Costs & Losses

by Ant Stone on April 15, 2009

in Australia

They couldn’t? They wouldn’t! They haven’t? I think they did. I hope they didn’t! They better hadn’t. Could one friend, do this to another? These were my thoughts as I stood in front of the sweaty mechanic, watching his mouth attempt to justify the $2200 bill for repairing our stricken ute. This, just a few weeks after we nursed the $700 sting to get the “yeah it’s perfect mate” car through the mandatory Roadworthy Certificate (also $700). I wasn’t sure what to boot first – the car, or Reb’s so-called ‘friend’.

The friend in question has the alibi that she was merely selling it on behalf of friends of her own, but I am convinced beyond doubt that they knew the head gasket was shot. As evidence, your honour, I present an extraordinarily big tub of coolant, a bottle of radiator treatment, a throaty engine and a radiator that drank more than most Irish people I know. I don’t care that the car was – excuse my French – fucked, all I care about is the deceitful way it was sold to us, because I’m sure in some dusty station locker there lies a scroll that records the Olde Backpacker Code, whereby you do not steal food from a communal fridge, you do not “knock one out” in the communal shower, and you do not, under any circumstance, knowingly rip off another backpacker. Especially this one.

Buying a car is a tricky process (even in your own country) so I think it’s important that any backpackers reading this, heed the lessons learned from our mistakes. Firstly, if you don’t know anything about cars then don’t buy one without seeking the advice of someone who does. Even if you pay for it, you will potentially avoid a much more expensive repair job. Secondly, do you really need to buy a car? If you’re travelling with it for any less than 3 months then I’d probably say not. The level of risk far outweighs the level of need – rent one. If you really must buy one then check the paperwork (no matter how boring), check the colour of the exhaust smoke and check the temperature gauge. When (not if) you test drive it; turn it left and right, open it up, slam on the brakes, and take it through the entire range of gears (including reverse).

Finally, check what bottles are rolling around, and why are they there? Are there signs of deep rust? When was it last serviced? Why was the exhaust replaced last week, what else is wrong? At the very least these are angles to barter.

If you’re buying a car in Melbourne and it’s Roadworthy Certificate is anywhere near expiring then be warned they pick up on everything from the passenger side sun visor to the sexuality of your air freshener, and there are usually costs associated with every last nut and bolt (+labour and +GST). The extra costs we incurred were disappointing, but when I took a step back, I concluded the cost equalled £1 a day for every day we spent in Asia. We could of cut our losses, but we now know our car isn’t sick.

My final word goes to the friends of a friend who found it in themselves to sell on a wreck – may malaria be the kindest you contract, and may bad karma rain like a merciless monsoon to disclose your guilt and guile.

Have you ever been ripped off by a fellow backpacker? Have you ripped someone off yourself? What’s your opinion of those that do; fair game, or rotten deed?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Beau April 16, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now.. Sorry to hear this, mate.

Reply

Ant April 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

Thanks Beau, it was a slight inconvenience and I learned a few things. Glad to know you’re tuned into The Trail.

Reply

Eric Daams May 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Mate, that sucks. Really sorry to hear this. Love your last line though :)

Reply

Ant May 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

It was a rare, but satisfying outburst of negative energy… I feel cleansed!

Reply

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