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PROBLEMS WITH AAA AND WRECKER SERVICE


Stewart Long
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I live in Franklin, TN, 16 miles south of Nashville, TN and have had to call for AAA wrecker service twice in the last month and been told I have 2-1/2 hours wait while sitting in heavy traffic with my 1965 GTO and another vehicle.

 

Not only do you have to stand in line and answer stupid identification questions to a pre-recorded message but the anguish of getting rear ended is unbelievable.

 

Yes I know its a metropolitan area that is growing by 100 people per day and yes I expect there is going to be somewhat of an hour delay but to be told that I have to sit I harms way for 2-1/2 hours and pay $300.00 annual fee for the privilege is a little much.

 

When I finally gave up and called Harpeth Towing a local towing outfit that used to have a AAA contract the dispatcher told me that she would have a wrecker out to me in 30 minutes and she did and then proceeded to tell me that AAA has become bad business to do any contract negotiations with because they do not pay wrecker services.

 

When the driver got me loaded up and we were on the way he told me that AAA has only 2 wreckers for the entire county of Williamson County (the richest county in the entire state of Tennessee) and Harpeth Towing has 15 trucks.

 

So I got my GTO home, paid the driver $99.00 and a $20.00 tip for helping me get into the garage; called Grundy the next morning and they said scan it into an email and send it, and I did and within a week I had my $99.00.

 

In talking with so many other people they are having the same problem and its not just here its in Florida and out in rural areas.

 

Their excuse when I visited the AAA store and complained is that they can't get companies to sign up with AAA. Wonder why if you don't pay them.

 

I only have this AAA membership for my truck and trailer and GTO for touring but the erosion of trust now is overwhelming and I am seriously thinking of dropping them.

 

Is any of our other members of AACA having troubles with AAA wrecker service in your area and out on the road going to and coming home from tours?

 

Thanks.

 

Stew Long

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There is a lot of pressure via shareholders that procurement units to spit pennies and unfortunately at times and in the wrong hands goes a little too far and actually hurts the business - same goes with procurement units that do not foster relationships.  The point being that the pressure is so on via large corporations to maximize profits, .... and ultimately the end result should be everyone in the chain also looking to maximizing efficiency so it ALL works. As to AAA, I have never had a problem - super efficient in the Greater Cincinnati area. 

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So far, I've only needed the AAA towing service a couple of times, so I consider myself fortunate.  Both times the AAA response has been good, and I'm satisfied with their service ... so far.

 

Somehow I perceive that there may be "vigorous" competition between regional towing services,  and occasionally(?) folks will not heap praise upon their competitors.  Have you checked with AAA as to how many wreckers they actually have on call in the Williamson County Area?

 

Cheers,

Grog

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Must say am nearing 50 years with AAA (now have Premier which costs about 10% of my insurance costs & mainly for 250 mile towing - Florida is a big state even from the middle) and have never had an inordinate wait. But then is little I cannot fix myself (carry spares) and avoid high traffic density areas and times. Does make me wonder if the better plans get better service.

 

Was offered road service by my collector insurer and by the Good Sam Club but wanted on single plan that cold cover regular cars, collector cars, and travel trailer.

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I have the AAA gold service which is 100 miles of towing, If I use it once every few years or so it is a lot. I have had had both experiences long waits and fast to arrive. I have waited most of the time for at least an hour. The last time I used them was for a friend of mine a few weeks ago on Long Island, to get his 62 Buick Skylark up to my house to look at the brakes  As soon as I got off the phone with them about a minute later I had a call from the driver who told me he would be there in 10 minutes. It just so happened that he was a few miles away and just dropped off a car. It is all luck of the draw, In rural areas it all depends on the area that they cover. As Mr P pointed in Florida there is a lot of rural real estate between densely populated areas, and it a not a big state, it is a HUGE state. 

 

Again it is all luck. I was in Florida getting what was my Fathers 53 Chevy back on the road after 20 years of storage. The new fuel pump failed and I was stuck. I made the call and was told they were busy and it would be at least 2 hours. Fortunately I was in the parking lot of a restaurant/saloon. So what is one to do???? After a 3 hour of sitting at the bar he arrived, car still  could not run, and now I could not walk, a straight line. So in the long run I was lucky and the wait was expensive, but at least I found something to do.

 

If you are not local the advantage to any of these services is you have a phone number to call anywhere you are in the country. As long as everyone is safe while waiting, it is only time

 

Have a Great Thanksgiving

John   

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Stewart Long said:

...have to sit I harms way for 2-1/2 hours and pay $300.00 annual fee for the privilege is a little much.

