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Et tu, AAA?
Old 03-28-2011, 09:09 AM   #1
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Et tu, AAA?

I've had AAA for years, but last night showed me how much even AAA is trying to scam you out of money. Really disappointing experience and quite the eyeopener for me:

Getting into the car I found the battery was dead, so I call who else? AAA. Figure I (again) did not close the door all the way and left lights on and voila! there goes my battery charge.

Tell the lady on the phone I am going to a dinner and already late and, amazingly, the AAA van (Lord help me if I need a tow cause that wasn't happening with that small van) gets there in about 10 minutes or less.

The guy fiddles and fiddles with my battery. Keeps saying he just doesn't understand what the problem is, blah, blah, blah.

Then comes the sales pitch that AAA is the ONLY company that makes their batteries in the USA, and the reason batteries don't last anymore (this was a 1-1/2 old battery from Auto Zone, by the way, and their top style Duracell) is that the rest of the companies make theirs in Japan, China, etc.

OK, so now I am on the alert. He keeps trying to sell me on the idea of buying one of their batteries because my battery just seems to have lost a cell and it would be a miracle to get it working again. And AAA is the ONLY company according to this tech that makes theirs in the USA...yeah, like I'm buying that one.

Finally, I say something like "I'm not buying a new battery. I have Auto Zone's warranty, and this puppy is going back to Auto Zone, and they will give me a new battery."

I have to interject here that I have NEVER had a problem with getting an exchange with Auto Zone when a battery failed, by the way.

Then he say he worked at Auto Zone for 4 years and all they do is take the battery in the back and charge it and hand it back...same old battery. At this point I have to correct him as I have seen them personally exchange my battery each and every time. He acts shocked. And I thought my battery wouldn't take a charge, Mr. AAA?

At this point I think he gives up cause he then goes and gets a "cleaner," wipes the places where he had put the cable and--A MIRACLE--the battery starts charging right away. Right away!

Well, ever the suspicious ex-salesperson I head to Auto Zone right away for THEM to test my battery. My drive is a mere 5 minutes or so. 89% charged already! It is a good and functional battery, and Auto Zone cannot take it back unless it tests bad.

So, now we have AAA also scamming for business due to the recession I guess.
This "salesman/AAA emergency tech" wasted about 40 minutes at my house making me totally miss the entire dinner meeting.

How can I say--after having AAA for so many years--how totally disappointed I am in them. As a single woman I've relied on AAA's honesty and helpfulness to fix tires, charge my battery (seems I have a problem slamming the door closed every once in awhile and kill my charged battery that way) and open my door when I accidentally lock my keys in.

Anyone else have an experience like this recently with AAA or is this something new? I cannot believe I got the one "salesman" on the staff, so I assume this is a new nationwide policy that I just happened to run into here in Phoenix where scams seem to be running rampant right now (went thru the same thing in Houston in the early '80's, too, when they had the oil crash). Disappointing...you bet!!! I want the old AAA back and not this new hybrid, scam the customers cause we figure we can model.
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:33 AM   #2
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Call AAA and ask for a customer service supervisor. Sounds like you got a rogue employee, not necessarily a AAA scam.
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:47 AM   #3
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Call AAA and ask for a customer service supervisor. Sounds like you got a rogue employee, not necessarily a AAA scam.

+1 I don't think that they are employed by AAA, but are just paid for their service...


I did not like AAA for a different reason.... I was trying to get insurance on my cars from them.... and had told them that my wife had an international license.... after lots of back and forth... then paying for a membership... and paying for auto insurance... I am told 'we will not insure someone with an international license'....

