LIFE

We Damaged An $80K Rental With No Excess Insurance

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“About three grand, the wing needs to come off. There’s quite a bit in it”

Our faces went grey. This was turning out to be a disaster.

 

So the Hazy Maze crew took a well-earned break recently and jumped on a plane to go visit London, England for a bit of R&R. Well for some you may say, but life is for the living right? After a pretty painless flight, we touched down in Heathrow airport, and made our way towards the rental car area to await some bland, soulless box that would be out chariot for the next couple of days.

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But once we got to the unnamed (for reasons you’ll understand later) rental vehicle company desk, we were greeted with some very unexpected news, and are the words to any man’s ears:

“You qualify for a free upgrade”

Turns out all the soul sucking Kia’s of the past had indeed counted for something and we were going to get something more tasty than the usual drudgery. When we inquired as to what upgrade we might expect, we were informed that it was an Audi A4. Nice car for sure, but nothing to really stir the soul. Anything else we inquired? In his thick Russian accent, the stocky gentleman behind the desk replied

“If you want to pay small supplement, I have something special for you. Come, we look”

Now how can you resist that? We certainly couldn’t and made our way out to the rainy parking lot to see what awaited us.

               A 2017 Mercedes GLE – Somewhere other than London

Ok, so as it was pelting down with rain, we couldn’t get a good snap, but you get the idea! A brand new Mercedes 350 GLE AMG, which apparently costs $80,000 in local currency equivalent.

Nice! For an extra couple of bucks we’d be travelling in style and comfort in a monster of a jeep- sounded like a plan. What could possibly go wrong?

“Would you like to take out the extra insurance for this car” Said our friend behind the desk, knowing full well from our demeanor that we’d be taking this car for sure.

As I had already gotten car hire excess insurance purchased before we left, we politely declined (Top tip that by the way, get the excess insurance yourself as this is where car rental companies make their money – it can be purchased MUCH cheaper)

So we loaded up the car and got rolling to the big city in style.

But our experience of the good life was about to go wrong…..

We met with a friend living in South East London, and after a bite to eat, he told of us the ultimate bar for men who spent their youth playing games like ‘Street Fighter’ in Arcades. The very hipster bar cleverly named the ‘Four Quarters’ (as you need to exchange your pounds for US quarters to put in the slots). 80’s and 90’s video games & craft beer = heaven

We just had to visit, but the only problem was that it was around midnight on Friday and ‘Four Quarters’ was in a bit of a sketchy area, called Peckham (somewhere like the NY equivalent of the Bronx – fine in places, not in others). We reasoned, with very clear logic that we’d probably look like pimps with such a fine car in this area and it would be fine.

After a couple of games and drinks we returned and the non-drinker in our group drove us home, all had gone fine so we thought.

Until we saw the car in the morning…..

 

Yep, as biggie smalls once quoted ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’. We were getting a taste of the good life, but also dealing with the reality that when you have nice things, haters want to f*ck it up for you.

It looked like someone had given the car a very solid thump with their fist. It doesn’t look to bad in the photos, but it caught your eye very clearly.

“But you have the car hire excess insurance purchased, they’ll cover that” said one of our group.

However, I hadn’t read the document properly…..

Our cover was only for cars of the value up to $60,000.

We therefore had no cover…… F*ck

Cue a mad scramble for the phone book to see if we could get it sorted cheaply, as I remember a friend who had a thing called ‘PDR’ aka , Painless Dent Removal done, where the dent is tapped out without having to paint the car.

We found a local guy who said he’d take a look. We took the car over to a pretty busy garage in the backstreets of East London to meet with a character who would have fitted in nicely in a Guy Ritchie movie.

“Sorry mate, can’t be done – PDR don’t work with Aluminium panels”

So we inquired as to what we were looking at, cost wise

“About three grand, the wing needs to come off. There’s quite a bit in it”

Our faces went grey. This was turning out to be a disaster.

Let’s just say the drive away from the body shop was a quiet one…

Bizarrely we ended up visiting a friends apartment block that day, and in the basement there was a Lamborghini Gallardo that had seen some serious hate (plate badly obscured to protect owners privacy)

After another heavy night, the whole prospect of getting it sorted seemed grim.

But in life there’s one thing I’ve learned. Keep fighting until all your options are exhausted.

So we got to work and trawled the internet, specifically UK car forums for someone else who could help.

And then we found someone, who was recommend by a ton of people on Pistonheads (specialist car forum) for being the top guy in the UK. The maestro in question is called Martin Leach from www.dentman.co.uk, who has customers such as the BBC’s Top Gear, and has dealt with cars with a multiple of the value of our rental. We were quietly hopeful we might get a result.

We rang him, and explained our situation:

“Can you do Aluminium panels” we asked

The reassuringly confident voice on the phone assured us that he could, and would be able to make at least a 90% improvement. Inquiring as to what the cost would be, we were amazed to find out it would be just 100 pounds.

But of course a top guy like this is in demand, but luckily he had a cancellation and could fit us in.

So bright and early on Monday, we met Martin in his workshop, and he got to work. We grabbed a coffee and got a call from Martin 40 mins later.

What a result, it was totally gone, and we wouldn’t be stung for a 3000 pound repair as a result of of us indulging in a flashy pair of wheels for the weekend.

           Move along, case closed, nothing to see!

Martin had absolutely saved the day. We had obviously learned two vital lessons from the weekend, which were don’t park your car in a sketchy area late on a Friday night, and purchase the correct car hire excess insurance for your trip. But the bigger lesson is never accept the first answer when it comes to professional services, because if we had, we’d be a couple of grand down now.

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