Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Debit Card Surcharge Rip-Off.

This week I decided I would have a look at the ball valve that is located in the bottom of the waste tank under the floor of the motorhome "garage" locker. Although working adequately, I had noticed it has a minor drip when closed, and also access to it was through the hole that can be seen in the image of the interior of the rear locker. A lever is in there connected by a rod through the floor to the top of the valve. A genuine Rapido part can be seen in the next image, and is currently available on that famous on-line auction site from the UK Rapido main agent in the Midlands for a cost of £41.76 as an "overstock" part without packaging!

One end attaches to the waste tank exit pipe and the other attaches to pipework that subsequently leads to the side of the van for disposal into the site motorhome service point for "grey" water. As can be seen from the image, the valve handle is designed for a rod attachment to allow remote operation from within the locker.
In general use not only is the valve handle inconveniently placed within the locker, the job of removing this valve for service or replacement is notoriously "fiddly". So my own solution to both issues is to leave the original in the open position, and fit a new single union end of line dump valve to the terminus of the waste pipe outside the van, solving two problems in one go. Also, the cost of a generic, almost identical valve is less than half that of the genuine article, and the similarity is uncanny, as can be seen in the next image.

The valve doesn't stick out of the side of the van, and isn't as low as it appears in the image, no lower than the exhaust tail pipe, still allowing room for a grey waste container underneath if required.

These are fittings for what is known as metric PVC waste or irrigation pipe, and can often be found at garden pond accessories suppliers. Their socket internal diameter is 40mm. There is also a metric push fit domestic waste pipe system, which is available at plumber's merchants, but as is often usual in this scenario, there is no standardisation. The Rapido uses "40mm" PVC piping with glued joints, with an inside pipe diameter of 36mm and a 2mm wall thickness - which gives a true outside diameter of only 38mm to slide into the 40mm socket! This appears to be the type supplied by field irrigation and garden pond suppliers. "Universal" 40mm domestic push fit waste pipe is what it says on the tin, and is in fact 40mm in outside diameter, and 40mm metric solvent weld domestic waste pipe, which also requires glued joints, is around 43mm outside diameter depending on brand, due to a thicker pipe wall! However, unless you have done your homework first, that is a recipe for disaster when obtaining new parts.

Finally to the point of my story, and the title of this post. This type of fitting has no inbuilt seals and requires a special PVC glue that bonds the individual parts together. The domestic pipe fittings are push fit with inbuilt seals - and of course, just as logic would suggest (not), are all incompatible with each other.
This led me to visit my local small hardware store today - wishing to give them my business rather than the large multiple DIY chains, to obtain the necessary PVC cement. Sure enough, there it was on the shelf at £3.45 a tube - (£2.98 in B&Q). The only problem was I only had £3 in cash on me, so I presented my Visa DEBIT card to pay. OK - the transaction was under £5 but - "That will be £4 please". WHAT? a 16% surcharge just to pay by debit card? Needless to say I left the item on the counter and left the shop empty handed.

From 6th April 2013 the Consumer Rights (payment surcharges) Regulations 2012 came into force in the UK which legislates that traders must no longer charge their customers more than the actual costs to process the card payment. Although there are certain exceptions, this relates to most transactions that have been the subject of public complaint in the past, including payments for air travel, hotels and restaurants. Reasonable amounts have been stated to be no more than 20p on any debit card transaction regardless of its value, and no more than 2% of any credit card transaction. Small traders such as the one I visited today had until June 2014 to comply with the new legislation, but large organizations should have complied immediately in 2013.

The more consumers that now vote with their feet as I did today will hopefully hammer home that we will no longer be ripped off. (I was a small trader for many years before retirement, and never imposed card transaction charges no matter what their value). I have even taken a debit card payment for a 30p newspaper.

You never know when a customer will come back in the future to spend much more - a disgruntled one will never return.


  1. Good solution Peter. I like lateral thinking!

  2. Thanks Tom, this idea seem to work well, and the new valve, a quality item from a Lincolnshire irrigation supplies firm only cost £18 delivered - identical to the factory part except for the handle, and I would like to bet that could be modified. For those who are considering a similar modification to this, as described, this is a glue to glue fitting, which should be permanently fixed using PVC solvent cement. However, to provide a reversible mod I used clear silicone sealant / adhesive of the type that can be used to fix uPVC fittings rather than the more permanent bond. To place this valve just underneath the van rather than on the end of the pipe, the firm also supplies a two union version, allowing the valve to be dismantled from the line for servicing, and in that situation the joints could be glued, as the rest of the original fitments are.


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