“Triple A” – Just saying those words conjures up positive, warm feelings, mostly due to the countless times that AAA tow trucks have come to the rescue and provided a needed jump, or can of gas. I happily pay my $49 yearly fee, feeling secure in the reassurance a Triple A card provides. Why would this company then risk the decades of trust and good will just to make a marginal buck? Here’s the story. Last week I came home from a two week trip only to find that my car wouldn’t start. Dead battery. Very dead. Car wouldn’t make a mutter. Called Triple A and instead of sending out a tow truck, they sent a special truck to provide jumps and also sell you a new battery if you need it. Well, according to the Triple A man, my battery was so dead, it was beyond redemption. He could get it going, but there was no way the car would start again if I cut the engine. He could offer me a great quality battery right there on the spot, and install it for about $112.
This seemed very fishy to me.
First, I’ve never spent more than $60 for a battery. And second, I was in a vulnerable position and he had no incentive to give me a good deal. I declined the offer and drove off to Sears. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes with my engine going, the Sears lady (hey now they have female mechanics!) tested my battery and found it good. Perfectly fine. No problem. I didn’t need a new battery after all. The alternator had recharged the battery on the trip over. I did find that with my German car, I will need to pay around $100 for a new battery when I need it. So Triple A’s pricing is probably fair. But if you don’t need a new battery, there’s no reason to be pressured into buying one.