I've had it with my auto club

I’ve been with this auto club, (a very large and well-known one that goes by three letters) for a number of years, and even upgraded to their “Premiere” level of service at a substantial extra cost.

Well, a couple days ago my wife calls me from the side of the road, saying while she was driving our '92 Dodge B350 van she started to smell coolant and the temp guage headed for the moon. She pulls over and, sure enough, coolant is flowing out like a waterfall from the front of the engine. (I later determined a heater hose had ruptured).

So, she calls the, um, cough-cough “Association we are All Aware of”. They verify she is an associate member on my account, and proceed to call their contracted towing company for the area.

A half hour later they call my (now shivering in the cold vehicle) wife back, saying “the towing company says they need a special HEAVY DUTY wrecker to tow your 15-passenger van, and theirs is not available. We can’t help you, you will need to call around and find a tow on your own.”

I know for an absolute fact that this is bunk, any tow truck can tow that van, from the sling type on up. So I got on the horn (I was 2.5 hours away in my car heading home from work) with you-know-who auto club and told them the towing company was feeding them nonsense, and to get a truck out there and get that stranded lone female off the side of the road and van towed, pronto. They assured me yes-yes, they would take care of everything, and said they would call ME once all the ducks were in a row.

Well, and hour later they call my WIFE (apparently didn’t have enough spine to call me back) saying she was on her own, reiterated she would have to find some other company to tow the van because their contracted company refused to tow it because “they needed the special heavy-duty tow truck” to tow the van.

Long story short, I finally made my way over there from 2 1/2 hours away and got my freezing, exhausted from hours waiting at the side of the road, sobbing wife home, and got the van towed home (yes, with a NON heavy duty tow truck no thanks to you-know-who auto club).

So much for you-know-who’s vaunted “Premiere” service. I am DONE with them. Does anyone know a good auto club that doesn’t start with three identical vowels who will actually PROVIDE roadside assistance?

Why do you need a club? Carry enough cash to hire a towing company. Stash it in the van somewhere. Tow truck operators respond faster to cash anyway, and they might even reduce their price.

Even if they had towed the van they would have taken it somewhere nearby and you still would have had to retrieve your wife.

I gave up my car club membership 20 years ago and never looked back. I don’t miss it at all. Save your money.

In addition to what mcparadise recommended, ask your insurance agent if you can add towing coverage to your auto policy. In most cases, this coverage costs far less than auto club membership. Then, if you need to be towed, you submit a receipt to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Pretty sure towing insurance doesn’t cover breakdowns, only accidents.

I’ve generally had excellent luck with AAA. I think your beef is with the company they contract with in that area, and they may actually have a valid reason for only towing your vehicle with HD equipment.

This may vary with the insurance company.
I can recall submitting towing receipts (for breakdowns) to my State Farm agent, and he wrote checks to me on the spot. And, trust me–the first thing that an agent would ask is whether the towing is the result of an accident!

I’d contact the towing company responsible and see if they can give you a valid reason for not towing the van. The AAA agent probably knows very little about towing and just took the company at their word that they couldn’t tow your vehicle and had no other AAA contractable trucks in the area.

In my past experience i’ve always had excellent luck with AAA, granted I don’t have a 15 passenger van.

I have had decent service from Good Sam RV Club. ( http://www.goodsamclub.com/ is the home page. http://www.goodsamclub.com/benefits-services/emergency-road-service.aspx is the page with their roadside assistance. ) Since they tow RVs, they should be able to tow your van with no problems. The platinum plan covers any vehicle you and your immediate family drive.

One time, AAA left my mother waiting for about four hours because AAA gave one side of the interstate to one company, and the other to another company. Each company thought my mother was in the other’s territory and just turned around and left her there.

These guys who are telling you to drop auto clubs all together might not realize that they do a lot more than just tow your car. They also might not realize many people aren’t comfortable carrying large amounts of cash.

My towing coverage on my insurance policy with a well known company whose initials are State Farm (no point beating around the bush) DEFINITELY covers tows for breakdowns. It costs me $2.60 every six months. The only drawback that I can see is that they will call each use a “claim” which eliminates rate reductions for no claims over a givin period. They can’t raise my rates, just like a comprehensive claim, but they won’t lower them.

State Farm is my insurance company and I have the towing rider. I’ve used it once in the past 10 years…actually my wife for a flat. The cost is minimal…$20/year. And we can call ANYONE to tow us. We just pay them…and then get reimbursed by State Farm.

I looked into AAA years ago when I worked in NY…one thing about AAA they are NOT allowed on certain roads (like the NY State Through-Way). On many tow roads across the country the state will contract out to a local towing company…WHICH MAY NOT BE AAA.

Even a cheap GPS is far better than AAA’s triptiks any day. Besides, when they began to dabble in political endorsements, I dropped them like a hot potato. I have yet to find a tow truck driver who can’t take plastic.

Different wreckers have different capacities. Some flat beds are long enough for a car but not a long wheelbase pickup or van. Some states don’t allow ANY overhang past the end of the bed. The company in question may not have had one capable of hauling a lnng van for to either its length or weigt or both. Perhaps their heavy duty unit was on a long haul out of town or broken down. I’m sure they would have been glad to make some $$ if they could have.

