Monday, September 1, 2008

AAA Sucks!

by Pa Rock

I want to tell you about the pain and misery that I brought upon myself when I carelessly lost my keys (car, home and office) last week, because doing so will help clarify why I didn't make it all the way to Mexico yesterday - but that trip will be discussed in a later post.

Last Thursday afternoon as I was walking across Luke Air Force Base, I shuffled some items from one of my pants pockets to the other. An hour or so later I discovered that my keys were gone. After searching all of the likely places, I came to the conclusion that they must have hit the ground during my pocket rearrangement.

The first crisis that had to be solved was how I was going to drive home that night. I called Triple A, a service that I have been a member of for years and with whom I had never experienced a problem. The first thing I learned was that my membership was going to expire in three days - quite a surprise since I had never had a renewal letter, but, oh well, it was still good.

Well, the lady on the phone told explained, it may not be good. Her screen was flashing the word "cash", which she explained meant that I had used up my allotted calls and would have to pay for this one myself. Oh, I asked, how many calls am I allotted on my Triple A "Plus" membership? Four, she replied. (I had never been told that there was a limit.) And how many calls have I had? Two, she replied cheerfully. Hmmm...and though I only remember one of those two, wouldn't I still have two remaining - even if your count was correct. Yes, she said. I'm going to have to do some more checking. She came back on a few minutes later saying that it might take awhile because the person she needed to talk to wasn't answering the phone.

No, that person isn't answering the phone because they've gone home, which is what I need to do. The base that I am calling from is closing, and if I don't get home soon, my landlord's chirpettes will be out of the office and I will have to sleep on the sidewalk tonight. Call a I will straighten Triple A out tomorrow!

The locksmith arrived ninety minutes later. The young man informed me that the cost of making a new key would be $135, and that I would have to pay $35 up front and he would bill Triple A for the rest. Fair enough. Even with money in hand, it took him over half an hour to get a key made, and it worked the ignition and every lock except the trunk. The locksmith told me that Arizona was so dry that if a person used the clicker all the time to gain entry to their vehicle, as myself and everyone else I know does, the lock mechanisms tend to dry up and quit working with keys.

The next day I called the number on my card for customer service. I renewed my card last year in Kentucky, so I reached an office in Lexington. That fellow told me that according to his computer, I had had four service calls since January. I asked for dates, and he provided them. Two of the calls had been on the same day last January. Knowing that at least three of the calls were fakes, I asked for copies of the bills. I'm sorry, he said, but Arizona would have those because that's where they were billed from. I'll connect you with Arizona, but here is their number in case we get cut off. With that he promptly connected me to the California office of Triple A.

It took California a while to figure out that I wasn't theirs, then they told me to hang on while they transferred me. It took me a few more minutes to realize that they had hung up on me. I then called the number that the nice fellow in Kentucky had given me. It turned out that was a number for vacation planning, but they were able to connect me with someone who supposedly could help. That young man informed me that I would have to pay the $100 because I had used up all of my calls.

You don't understand, sir. I am talking about fraud. I never made those service requests.

Oh, you want to report fraud?

Yes, but first I want copies of those bills.

I'm sorry, but I don't have access to those. You can report fraud at this number, and he proceeded to rattle off a string of digits. And their website is...

Their website? Will I be dealing with an agency of Triple A?

Oh, yes sir.

So I made the call. It was the National Insurance Fraud Hotline, and was not related to Triple A in any way. I filed a report with them over the phone. My next call was to my insurance agent to see how much towing and locksmith insurance would run. I had been paying AAA over eighty dollars a year for that service, but now I was mortally pissed and needed an alternative. My agent, Desi Smith of Goodyear, told me that the coverage would be $5 every six months. Sign me up, Desi, sign me up!

Now hear this: Even though I have had many years of wonderful service from Triple A, those days are gone. Triple A (especially Triple A Arizona) sucks. They suck, they swallow, they throw up in your lap, and they suck some more! If you need coverage for towing or a locksmith, check with your auto insurance agent. They are far cheaper, and when you have a problem, you can talk to someone you know!

Piso mojado!

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