Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bringing You Up to Date.....Caveat Emptor!

To bring you up to date...we spent the last couple of weeks in France thinking about what it was we wanted to do for the rest of the year, get a house or continue with the Caravan. Luckily for me we opted to continue in the Caravan for another year.

We did pursue a number of options with regard to housing, but having been "gazzumped" on more than one occasion for the properties we liked, we gave this up as a bad job, and decided to pursue another year as wardens.  This meant a round of job-hunting, CV writing and submission, email traffic etc, and we found ourselves short-listed for a number of places around the country. We hooked up the van and moved around the sites which piqued our interest - and one thing became clear quickly - people want their "pint of blood" from you, for very little reward. After a short time of this, we decided to give Ken a ring at the site we stayed at for awhile last year, knowing that he had readvertised for this year, and offered our services for this season, which, luckily for us he accepted without hesitation. My theory being that the job isn't particularly busy giving me time for Golf and other projects, but also giving me a season's experience for the CV, so here we are - again.

Which brings me to the title - "Caveat Emptor". Shortly after arriving, we were told to expect the arrival of a Caravan, who's owner had purchased a "Seasonal" pitch. On the fateful day, the van was due to arrive about 5pm, but by 6pm there was no sign, so I popped out for our usual Friday Fish and Chips, and on returning, found the Seasonal Occupants had arrived, van in tow.

In my abscence the van's owner and my "boss", had unhooked and pushed the van onto the pitch. They were in the process of lowering the corner steadies, but the chap didn't possess a suitable tool for the job, so I grabbed my drill, with spanner in order to help out. That's where the problems started. The van was of the type that are slightly longer and wider than the norm - those that would normally be towed by a commercial vehicle


A van of the same make, this one is in better condition though!

I'd taken a look underneath before lowering one of the corner steadies, to find it hanging on by one bolt, and in fact had been towed from where the couple purchased it, to our site, dragging along the ground. Cables and pipes had been cut as well, and rerouted in a fairly haphazard fashion and it was a bit of a mess. Their was extensive damage around the van, which appeared to have been repaired with filler, but very badly. The door, located on the offside was badly fitted with a gap at the top. Inside was worse with holes in the roof where at some stage aerials must have poked through then been removed. 

I'm no electrician but we could find no sign of an RCD or circuit breaker box in the van, just a connection for the mains cable, then numerous extensions of the type that you buy from B&Q from £2.99, all joined together using gaffer tape. It was at this point that I suggested it probably wasn't something that should be on the site, and my boss reluctantly agreed.  We then asked the chap who bought it what was going on..and he recounted this.

His mother is quite elderly, but had a little bit of money, not much, but they wanted to have a way of affording breaks by the coast. So he paid for a seasonal pitch with us for the season, (£1200). He then went on the internet, and saw a cheap van for sale, (around £1500), and decided to go and buy it. I can't name and shame here, but it was from a place which stores Caravan's near Warrington. When the family got there the Mother didn't like the look of it, and chose this one instead. They paid £1800 for it without any kind of inspection, and the chap himself admitted, he knew nothing about Caravans - clearly! Not only that he towed the van to our site, probably about 50 miles or so, using a normal family saloon car. I felt so sorry for the family, they'd clearly paid out what amounted to their life savings to pay for this, and it had back-fired on them, he was nearly in tears. We suggested that he contact the site where he bought it from, tell them to come and get it, and return his money, (with not much hope of either happening to be fair).

Turns out we were right, they told him it was "sold as seen".

A few days later Steve the owner of our local Caravan Sales and Spares shop, came to have a look at it, and agreed with everything we'd pointed out. It was worth around £300 scrap, and he towed it away from the site for us. The chap got this money back, plus the seasonal fee he'd paid, and we suggested to him two things, buy from a reputable dealer, and take someone with him who knows what they are doing. 

So there you go, "Caveat Emptor"!