AAA members- you can do better

At one time, I was in charge of marketing a roadside assistance program, and gained some insight into the business of providing help to disabled motorists. What I learned has caused me to view AAA membership with skepticism. I think you can do better.

AAA membership has several components, only one of which has much value, in my opinion. The value of trip-tiks and maps, once a lynchpin of the organization's appeal, has dwindled in the age of Mapquest and GPS units. Ditto the travel agent services, traveler's checks, and travel magazine. What remains is the extensive roadside assistance program.

How does this work? AAA contracts with thousands of independent tow providers that can be dispatched to member calls. For each call, the company spiffs the tower a set fee.

AAA is not the only company offering this service, though. There are other wholesellers that set up such networks and provide this service to insurance companies, membership organizations, and the like, who brand it with their name and sell or give it to their customers. Many of the AAA towing providers also haul for these competitors, so the quality of your service will likely be identical.