Saturday, 4 May 2013

RCR Review - Call Out Number 1.1,2, and 3...

RCR Review - Call Out Number 1.1,2, and 3...

As soon as I had settled down a bit from my opp I decided to call RCR back again. Although Tom had found one or two weeping joints we were still losing the contents of the header tank a few hours or so after a good run. With about 4.5 litres on the engine bilge it had to be something more than a slight weep from a jubilee clip. 

Aaron came this time but wasn't overly impressed with our engine layout. I don't disagree that it's far from perfect a lot of it is very inaccessible, one of the hardest bits to get to are the alternator and prop gen belts. They are the two things that should be fairly accessible as there is a higher chance of them failing. That's why we joined RCR. 

Aaron checked the same jubilee clips and refilled the engine with water. By now I was estimating the coolant to water ratio was dripping like a stone, but not worried about overheating as LJ's engine always runs on the cool side. Aaron told us that if it carried on leaking it could only be a split in the skim tank hose. I agreed that something like a split sounded more likely but that the skim tank hose was right at the bottom of the system and I'm sure that would be letting out more than four-ish litres out at a time. I explained to Aaron that if he needed to come back he would have to wait a few more days as we were getting low on domestic water and would have to go and fill up (but add I was due to have my stitches out the next day it would be another day or so before we could move)

The water still leaked, we topped up the main tank and arranged for Aaron to reluctantly come and change the pipe. Reluctantly because he had been making it quite obvious that it was a nasty job and I felt he really didn't want to be doing it. He even suggested on the phone that we may want to get a local yard to do it instead!

There is only one visitor mooring at Gayton junction where we filled up with water and we needed a spot where it wasn't too far for Aaron to walk with his tool bag. There were however quite a few vacant permanent leisure moorings both sides of the cut. I called the generic Canal and river trust number for permission to moor, but didn't expect much in the way of a resolution with out being able to speak directly to the moorings officer. I remembered the amount of emails to C&RT last year when I was trying to find out exactly where some of the winter moorings were. I explained my predicament to the girl answering the phone who, as soon as she asked what part of the system I was on, transferred my call to the mobile phone off the local moorings officer  George, who was both surprised and appreciative of my call, and yes of course I could moor up for a couple of days whilst RCR got us going again. 

I was very happy mooring on a lovely wide grassy towpath, the wind had dropped the sun was out and I was just waiting for RCR's call with a time that Aaron was due to arrive. The afternoon came and went before one of the team had called me with the unfortunate news that her manager had reviewed the case and made the decision that they were not going to replace the water hose. They said that the engine water leak could have been any one of a number of issues (agreed) and that it may need further investigation (agreed) that would take their call out over the two hour maximum allowance (don't remember reading that in the t&c's) I pointed out that Aaron hadn't even been an hour with us but apparently once the engineer has left the job is over and the clock reset. 

I must say I was shocked and caught slightly off guard, not what I was expecting at all. Any other week I would have burst into negotiating mode, and been very confident at an outcome in my favour. However since my opp my energy levels have been quite low, the day before by example as soon as I had sat down I was asleep, not just forty winks but well out and for a couple of hours at a time. I admitted defeat on the phone but managed to say that I was not happy, and not going to make a decision there and then as to how I wanted to proceed but would be calling them back as I felt that their decision was at very least immoral as they had said only a few hours earlier that they were going to come out and replace the pipe. 

I reread the terms and conditions. Hmm, first paragraph of what the service covers - ... 'coolant leaks and split hoses' - . I downloaded the PDF file to my tablet to make it easier to conduct rapid word searches looking for this 'further investigation' clause and any thing about two hours maximum per job. 'Extra hours are allocated on availability' I'm happy to wait a couple of days until someone is free, nothing about further investigation. 

My energy levels rising I call back. 5.20 - the daytime team has left, can you call back tomorrow. No - if you are the out of hours team you will have access to a manager, please ask them to review my case and call me to discuss the decisions made by 'this' manager earlier and to have a detailed conversation regarding your terms and conditions and failure under our contract. 

I get an apologetic phone call soon after. Aaron will be back first thing in the morning to fit the hose (I still don't think it will be the hose). I compromise that should this not be the problem I will call a marine engineer and pass it over to them, I don't want to waste any more time. Aaron arrived on time and set about the task, I kept out of his way and went for a stroll. When I get back Aaron doesn't think it's the hose, when he cut the hose to take it off and replace it he heard air leaking from a second skim tank bleed valve that is either under the battery box or behind the webasto water heater 'and I've never taken one of those off'. 

My confidence is waining, why would there be two bleed valves within a few feet, why would the boat builder put the battery box on top of it, and its an eberspacher heater not webasto. I think they are wrong for a forth time. I thank him for his time and a couple of hours later we have a visit from a local boat yard engineer. 

'Yes we can help, but not until we have pressure tested the coolant system to find the leak - bring the boat to our yard Tuesday lunchtime'. Now that sounds a bit more like it. 

Right now I don't see much in the way of value to RCR's service. £130 is the annual fee for the lowest level of service that doesn't incur call out charges. For that I am allowed four call outs with each call out being a maximum of two hours. There are a limited number of parts that are included after the first thirty days of membership that may be very cost effective but if I was cruising for a fortnights holiday, unless I knew what was wrong and that it was a job that I felt was within RCR's capabilities I would probably call a local yard, pay me money and be on my way. 

I'll let you know how I get on with Dave and Gary of Boating Leisure Services on hayford fields marina. 


  1. Hi James and Debbie
    Sorry to hear of your leak problems not what you want when you are feeling low after the op. Hope it is sorted on Tuesday and that your energy levels will have risen.
    all the best
    Bob and June

  2. Looks like the leak is all sorted now Bob. I still may formalise a complaint to RCR as their engineers took four visits and still couldn't find the leak when a mechanic with the correct kit took just minutes, even if it just ends up with the directors providing the engineers with the correct tools to do the job.