The tale of the broken gear box

Yesterday my work van went into the workshop for it’s scheduled 6 month service and I was given a pile of junk a spare van for the day.

Well I had almost completed my round when I found myself with a gearbox that only had 3rd and 4th gears – the linkage had broken and it was possible to move the gearstick to any position I wanted! If it went forward I had 4th gear, if I pulled it back I had 3rd, and somewhere in the middle was neutral. There was no reverse. This made driving fun, and so I nursed it back to the office to borrow a colleagues van to complete my round.
Fun gearbox! on

Now this is a fairly common fault, and is probably the fourth time it’s occurred to a van whilst I have been driving it. No, it’s not my driving! The workshop have admitted it’s a common faulty on this particular van.

So this morning, the workshop (Royal Mail Vehicle Services our in-house muppets mechanics*) sent one man in a van out to fix the problem. He was with us five minutes at the most, and left saying: “It’s fixed but it’ll probably go again. It needs replacing” We reckoned he’d fixed it a cable tie or an elastic band.

So why wasn’t the broken linkage replaced and so fixed properly? Probably to save money. If they can keep it on the road without replacing the part in question, then obviously they’ve saved money (labour and the parts).

As my van was still in the workshop (how long does it take to do a 6 month service?) I again had the “repaired” spare van.

Six mile and just under two hours later, it went again. So I phoned the office and requested the workshop come out to me. I couldn’t get back this time as I was parked up and couldn’t turn round as I had no reverse gear.

An hour and twenty minutes later out comes a mechanic in my van!! Before I had even transferred the load across he had again fixed the broken van and said it would get him back to workshop so they could replace the broken part. Needless to say, I was now late for the rest of my round and ended up having a colleague come and assist, and we still had to overtime to complete it.

So by not taking the van back to the workshop for repairs when the mechanic first came out, the whole episode actually cost us more money: a second trip out for a mechanic (time that could have been spent working on vehicles in the workshop) plus the cost of the overtime required to complete the delivery. This is the kind of short-sighted penny-pinching that is becoming all too common in Royal Mail.

*If you’re lucky I’ll tell you some more stories about our wonderful workshop another day. They really are first class (muppets)!

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