Scoundrels & Superheroes

12th September 2018

This afternoon I was working in Wandsworth… it’s a good hours ride across London from my home… came out of the venue to find my scooter with it’s side panel hanging off.

Not good methinks. I immediately try the key and everything lights up leading me to think it’d been hit by the white van that was there when I parked it. Got the panel back in place temporarily ready to ride home… ha! The engine turns over but won’t start, wtf? Ok so I need to get it recovered, luckily I have my AA card with me so give them a ring… the auto message says it will be quicker and easier to use their app, I’ll also be able to track my recovery arrival.. oooo sounds good so I take the time to download it. Got it, I then sign in and attempt to arrange a recovery… guess what, my membership has expired… 😒. Ok I attempt to renew, but it says I have to phone them… not a very happy bunny at all.

Am on hold for almost 10 minutes when eventually I get through… I chat with a woman who asks some questions about the scooter, when we get to the part about what’s wrong with it I stupidly tell the truth… oh they don’t recover from theft or vandalism under the membership scheme, I have to pay £170 plus the membership fee… what!! Ok better check my insurance recovery then although I’ll have to put in a claim so it will affect my insurance premium next year. I search my phone for the email with my insurance docs… can’t find it… omg don’t say I’m not insured, that can’t be right, I’m sure I remember sorting it out earlier this year. Ok what’s the next step? I call home to check re the AA membership… yep it’s lapsed because we are now with the RAC as it came free with my partners new car.. ok will look up the details for me and let me know.

In the meantime I decide to push the scooter down to where I know there is a coffee shop to wait for the recovery when it comes, also I want to move it in case I have to leave it here… don’t want the little bastards coming back for it later.

I manage to get across one half of the busy dual carriageway and am just crossing the second half when a black bike comes up and blocks the traffic so that I can cross safely… thanks mate. He follows me into the side street so I stop and he jumps off asking what’s the problem… I explain… he says he’s an engineer but now owns the coffee shop on the high road just by where I was parked. He asks if he can have a look… yes of course, thank you.

He investigates and then looks up the wiring schematic on You Tube… yep they’ve nicked the ECU, (electronic control unit), so basically the bikes computer…. f@#£&*rs…. I explain that I’m having problems getting it recovered and he, (James), immediately spins around and emerges in his superman outfit! He suggests we ring around the dealers and see if we can get one… he will take me on the back of his very sexy Kawasaki… I also try my local shop where I bought it. They are a bit dubious as to the problem actually being the missing ECU and want me to take it in so they can inspect it and anyway the keys will have to be reprogrammed etc. etc. kerching! After explaining all of that it appears that they can’t get one until next week and it’ll be £209 plus fitting.

James’ call results in a module for Friday and he offers to let me store the bike at his cafe… how sweet is that. I really prefer to get the bike back to my neck of the woods so James says he knows someone who might be able to help and instantly is on the phone to whomever. They want £95 cash to take the bike and me to the scooter shop near my home, still expensive but better than the AA… I agree.

I push the bike back across the two dual carriageways to his cafe and he opens up and even makes me a cup of coffee…. wonderful! We have a chat about bikes and soon there is a call to say the chap is here… looking outside we spot a man across the road, where we have just come from, he has a large Luton van… mmmmm…. James insists on pushing this time… back across the two carriageways again. The man with the van then meets us and I can see it’s a tail lift… he doesn’t have any ramps so how will he get it in the van? Superman aka James gives him a hand, the bike has to go onto the lift sideways, be raised up to the floor level and then the rear end bounced round to be rolled into the van. The guy doesn’t have any proper tie downs, just what appears to be a very long piece of crepe bandage… am seriously unimpressed. As he’s trying to tie it down, I’m thinking how is he going to get it off on his own? I ask… he thinks James is coming with… nooooo, then there ensues a rather unpleasant conversation about taking my scooter back off the van.. the guy insists on calling his boss who tells him not to release the bike. WHAT!!! Maybe he doesn’t understand the law here… if he takes my bike it’s theft.. he still insists he can’t take it off without his boss’ permission. He says the boss can send an extra man for another £45… no way, just get my bike off now.

Things start to get a little heated… James threatens to call the police.. the man gets on the phone to his boss again whilst moving towards the drivers cab.. oh no you don’t, I tell him he can’t take my bike and ask what he’s doing? I’m worried he is going to jump in his cab and drive off with James standing on the tail lift, I don’t want anyone to get hurt! The driver walks back to the rear of the van when James hands him his phone saying the police want to talk to him… I’m not entirely sure what happens, but immediately the guy says his boss told him to take the bike off… whew!!

The driver and James manhandle the bike back off of the van… James asks him how much he was going to be paid for this job? ‘£15…’, ‘£50?’ Says James, ‘ No, £15, one five’ says the driver… now that is just disgusting… so if you ever think of booking a removal or man and van, avoid Anytime Removals like the plague, not only are they underpaying their drivers but apparently the man on the phone was particularly obnoxious.

I have now received the RAC details from my partner and give them a ring… they can’t find us in their membership system… I give up. The van man insists on helping James push the bike again across the two dual carriageways. Once back outside the Cafe I have a brainwave… the AA and RAC invariably use a motorcycle specialist recovery firm called SOS so I google them and ring their number. The guy on the phone explains that they can come and pick it up, it will be £145.27p (0.27p for???), but unfortunately they’re super busy and cannot come for 3 hours!! I offer to pay cash, which doesn’t speed it up, but hey ho, at this point it’s now 7pm and I need to get home so I accept.

With enormous thanks to the stupendous James… what a bloody star… I decide to push my scooter about half a mile – down hill – to the town so that I can plot up and get something to eat while I wait for SOS to arrive.

And here is the magnificent James and his sexy motorcycle outside his Cafe ‘Press’ – do drop in for great coffee and delicious food if you are in the neighbourhood and say Hi to James too.

I manage to find a parking spot on the main road opposite a gastropub so I can see it outside. I order some quite expensive food and after about 10 minutes receive a phone call… it’s the SOS guy telling me he’s juggled the bookings around and now someone will be with me in half an hour… that’s absolutely great… hurry up food!!

Good as his word I get another call and the guy, Graham, is just up the road. I quickly finish my food and dash out of the pub to meet him.

He loads up and I grab a couple of coffees for us and a small ice cream for me, (the scooter is parked outside an ice cream/coffee shop).

At last I arrive home at 10pm, exhausted but relieved to be here. I wake up in the middle of the night and decide to google the bike schematics to find the part number and then find one, (the only one that is right for my bike), on E-Bay. It’s a salvage part so not new and they want £150 for it or best offer, I offer £130 and go to sleep.

Next morning I find an email with a counter offer of £135 so snap it up. The way I see it, if the keys need reprogramming it is probably going to be relatively inexpensive so I’m going to take a chance. Later in the day the dealer calls and asks if I want to order the ECU, but I tell him I already have one to which he says ok, good, let me know if you need anything… no mention of key remapping so I’m very hopeful it will all work out well.

What a blooming nightmare…. but at least I got to meet a real gentleman.


Update – the used ECU doesn’t work, yep it needs the keys that are mapped to it.. bloody hell!!  I have the scooter recovered to Scooterden, the shop I use, and they fit a new ECU with new keys.  This is £325!  I am gutted, but while I’m there I spot another scooter and feel this situation is an omen, time to swap it in methinks.  I arrange to buy a new scooter, Honda SH300i, they will take my top box and satnav bracket off the old one and put them on this new one for free so I guess that’s something.

PS I complained to the ebay seller re the used ECU, he gave me a full refund and told me to chuck it in the bin… so a bit of a result in the end!

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