For many years I was a member of AAA. My father had bought both my wife and I memberships for Christmas one year. We did get some use out of them over the years. We used them for trip planning, booking airline reservations, and road side assistance.
But as time went by, we found we were using them less and less. I found I could book airline flights online for the same price or even less than AAA. And since I had all the options displayed for me, I could choose the flights I wanted with out having to have someone else present me with a small number of choices.
We used to use them for trip planning as well. But with GPS’s, I don’t need one of AAA’s trip ticks. I can just plug in my destination into the GPS, and it will give me turn by turn directions. I can even look up restaurants, hotels, attractions, and even rest stops on the freeway. And the GPS is a lot more helpfull than the trip tick. And unline the AAA trip tick, I can change my destination, or modify my route on the fly. It’s got maps for the whole country instead of a few city maps, and large scale state maps. My GPS only cost me $150, and they are getting cheaper all the time.
And if you don’t have a GPS, you can always go to one of the online sites such as http://www.mapquest.com, or http://maps.google.com . These sites will give you turn by turn directions to your destination, and they are free! Of course, there is also software for your computer as well. Personally, since I started using a GPS, I rarely use printed maps while on a trip.
What about discounts? AAA discounts are nice, but if you book a hotel room online, you can often get the same price anyway. And how much discount would you need to have AAA pay for itself?
Then there is the roadside assistance. Now this has been helpful in the past. When my wife was driving an older car, she would occasionally forget to turn off her headlights. She would call AAA to come give her a jump start. She found it easier and quicker to just carry some jumper cables in her trunk. But our newer cars now have buzzers to remind you the lights are on.
In the last couple years of our membership in the AAA auto club, about the only service we were using anymore was the road side assistance. We rarely needed it, but it was nice to have just in case. Shortly before our membership expired the last time, my wife got a flat tire. She called AAA for road side assistance. They told her about 30 minutes. After about an hour, no one had shown up. A good samaritan passerby helped my wife change her tire. My wife was in tears. So here we were paying for a AAA auto club membership and the only service that we were really using anymore was the roadside assistance. And then they left my wife stranded on the side of the road. When I contacted AAA about leaving my wife stranded, they gave an obligatory appology and that was about it. So we had paid our dues, but hadn’t used them at all for a couple years. Then when we needed them, they weren’t there.
When AAA sent us a letter for renewal, I wrote them a nasty letter back. We have not been members since. We have not missed them at all.
In these days of GPS’s, mapquest, and Orbitz, does anyone really need the AAA auto club? I don’t think so. Yeah, if you need to have your car towed, the cost of towing my equal a couple years of AAA auto club membership. But when was the last time you had to have your car towed to a repair shop? I can’t remember the last time. I would have to have it towed at least every couple years to make AAA auto club worth the cost. I believe the AAA auto club has outlived their usefulness.