Claim against Parkhurst Self Drive Hire

IN THE REIGATE COUNTY COURT                              MATTER NO:

 

Parkhurst Self Drive Hire Ltd.                DEFENDANT

Particulars of Claim

  1. I make this Claim on my behalf as well as a Party of six others.
  2. On or about %date% I contacted the Defendant, Parkhurst Self Drive Hire (hereinafter Parkhurst) whose head office %address%. I dealt with their West Molesey branch and contracted to hire a Volkswagen Caravelle 8/9 seater MPV with reclining seats, air conditioning and a CD player (hereinafter the Caravelle) from 4pm on July 30th 2004 until sometime on August 8th 2004, a period of 9 days. It was made clear in these negotiations that the vehicle was to be used to transport a party of 7, including children and their respective luggage, to the South of France. Two of the party would drive.
  3. The fee negotiated for the rental was £700. I was asked to give a credit card number to initiate the contract so I provided full details of my credit card.
  4. Some time later in June I telephoned Parkhurst again as The Individual Travellers Company (hereinafter TITC), with whom my party had booked a luxury villa in the Dordogne including the cross channel ferry ticket, had requested details of the vehicle travelling to facilitate the booking. %name% at Parkhurst called me back to advise the vehicle was a “Volkswagen Caravelle T5 Shuttle Blue registration R J04 JKV dimensions 4.95 x 2.06 x 2.1 metres”. These details were relayed to TITC who included it in their booking confirmation of June 30th
  • On July 20th I telephoned Parkhurst again to query if the “6 points” %name% driving licence, awarded for speeding, would cause any difficulties with the vehicle insurance. I was assured not.
  1. On July 27th I telephoned Parkhurst to ask if I could collect the Caravelle in the morning of the 30th. I was told this would incur another day’s rental fee but I was offered an equivalent, a Ford Tourneo 9 seater with air conditioning and a CD player which would be available the morning of the 30th.  I stated a preference for the Caravelle as the ferry booking had been made with that vehicle’s details. I was told to think about the options and call back.
  2. In all three cases of contacting the offices of the Defendant after I had made the booking in early June, clear reference was made to the Caravelle I have contracted to collect on July 30th 2004.
  3. On the morning of July 30th I telephoned Parkhurst at about 10am to ask if the Caravelle was available. I was informed that it had not been returned from its current hire and asked to call back. I called back at 12.30 to be informed that the vehicle had still not been returned. During this call I was informed that the actual vehicle booked out to me was a Ford Tourneo, an equivalent to the Caravelle.
  4. cont In spite of all the previous calls I had made, this was the first time the Defendant had informed me about a change of vehicle.

Nether the less the Defendant’s staff had confirmed the existence of a contract to provide a Caravelle or equivalent to me by 4pm on that day. I also called at 2.30pm and was again informed the vehicle wasn’t available.

