I have been a member of the AA since 1977... three years before I was born.
When I passed my test in 1997, the rents put me on their membership until I finally got my own membership a few years later, which means for at least 15 years, I have been paying the AA a yearly fee to come and rescue me.
And they've been great. When I had my ancient Mini, I met more than my fair share of AA peeps – the exhaust fell off, the seal went on the oil something or other, the battery went flat and numerous other things occurred.
Then the AA brought out a text service (which honestly I have never really trusted) so that if I broke down I wouldn't have to struggle with making a call and I was happy to pay my yearly membership.
This year, for some reason, my auto-payment on my credit card didn't work. I wonder if it's because I had a new credit card issued by my bank and therefore they didn't have my correct details... who knows? But the first I knew about it was a letter informing me that this had happened.
So I tweeted the @TheAA_UK who gave me the customer service email address and I contacted them. Apparently payments cannot be made over email, which I guess is fair enough, but there was no other way for me to renew than to make a call. A bloody phone call. And if I couldn't, then I could get someone else to do it for me.
Now, I am MORE than used to getting people to make phone calls for me. I've had friends book all manner of personal appointments, renew insurance and everything else in between but I am getting a bit embarrassed about asking people...
So I didn't. And then I forgot about it for a while.
This morning, with half an hour to spare before work, I thought I'd contact The AA on live chat and ask them if there was any way (apart from calling) that I could renew my membership. There wasn't apparently – except for via a touch type phone, which I do not use – and also, because I'd left it so long, my membership could no longer be renewed. My bad for sulking about the need to make a phone call I guess... BUT ALSO THEIR BAD TOO, FOR MAKING THAT PHONE CALL NECESSARY IN THE FIRST PLACE!
So now I have no breakdown cover and I am faced with a more expensive fee if I rejoin the AA. So this lunchtime I am going to research the RAC – are they deaf aware? Or The Green Flag? What about them?
But I can't help but feel a bit sad – after all, I remember being so chuffed of my AA membership... of the friendly people who put my little Mini back together when she'd rattled herself apart on the bumpy roads around where I grew up.
And I can't help but feel, in a world where lots of other companies can do alternative ways of taking payments that perhaps the AA should step up and sort it out, too. Before they lose another loyal customer. Before they lose me...