Having a flat tire is never a happy experience, especially after “office hours.”
But what if you called your “trusty” AAA hotline — and were told they wouldn’t help you? Not “couldn’t” but WOULDN’T! It seems the purpose the American Automobile Association was created for has been forgotten.
This happened August 9, 2022. A 68-year-old retiree called the Roadside Assistance hotline — finally getting through on the third attempt. He went through the ritual dance of name, card number, location, etc.
Then, the PA CSR asked if the car had a current inspection. Being honest, the member admitted that he was out of date — having mistaken the “6” for an “8” in casually glancing at it after purchasing it earlier that year. He was already in the process of making an appointment for the missed inspection but didn’t have it confirmed yet.
If you live in a state that requires inspections, you could find yourself stranded if your car’s inspection is not current.
Then he got the bombshell. The CSR told him bluntly that AAA didn’t do service calls if a car was more than 10 days past due. Not for a tow, not for a jump, not for a tire change. Not for ANYTHING. She compounded the already exasperating situation by stating it was a PA state law. (It isn’t, she was lying.)
To say the retiree reacted badly to the news would be a masterful understatement since it was now almost completely dark and he was parked just off a busy state route in a township near Penn State, but with no tow-capable gas stations nearby.
The CSR was unsympathetic.
This left the man to his own devices. Covid lock-downs had killed the only tow-truck business in the area that he had a phone number for. Many places had ceased 24-hr operations even if he had been able to find a working number.
He was out of luck.
In the age of air-powered torque wrenches, getting the lug nuts loose by hand was no easy task. After about fifty minutes of straining, he was finally able to drive back home, exhausted.
Once there, he immediately went to his computer and filed a complaint via the website. About 10:30 the next morning, he received a call from the Southern PA office.
This agent — while careful not to repeat the CSR’s lie that it was against PA state law to render roadside assistance based on a car’s inspection status — was equally unsympathetic. He reiterated that it was company policy not to render assistance to a member who was otherwise in good-standing.