  1. At 3.50pm %name% and I arrived at Parkhurst’s offices in Molesey to collect the vehicle and met with Tony. I mentioned the three calls I had made that day and my additional surprise about the change of vehicle. He ignored that but immediately called Thrifty Car Hire and had an irate conversation with several of their staff. The result of that discussion was that Thrifty were refusing to return the vehicle or provide an alternative.
  2. %name% attempted to find an alternative between serving other customers. He contacted a Volkswagen dealership and other hire companies but to no avail. He suggested a Toyota Prevara which was sitting in the yard pointing out that it only accommodated 7 persons with limited space for luggage. He then said it might be sold. He attempted to contact his Managing Director to clarify matters but was unsuccessful as the Managing Director’s mobile telephone was turned off. Tony believed he was at Goodwood that afternoon.
  3. By 5pm %name% and I were becoming understandably anxious about the whole situation and we attempted to contact other independent hire companies but with no success. We were very concerned about the commitment to take 5 young persons on vacation with the imminent 9 pm ferry booking from Dover. I debated various solutions with %name% including cancellation of the holiday. I had checked air flights earlier that week for a colleague who might join us and there was no availability. Regardless of that we would still need a vehicle within France.
  4. At that moment a LDV high top 17 seater bus drove into Parkhurst’s yard. I discussed driving this vehicle 1300 miles with %name% and was not enthusiastic. There were was the question of manoeuvrability of the vehicle in rural France and it was too high. The seats were rigid, the vehicle had no air conditioning and was noisy. There was a simple cassette player. We continued to urge %name% to find a suitable MPV.
  5. After several more telephone calls it became clear there was no alternative. Tony offered to supply a normal height LDV 17 seater bus which was available at the Kingston office for just £100 as compensation for the failure of the Defendant to provide the vehicle reserved. I discussed the offer with %name%. The thought of us both driving a bus 1300 odd miles to the Dordogne and back at a maximum speed of 50/60 MPH without air conditioning compared to the specification of the Caravelle or Tourneo was very daunting. However we believed we had no choice other than to accept rather than disappoint the five younger passengers.
  6. We decided to accept the offer of the LDV 17 seater but, in the presence of %name%, I made it abundantly clear to Tony that this was not in any way my acceptance of compensation from the Defendant for their inability to provide the vehicle contracted for. I made it clear that on the return from my vacation I would make a detailed claim. Tony commented that Parkhurst would have to involve Thrifty Car Hire. I duly signed a Master Card slip for £100 using the same card number as the original booking had been made with. Tony then proceeded to enter the details of the change of vehicle on his computer terminal and I noticed from the screen that the booking was “live” be it that the Defendant had incorrectly recorded details of my address
  7. %name% and I were invited into Parkhurst’s yard to be instructed about the workings of the bus whilst Tony prepared the documents. I inspected the outside of the LDV bus registration number %numberplate% with a Parkhurst employee and noted the body damage and fuel level. I asked where the spare tyre was and the employee retorted that he didn’t believe there was one! Dr Salem asked when the bus had last been checked and she was assured that “safety was the Company’s priority and that all vehicles are safety checked every 6 weeks; the last time for this specific bus being the previous Thursday”.
  8. Tony then came to the vehicle and handed me;
  • The hire contract number %number%
  • The insurance green card for European travel
  • The AA pack for breakdown cover %aanumber%
  • The vehicle %number% proof of ownership for a vehicle on hire.
  1. I left the Parkhurst yard to collect my party and drive to Dover. Due to the 2 hour plus delay we had no time to check the luggage or pack appropriately for the teenagers as we had previously planned. We arrived at Dover at 9pm unprepared and having missed our ferry we were re-booked for the 10pm
  2. I relied on the Defendant’s employee’s assertion that the vehicle had been safety checked the previous week and firstly drove straight from Calais to Paris. On the auto route trying to achieve 60 mph, the noise was formidable, the discomfort for the passengers unacceptable and they were unable to sleep as we had anticipated they would have been able to in the Caravelle. The steering in the bus had excessive play and the bus vibrated. When I checked the tyres they were all irregularly and under inflated. We struggled to control the vehicle and were forced to stop frequently. A journey that was calculate to take 11/12 hours at an average of 60 mph took 17 hours, was extremely uncomfortable, noisy and fatiguing. Apart from the issue with the tyres (which would have serious implications on the return trip) we also discovered:

(A) The hand brake did not release easily.

(B) The hand brake light did not function.

(C) The driver’s seat adjustment was defective.

(D) There was no manual for the vehicle.

(E)  The vibration and noise made listening to the “music system” or personal CD’s impossible.

Observation of all these issues cannot provide any confidence that the vehicle had been checked at all as claimed by the Defendant’s employee upon hand over of the vehicle on July 30th.

