‘My disabled wife and I were left stranded by RAC at Edlesborough surgery’

John and Vanessa with the Triumph at John O'Groats, half way through their trip on the north coast of Scotland.
John and Vanessa with the Triumph at John O'Groats, half way through their trip on the north coast of Scotland.

An upset motorist claims that he and his disabled wife were left “stranded” in Edlesborough after a mistake made by the RAC.

John Hanna, 63, and his wife Vanessa, 64, who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disorder which affects her connective tissues, were visiting the village’s surgery because Vanessa needed tests on a tumour in her leg.

John and Vanessa pictured on holiday with the car at Inverness, having driven the 500 miles around Scotland's north coast.

John and Vanessa pictured on holiday with the car at Inverness, having driven the 500 miles around Scotland's north coast.

However, when the couple pulled into the surgery car park at around 12noon, the clutch of their beloved 1962 Triumph TR4 stopped working. Calling the RAC, John claims he stressed that a recovery vehicle was needed and was told that one would be about two hours away.

But at 2.18pm, he was surprised when he received a call from a patrol vehicle driver who said he was one hour away - not the recovery vehicle.

Mr Hanna then rearranged for a recovery vehicle to be sent, but claims that after two further calls the RAC could not confirm an arrival time.

He claims: “My wife’s condition and poor circulation means she gets cold easily so I called for a taxi to take her home after midday. However, I had become increasingly worried about her at home alone, as she needs me to get up the stairs safely.

John and Vanessa were featured with the Triumph in the Gazette during June 1977 after they completed a 1,000 mile Jubilee car rally.

John and Vanessa were featured with the Triumph in the Gazette during June 1977 after they completed a 1,000 mile Jubilee car rally.

“By 3.26pm I had heard nothing [from the RAC] so I called to cancel the recovery. As I have access to a trailer, I decided to get the car myself, despite the physical effort.

“The valuable car would be very conspicuous in the deserted car park.”

A friend gave John a lift home so he was able to pick up the trailer and fetch the Triumph, but while reversing the trailer into his drive on return, he didn’t position the tow car quite right and the trailer winch hit the tow car bumper.

Mr Hanna, who lives in the Dunstable area, claimed: “I arranged for the car to be repaired under our insurance as it was my fault.

“However, there was a £100 excess fee and I feel that the RAC should reimburse this and the £15 fee for my wife’s taxi, as it happened as a direct result of them not providing the service for which I have paid for several years. They replied and only offered £25.”

Mr Hanna also alleges that on the initial call, he was told they would not be prioritised because of his wife’s disability.

An RAC spokesman apologised to the Hannas for their “poor experience”.

He said: “Our call centre agent did correctly prioritise the breakdown and requested recovery due to the severity of the fault.

“Unfortunately however, an error was made by the deployment team which resulted in a patrol being asked to attend. This obviously delayed a recovery vehicle being sent and led to Mr Hanna recovering the vehicle himself.

“To apologise for this we are making arrangements for a gesture of goodwill payment of £115.”