Well, WTF did you tell me you would... I brought this up at the very beginning of our conversation... and repeated it so you would understand..
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:57 AM   #4
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I did not like AAA for a different reason.... I was trying to get insurance on my cars from them.... and had told them that my wife had an international license.... after lots of back and forth... then paying for a membership... and paying for auto insurance... I am told 'we will not insure someone with an international license'....
I got this same crap, only I was told the insurance was for the roadside help could do motorcycles as well for the regular service. When I got their lies straightened out, they refused to give a full refund, keeping a $40 fee.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:03 AM   #5
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Call AAA and ask for a customer service supervisor. Sounds like you got a rogue employee, not necessarily a AAA scam.
But what he's trying to sell is AAA batteries. Are you saying he might be selling stolen merchandise from the company? Or just buying batteries and trying to pawn them off more likely?
Since I didn't let him get so far as to bring me a battery, I have no idea if they are marked "AAA" or not. Gosh, now I wish I had led him on to see those batteries so then I would know what he is doing.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:20 AM   #6
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I don't know if AAA scams or not, but last summer I came to my condo in Phoenix and found my vehicle to have a dead battery. I got a charger, but it wouldn't charge the battery. I called local car shops and they recommended AAA. So I joined over the phone and a van with 20 batteries showed up in 10 minutes. The AAA guy checked the battery and told me it had a dead cell. I had him install a new one for $140. Seemed high, but I wasn't going to walk 5 miles for a battery in 115 degree heat. Anyway, the AAA guy (Iraq/Afghanistan recon ranger vet) was great - told me how to maintain the battery as a snowbird. So I gave him a tip.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:21 AM   #7
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Frankly I've had good experiences with AAA. *But* the 2 times I needed a boost for my battery they tried to sell me their battery with extra guarantee etc. I told them no thanks and that was the end of it. I think you experienced one or both of: rogue employee, or quasi-rogue employee who saw a woman and thought she'd be an easy mark to buy something she didn;t need.
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Old 03-28-2011, 11:50 AM   #8
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Two years ago I had to have my car towed & the guy kept pushing for me to go to this other repair place . I wanted to go to Toyota . Finally I let them tow it to the other place since it was two days before Christmas and we had company . Big Mistake ! This place was AAA certified but they did the wrong repair . A few weeks later I had to be towed again for the same problem and I insisted on Toyota . The problem was fixed . I then filed a claim with triple AAA to get my money back on the botched repair . It took about six months and several phone calls but they finally sent me a check.Moral of the story the AAA stamp of approval means nothing
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:13 PM   #9
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40 years ago, I got scammed in the middle of nowhere by a tow truck that AAA sent out. He told me that AAA didn't pay him enough to do this and wanted $10 from me to jump my battery. No choice, so I did.

Even so, we use them today for emergency roadside service only. In more populated areas there is less of a problem. I imagine that they contract with local individuals who use it to their advantage.
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:38 PM   #10
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The few times I called AAA I got good service. But I recently switched to my insurer (GEICO) because it is a lot less than AAA for essentially the same coverage.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:25 PM   #11
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Since I posted this this morning early I did some digging. The suspicion seems to be AAA gives these guys a commission if they sell a battery, so that answers that.
Regardless, I have had AAA for years and always had great service. To run into a AAA guy who tries to sell me a battery I didn't need is just disappointing and shoots down my little fantasy world that they are really here to help me...sigh. Back to reality I guess....

I did call AAA and the gal did give it to a supervisor to "look into." Maybe they will just 86 it but I did my part on behalf of all the women out there I felt. Somebody has to let AAA know that all us gals aren't THAT stupid when it comes to cars.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:31 PM   #12
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Two years ago I had to have my car towed & the guy kept pushing for me to go to this other repair place . I wanted to go to Toyota . Finally I let them tow it to the other place since it was two days before Christmas and we had company . Big Mistake ! This place was AAA certified but they did the wrong repair .
Like a dummy I allowed AAA in Houston to push me to use their "certified AAA" repair guys. Well, they did fix my car, but they also rifled thru it looking for who knows what. Smartly, I always clean out anything worth anything before I take it in, but the experience was kinda shocking considering.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:28 PM   #13
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Pretty much the same with with my 85 yr old mother in AZ. Dead battery from a dead cell. Calls AAA (long term member), the contracted guy comes to her aid and charges $144 for a new battery. Battery anywhere else is $80.

Complained to AAA but fell on deaf ears. Had Mom drop AAA and use USAA service plan.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:41 AM   #14
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And if you're in a remote location on a Sunday its even worse ... NO COVERAGE.

Dad got stuck in the mud one spring driving to the lake. Had AAA, USAA, and Exxon ... THREE different coverages. Nobody could locate a tow company willing to accept their loosy pay. We were told to "pay what we had to , to whoever would come" and they'll reimburse us. 5-6 calls later and lots of messages left .... I laid down some cardboard over the mud. Hooked up a tow strap and pulled him out with my truck. Almost got stuck myself; but got him out.

