There are many forums online where motorhomers gather and exchange tips, tricks and stories of their trials and tribulations. Unquestionably they are a source of good advice and get you out of little scrapes here and there. I can certainly point to a number of things about this trip which were helped by going on line and posing a question.
Again, driving in convoy with another couple is comforting as there is always someone there if anything goes wrong. So it is with us on this trip. Inevitably we have had things go wrong where the principle of two heads being better than one saved the day. There was the time at the beginning of the trip when, mysteriously, the heat stopped working and simply wouldn't start. We tried every trick we could think of but to no avail so we went to bed early and decided we would seek out an engineer in the morning. That was the night it snowed! The next morning the system mysteriously reset it self and hasn't been a problem since. Arriving in Alsace from Germany we discovered that the water had stopped running through the system. Nothing when you turned on any tap, no flushing in the toilet and no shower.
Gianni, who knows a bit about these things joined me and the manual and we tried to logically get to the bottom of it. The fuse was ok, we tried the "turning it off and turning it on again" routine over and over again but it stubbornly refused to perform. We concluded it must be the pump so that took the problem beyond our reach. I went down to reception to enquire if there was any local engineer who might help but I got a blank expression and a card indicating a garage about 40 miles away. We tried to phone this place and all we got was music and nothing else. Their Web site wasn't any better.
Then we noticed on the back of the Rapido Manual a telephone number so we took pot luck and tried it. Straight away we got through to Rapido and a helpful lady responded favourably to my initial, "Parlez vous Anglais?". I told her my dilemma and wondered if there were any Rapido dealers in the area, after all it is a French company. She then asked me if I was driving a UK model and I said that I was. At that she transferred me to another department where I was greeted to a english sounding gentleman called Anthony. Straightaway he asked me for details of the problem and then asked me for my telephone number so he could call me back.
He had located a suitable dealership some 30 miles away but for some reason they were closed all day Monday and despite several phone calls there was no response. I was very pleasantly surprised at his attentiveness and, in truth, it sounded very comforting to know that help was on hand. He gave me the address and the directions to the dealership and suggested I go up there first thing Tuesday morning and he would pursue them till he got a reply. Well, that is exactly what we did. We left at about 8:30 and drove slowly to a small down near Strasbourg called Benfeld. Along the way the phone rang and it was Anthony telling me that he had spoken to the dealership, they were expecting me and he wished me luck.
When we arrived the receptionist spoke perfect English and informed the service manager that we had arrived. He accompanied me to the van where I explained as best I could what the problem was. He drove the van into the workshop and I joined Nancy and Dougal in the little lounge area. We assumed it would be hours and so we started to think about exploring the local town and having some lunch.
Within 15 minutes the service manager returned with a big smile on his face and gave me a thumbs up. They had found the problem. An electrical connection somewhere under the sink area had become corroded and had finally broken off. A few minutes and it was repaired and the Vinny Van was as good as new. The garage was CLC Alsace Route National 83 Direction Colmar 67230 Benfeld. The whole repair cost me €17!
When I go back to the site I called Anthony to thank him for his efforts and was interested to find out a bit more. He is Anthony Pfaff and works in technical support especially for the export market. He is based in France and I have to say he reminded me of the long gone days when customer service really meant something and when nothing was too much trouble. I counted 7 calls he made to me during a period of just under 48 hours. So a very big thank you to Anthony and also to Rapido for providing such a service.