A pilot scheme whereby Dundee drivers can have their car picked up and delivered home if they decide to have a drink at the pub over the festive season has been hailed a “resounding success” on its first weekend.
Gary Rooney, who runs tow service Big Recovery, admitted to a few jitters before the launch on Friday.
“We just wanted to do something with a fairly novel idea that would introduce a feelgood factor,” he said. “We haven’t really been prepared for the sort of attention it would bring.”
“It was busy. We were a bit apprehensive that we weren’t going to get to everyone. We had between 20 to 25 jobs over the whole weekend and managed to get every pick-up done. The response was great.”
With emergency tow pickups as far afield as Aberdeen and Manchester to contend with as part of his regular recovery business, Mr Rooney and his colleagues managed to keep on top of festive demands in-between.
One customer, Thomas Glen, said: “What a service this firm are providing. Random night out, car on the other side of town – quick, secure and top class service meant my car was home within the hour.”
“Gary’s service was fast, secure and 100% professional. What he’s doing is brilliant and if it saves just one life from a potential drunk driver then I’d say it’s a success.”
“People have been hugely appreciative with it being a free service,” said Mr Rooney.
“I thought that some might try to abuse the service and take their car into town on purpose just to save money on a taxi. Not one single customer gave me that impression.”
Instead, the service was put to use by pub goers who might have otherwise found themselves in a logistical jam.
“Everybody had a story about how they had ended up having a couple of drinks.”
“It was mostly guys who had taken their car to the pub after work. The plan was: have an orange juice, go home, get changed, then go and enjoy the rest of their night out. It turned out they’d had a couple of drinks because the boss had provided champagne, then they did the right thing and phoned me.”
The scheme earned the support of emergency services across Tayside when it was first announced. Camaraderie from such agencies was in further evidence when Mr Rooney – who has been joined in the endeavour by business partner Benny Thomson and employee Rab Dick – attended to assist drivers.
“We ran into a couple of paramedics and they were appreciative of what we’re doing for everyone. The RNLI gave us some memorabilia to hand out to customers. We’ll be doing that this weekend.”
The scheme will continue to run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the festive period, ending on Sunday January 8. What are his aspirations for the venture over the coming weeks?
“I just hope it’s going to continue to be a success,” he said. “We knew that this pilot weekend would probably be the busiest. We don’t think there will be much demand on Christmas Day. Hogmanay might be a different story. We’re going to reiterate the fact that we don’t do house party to home, it’s only Dundee venues.”
With Dundee drivers’ wheels in safe hands, Mr Rooney’s dedication might cause another unforeseen logistical problem this weekend.
“One thing I haven’t really thought through is that this might pry me away from the Christmas dinner. If I’m halfway through the turkey when the phone goes I’ll need to go and make the pickup.”