Thursday, February 15, 2007

Breakdown Cover!

Hubby rings me from work.

My clutch has gone on the car. Please can you call the AA for me?

Fortunately we are members of the AA. We are loyal customers, and my car insurance is with them too. Have been with them for around 9 years.

Ring the AA.

"Sorry", but you are not members. Your membership lapsed in December.

"We've been members for 9 years" says me.

"No I'm sorry, but we have had no payment since December".

"You must have done" says me. "We changed our bank account in December, and I rang you to change our details, because my car insurance is with the AA too. Please can you check that I my car is insured?"

She checks.

I am insured, and direct debit is in place. No problems there.

"It's a different policy Mrs. Lomax. The payments are taken separately.

"But it's the same bank account, and you are the same company, and I rang to update my details, and you took those details."

"Did you tell us that you wanted to change the details on your breakdown insurance?"

"Did YOU ask me if I wanted to change the details on my breakdown isurance?"

"No, it's up to you to tell us."

"But I don't know how your systems work. I simply handed over my bank details in good faith. Could you not put a chip into your system to flag that the customer has more than one policy with you?"

"Oh no, that would be very expensive!"


Decide that this is going nowhere, and ask if I can pay the outstanding premiums of £28. "No, you can't".

"But my husband is stuck with a broken down car."

"You can rejoin, but you will need to pay a full yearly premium in advance.

"Can I pay in installments, given that I am a customer paying insurance by monthly direct debit and have done for the last nine years?"

"No. that's on your motor insurance. This is your breakdown insurance. We would need full payment today."

It is now as clear as mud. That is an insurance policy that I have. Whereas the breakdown cover is

Ask to speak to a manager. In a meeting.................. of course.

Ring the RAC.

Same policy for £40 less a year. Still have to give the full premium in advance, but they don't want it until the beginning of March. Can we pay on the 24th February I ask, as that is when the money goes in to the account.

You can pay on the 24th March they say.

The RAC gets the business and go out to rescue hubby.

Later the AA eventually phone back. Explain situation. Explain that I have now taken the business elsewhere, saved £40 in the process, and that when my motor insurance runs out in June I may feel the need to move that too.




Too late.................................

The next day I have a different query with the AA, about my motor insurance. A much simpler query which they are able to sort easily.

As the call is ending the customer advisor says.........

Mrs. Lomax, before you go, can I ask, do you have breakdown cover with the AA?


Asha said...

AGH!! These people!! A phone company did the similar thing with us and we dropped them like hot potato even though they keep offering $75 as a compensation!! They do not realize how much we have to go through when they mess things up for us.
Hope it sorted out now for you Sally!:)

The very nice man said...

Well I never . . . .
Maybe AA stands for
Appalling Amateurs!!

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear Sally. This is such a frustrating story. I had the same problem with a phone company. Home phone, internet and mobile. Three different customer service lines. Three times updating my details. I hope you chose not to hang up the phone, rather, you listened to them grovel for a nice long period of time indeed.

john.g. said...

Sally, glad it`s sorted, but the AA stands for Absolute Arseholes!

Ignorminious said...

The AA wanted to charge me £1,300 to insure my Fiesta, and that was just Third Party, Fire and Theft. Given that I bought the car for only £100 more than that, it didn't seem worth it.

I don't actually have break down cover. Probably should get it one day, but for now I'm going to stick with simply trying not to break down.

enid said...

how incompetent can these people be? enid's lost for words sometimes.

Sally Lomax said...

Asha - Agh indeed!

VNM - Sounds good.

Little Miss Moi - I did listen.....

John G - Indeed!

Ignorminious - that is a lot for a Ford Fiesta!!! Where did you go?

Enid - I agree!

Beccy said...

I can't believe they messed you around, good for you switching company.

Karmyn said...

ARRRGGGHH - Oh I HATE those people. They are everywhere. I hope they learned a lesson losing a valuable customer like you!!!

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Beccy and Karmyn!

I can't believe that their systems can flag up that someone doesn't have breakdown cover with them - but somehow doesn't flag up that someone that does???!!!

Sally Lomax said...

Actually Enid, on reflection, knowing what we all know about call centres, banks and all institutions financial and otherwise, probably placed in outer Mongolia or maybe outer space...........we should probably not be lost for words.

Besides - what WOULD I write about if it weren't for appalling customer service? You don't want to hear about my children nearly missing the bus and the number of times we drive them to the next bus stop in a dressing gown EVERY day. That would be almost more boring than my endless stories about banks and call centres and bad customer service.