 

I have had a couple of dissatisfying experiences with AAA.

I don't like the fact that the AAA "clubs" have merged, and the

small-town, more personal ones are now part of big regional clubs.

If I call their toll-free number for emergency service, I prefer to

get someone local who may know me and knows the area.

 

However, now I call a local AAA-registered towing company directly

and am sure to get a company that I know is good.  In some

places you may not be able to call the towing company directly,

or some garages think you can't, but persist and you may find

that such a method works for you.  If one AAA towing company

tells you that you can't call them directly, call another and see.

 

AAA "clubs" vary in price.  I pay less than $100 a year for their

"Plus" service, which provides up to 4 long-distance tows a year.

(The limit I think is 50 miles per tow.)  They have a higher-level

service, too, which I think provides for longer tows.  However,

the price is nothing like $300 a year.  That price seems very high.

 

You could check about towing through your antique-car 

insurance carrier.  Hagerty has various levels of service depending

on how much you pay.  Their highest level covers, I believe,

ALL the cars in the household, even regular cars.  Check to see

whether, in an emergency, you can use someone other than the

companies pre-approved on their list.

 

Good service is something every customer loves, and it

benefits the business as well.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Any group service you subscribe to that appears to offer “ free “ or “ at cost”services will - by design - have a network of less than desirable providers.

 

If you owned a truck - would you lose money by towing for AAA or other roadside assistance providers ?

 

You get what you pay for - sometimes you don’t like what you get.

 

 

Jim

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, padgett said:

 

Was offered road service by my collector insurer and by the Good Sam Club but wanted on single plan that cold cover regular cars, collector cars, and travel trailer.

 

I have the good Sam Club for the same reasons you suggest.

They will do all of the chores you mention.

One glitch, If you are towing a car hauler, (or any other trailer other than a camper) without a vehicle or boat loaded it may not get towed.

I have been known to put my Honda Elite in the hauler when I plan to travel any distance empty.

 

I have a friend that owns and drives junk. He actually keeps track of what he can get out of AAA. He knows what is 100 miles from his house to the tenth and has his crap hauled home regularly.

He will even switch license plates with current ones to get a nonrunner hauled. Even stuff that has not run in years.

AAA will never make a profit off of this guy.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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This was about three years ago, but yes, I sure did have a problem with AAA here in Northern CA about 2 p.m. on a weekday afternoon.  Car had a transmission issue, so I pulled off into to a travel stop off the interstate in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I wanted the car towed back to Sacramento (roughly 60 miles), figured no problem since I have AAA Plus, which covers up to 100 miles of towing.

 

Well, since they couldn't make my tow and return to the Bay Area before rush hour started, I was told that no trucks were available to make my out-of-area tow until after 7 p.m.  Fortunately, I was not on a travelway close to traffic, and there was a restaurant nearby.  The car and I safely returned home about 9:30 p.m. that night, some 7 1/2 hours after I made the initial call.

 

AAA probably has a decent response time for "local" tows, but watch out for those "out-of-area" ones.  AAA should probably disclose this policy, but I'm not holding my breath...

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have the Premier Service (250 miles towing) with RV it was $160/year. Now that I do not have an RV it is $130.

That is a small fraction of what I pay for automobile insurance for the herd. And personally think of it as insurance + other services ( can still get a triptic).

 

As Matt might say, if a buck is an issue maybe a Corolla would make more sense.

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We have the Premier Service which includes 250 miles towing, and also have RV coverage which covers our car haulers because they have (minimal) living quarters inside.

Our plan covers me and my wife, and also our grandson, and covers anyone else's vehicle where we may be a passenger

The few times we actually needed the service, we were served relatively promptly with absolutely no issues.

I inadvertently dropped the free roadside &  towing coverage I had with my ATT cell phone service when we modified our plan, but it was not a very good plan anyway!

My towing coverage with my Antique Auto Insurance through J C Taylor costs a grand total of $12/year. That $12 single charge covers all of my antique vehicles on the policy, tows up to 50 miles per occurrence, and is always the fastest service I could imagine. I've never had a problem with their service, and they always provide a ROLL-BACK for the antique cars.

Taylor is also a strong supporter of AACA and our many functions.

