Sunday, 7 September 2008

27 Aug 2008 Weds - Wheels within wheels

Up early to return the hire car to P before 10am. After a 20 minute drive, sat nav gets us there, then it is a walk to the train station. I puzzle out the ticket machine, but have to use my French bank card, as there is no slot for notes.
The train is 15 minutes late. French stations, however small, seem to attract the stranger sections of society, who like to stride about and speak to themselves.
The train arrives unannounced and leaves 2 minutes earlier than the new departure time. Fortunately we are on it.
Lovely new, posh train, we get off at our stop 3.50 euros each. I phone Vincent who sold me the car, and who said he would come and collect us from the train station. He has a problem. He is near T, which is about an hour away. I say it is no problem, we will walk home. He says he will phone me at 2pm.
We wander through the town and have a beer in the square next to the big church. We venture into a bread emporium, which looks from the outside like a shed built into the wall. The bread inside looks very good. I choose an olive loaf, which is bulging with olives and 5 small cheese goujons. (It turns out to be very tasty bread and is not dried out by tea time the following evening.
We plough through the contents of the boxes stored in the studio and find the vacuum brush. Hooray!
At 2.05pm a car pulls up onto my parking, it is a lift to take us to the garage to collect the car.

The showroom secretary does not speak English, but we proceed ok with the paperwork. Then a small man in overalls comes in. He is Portuguese, but speaks Spanish and French. We have to go to the car with him. I say that I haven’t paid for the car yet. No, now is not the time, We have to go with him.

He is going to show us the car. He starts with the front passenger seat and talks us through every feature from the window, to the secret compartments

and how to keep liquids cold in the glovebox.
Next the rear, right passenger seat. How the 3 seatbelts work, how the seat folds etc.
Then the boot. The tool kit, how to get the spare wheel from under the car using a pulley / lever arrangement. Then the wheel has to be put back into position. Will I ever remember how it was done?
Then rear left seat, which is complicated, as part of it can be pulled off.
The driver seat and controls takes a further 20 minutes. “Have I brought my CD?” No I have not, and so I have failed yet another test. How can he demonstrate the CD player without a CD? He contents himself with showing me how the radio works, how to tune in the stations etc. Then it is on to the engine compartment, oil levels, water levels etc etc. He re-explains about the importance of the oil levels.

Have I understood everything, do I have any questions, am I happy with the condition of the car. Yes I say. In the UK they give you the keys and say goodbye, I say.

Back in the stifling office I finally get to pay for the car. Now I have to fill in a questionnaire about the service that I have received. This is very important as head office may phone me up to discuss the transaction, so it is vital that if there is anything wrong with the service that I have received that I tell them now so that it can be rectified.

Now will they let me drive the car away? Of course not. I am given a temporary document that I will have to keep with me at all times. I must not leave France and although Spain is near, I must not cross the border until the official document arrives.

Also, in 2,000 kms time I have to phone a number to arrange an appointment for the garage to check over the car and for them to sort out any problems.
Now I can take the car away, but only for 2,000kms.An hour and a half after entering the garage, we set off home.

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