Thursday, March 24

The prodigal Saab comes home

We've completed the final step in relocating back to Australia. This week we collected the Saab from Quarantine & Customs and registered it once again for Australian ownership. It been quite an experience getting the car home. The endless paperwork and delays have almost driven poor Garry to distraction.

At one point we even had the receiving agent in Sydney call us and ask us what we'd done with the car keys. Garry rather curtly pointed out that their UK partner had collected the car from our London home and thus we weren't in possession of the keys. Other stressful highlights include paperwork disappearing between our UK relocation agent and its Australian partner, being pursued by bailiffs after the UK agent incurred a London congestion charge penalty and finally being ordered to pay for steam-cleaning by Quarantine before our car could be released.

The congestion charge penalty was particularly galling. The removal company arranged for a car transporting company to collect the Saab directly from Swiss Cottage. The driver then drove through the London Congestion Zone without our permission, incurred a transit fee and failed to pay it. It took several months for the resulting penalty notice to finally reach us by which time the penalty had trebled and then been refered to the County Court for collection. Fortunately the Uk agent accepted liability, but did do only after we chased them and spoke with the local authorities.

Sadly the car arrived in Australia with a few more dents than when we'd last seen it. In particular the roof has a large dimple where something was obviously dropped. The relocation company had to build an wooden frame over the car to fit all of our house contents into a shipping container which clearly increased the risk of damage. Perhaps the most galling aspect of this particular incident is the simple fact that the removalists in London were rather inefficient with their packing, ultimately forcing us to pay for an "overcase" frame.

For example, when we originally relocated to London the Australian removalist carefully packed cushions and other loose items under the legs of dining chairs to save space. It also wrapped our glassware in protective cardboard tubes, allowing more to be packed into every shipping box. By comparison, the UK agents packed our glassware loosely and on occasions packed nothing more than a toilet bruch and dush pan in a large box. I'm convinced these lax packing practices added at least another ten boxes to our load.

We've chalked up the entire relocation experience as yet another examples of the shoddy service we constantly encountered in Europe. I'm glad to be back in Australia where the service is already more attentive and efficient.

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