Local News

AAA Roadside Program Lets Down Local Man

Posted February 7, 2003

— For people who do not belong to a roadside assistance program, the price of getting help when they have a flat tire or dead battery can be expensive.

WRAL's Five On Your Side made some discoveries about one of the most popular roadside programs.

John Mangrum has been a AAA Plus member for six years. He pays $98 a year and said it has been a reliable service in emergency situations.

"Anytime I've ever called them, they've been right there. They're like your best friend next door," Mangrum said.

In December, he said things changed.

"I got a nasty gram saying that they're canceling my membership!" Mangrum said.

AAA said they it was canceling his membership due to "excessive service."

Mangrum said he used the AAA 14 times in the past six years, mostly for towing service, but also for lockouts and battery jumps.

"That's what you pay a premium for," Mangrum said.

Dave Parsons, the president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said customers like Mangrum "aren't fair to the other members."

Parsons said AAA regularly evaluates its costliest members, roughly 3,000 a year.

The company either cancels those memberships or offers a basic service package, he said.

Since AAA canceled his membership, Mangrum said he was offere the basic package. He accepted it, but said he still does not like the policy.

"You pay for a service, but you're not allowed to use it. If it's going to cost us money -- even though you've paid your premiums -- you're not allowed to use the service and that's not right," Mangrum said.

AAA said it should have offered Mangrum a basic membership rather than dropping his membership.

The company claimed it also sent him a letter warning he was getting close to the "limit." Mangrum said he never received it.

Reporter:

Monica Laliberte

Five On Your Side Producer:

Lori Lair

Photographer:

Greg Clark

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