I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had to take my car door apart in order to locate a rattle which was the result of a poor repair job by a garage who ‘fixed’ my car after a bit of a prang. As I spent hours taking bit after bit off the door, I couldn’t help but think of the guy who caused the problem in the first place – Antonio, our builder, whom we called the Italian Stallion.
I was returning from the MOT testing station in my Alfa. It had failed! The previous week I had taken the passenger door apart because the electric window mechanism had failed and when I had refitted it, I had forgotten to attach the door opening cable. Apparently, whilst a non-opening window is not an MOT failure, a non-opening door is.
I drove home. This was the first time, I can recall, when a car of mine had failed an MOT (Controle Technique in France) and it had failed on such a stupid mistake of my own making. Never mind, I knew what the issue was – it could be fixed and re-tested in a couple of days.
I drove back up the hill to the house and the rain was absolutely lashing down. I turned into my drive and spotted the builder’s car parked in its usual place. I assumed Antonio would be in the car as that’s where he usually went when it was too wet to work on the house.
I sped up the lane and just as I passed Antonio’s Audi, there was a sickening crunch and the car stopped. I knew almost immediately what had happened but I got out of the car just to confirm it.
I stood there in monsoon rain looking at my wrecked Alfa and then I looked at Antonio’s wrecked Audi. He had kicked his door open just at the exact moment I was passing and his door had amazingly stuck in a tiny gap between my door and the front wing and had basically ripped the side off of both cars. Had his door missed that tiny gap, the damage would have been minimal but it hadn’t and the damage was considerable.
Both Antonio and I stood there in the lashing rain, not quite believing what had just happened and then the shouting started. I’m not quite sure what he was saying but it was probably along the lines of ‘ you stupid ***** - look at my car – it’s your fault’. I responded by saying in English (not a word of which he understood) that he was a stupid Italian opening his door like that’, etc etc etc.
Then I realized – he was my builder. I was totally reliant on him to finish my house and I decided in a nanosecond to become a bit more conciliatory. I suggested he try and fit his door back on and we sort it out in the morning when we’d both calmed down.
Overnight I discussed it with J and came to the conclusion that it was better not to upset Antonio and that if it came to it, I’d just pay to have his car fixed, no matter the cost.
Next morning and Antonio appeared with his son whom we’d never met. I was just about to offer to pay the repair bill for the Audi when his son said, ‘you know he’s always doing this – he has to change his insurance company at least once a year because he’s always crashing the car. I’ve told him that it was his fault so you won’t have any problems with your insurance company’.
Solved! Antonio’s insurance company paid for everything. His car was back on the road within two weeks – but it took them 5 months to source a new door for my Alfa and do you know what? They replaced my electric window and reattached the door opening cable – and it passed its MOT!
And another thing on insurance. J’s renewal quote came in last week – up 30% from €360 to €460 a year. No explanation – nothing! I called, kicked up a stink, did some quotes on the internet (all in French !!) and hey presto, within a couple of days they’d changed the premium to €282. Bloody robbers!