Britz – The Rental Company From Hell

Australia, Blog, Life Lessons, Travel Tips

It was our last day of the road trip to Melbourne. We were already freaking out because we had to return the truck by 3pm, and at the rate we were going we were going to be late – a $200 fine. Being intelligent, we called Britz – our car company – and asked for another day with the truck. They accepted. So we decided to take a detour.

We were on our way to the Philip Islands go to see some penguins. Apparently, there is a penguin march every night as they climb onto the rocky shores to escape predators. We – Trine, Adam, and I – were all so excited to go see these funny little penguins in the wild.

We were about an hour from the island when it happened.

We were making our slow ascent up a hill in our truck, when the clutch burned out.

Great. 

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Look at as all happy and ready to go! Not knowing what troubles lie ahead…

As Adam pulls over to the side of the road, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I pull out my phone to text my step-dad back home. He’s a mechanic by trade, surly he’ll know what to do!

After a quick couple of messages, it’s clear. We’re stuck. It’s now 2:30pm.

Now before I go any further, let me state some facts. The night before, we had slept inside the truck instead of taking out the tent. We barely got any sleep. We had no food with us other than some cold spagetti (which Trine and I reheated while waiting for the mechanic). We didn’t rent the truck, we were relocating it from Sydney to Melbourne. The rental company isn’t liable for anything that happens to us when the truck breaks down. I didn’t know what that meant at the time.

Sitting inside the truck for about 2 hours, bored out of our tree, we wait for the mechanic to magically appear to get us on our way. It’s freezing outside with rain clouds rolling closer towards us, and every time a transport flew past us on the highway the entire truck shook. The truck definitely wasn’t far enough on the shoulder, but there was no where else to go.

Stuck on the side of the road. What a lovely view.

Stuck on the side of the road. What a lovely view.

The mechanic eventually showed up, tried to turn the truck on once, and proclaimed the clutch was gone. Not that we had already figured that out. Actually, he was a really nice guy and he drove Trine and I back to the auto shop, while Adam waited with the truck for a tow-truck to take it back to the shop too. At least we got coffee. Adam got half a Mars bar.

When we arrived at the shop, I went up to the lovely lady at reception, who has 8 children and breeds dogs just so you know, and asked to be informed of what’s going on.

“They haven’t told you?”

“Not really… Just that Adam is waiting for the tow truck and the truck is getting dropped off here.”

“Oh…”

She went on to explain that the rental company, Britz, has basically abandoned us in a tiny little country town and we needed to find our own way back to Melbourne, which is still a 2 hour drive away. Actually, the auto shop didn’t need to bring us there, they could have left us on the side of the road. Thank God for good old fashioned Australian hospitality. At this point it was 5pm. She told us there was a train that goes to Melbourne, but because of the train being down she wasn’t sure how late it ran. Awesome.

The face of pure evil…

When Adam finally made it to the auto shop, we made our way to the train station and caught the last train to Melbourne at 7pm. We had about a 2 and a half hour train ride there, so we spread across the train and tried to sleep.

Note the word tried.

Taking the tram from the station to the hostel, we were exhausted, grumpy and couldn’t wait for our beds. Adam and I are sitting in seats, facing the empty space where the doors open, and Trine is standing up in front of us. The tram suddenly comes to complete stop, and I go flying, head first, into Trine, who then goes flying backwards into the guy sitting in the other seat across from us. I actually think my feet left solid ground for a moment!

Apparently some idiot had dropped his cigarette in front of the moving tram and had bent down to pick it up. Idiot. At this point we all started to laugh. We were sitting on the ground, myself on top of Trine, surrounded by our baggage, and we clambered back to our feet and into our now empty seats. If I didn’t laugh I was going to start crying at the ridiculousness of the entire day.

Finally we wandered into our hostel and went to sleep. It was 12:30am.

That Friday was probably the most ridiculous travel days of my life. It might even beat the dash to catch the flight to Ireland in 2013. Make for a good story though!

Do you have a travel day in which everything that could have gone wrong did? 

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