 

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When driving cars that are important to you, just call the largest towing companion the area directly. Ask for their best driver and roll back, explain you would like service RIGHT AWAY and will pay extra for the service. It's not worth getting killed on the side of the road........too many rear end accidents on the highway and back roads. Yup....I pay an extra fifty when I get towed, and thats not too often........last week I had a flat on a major car. Called a top of the line tow company, and was back at the shop in less than half an hour. I NEVER, EVER, change ANY flat on the side of the road anymore.......modern or antique. 

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When our Jeep was running... barely...we ended up having to call AAA I believe three times. I was satisfied with them, never had to wait more than an hour. Of course, the Hudson Valley is pretty well populated and there's a lot of competition between towing companies. Might have played a role, that is beyond me. The fact that it had quit running on the main road, blocking it, probably played more of a role. 

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The AAA service is great if you have a dead battery, flat tire etc. in front of your house or some other isolated area such as a parking lot. If you break down on a public road it's a different story. In my area, Long Island, the problem is that the police know that the AAA service can take a while. They will tell you that your disabled car can not disrupt the traffic flow and they call any tow that can respond quickly. The last thing a police officer want's to do is wait around for an hour, babysitting your disabled car. Then it's your problem to call AAA and try to get reimbursement . The responding tow companies know this and inflate their rate, knowing they have you "over a barrel" and AAA will only give you a portion of what you paid. My neighbor had a flat and needed to be towed (flat bedded) and was charged $150 and got under $50 from AAA.

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Twice this last year I had issues with the "Red" [water pump and then ignition module] and had to be towed. First time I called my insurance company [Farmers] and waited almost 2 hours while they "tried" to find a tow truck. I got tired of waiting and just called one and paid the bill and turned it in to my agent who got me full reimbursement. The second tiime I broke down I just called the two company and turned in the bill and once again received full reimbursement. Both tows were about 70 miles one way. I called the tow company close to my house as I figured they would come willingly knowing after getting me back the tow operator would also be close to home. No complaints about Farmers once I learned how to work the system...

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I live in a small town and the local AAA provider drivers know me. We have done some fancy stuff moving non-running cars I sold to a convenient place to load them, a few times.

Hardest thing was being 60 miles from home and trying to explain the different between a flatbed hauler and a tow truck for my '60 Electra. Especially when my ears were still ringing from blowing up the battery while holding on to the terminals. But that's a story better told by my wife.

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I've been a AAA member close to 20 years, have needed their roadside assistance 3 or 4 times in past +/-10  years, twice needing a tow for vintage car, one for +/-35 miles (during heavy Xmas traffic on Dec. 24th in Los Angeles area) and another +/-80 miles (from Westlake to Riverside) on late Sunday afternoon and every instance has included prompt and professional service.

Only "disappointment" I've encountered was maybe 6-7 years ago, after calling AAA to arrange that +/- 80 mile flatbed tow back home due to a suspension problem I fortunately discovered on a parking  lot after nice lunch break. I was told by the call center person that the (pre-agreed flatbed) truck will take +/- 2 hrs to arrive and calmly expecting that, I walked back to the great Italian restaurant where friend and I had just enjoyed superb lunch right prior to discovering the looming disaster.

Once I re-entered the restaurant, I promptly ordered another glass of the same excellent Pinot Noir I had little while earlier with the meal and almost immediately after receiving it, my phone rang with the flatbed driver informing me that he's already in the parking lot, forcing me to gulp down that great (almost a $20/glass, IIRC) wine I had expected to take my sweet time with to enjoy. 😞

 

P.S. All AAA service providers I've spoken with, including those helping me, have said they make decent money with those contracts and based on information I've received, comparing the assistance/services I've needed over the years to paying directly out-of-pocket for same incidents, I believe costs at this moment would've been about same. 

 

P.P.S. edinmass' mention of changing tires on the side of the road reminded me of the my worse experience from years ago when hauling one of my cars to Monterey Car Week events in a enclosed trailer, prompted by having a 90+ year old good friend wanting to come along and share the week up there, even thought he wasn't really a "car guy". 

Well, ended up getting a flat on the trailer in the middle of nowhere on I-5 with heavy traffic backed up for miles, moving along slowly and outside temperature at about 108*.

Not only that, but the tire needing replacement was on the left (next to traffic) and making things worse was that my dear friend kept getting in-and-out of the truck cab (with A/C on) to that scorching heat and pacing around next to me (between the traffic and trailer), offering his help should I need any.

Probably the only time during our over a decade and a half long friendship I almost lost my patience and temper with him.  😟

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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