Saving our holiday at the last moment

We were late this year with planning our holiday. We discussed a couple of options, but were always too busy to look at them more closely. By end of June, less than a month before embarking, I finally booked an apartment in Tossa de mar at the costa brava in Spain. We spent our honeymoon in this area, and there was a picturesque village with an old fortress directly at the sea, that we especially liked. We didn’t remember the name, nor had we any pictures of that place, only memories. After searching the internet, and looking at lots of pictures, I was 95% certain, that Tossa de mar was that village.

My over-cautious wive convinced me to pay an extra 90 bucks to be able to cancel the reservation in case something unforeseen would happen. As always I used a booking platform where I can pay with BTC. Up to one week before the holiday we could cancel free of charge, and up to one day before, we would get 50% back. The area is quite expensive, and being late doesn’t help with the pricing neither. So I payed more than ever before for an accommodation that was more on the cheaper side of the options that I found.

The plan was to drive there with our electric car. That would allow us to be free to move around the area. It is important for us not to pollute the environment for our holidays. And since it is one of the older cars, it still has free supercharging included.

Six days before the holidays should start, the unforeseen event happened. After a day at the beach in Luzern with some friends, we couldn’t drive home. The car seemed to have little power on the 12V battery, and wouldn’t allow me to drive. After a while of trying even the computer shut down. I called the TCS, but they also were not able to make it drive. After six and a half years where the car never let me down, this was the first time I had to go home by other means.

The TCS brought the car to the Tesla service center on Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning they started the error inspection, and by Wednesday they told me that the problem was with the high voltage battery. They presented two options: a new 90kWh battery for CHF 22k or a refurbished replacement battery for CHF 12k. Both had a waiting time of about three weeks, so the car would not be ready for our holiday. By chance I found a company that can repair the battery for about CHF 6k and provide a loaner battery for the duration of the repair. They are overwhelmed with work at the moment, so that the repair is estimated to take 3 months.

Since it was too late for the full refund, we didn’t want to just loose half of the money we paid for the hotel. So we checked our options:

  • cancel and postpone the holidays
  • rent a car
  • go there by train
  • go there by airplane
  • borrow a car privately
  • buy a car

While I was still overwhelmed by last minute work at the office, the rest of the family explored those options. My wive had a small hope that somebody would go to that hotel instead of us, and reimburse part of the cost. In my view that chance was virtually non-existent. I expected that we would drive about three thousand kilometers on that holiday. A rental car for this would be insanely expensive, and after my recent experience with AMAG, my appetite for rental cars was non-existent. Going there with a train would also be very expensive for the whole family, and inconvenient with the connections. Most planes were probably booked out, so that the only ones that were still available would have us arrive in Barcelona in the middle of the night. Some people offered to lend us their car free of charge, which was very nice of them. But we didn’t want to just take somebodies car, use it for so many kilometers, and give nothing in return. If we wanted to be fair, we would need to give them almost CHF 2k for that. If something broke with that car, it would raise inconvenient questions about who would pay for the repair.

That left us with either cancelling, or buying a car. Time was tight, but luckily I had Thursday and Friday off. So my plan was that I could go test drive one or two cars on Thursday and immediately decide, so that we could go to the traffic office to terminate the immatriculation. I would then go home, transfer the money, and buy insurance for the car. On Friday I would go to the traffic office to immatriculate it, then go to Tesla to collect the number plates from my car. After making sure the seller received the money, go collect the car. That tight schedule left no room for additional problems. One possible problem was, that bank transfers are not guaranteed to arrive the next day. So a better option would be to pay with Bitcoin, which arrives almost instantaneously and has an unparalleled reliability.

So on Wednesday, while I was still working, my kids started looking at the used car listings. They called some people to ask if they would sell the car on very short notice, and if they wold accept BTC for it. I am not sure if they thought kids calling with these questions was a joke, they all declined. So I took over in the evening. My requirements were as follows:

  • electric (we don’t want to pollute)
  • supercharging included (only Model S up to about 2016) As I don’t have a credit card, and there are no sane ways yet to pay for charging, this is the only option for long distance travel with an electric car.
  • must be able to sell on short notice according to the plan above
  • payment in Bitcoin

Most people I called failed on one of these points. Some promised to check the next day. And then there was one that said he could even come to my place for the test drive, and would accept two thirds in BTC but the rest in CHF. That was great, but I told him that I could not guarantee that the CHF were on his account on Friday. He said that a statement from my bank that it was sent, would be good enough for him. So he came on Thursday afternoon for the test drive. The car looked much nicer inside and outside than on the pictures. It was nice to drive, and since it is two years younger than my car, it has some things that are nicer and better. That it is a performance version was not important to me at all. Sure the insane acceleration is a lot of fun, but that also means that insurance and road tax are more expensive.

I agreed to buy it and signed the contract. Then I sent the BTC and the CHF. Big thanks to SEBA for all the effort to make the express payment happen after the initial hesitation. On Friday the seller even came to pick me up at Tesla. After this stressful week his support meant a lot to us. So our holidays were saved at the last moment!

Driving to Spain was nice as always. There were good restaurants at the supercharger stations. Even though my wive was a strong opponent of Autopilot before, she slowly got used to the car driving itself under my supervision. We spent some wonderful time at costa brava. We are thankful that we didn’t have to cancel the holiday, and loose half the money for the hotel.

Now I have three months to decide which of the two cars I will keep after the battery is fixed. The one with the nicer things or the one with the cheaper insurance and road tax. Both are good choices, but which is the better?






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