Am bleary eyed and babbling as am up late trying to edit one of my pieces of radio stuff for the BBC, which is due in tomorrow a.m. Was falling asleep, so decided to blog for five minutes to wake up my brain. Was unable to get five minutes to edit it this afternoon/ early evening due to one child's doctors appointments, two children's parent's evenings and one child needing picking up from a ballet class in Cheltenham 20 miles away.........

Last of my five minute pieces for the BEEB. End of the series. It whould be on tomorrow afternoon between 3 and 5. If anyone hears it, do let me know. I keep missing it. (Friday afternoon's a bad time, cos I am broadcasting earlier for Forest Radio and then take a daughter to gym and various others to various other places...........etc etc etc.....)

Back to the editing, and then to bed..........

Clare said...

Ooh, I will be in the car this afternoon between 3 and 5. Tell me more! A five minute piece... about what? Which station?

ChrisB said...

I can imagine the frustration you feel. You would think they would bend the rules when clearly it was a misunderstanding.
I have been a member of the AA ever since I started driving. In all the years I think I have called them out about 4 times so think how much money they are getting out of people. I'm now wondering if I might get a better deal by changing to RAC or some other organisation. I have to say though they did get me a great deal for my car insurance.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Clare

It's Radio Gloucestershire and it's Forest Folk...... On teh Steve Kitchen show. But I guess i have missed you!!

However, it's the BBC, so they are bound to repeat them at some point!!!

I may even Utube some of my radio stuff when I have worked out how to do it!

Sally Lomax said...

Chris - To be honest on the occasions that we have needed them, the AA ahve been good. However, teh RAC were just as good, and cheaper. We have joint membership, home start and recovery and that was £40 cheaper than the identical deal from the AA..... There are quite a few deals on the market at the moment...

elena jane said...

why am i not surprised! glad dh was rescued, you have sorted out the road assistance and it's cheaper (sort of). did you have to call the other side of the world though? all our calls seem to be routed via tibet ;)

**i have found my way here via enid and beccy**

Sally Lomax said...

Hi EJ!


Many of our call centres are run on the other side of the world, and I do get fed up with it.

Sometimes they are more locally based in Swansea and Northern Ireland, and occasionally we get one in England.

I'm not too keen on the idea though, as some of my past posts will reveal :)!!


Jenny said...


Good for you. Dump the losers.

Sally Lomax said...

I agree Jenny!

Ignorminious said...

Direct Line in the end. We have a couple of cars at home with them, as well as the house, so it made it an awful lot cheaper. They really do reward loyal customers!

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks ignominious! I shall look into that in June!

soubriquet said...

Gnaaaah! Weasels, the lot of them.
Both the AA and RAC started out as clubs, associations of motorists who banded together, using their joint resources to employ mechanically gifted patrol men, known in better times as Knights of the Road.
Alas, those organisations are no more.Profit making companies, whoset motivation is getting as much money as possible from you whilst giving as little as possible to you.
A few years back, my 83 year old father had an upsetting letter from the RAC, demanding a higher renewal fee, because he'd had five call-outs in the previous year.
He told me his story. I was outraged and went into battle on his behalf.
In 1946, my dad returned, from close on four years of hell as a prisoner of war in the far east.
He got paid, and demobbed from the army.
Bought an old car.
Bumped into an old mate. Got chatting. The friend was an RAC man.
My dad signed up there and then.
54 years later, they penalise him for using the service five times in the year.
First time the man said it was a flat battery. Jump started it and left. Later in the day, car wouldn't start, flat battery. Fan belt changed, jump start, man goes.
Then it stops on the motorway.
recovered to garage where a new alternator is fitted.
Following day... jump start
150 miles later, fifth and final man says it needs a new battery.
So five call outs are in fact related to the fault which call-out number one fails to diagnose. And the old feller points out that prior to that, he's called them three times in 54 years.
I work my way up to a senior person.
-Who apologises, and gives my dad a year's free membership for his troubles
I myself bought Tesco's breakdown insurance. Run by Green Flag. Much cheaper, and I've called them twice, first class service both times.

Sally Lomax said...


That's dreadful about your Dad!!

I'm glad he got free cover for a year at least!!

flanok said...

It is true, gone are the golden days of motoring where you were saluted by the breakdown cover patrolmen or patrolettes as you drove by.
They are now all owned by insurance companies and run as such. Economies of scale keep the premiums down, but call centres and huge member numbers can mean poor service also.
The AA is the largest in that they employ mmore people, teh RAC and then you get into the network of breakdown cover suppliers, where each garage can give a different level of service.
I have a breakdown cover blog of which I know at least one top person (marketing) in the RAC reads as he has commented before on my comments of pricing. If anyone has had bad service or good from any of these, please write your comments.


Breakdown Cover