Thursday, 23 May 2013

Campervans and rain!

If you’re sitting comfortably we’ll relate our very stressful day of trying to get our campervan and heading off into the distance (not!). If you’re reading this Pete, you were right!

The weather forecast was pretty dire and it was almost spot on, the day dawned a bit cloudy and by lunchtime it was raining hard, plenty of it all the time with a dark, angry looking sky forecast to last 3 or 4 days. It was about how our day progressed as well. We got a taxi to Travellers Autobarn, south Sydney by Botany Bay arriving at 10:00am as arranged. The young girl, Sarah was great, going through everything, only to be interrupted by Bastian, who we think was the manager, if not the owner, to say he couldn’t honour Adam’s ‘upgrade’ from a few days earlier, as they’d had some van’s damaged and hadn’t the availability, so we’d have to go back to the one we’d booked – ‘15-love’ to Bastian (didn’t believe this when he said it and it proved his undoing later…). When Sarah asked if we wanted a SatNav at AUS$140, Jackie sweetly said that as we’d been disappointed in not getting our upgrade, will they give us one free? Sarah, feeling a bit embarrassed, agreed (15-all). 

Jackie checks the van with Sarah
After sitting through their video demo, answering a questionnaire (it’s really for young backpacker types rather than us, she sheepishly said), we got to go downstairs and see the van, which looked almost identical to the one we had in NZ, so we were initially quite happy. It was, however, very tired with quite a few scratches and dents (all of which I photographed and Sarah noted down) and inside it was really quite old and damaged. The key was almost in 2 pieces and only worked in the driver’s door, centrally locking all but the side door (the one used to access the living part of the van). The lock in the passenger door and side door were different, so we had three keys, one to unlock the driver’s door, one for the ignition and another for the side door. The side door would lock, but was very difficult to unlock, mostly not working, occasionally just moving enough to unlock. Dave, the mechanic (a really nice guy) was very accommodating, getting another driver’s door key and explaining they change locks when one is broken by a young backpackers, who carelessly use them, hence the reason they are all different. He changed the tap in the sink, which didn’t work properly and leaked, changed the light in the back as it was very flaky, found us an electric kettle, baking tray, mixing bowl and three new mugs (the others were a bit suspect!) and quite a few other things.

Its broken!
Just before driving off the heavens opened and how fortunate that was as we found the back window leaked, which would soak the bed if it happened at night. At this point we went back upstairs and spoke to Liam, a really nice guy who is their after sales manager, but very much in Bastian’s shadow and asked him if they had another van as there were too many problems with this one. At this point we were shown into a private meeting room with Bastian and Liam, Bastian telling us that as soon as he saw us he knew this van wasn’t for us and we should upgrade to the ‘Kuga’ (the one Adam upgraded us to that he then told us wasn’t available!). He could do this for an extra AUS$10 per day (AUS$800 in total). I said ‘split the difference and call it AUS$5/day’, he eventually went to AUS$7/day. However, we told him that we are happy with the spec of the Toyota as we’ve had one in NZ for 6 months, it was just that there are too many problems with this particular one. ‘We don’t have any more’ he said, but one had just been returned so was on their forecourt… 

Waiting for the van...
He put several deals to us, but the one was to upgrade to the Kuga @ AUS$7/day or they would put the Toyota right (we said a new lock in the side door and the rear window properly resealed) by next Monday and, in the meantime we could borrow a Kuga, returning to the depot next Monday, or we could have all our money back, including the commission the agents took, so they would be out of pocket. Those were our choices, but we must decide now. He was confident we would go for the upgrade and pay him more money. We went away and thought about it, but actually we didn’t like the layout of the Kuga as much as the Toyota, so we went back and said we’ll borrow the Kuga and return next Monday for the Toyota with a new side door lock and resealed window.

The look on his face showed that he didn’t expect this and was his least preferred option. He now has to spend money on the Toyota and won’t get any more money (is that 30-15 to us?). So in the end we drove off at 17:00 in the Kuga in the pouring rain and Sydney grid-locked traffic. It is horrendous driving in Sydney in rush-hour (in a van I was unfamiliar with, at night, in the pouring rain and feeling very frustrated and annoyed). It was an absolute crawl watching traffic lights change several times before even getting to them, trying to follow the SatNav, always in the wrong lane and trying to move across lanes of traffic….don’t do it! Pete warned us about Sydney traffic and he wasn’t wrong!
Eventually we arrived at our third choice campsite (the others we rang had no availability of cabins for Pauline) still in driving rain, all piled into Pauline’s cabin to eat and drink wine!

The rain continued all night and today is still very showery, but it does seem to be clearing a bit. The forecast for Sydney tomorrow is 100mm of rain, but we’re close to the Blue Mountains now and we’re hoping out of the worst of it. Its afternoon tea and cake now, there’s a bit of blue sky and, at the moment it isn’t raining, so I’m feeling a bit happier and glad we got one up on Bastian. What will he have in store for us on Monday I wonder?

Hello everyone – I’m back!

Today is another  day; the sun is trying to shine, J and I have had a nice stroll to the river.  We’re in a lovely camp site with receptionists from heaven and pretty birdlife.  What more could we want?  Tempers have definitely improved since this time yesterday.

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