The German Pirates!
Visiting Germany: Gunnar Christensen
Are you driving to Germany?
Read this before you go there.
all started a Friday afternoon in October 2002. We were on our way back
to Norway after a nice stay in Paris in our family car - a Saab 9000CSE
model 1997. 3 tired children in the backseat my wife and myself aiming
at the ferry from Denmark to Norway.
the Autobahn south of Hamburg the problems started: The clutch suddenly
started getting weaker. I was very much surprised because the car had a
total service and test in Norway before the trip.
were tired after days and hours of driving and I tried desperate to get
the car going across the Danish boarder. We passed Hamburg. But the
trouble increased. Near to Schleswig. I understood we wouldn't make it
so I tried to get to the local hotel in town - and we hardly got to the
hotel just in time for the clutch to break down totally. The car
couldn't move at all outside the hotel. What I didn't realise then: I
was now totally in the hands for the germen pirates.
is how the further problems started: I phoned up NAF, my Norwegian car
organisation asking for their help to handle the situation as fast and
cheap as possible. I expected them to have the needed help available as
promised in the membership agreement.
local partner in Germany ADAC was phoned and after one hour they turned
up concluding total damage on the clutch. The car must be sent to Kiel
further south of Sleswig I was told.
- But why? There are garages in Sleswig I presume?
- Because it's a Saab a special car here in Germany, I was told. - They can't repair that car in Sleswig.
So I had to phone up NAF in Oslo again and they told me:
That's nonsense all Saab cars have the same clutch. Be aware they are
all the time trying to give us the most expensive solution. It's all a
question of money they try to get as much as possible out of you and
us. Have you asked for a Saab-garage specially?
- No, I haven't.
discussion was the last thing I needed after a long drive. But ADAC
insisted that the firm Saab Zentrum in Kiel was the closest garage for
my car. There was no more help in this question from NAF and my car was
picked up at the hotel while we ordered a room for the night.
Next morning I wake up to a phone from Saab Zentrum
in Kiel telling me the bill will pas 2000 Euro. And to crown it all -
this big Saab dealer didn't even have the needed clutch available and
we have to wait 3 days for the repair to be done. This included that we
had to phone home to schools and jobs to ask for three more days of the
holiday. Delay, hotel, unable to get to the jobs on time:That makes it
much more than 2000 Euro all together.
This is what you will have to pay for the job done in Norway I was told
by the NAF in Oslo: An investigation back home later told me that the
highest prise possible in my home town was half this German price and
the cheapest much less - about one third of the German price: This was
at that time wrong information from Norway. Why? I can't answer you:
NAF and ADAC are partners. May be that's the answer?
short I was totally in the hands of the pirates. The robbery was
already done: The situation was locked. I had no choice. NAF cowered
the expenses to pick up the car and then it's not their table any more.
The bill is mine to enjoy.
remember another incident 15 years earlier. I drove a BMW then when the
clutch broke in Hamburg. I then paid more than twice as much for the
repair compared to Norwegian prices at BMW-dealers in my Norwegian
hometown: This means that Saab is not the only car with high garage
prices. German or foreign car doesn't matter in this context.
are robed in this county. That's the impression. Foreigners pay much
more than Germans for the same job done on the cars: It seems to be a
mafia-culture. On the alarm-car-team. On the roads when teams are assisting. Their cooperation with the garages is obvious.
may now seem to you that I might have problems with the clutch on my
cars, but that's not the truth: It has only happened to me twice in
more than 35 years of driving - and both times were unluckily in
Norwegians believe the German garages to be cheap because cars in
Germany costs much less than in Norway. But they are terribly wrong.
The fact is that most car repair in Germany have about double prices
compared to Norwegian ones.
So the best advise you can get: Watch up for the German Pirates!
Or find a better county for your next family holidays?