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  1. AA does not mean AUTOMOBILE or ASSOCIATION it means ARROGANCE and ALIENATION…. what has happened to the human factor with companies that grow and grow and grow away from all traces of being a service or an association? Last month we had the most absurd experience with this company - true! We have been members, on and off - but mostly on, for probably 40 years with varying levels of 'cover', as for most people, max or min cover dependant on the state of the domestic economy. As the pensions will only stretch so far, at the moment it is 'Roadside' which we thought entitled us to one breakdown with transit to a 'local' garage if the vehicle could not be repaired roadside…… 2 o'clock on Sunday, on the A11 Newmarket bypass, the fan-belt disintegrates and the warning lights for temperature and battery come up on the dash of our Merc A-Class. We pull in to an emergency station lay-by no. A3232, exit the vehicle and move away from the roadside, report our position to the AA and wait (they say about 40mins). An hour later we call to ask whats happening. They say they don't have a patrolman anywhere near us so they'll contract a garage. We suggest the Garage is informed that we need an A-class fan-belt. Eventually a burly guy arrives, doesn't even know how to open the car bonnet, grunts a couple of times and says he hasn't a fan-belt and can't raise the car by the roadside - puts his boss on the phone to tell us there's no flat truck available and no one at the garage to repair the fan-belt. Burly man leaves….. where's the AA patrolman - the courteous, helpful AA man we are assured is always there to 'help' us?? So I phone the AA back and ask to be taken off the motorway, preferably with our vehicle - they say they'll get back to me with another option….it's 3-30pm - 36 degrees in the sun with little shade and no water and the constant howl of traffic travelling at 70+ mph. an hour later they phone to apologise - they can't get us off unless we pay an upgrade from 'Roadside' to 'Relay' + £80 odd for a truck + £50 fuel costs - total £260-ish in advance. I argued that this was blackmail - 'Roadside' gives us the promise of taking us and our vehicle off the motorway to an 'appropriate' garage to effect repairs. They've already told us there is no way that can be done! We understood this 'Roadside' service would give us one trip a year, with our vehicle to an 'appropriate', 'local' garage in Norfolk so it could be left there overnight for repairs the next day - we could walk home. I told them this had happened a few years ago - They checked their system and denied the event had taken place! The AA refused any intermediate assistance - only insisted we pay them first. I rang off. Another half-hour passed by so I rang to speak to a supervisor who sounded helpful - said he would ensure we were taken off the motorway within 30 minutes - further apologies… ..we waited but nothing - then we had a call to say it would be another 90minutes. Later it changed again to 40 minutes but they said we would be taken to a closed garage in Newmarket (this is was what they termed as 'appropriate' and the term 'local in their contract means 'local' to the breakdown, not local the customer) but they couldn't get us there anyway. I continued to argue about the imposition of being stranded for hours etc. etc., - the operator said "the longer you argue with me, the longer it'll be for you to be picked up." I rang off - That was the straw that … . I contacted the garage the AA had been in touch with, they charged £120 to pick us up and take us home with the car… .we left the motorway at 5-40 and arrived home in Norfolk an hour later. They did not require payment until we had been dropped off with our vehicle. When we reported all this to the AA complaints department we encountered more arrogance - they rejected our complaint and dismissed all the matters we raised. They in fact told us that under the provision of Roadside Assistance, they had arranged a recovery to a safe location and that their service was 'in line with our entitlements'. I'm gonna cancel my AA membership for good - I'm selling my vintage AA badges on ebay and arranging road-cover with our insurance company, if that doesn't work out, I'll stay independent and in the event of a breakdown, talk to the garage direct and avoid all that Arrogance and Alienation with the AA. 21st Century Blues.
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