It’s Christmas eve. Plans are made for the evening and the few days that follow, and I have a Co-wheels car (one of those social enterprise schemes) booked to ease the pain of getting around during times when there is no public transport, and to allow us to take my father-in-law out and about to see some of the local area.
I made the booking a few weeks ago as soon as I knew that a car would be needed. I haven’t had my own for about four years now, thanks in part to schemes like Co-wheels, and also to my current working arrangements.
A few days before Christmas eve I realised I wouldn’t be able to pick it up at 9am as I had originally planned, and rather than leave it sitting there unusable by anyone else I figured I’d delay the pick-up time so that someone else who needs it could use it.
Needless to say when I arrived to pick it up at the later time, the car was nowhere to be seen.
I called Co-wheels to find out where it was and they told me it had been due back at 11:30 that morning. It’s now almost 3.30pm. Eventually, they contact the person who’s using it only to discover that they’re still in London, claim that they had extended their booking until the 27th, and won’t be bringing it back.
Either they’re lying or Co-wheels’ booking system is broken.*
After much searching (and a walk home in the now chilling afternoon air) Co-wheels set me up with another hire starting later that night, and yet another starting on the morning of the 27th (today).
These bookings almost cover the entire period I had wanted the original car for, with the exception of the afternoon of Christmas eve obviously, but better than nothing, so I’m happy enough.
This morning, Sunday 27th December, I dutifully get up early and return the car I’ve got to its parking spot in town. Someone else has it booked from 9:15am, and I get it there at 9:10. Perfect. Except… where’s the other car that’s supposed to be here? Nowhere to be seen. Again.
So that’s two people who either don’t give a f*%# about anybody else using the same scheme as them, or Co-wheels’ booking system is broken.*
Again, I walk home in the cold, and rainy morning, having waited fruitlessly for half an hour to see if my car would turn up. And worse, to discover that the car I returned remained uncollected.
I returned to the car park later this afternoon, at around 3:45pm. My original car looked like it hadn’t moved since I dropped it off, and the other still wasn’t there either.
I was supposed to be collecting my son this morning, so he could have his Christmas visit with us and we had made a few other plans besides, all of which had to be abandoned. And that’s all because I was mindful of other scheme users.
Sadly, now that I’ve lost confidence in the system, I’ll never make that mistake again. And whether it’s due to the pig ignorance of others and the apparent absence of any kind of deterrent to such behaviour or whether it’s Co-wheels’ borked booking system*, it means that sometimes, whether I need the car at that moment or not, I’ll have it booked out and it’ll be inaccessible to anybody else. Which isn’t how a social scheme is supposed to work, nor is it how I really want to have to behave as a scheme member but I can’t risk this much of a cock-up happening again.
So too bad for everyone else from now on.
*Update: Co-wheels called to explain that they’re investigating the member(s) involved and that their booking system is working properly. So it really does look like it’s all down to the extreme selfishness of others.