Sunday, 17 July 2011

AA - Apathethics Anonymous?

About eleven years ago, I signed on with the AA. I don't think I've had to call them out in the last 5 years but every May, as regular as clockwork, I get a letter telling me how much my new, increased premium is going to be. It was going to be £207 for this year.

Two hundred quid plus sounded a bit steep and breeching the £200 barrier seemed to jump start me into action.

I had a quick look on the AA website and also RAC and Green Flag.

The letter told me (twice) what a valued customer I was so I thought I'd see if that were true.

Since I'm much better at being assertive and masterful over the phone than in person, I decided to ring them up and see what was what.

After a few security questions and polite greetings, I gathered I was talking to an operative who I will call Mark, which isn't his real name but he was a very nice chap.

This is my best recollection of the conversation:

Me: Can you do any better on this year's premium?

Mark: No, I'm sorry. That's our best price.

Me: (sounding suitably puzzled) Well how come you are offering new people 99 quid on your website?

Mark: That price is only for new customers.

Me: Well on my letter it says I'm a valued customer and yet you're charging me twice that of  a new customer. My feelings are hurt. (see what I mean about being assertive over the phone)

Mark: That policy is for a different one than you have.

Me: Ok, I'll switch to the £99 cover that's offered on your website as I don't really need all the cover I currently have.

Mark: We have to charge you £130 because you're not a new member.

Me: That's a shame. Could I cancel my current membership and sign on as a new customer for £99?

Mark: (sounding a little flustered by now). No, if you cancel your membership then you can't sign up again for another six weeks.

Me: (sounding disappointed because I do like the AA) Well I will have to go elsewhere then even though I would prefer to stay with you.

Mark: Have you got quotes from other companies?

Me: Yes, RAC and Green flag are both offering around £95.00 for the cover for similar cover to your £99 offer. I just need you be around that mark.

Mark: I'll talk to my supervisor

Me: Thank you very much!

(I'm put on hold for a minute or so and imagine Mark on the other end having a cup of tea and  a biscuit)

Mark: We can do your cover for £99.00.

(I snap his hand off and we exchange parting pleasantries)


The next week I got a bill for £207. I rang them up and a very courteous lady explained that their system showed I would get billed £99 but the system wasn't correctly linked to the letter department. True to their word, I was billed £99.


I suppose I could have quibbled over the £4.00 difference between AA and RACs new members' price . I could have switched to RAC and save £4.00. But I would rather use my time for other things. So I did.

Being quite immature, I couldn't help but regale my chums with the tale of my £108 saving triumph. One particular chum had her AA membership due soon and she tried the same thing. After similar haggling, she got a deeper level of cover for more members of her family and for less money.

My call took about the same time as it will take for you to read this article. Worth a go £100 odd?

PS, Last time I went to the dentists, I tried a similar thing with the lady on reception. She told me to sling my hook. And I did. I told you I was better on the phone.