Untangling the Mess That is Roadside Service

We're heading out next week to a Physics conference, and, as we are traveling via car, my husband asked me to check out Roadside Assistance.

Specifically, did we still have it, or could we get it, on our cell phone plan?

The short answer is no. It was discontinued in 2012.

The long answer:

  • Sprint - they don't have it
  • AARP - I keep getting information about the WONDERFUL, heavily DISCOUNTED perks you can get for membership in AARP.
    • I never really did join, but they keep sending their magazine each month, along with a card that says I'm a member. Most places accept it for discounts without actually checking to see if I AM a member.
    • I checked their website. They do have a Roadside Assistance plan listed. I click on the link, which pops up a box warning me that YOU ARE LEAVING AARP FOR ANOTHER SITE! I click OK and end up on the site - Allstate. Yes, I think it is somehow affiliated with the insurance company.
    • I check out the rates. Not that cheap, unless you are a single person only desiring to be towed 5 miles or less. Since I travel in remote parts of the country, this won't do. I discover that the discount is only for the current year, which means that if I select it, I'll be charged automatically for renewal - at over $90/year. Fortunately, they don't like my AARP # (perhaps because I never paid for it?), and I'm bounced out.
    • I do some searching, and find some consumers of those plans complaining about the service - only 4 tows a year, or you are canceled (well, that does seem reasonable). However, the same person complains that he had no notice of the cancellation.
    • Another person complains that using the tow service jacks up your insurance rates, as the company is allied to the auto insurance giant.
    • I try enrolling directly - the rates are even cheaper! - so much for the AARP advantage. Before I click acceptance, my own insurance company calls me back, and I find out that I can have the same essential service for about $20/year for both of us. I agree to add it to the policy.
What is the moral of the story?

Don't blindly trust discounts - they can be higher than the non-discounted rate.

Check out options - prepare to spend a lot of time on the phone/Internet.

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