  1. We reached the villa late on August 1st .Predictable due initially to tiredness and then the manoeuvrability of the bus in the quiet and narrow lanes in the Dordogne, our planned excursions were curtailed. We tried, nether the less to enjoy our vacation. On the evening of August 3rd I experienced starter motor problems.
  2. cont  I contacted the AA but the details given to me by the Defendant were incorrect. That evening my party was unable to leave the villa for a restaurant. Early on August 4th I contacted Parkhurst and obtained the correct policy numbers. These were relayed to the AA who took a whole day, with my assistance progress chasing and liaising with Parkhurst for a part number and other vehicle details, to organise the repair of the bus and then a substitute vehicle.  My party lost a whole day, unable to leave the villa for any distance. We eventually returned from Bordeaux, where the hire car was located, at 11.30pm. The return of the temporary hire vehicle and the collection of the LDV bus took place on Friday August 6th consuming the best part of another day.
  3. The Mobile telephone calls to deal with this matter amounted to £153.78 and the repair £285.39. I was assured in my conversations with %name% at Parkhurst during the period that my costs would be reimbursed.
  4. My party left for Calais early on the morning of August 7th at 8.30am anticipating being able to shop there for gifts etc. before the ferry booking at 11pm. The vehicle remained excessively noisy and vibrated making sleep impossible be it that we were able to purchase some cushions for our party to mitigate the discomfort. The steering continued to drift requiring substantial concentration. At about 3pm we noticed an unusual exterior noise and left the A10 at Janville some 122km south of Paris. We discovered the offside inner tyre (the LDV has 4 back wheels) had shredded. No garages were open and investigation of the jack supplied with the bus established that it was damaged and inoperative. The spare tyre, which the Defendant’s employee had denied knowledge of, was conveniently discovered by my son but found to be deflated. I pleaded with a tyre specialist in Janville centre who relented. We worked together to replace the shredded tyre with the re-inflated spare and then proceeded to check the other tyre pressures. These were corrected from various deflated levels. We then discovered that the nearside inner tyre had totally deflated. Removal of that established there was no inflation valve and further investigation revealed that the Dunlop SP LT7 tubeless tyre had been fitted with an inner tube which had disintegrated. I retain that as evidence. The specialist fitted a new valve and inflated the tyre. Checking that under water showed the outer wall to be perforated.
  5. cont I asked the specialist to fit a new tube but was informed that fitting an inner tube inside a tubeless tyre is illegal in France. I believe that is also the case in the UK. I tried to purchase a new tyre but the specialist had no stock.                                            —
  6. We were advised to fit the leaking tyre to the outside of the two rear wheels and proceed slowly checking the tyre pressure every 30/45 minutes. We did just that arriving at Calais at 30 pm missing the shopping including gifts for friends and relations we had planned for. We arrived home at 1.30am local time the return journey having taken 18 .5 hours. I returned the vehicle to Parkhurst offices midday on Sunday August 8th as contracted. By that time the defective tyre would not inflate at all.
  7. In Breach of the contract to provide the Caravelle or an equivalent vehicle on July 30th by 4pm, the Defendant offered a substitute vehicle an LDV 17 seater %numberplate% bus which was of a substantially lower specification, unsuitable, unfit for the journey contracted for and unsafe. It was not fit to be used for transporting seven persons including children in safety.

The vehicle was not checked upon hand over on July 30th as claimed and it was clearly defective. It did not comply with Road Traffic Act requirements.

  1. The luxury vacation booked by my party was completely ruined by delay, stress, anxieties about safety issues and 2 days down time due to the failure of the un- road worthy bus requiring two long trips for a replacement vehicle whilst repairs were affected. The bus consumed far more fuel than the Caravelle contracted for. My estimate of the difference is £82.28.
  2. I wrote to the Defendant on August 10th on a without prejudice basis detailing my claim and resulting costs in an attempt to obtain a resolution of the dispute. I regret that the response of August 16th was unacceptable. I replied on August 25 seeking a compromise. I have received no response to that last letter.
  3. The estimated cost of the vacation with the Caravelle was to be about £3,500. Seven persons were denied the benefit of the substantial part of that vacation and the Claimant claims that portion of the stated sum as the Court thinks fit as compensation for the loss of the benefit of the holiday.
  4. As a result of the failure of the tyres on the defective vehicle which was unfit for road use the Claimant and his party were denied the shopping opportunity in Calais and claims the cost of a day trip in a Carevelle or equivalent for his party in compensation.
  5. The Claimant also claims reimbursement of the direct costs associated with the repair of the defective starter motor and additional fuel of £ 521.45.
  6. The Claimant claims such damages as the Court thinks fit as just compensation for the distress and anxiety arising from the Breach of Contract and the resulting failure of the Defendant to supply the contracted vehicle or equivalent.
  7. The Claimant claims such damages as the Court thinks fit as compensation for the distress and unnecessary risks arising from the supply of the unsafe vehicle %numberplate% as well as the discomfort and inability to rest during travel.
  8. The Claimant claims their costs and interest.

I believe the facts stated in these Particulars of Claim are true,

 

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