California AAA Restructures Towing Contracts

Will Response Time Be Restructured As Well?

The news has been full of stories about the impact of AAA moving its contracts in Northern California to larger towers in order to save money.  This could be a wise business choice for the company. However, it leaves many towers wondering what impact this will have on AAA’s service.

From the Lamorinda Patch:

“Although this may save AAA some money in the near term, [Orinda Towing owner Larry Lindsey] believes that the effect on AAA members will be drastic. With fewer towing companies available for service calls, motorists with flat tires, dead batteries, or dead engines will have to wait longer for AAA service."

From the Press Democrat:

"...the auto club consolidation already has hurt roadside service in the East Bay, said Walter Kohler, owner of Ron’s Tow Service in Martinez, who lost his AAA contract in September. “They’re covering a larger territory with less equipment,” he said. “There are going to be service delays.”

He’s already getting calls from stranded motorists reporting long waits for AAA tow trucks, Kohler said. The tow companies that bid successfully are being forced to pay their drivers less, he said."

From SF Gate:

“I walked away when I knew I wasn't going to get the rate to cover the costs," said Jeff Lance, owner of R. Lance & Sons, who had a 31-year contract with AAA to cover the Livermore Valley. "It's going to be a trying time for us," said Lance, who has already laid off 12 employees and sold a number of trucks as a result. Lance and others insist that with fewer tow trucks covering longer distances and taking on a heavier call load, service for drivers in distress will be impacted."

Better World Club has been told by service providers like those cited here that AAA pays them less than any other network. As a result, as one tower told us, “In a snow storm, we pick the AAA members up last. Not first. Last.”

Well, there aren’t many snowstorms in Northern California, but the simple math of fewer providers plus greater distances (not to mention providers who struggle to make AAA tows worth their expenses) seems to contradict the words of Cynthia Harris, a Northern California AAA spokesperson, who has insisted that, "from our members' perspective, these changes will be invisible."  A former Bay Area AAA customer recently called
to tell us why she was switching to BWC's coverage: an AAA representative told her over the phone that there is only one flatbed-style tow truck now available in the entire East Bay.

Kicking Asphalt

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