On December 21, 2017, I was driving from Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania so that I could spend the holidays with my family.
Awaiting my arrival was a homecooked meal, my brother, my parents, my grandparents, and my great-grandmother. I hadn’t been home since May, so there was some much-needed R&R on the horizon.
It takes roughly five hours to get home, and I had just a half hour to go until I was home when my luck decided to run out.
That’s when a semi-truck driving parallel to me hit a deer. But instead of the deer flying forward on impact, it flew to the right — directly in my path — and severely damaged my vehicle.
At this point, my car was still running. Because I live in a heavily wooded area, I didn’t have any cell service. So I pulled back onto the road and drove as far as I could before my car started making noises I knew it shouldn’t have been making.
With only a single bar of service, I made a call to the state police, a call to my dad, and a call to AAA Roadside Assistance. Luckily, because I was only 30 minutes away, my dad was able to find me. AAA was a different story.
During my first call to AAA to request a tow truck around 6:00 p.m., I was told I should expect one to arrive anywhere between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
I thought, “Wow, that’s a long time to sit in the cold.” But because my dad was able to meet me, I didn’t make too much of a fuss about it.
When 8:30 p.m. rolled around, my dad and I were still sitting behind my broken-down car; we hadn’t heard a single thing from AAA since the first time we called. So I called again.
Here’s the thing about AAA: according to the representative I talked with on the phone, the company itself doesn’t own tow trucks. Instead, it hires third-party towing companies to do it for them; they just take care of the bill.
Seem legitimate enough, right? Except, the third-party companies are allowed to turn down AAA’s calls.
When the representative told me that, I asked what I was paying them for. I wasn’t in a safe location and had my dad not been able to get to me, I would have been all by myself.
The representative then told me that I was more than welcome to call around to towing companies myself. And when I responded by saying, “That’s the only thing I’m paying you to do,” she hung up.
Naturally, I called back and spoke to a supervisor, who proceeded to tell me that if I wanted to just leave my keys in the car and go home, she would tell the company that eventually towed my car that I wouldn’t be there.
I just bought the car five months ago. I didn’t think it was a good idea, since someone could easily strip the car for parts if they wanted to. The supervisor responded by saying:
“Sometimes I wish someone would strip my new car for parts, just so I could get an even newer one.”
Why you would make a joke like that to an unhappy customer you aren’t able to help is beyond me. She then proceeded to tell us that they were doing all they could do and that she would call us back when a company accepted her call.
According to the AAA website, “AAA leads the industry with the fastest average response time for our members,” and it prides itself on protecting its customers.
I was left unprotected until 11:00 p.m. when a tow truck located an hour-and-a-half away finally took their call. AAA told us it would only take 45 minutes to get to us, when indeed he said it would take him 90 minutes.
That means I was left on the side of the road for five hours without any sort of assistance from AAA.
This was only the second time I’ve had to use my AAA membership. The first time I had to wait over an hour for a car battery.
It’s safe to say I haven’t decided on whether I should re-up my membership for 2018.