A mini trip report: So, this terrible scenario happened to us this last Sunday: we had a couple days at the beach and were expecting an easy 2.5 hr drive home, when low and behold our minivan broke down completely within a few minutes of leaving the hotel. First our battery was dead but we jumped it with a device where you can jump your own car and felt pretty good about ourselves, only to have the car lose every capacity to do anything within a few minutes of driving. This was a very full mini van with one of those luggage carrying things on top and carrying 5 people. Turned out to be the alternator. We were able to get into the parking lot of another hotel and that was good b/c that was our home base for the next 8 hrs.
We have the most basic level of AAA and it has been useful a couple of times. But this time it really saved the day, albeit 4 hrs later than they originally said (I totally should have booked a room at the hotel…but thought it wasn’t worth it for 4 hrs. Would have been worth it for 8 hrs, although the restaurant there was a nice break from the car). We thought AAA would tow our car to the closest mechanic but they said they could actually get us towed all the way home, the full 2.5 hrs. But the one driver who could do it was already on another long job so we had to wait. And they could only tow us to the AAA closest to our house so a friend luckily was willing to come get us at 11 pm.
Oh, and when they said that my family of 5 would easily fit into the cabin of the tow truck…um, no. We did fit but only b/c 2 out of 5 are very tiny people. It was interesting to see all the flashing lights of the tow truck reflecting off of everything though. We had a cost for this service but if you have a higher level of AAA it’s less or nothing. For us it was worth it b/c hotel and rental car costs would have been that much or more. Plus, sooooo nice not to leave the car 2.5 hrs away and have to go back and get it. I’m writing this b/c I would never have thought a tow could go that far. I thought that sometimes they wouldn’t even take you across town.
I love AAA. It’s definitely worth the annual fee. I’m so glad they were able to help you!
I’ve heard many AAA horror stories - some from family members.
We ourselves have never - touch wood - in 28 years had a problem. We’ve usually had Plus with 100 miles free towing since we live way out here. For several years we had the RV add on in case of needing a second tow truck for the trailer since we did a lot of traveling with camping.
I haven’t kept track since covid but the other years we’ve gotten our annual fee back in either tows, Amtrak discounts, SeaWorld discounts and occasionally a free passport photo.
Glad you had a successful resolution to your travel travails.
Let me the first to argue with you.
AAA IS ONLY AS GOOD as the state or local situation
We had HIGHEST level coverage for over a decade and general membership since 1991 and we spent two hours on the side of the road where they hung up on us after the first 45 minutes, and were as useless as an ice cube in the ocean. It was the state police that finally said we couldn’t wait for AAA to do something (anything!) and got us off I-95 in GA themselves.
AAA suggested we call a RIDE SHARE to get off the road!
Our trip interruption coverage? Nope. They only deal with Hertz and they had zero vehicles within the area.
And our event happened 5/14 and we just got the last recovery check from the Saturday. They fought DH on our coverage.
Sorry to hi-Jack, but they were so completely awful to us in GA. They were always excellent in NY. I am so glad they were good and helpful to you, but we will never use them again. They couldn’t have done less for us.
But the police? AWESOME in Savannah, GA.
Your situation was awful. Completely unacceptable.
And you’re absolutely correct about the state mattering. DD and her DH needed AAA in Arizona. Wound up trashing their diesel truck even more. AAA AZ wouldn’t accept any responsibility for their representative’s incompetence.
I had USAA car insurance with roadside assistance and my wife’s car got a flat tire not far from our house. It took 23 HOURS from the time she first called them until a tow truck finally arrived (with an 8-hour break to sleep in the middle). Turns out that they kept calling tow trucks only to have them cancel on us. Somehow they weren’t able to escalate the issue despite me begging and pleading and practically crying (I don’t cry) to just figure out some way to secure us a tow truck. Finally one showed up when they realized their system was directing tow trucks to the wrong location.
After that I switched to AAA for roadside (and I have Progressive car insurance). If I have to, I will call a tow truck direct next time. And I will never complain again about waiting for 1-2 hours.
I remember your posting about this.
It seems when the roadside service fails, it does so spectacularly.
And lately, I’m being dissatisfied with USAA. They’re not the same company as when we started with them. So far I’ve procrastinated investigating
I saved a huge amount of money by switching. I thought at least it was the cheapest option, but that is no longer the case, if it ever was.
It was initially but I’m not thinking so now.
I think they’ve been bought out by someone bigger. A few months ago I could not find a snail mail address for the auto insurance section. That wasn’t a warm and happy feeling.
Thinking back on all the times I’ve had to call AAA and my worst and least helpful experience ever was after we got in an accident in GA.
Everyone we talked to in GA (police officers, Uber driver, tow truck operator) said AAA was awful.
I’m not in love with AAA, just surprised that long distance towing is a thing. Actually I googled reviews of them when we got to 2 hrs past expected tow truck arrival time and found hundreds of abysmal reviews. I’m nervous about getting our van back.
I think you’ll find tons of negative reviews for any car service anywhere. The entire industry is very hit or miss. Couple that with labor shortages and you have a recipe for disaster. But not every interaction will be bad.
I got a flat at night in a not so great part of town. The AAA driver beat my dad to the site and it turned out he was the brother of one of the Carolina Panthers players. We chatted for a long time after he put the spare on. I think living in a big city helps with availability and response time.
We have roadside service through our insurance company, Farmers. But we also have AAA Plus. Years ago the tow dude told me that they will respond to AAA first. Still, over the years, we have waited up to 2 hours!
Oh my goodness!
Our alternator went out at the end of April - about 2 hours before my daughter’s high school formal and right as my DH was pulling out for a camping trip with the boys. As frustrating as that was, all I could do was be thankful that it happened a mile from home and not on one of our three summer road trips.
Glad AAA took care of you.
I have had an alternator go out and ended up in a dark and desolate place as a result. AAA came timely and towed the car and us all the way home, nearly 100 miles. I was in my young 20s and affording a tow truck at all much less figuring out repairs at a distance would have been so overwhelming. I don’t remember exactly how long we waited but it was a Sunday night so I suspect a bit. I was just so grateful to get home that night though!
I have been loyal to AAA ever since. However I would never let them pick the repair shop, I would just tell them to tow it where I wanted them to now. (I am in my 40s and can afford to be a little pickier nowadays.)
However I will say I have never had a major incident I needed to get repaired far from home, so I really can’t comment on that personally. And AAA is so big I’m sure service levels vary, my main point is that that feature to tow up to 100 miles was golden. I have never had roadside service options from any other provider but I would always get long distance towing as a feature if I could, just because it made such an indelible difference to my experience that one time.
Having an alternator go out while driving is scary though! Glad you are all okay. Hope your car is okay, too!
Also this whole thread is such a comment on customer service. So many of us saying our loyalty to a company was made or broken by one memorable experience, good or bad.
Our usual mechanic is AAA so our membership gets us a 10% discount on labor there. Between that and the various hotel/admission discounts, we probably roughly break even on the price of our membership over time.
So whenever we have to use roadside service, it feels like a “bonus” perk. When we first joined, the expectation was that it could take up to 2-3 hours to get serviced, and that expectation level is probably more realistic and allows for pleasant surprises.
We rarely use their travel agency services, although if you’re looking for an international package, they do have good deals occasionally.
Can anyone beat this?
Yes. If you have asked me a year ago I’d have had only good stories about AAA.
But after the level of bad we endured in May I will never trust them again for me or my kids.