I seem to recall a story about this same outfit leaving some woman stranded and she was later murdered. After that incident, they had all kinds of promises not to let this type of thing happen again but I’ve heard many similar stories to yours since then.

I would be steaming mad. You’ve paid them to provide a service. Who cares if their CONTRACTED service is not available. Obviously you were able to find a towing company. If they cannot provide service with their contracted company, they owe it to you to find someone else and pay any extra it costs them to fulfill their obligations IN A TIMELY FASHION. That’s the price of doing business. Not simply throwing up their hands in mock futility and absolving themselves of any further liability.

I couldn’t agree more that GPS and mapquest.com have made triptiks obsolete.

How do you find a towing company in the middle of the night on a weekend in the middle of nowhere? Who do you call? Personally, I like having one number to call instead of several to find a towing company.

My motorcycles don’t have spare tires and I have no idea how to change a flat on the dual rear axle of my class C RV. My auto club membership gives me the peace of mind to ride my motorcycle 700 miles in one weekend, or load up the RV for a 2,000 mile trip without worrying about what to do if I get a flat tire. If the OP isn’t comfortable dropping his auto club membership all together, I understand why.

hey thanks everyone for your input. I would prefer a traditional auto club of some kind, becuase using an auto insurance rider I’ve heard can hurt your claims status and increase your premiums.

By way of background I have four vehicles and five drivers in the household, two of whom are female. I’d really rather not have to stash cash in all those vehicles. I don’t think my requirements are out of line - I just want an auto club which, barring earthquake, tornado and the like, will promise and deliver on the promise of getting the female drivers in my household off the side of the road in a reasonable amount of time. I don’t care if they have to go outside and get a non-contract company and I pay out of pocket etc etc etc. Not just call one towing company, get a completely bogus excuse as to why they can’t tow, and then tell my wife “we can’t help you”.

For the record, I know the towing company that declined the tow. They had towed this van before with a regular tow truck. It was just a regular flatbed. The driver TOLD me at that time they tow vans like mine, and heavier vehicles all the time. He told me their company has nothing BUT flat bed trucks just like the one he used to tow my van.

The factory service manual for my van states on page 0-9, complete with pictures, that a sling type, wheel lift, OR a flat bed can tow my van. So, on a number of leveels, their excuse this time around doesn’t wash.

In that case I would try and contact AAA again and ask to speak to an upper level supervisor or manager and see if you can get a straight answer as to why exactly they wouldn’t tow your van or at the very least an admission that they made a mistake and they really could have.

Well I used to work for that organization back in the 70’s. I can tell you that the purpose of the membership is to sell insurance. Many many times after three calls, my members would just get dropped because it was costing too much money for the car service. Etc. etc. Although in fairness, each state or each major metro area operates their own club so can be different with different dispatch service.

I have had Ammoco for many many years now and have always been satisfied with their service, usually, although they are dispatched out of India like everyone else. I have been told that AARP uses the same system but is a better deal. On my last call, their person would not be available for an hour but they did contact another outfit just a few minutes away. The only issue was I had to pay them and then be reimbursed. Its lonely on the highway so that was no problem. We did have a problem when my wife parked the car at the airport and the trunk was left open for a few days. When she called for a jump, the person in dispatch could not find Minneapolis on the map. Other than that I have never had a problem with them.

I also have towing insurance from State Farm. Why do you need a motor club membership? When you are on the road and have a problem, you are assured that they will find someone to come and get you, regardless of the time or whether it is a holiday or not. You don’t carry a yellow book for every town you go through but they do. Also if you ever have to get a tow on a holiday, you can pretty much forget it unless the highway patrol calls or the club does. They are under contract. To me it is well worth the $50 or so a year when I need it. Its not the money but having someone to call.

I dropped AAA about 15 years ago because of a service problem. They talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. If you get stranded on the road call the Highway Patrol, they will know a towing service. Asumeing you have a cell phone with emergency numbers listed. AAA is not worthy of my business.

My opinion is that you have a contract with them to provide a service as specified. If there’s a problem with the tow truck being unable to handle a particular load or whatever it’s their duty to iron any wrinkles out; not yours.

A long time friend of mine runs a couple of wreckers along with his shop and he routinely hauls vehicles like this all of the time with the smaller unit.
I could see not wanting to haul a 15 passenger van if the wrecker unit (could be a bad choice of words) was one of those pickup with a repo hoist on the back but one would think a unit like this would not be contracted with this 3 letter company anyway.

“Pretty sure towing insurance doesn’t cover breakdowns, only accidents.”

We have Geico and their towing insurance. One car was towed since we started they towing rider, and it was because the car would not start. The one problem was that they would only tow it to a garage of their choice or one of my choice no farther away. I let them tow it to Pep Boys since I didn’t know any other shops in the area. I was concerned abut the quality of the work beforehand, but they were up front about the charges and found the problem. I was charged on the high end of the cost range, but that was because the battery had an internal short, requiring more troubleshooting than just a dead battery. I was happily surprised with their work. I haven’t always been, but that was a different Pep Boys.

“My opinion is that you have a contract with them to provide a service as specified.”

That would be great. But my experience with AAA is that they do not stand behind their contractor’s work. We dropped their service soon after. We also received calls for a few years after that offering AAA to us. I told them of the problem; they even put a manager on the phone. But all they could say was “gosh, that’s a shame”, and they got what they deserved - nothing.