EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
AN expat couple are to sue the owner of a van hire company after a vehicle they used was described as a ‘death trap’ by mechanics.
David Steel, 60, slammed the owner of the company, who also runs a controversial pet transport company, exposed in the Olive Press in August.
He and his wife Ann, 58, had rented the van from One Way Van Hire, based in Torre del Mar, to move their belongings from Scotland to Spain.
But the pair, who live in Puente don Manuel, in the Axarquia, were forced to stop in Portsmouth for emergency repairs after the brakes failed.
“The mechanics said they didn’t know how we’d got that far alive,” revealed the retired prison service worker. “They described the van as a death trap and refused to release the vehicle until all the repairs had been done. It was a nightmare, we could have been killed.”
The van needed new brake disks, two new tyres and an ABS cylinder, despite company boss Jeremy Griffiths claiming an MOT had been carried out in June.
“I told Griffiths I wanted a full refund but he told me that he doesn’t rent out vans for nothing,” added Steel, from Edinburgh.
“He told us it was one of the best vans he had, but if that is the case then God help anyone who has to drive the bad ones.”
“It is not just animals whose lives he is putting at risk,” Steel added of Griffiths, who also runs disgraced courier firm Pet Taxi.
Steel has now reported Griffiths to the DVLA and trading standards.
Griffiths claims all his vehicles are fully licenced and that he is registered with Defra and that Steel wore out the brakes by overloading the van.
This is disputed by the manager of the garage in Portsmouth which carried out the repairs, who confirmed that the damage was caused by poor maintenance.
Steel’s situation is just one of a string of complaints against Griffiths companies. Another van hire customer Francisco Fernandez, denounced Griffiths after experiencing ‘abysmal service’.
“The van I got was in a disgraceful condition,” he said. “I had no insurance papers and the spare tyre had a three inch gash in the side.
“The front passenger door and side door were both padlocked, making it impossible to use them in an emergency, it was extremely dangerous.”