We joked about submitting a receipt for my services ... Dad was only half joking.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:57 AM   #15
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...but I did my part on behalf of all the women out there I felt. Somebody has to let AAA know that all us gals aren't THAT stupid when it comes to cars.
Yes you did. I am VERY proud of you.
I wish I had been there with you. I would have had a field day with this "new battery pushing" character.
I understand that my training as a small engine/automotive mechanic is unusual for our gender. The mechanics I go to think it's really cool that I can "talk turkey" with them. I always learn something new.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:36 PM   #16
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Yes you did. I am VERY proud of you.
I wish I had been there with you. I would have had a field day with this "new battery pushing" character.
I understand that my training as a small engine/automotive mechanic is unusual for our gender. The mechanics I go to think it's really cool that I can "talk turkey" with them. I always learn something new.

Where were you when I need you, girl? You have no idea how I'd LOVE to have a girlfriend like you living close by....we could kick some booty out there with these hawks circling us old broads and trying to scam..haha!
I just hate hearing these stories of people getting taken whether young or old. Makes me wonder how people look themselves in the mirror sometimes.

Next time I have to call AAA I'm just cutting to the chase and telling the guy when he walks up: "No, I am not interested in a new battery. Period." Maybe then he won't hem and haw going for the close like the last guy who made me miss my entire dinner meeting.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:45 PM   #17
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Where were you when I need you, girl? You have no idea how I'd LOVE to have a girlfriend like you living close by....we could kick some booty out there with these hawks circling us old broads and trying to scam..haha!
I just hate hearing these stories of people getting taken whether young or old. Makes me wonder how people look themselves in the mirror sometimes.

Next time I have to call AAA I'm just cutting to the chase and telling the guy when he walks up: "No, I am not interested in a new battery. Period." Maybe then he won't hem and haw going for the close like the last guy who made me miss my entire dinner meeting.
The funny thing is I have "played possum" if I was at a shop where they didn't know me. I just let them bamboozle me with all those high tech terms like "sensor" and "microprocessor chip". I made myself look duly impressed.
Then I "talked turkey" and blew their minds. My Engineering background sure came in handy at times like that.
I'm gonna burn...I just know it.

Re the new battery pitch, the sequel, have some fun and say something like..."but this is the 3rd battery you folks have replaced for me." Watch the reaction and try not to giggle.

I'll be there in spirit.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:44 PM   #18
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I've had AAA since I was 18(now31). I've called several times for various reasons and never had any trouble. I've never had a AAA van come though. They always call a local service provider and AAA covers the cost. Your situation seems very unusual, not the norm. At least not around here. I'd highly recommend AAA to anyone of any age or gender. I've gotten my moneys worth and then some.
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Old 03-29-2011, 04:49 PM   #19
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I suspect that you didn't get scammed by AAA but by the towing company that has an AAA contract. Let AAA know, and next time request a different towing company.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:20 PM   #20
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Is this really all that surprising They are upfront that they are in the business of replacing batteries: Automotive Services: Battery Replacement - AAA ... and I suppose they do this for money -- as much money as they can get.

And . . . their prices do seem to be high, but they come to you. I can think of some remote cases where this might be OK -- like you are w*rking and taking a couple of hours off to go have a battery replaced would cost you more than the the 50% or 75% markup.

Edit to add: Found myself right in the middle of nowhere (on the road) with a dead motorcycle battery. This cycle had a wimpy electrical system and it would not idle after jumping the dead battery. Decided to walk the mile or so to the bus depot to take the bus to "town" (nearest motorcycle shop) to pick up a battery. Walked past an auto parts store where a couple of cycles were parked at the back door and decided somebody in there might be sympathetic to me. Told the guy at the counter what I needed -- he wanted to know exactly. Then he stood on his tiptoes moving from side to side looking behind me. "If you turn around you will find it on the shelf three feet behind you. We don't normally stock this but this is what I need for my cycle!".

That's a case where delivery would have been worth it. I "lost" a whole day to the battery incident but eventually made it to my destination four states away, then back home.
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