Loyalty Penalties

Since our beloved Mazda MX5 (a.k.a. “Mazzie”) is now 11 years old, for the last two years I’ve taken out breakdown and recovery cover with the AA. Although most of our longer journeys are in our tow car, it seemed sensible not to worry unduly when we were at home and we were blessed with an all-too-rare pleasant day. I went for the Roadside and Relay options.

Just prior to our recent trip to Devon, my renewal notice arrived. With Devon planning uppermost in our minds, I left it until our return. On Monday I started dealing with it. The renewal notice wanted £108.00 – £50.00 for the Roadside option and £58.00 for the Relay option (recovery of disabled vehicle either to preferred repairer or home). I began looking for alternatives.

Imagine my annoyance when I looked at the AA website and was quoted £69.00 for exactly the same cover as a new member. Worse, as a new member I could apparently include the additional Home Start option (which I don’t currently have) for £31.00, a total of £100.00, still £8.00 less than my renewal notice without Home Start. (Incidentally, my renewal notice wanted £50.50 for Home Start.)

As an existing member, even one who had not made a call out, the AA was penalizing me to the tune of £39.00, a thumping 56.5% of what a new member was being asked to pay.

I investigated Green Flag and got a quote for similar cover down to £71.40. I investigated the Caravan Club’s Mayday cover (operated by Green Flag) and found their equivalent (perhaps slightly superior) cover to be £62.00.

I phoned the AA and asked to cancel my membership. I was put through to a customer service agent who had been told that I was unhappy about the price (which I had not yet said) and that he “could do something about it”. You’re damn right I wasn’t happy about the price but by now I was determined to go elsewhere on a matter of principle. I wasn’t happy about being taken for a mug on my renewal notice. I went with the Caravan Club’s Mayday cover.

Penalizing existing customers seems to be a common theme in our modern world. We have to go through the pain of changing car insurers every year to get the best deals because new customers get a discount. I’ll have to do that for Mazzie in May for his insurance. Constant change is both time consuming and stressful (when it comes to No Claims Bonus proof, anyway).

What happened to valuing customer loyalty? Now it’s always existing customers that get penalized almost forcing them to jump ship. The whole ethos is intensely irritating. I happen to think it’s also completely stupid. Not that I was actually a salesman but, in a sales situation I was taught to value repeat business and to hang on to existing customers. Once you’ve lost an existing customer it’s harder to win them back than to win brand new ones ‘cos those who left you did so for a reason. In this case the reason is being penalized and taken for mugs.

We’ve completely lost it.

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