it international – WOW WEE! Wishing You the Best – Good Luck in settling in 🙂 Happy Weekend

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    1. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t! Even UK credit cards can let us down abroad. We carry a stash of cash just in cash. There is an emergency phone number on the back of the card but if you lose the it . . . . whoops! Many French gas pumps aren’t manned. It’s just you and the pump and a dud credit card. Can be tricky!

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  7. Cuz, my heart aches for your troubles. At least you are able to put a funny perspective on them to make us chuckle through our morning coffee. And it sounds like himself is doing ok too. Good thing it will be a couple years before I stop on the way to Mauritius! Has your truck arrived so you can keep on truckin’?

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    1. Thanks Cuz. We are getting calmer day by day. Our truck has made it through customs and immigration. Haha. No, just customs. Not many Chevys on the road over here so we will be a big black blot on the road. For now my new(ish) little hatchback is getting us around. And funny old thing, I drive much better without himself in the passenger seat! Still looking for a house for you to stay in.

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  8. Aw, poo. Big MM hugs on their way to you, cupcake-with-sparkles. I’ve moved more often than I could mention, and the transatlantic hop was most definitely the most challenging one (unless I count the 900 km dash across France in a car containing a family of five, a dog, a cat, five snakes and a pot full of snake eggs nestling in a mixture of earth and snake poo).
    I remember trying to buy a second-hand car from dodgy Floridian car salesmen who looked like they’d been beamed out of a Dallas series, then trying to get the funds wired over from France.
    Good luck to you, sweetie!

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  9. Been there, done that. When we sold our house to go full time in our RV it took me three days of talking on the phone (actually waiting on hold) to cancel all our utilities. It took six months to sort out the electric company and a year to be rid of the 407 toll highway and we weren’t even in the country to use it. Mike actually had to go into the head office and personally get the final bill stating nothing owing. Otherwise I think we would be getting dunning letters five years later. These companies make money in spite of their best, or worst efforts.
    Ruth from At Home on the Road

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    1. I expect several companies are after us now. We made our best effort to inform everyone, pay bills up to date and cancel contracts. If they want to waste money writing to us demanding money we don’t owe, that’s up to them. Letters will go in the dead letter box and emails to junk. I doubt they’ll cross the Atlantic chasing after us but don’t tell “them” where we are!

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    1. Couldn’t actually get my hands on anyone except the car dealer and I know it wasn’t her fault. It was her sales manager. I’d like you to come over here and give him “what for.” I’m sure you could scare him! O_o

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  10. I cannot believe what you two have been through. And I had no idea that credit cards issued in the US could not be used in the UK. Sending positive thoughts your way that you begin to see stress-free days soon.

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    1. It’s just a lottery which cards will work. We’ve been caught out before. We carry several credit cards between us, plus cash, plus debit cards, plus checkbooks. Something ought to work! We haven’t got stranded. But there is still time.

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  11. Every problem I have right now just deflated in magnitude and importance.
    I’m so sorry for you and your multiple tales of woe. What’s particularly frustrating is that you’ve just demonstrated that these are not isolated problems … they are widespread.
    I hope everything starts to move smoothly for you going forward.

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  12. OMG. Okay, you win. New idea…..let’s never do all this again! 🙂 Hang in there….the good news is USUALLY the same things don’t go wrong twice, so look how many things you’ve already got out of the way!

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      1. Something tells me you’ll handle it with your usual aplomb but….something also tells me that you’re going to also have quite a few of your usual “experiences” in it all too. I very much look forward to your posts of future happenings!

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  13. Oh, you have all my sympathy, Carol. We haven’t left South Africa yet, and will try to make sure we have everything in order before our departure in a few weeks time, but there’s always something that crops up unexpectedly, isn’t there? 😦 Luckily, we have our daughter here, and can use her address for any correspondence, that’s if certain incompetent people manage get around to changing our address to hers. I’m still sane at this stage, but who knows what the future may bring? 😕 Wow! That car sales person obviously thought you were born yesterday. Hugs to you.

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    1. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have picked up the lie about the car. I guess himself has been around the block (car purchase-wise you understand) a few more times than me! I hope I haven’t put the wind up you about your move. It sounds like you are very organised. And calm. Long may that continue! Thanks for the hugs. Gratefully received. Hugs back to you. ❤

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  14. This sounds like our exist from the UK in 2004. I phoned the RAC to cancel our payments as we were leaving the country. I was told I couldn’t do that (stop payments but, you know, she may have meant not leave the country). I told her we definitely would as we were closing our bank account. But then we had to leave the bank account open so that we had our house (sold) covered by insurance until the new owner moved in. We signed for it to be closed upon settlement but then found we were getting demand letters from the bank which had not closed our account. Their problem, not ours. And then when we left Australia to move to North Cyprus, I carefully paid all our o/s electricity charges, only for my friend, who forwarded mail to me, to be phoned and told we owned money and they would call in an agent to recover it if it wasn’t paid. She told them a) we’d paid it because I’d told her when and b) they could set all the recovery agents they wanted on us, we weren’t in the country. So yes, I sympathise completely. In an era when everything is supposed to work efficiently, it plainly doesn’t. Incompetence reigns supreme (and lying!).

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    1. Sounds like we had a similar experience to you. We had to cancel credit cards and just leave. I expect more than one debt collection agency will be after us but we paid all our bills up to date, wrote letters, emailed, made phone calls. What more can you do? I think it’s all a scam and I wonder how many people get caught out?

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  15. Sending sympathy across the pond. I thought our move (with a packrat of a husband) from Utah to Oregon was a nightmare! Remind me never to go international.

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