Walcott couple: RAC turned our dream wedding into a nightmare

George and Ina Reddell, from Walcott, with the minibus they bought to travel home. Picture: ALLY McG

George and Ina Reddell, from Walcott, with the minibus they bought to travel home. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: ALLY McGILVRAY

A couple claimed their dream wedding abroad turned into a nightmare after their minibus broke down and their insurers 'abandoned' them - leaving them and their family stranded.

George Reddell, 39, of Coastline Village, Walcott, had spent a year planning the perfect wedding to his bride Ina, 34, at a church in her hometown of Pakruojis in Lithuania.

And, with some of the party unable to fly, he bought a 12-seat minibus online to ensure no-one missed out on the special occasion.

When it broke down in Poland, he didn't panic – despite being hundreds of miles from their final destination - because he had taken out the RAC's comprehensive European cover insurance policy.

The breakdown services firm put them up in a hotel for the night and promised a replacement vehicle would be with them the following day to allow them to complete their journey.

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However, when no minibus arrived after waiting a day in the hotel lobby, the broken down vehicle at an unknown garage with all the wedding outfits inside, and just two days until the wedding, Mr Reddell called the RAC only to be told they were no longer covering him because they had discovered his minibus was heavier than his policy stated.

The RAC said they asked Mr Reddell whether his vehicle weighed more than 3.5 tonnes when he took the policy and he told them it didn't.

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Mr Reddell says the RAC didn't ask him what the gross weight of the vehicle was, if they'd have asked for this, he would've checked his documents and told them the gross weight was 4.1 tonnes.

Mr Reddell said: 'It was meant to be the best day of my life but the whole wedding was a nightmare.

'We were all stressed at the side of the road, and my dad is diabetic. They would not take us to Lithuanian which is what we paid for.

'The next day, at dinner time, they said they were still looking into a van and would call me back. After that they rang me back and said: 'Oh, by the way, your van is over 3.5 tonnes we can't cover you; from this point on we can't help you', and that was it.

'The whole of the day before my wedding, the one day we had to get everything organised, I was on the phone to the RAC complaining. I was in pieces at this point. I had all my family there relying on me to get them around.'

The couple's family rallied round and they got to the church in time to tie the knot.

However, they missed out on a honeymoon as they had to buy a new minibus to get everyone home - with three of the family having to hire a car as they couldn't all fit inside.

An RAC spokesperson said: 'While we sympathise with Mr Reddell's situation, it is not accurate to say that we left him stranded at the side of the road. In fact following his breakdown in Poland we booked taxis and an overnight stay for himself and ten passengers at significant expense, got the broken down vehicle to a garage and sourced a replacement minibus.

'This was all despite the fact that his policy was invalid as a result of him not providing accurate information about the weight of the vehicle at the outset – a point that only became clear once the vehicle was taken to a garage in Poland.

'This case illustrates why providing accurate information at the point of taking out breakdown cover is so important.'

After returning home from their July wedding, the newly-married Mr and Mrs Rendell complained to the financial ombudsman, with an adjudicator this month ruling in their favour.

It has recommended the motoring firm pay £400 compensation to Mr Reddell for the distress and

inconvenience, and cover any reasonable costs Mr Reddell paid for onwards travel and travel home, as well as repatriate Mr Reddell's vehicle from Poland.

However, the RAC revealed it planned to appeal.

Adjudicator Tom Husband said: 'Under Mr Reddell's policy terms and conditions, the RAC say the insured vehicle must comply with the following specification: 'Max Weight (gross) 3.5 tonnes'. When Mr Reddell was taking out his cover with the RAC, they didn't ask him what the gross weight of his

vehicle was. Instead, they asked whether it weighed more than 3.5 tonnes.

'I don't think this is a clear question, because there are different weights listed for Mr Reddell's vehicle in his V5, and the RAC wanted to know what the gross weight was.

'The cancellation of Mr Reddell's policy meant he had to find alternative transport for himself and his passengers to get to Lithuania the day before his wedding. He then needed to travel back to the UK without any cover from the RAC.

'He had to pool his family's financial resources together in order to do this. I'm sure you'll agree, this must've been distressing for Mr Reddell, especially as he was in a foreign country.'

Mr and Mrs Reddell welcomed the adjudicator's ruling.

Mr Reddell added: 'It has been very stressful and I can't wait to put it behind us.'

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