Sunday, August 17, 2008

Roadside Assistance with Automobile Club of Southern California

In April of 2006 I signed up with Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) since I had heard their roadside assistance plan was better than the current plan I had with Allstate Motor Plan.

When I called for a tow truck while a member of the Allstate Motor Club I was told by the driver it would cost me $100 since I needed a flatbed truck due to my Minivan being front wheel drive. He also informed me that my Allstate Motor Club did not cover the flatbed service.

I had both plans in place until the end of May when the Allstate Motor Club expired. I had pre-paid in March almost $100 for an upgrade in my plan thinking this would get me more services.

In March my minivan overheated when we arrived at a therapy appointment. Another parent gave us a ride home and I went there the next day to drive it home. The receptionist had mentioned to me that she had Automobile Club of Southern California and had been towed a few times with the flatbed and never had to pay for it.

So when I got the invitation in the mail I jumped at the chance to be a member of the Auto Club. When I purchased my minivan from the seller through ebay he took me to an Auto Club office for me to pay the taxes and do the registration. This was a service offered to him as a member. This seemed like a good incentive to become a member.

Earlier in the year we had a power outage, which resulted in our staying at a Motel 8 not far away so my kids could get to school the next day and we were comfortable with a microwave and refrigerator. Upon checkin I was asked if I was a member of the Auto Club. They did not have any type of discount for members of Allstate Motor Club.

These two additional benefits of membership with the Auto Club helped me make my decision in choosing them over Allstate Motor Club. It just so happened that my minivan overheated again at the same therapy clinic in May of 2006. I called the toll-free number through the Auto Club and was given estimated time of arrival for a tow truck and I mentioned I would need a flatbed.

I was informed that I would have to pay for mileage after seven miles, at a rate of $9.00 per mile. That seemed reasonable to me, even though it is usually 14 miles from home to clinic. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours for the truck to arrive and it had enough room for my kids and I in a small back seat of the flatbed.

The payment is due to the tow truck driver as you arrive at your destination. I got a new water pump and all was fine with the minivan at the start of the summer. One day after dropping off my children at their daycamp I could not start the minivan in the parking lot. I figured it was the battery and contacted the Auto Club for someone to assist in getting my vehicle started.

A small truck came and he informed me that it was the starter and my car would not turn over and start on its own. They tried a few things to get it to start by moving it and going underneath, but it was useless. It was determined I would need a tow home, which meant another call for a flatbed truck to get me home.

This meant my kids would have to leave once the flatbed arrived as this location was about 14 miles from home. The truck arrived but it had only one other seat for a passenger. There was no way I could get my kids and I home with the vehicle. One of the teachers at the camp said they would take my kids home that Friday afternoon.

The tow truck driver asked me which way I wanted to get home to save on the mileage. As someone who does not drive freeways I really did not know which route would be best. The driver showed me a shortcut that shaved five miles off my drive to take kids to camp in the morning. We had been going to camp for a few years and I had never known about this shortcut.

By the time we got to my house we had gone only three miles past the limit, which cost me only $27 when I was expecting close to $45. The only problem was that I would need to contact the Auto Club in a few days to tow my vehicle over to Pep Boys, when I received my paycheck.

A week later I called to have my vehicle towed from the street parking over to Pep Boys, which was within the seven mile limits. I figured we would take a taxi and follow the truck over to Pep Boys. The guy who showed up told me that it was not necessary for me to go over with the vehicle. I called ahead letting them know my Minivan was arriving soon and that he had the keys, etc. for the vehicle.

This saved me and my children several hours of sitting in the waiting room at Pep Boys. I was pleased with the service from those two tow truck operators who really went beyond the service aspect of their towing. This was a better experience than the one time I used Allstate Motor Club to fix a flat tire.

Then in early September as I parked my vehicle at the parking lot to go to the gym the side door where passengers gets into came off its roller and almost tipped onto the pavement. I called to get someone to come and assist with getting this back onto the car so I could drive safely.

I was informed that they do not perform auto services, but that someone would look at it. The guy had a mallot and a brick that he used to put this door back on and he made sure it was secure enough that it would not happen again. This would mean I would not have to go elsewhere in a day or two to get it fixed. Now a month later this is still working fine. This was covered under the minor mechanical first aid and listed in my letter as start vehicle.

It turned out that the last call was my fourth, which is all you can get for a calendar year as part of your membership. The letter listed the dates of service, order numbers, service requested and the value. Each was listed at $52.00. The total of these services was $208.00

The letter indicated that I can still call for service and receive it before my membership is due to start again in April of 2007, but I will be responsible for the payment. The current charge for a service call is $52.00. My payment for a year was less than that amount and I got four calls as part of my benefit.

I have curtailed my driving to long distances as I do not have the funds and do not want to risk anything happening. The good news is that there is a bill for any services, so you do not have to shell out that $52.00 when in a jam with your vehicle.

I do have all my Insurance policies through Allstate and they have discounts for multiple policies. Therefore, I am not in a position to change insurance carriers, but will be using Auto Club for my registration, roadside assistance and travel discounts.

I will most likely upgrade to the Premier service, which covers one tow up to 200 miles with the three remaining at 100 driving miles. Thus far I am very pleased with the service I have received through the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club toll-free number is 1-866-899-2272

No comments: