Roadside Assistance, A Provider’s Prospective

Roadside Assistance, A Provider’s Prospective


Not all roadside assistance programs are treated equally, by the operators of the tow truck. Some will offer pretty much the same features. Towing mileage and hook-up, Lock Out Services, Jump Starting your vehicle, Dollies and Go-Jacks, and some will offer Winching and Recovery costs if you are involved in an accident. However, the tow truck operator will treat the call for help differently, depending on who calls him/her out

Shopping around for the towing and emergency roadside service provider, is complicated at best. However, it must be said that most of the places offer assistance programs that are actually dispatched by major carriers, such as The American Automobile Club, G.E. Roadside Assistance , Allstate Insurance Company, and Cross-Country which are the most frequently used on the west coast.

Most new car manufacturers will use Cross-Country to provide services, as will some retail outlets that offer free towing to their facility. Most cellular service providers and On-Star offer some emergency roadside assistance programs through Cross-Country, as well. Credit Union and Bank Providers mostly offer G.E. Roadside Assistance Programs which is pretty good to both the towing company and the customer as well.

Shopping For The Program, To Fit Your Needs:

Shopping For The Program, To Fit Your Needs:

Shopping around, for the program that fits your needs best is difficult. Why? Because on a daily basis, your needs will change and the area you are driving in may not have a relationship with a towing company on contract, to service you in remote areas.. Although most providers will tell you that if you wish to pay for the towing, they will repay your charges to a certain amount. However, there are two questions which should direct you, towards finding a good match, in your search. The first question should be, Are You traveling A Long Distance From Home or Your Mechanic’s Shop? The second question should be something like, Are you wanting to spend more money, for uncovered distances beyond what is offered by the program?

.If you or your family is traveling great distances, from either home or your mechanics shop, you may wish to consider joining the program offered through A.A.A. Their programs have coverage up to 200 miles of towing free to the membership holder. This coverage is on the person and not the vehicle and will go with you, if you should borrow a friends car, rental car, or even your other vehicles. This is about the best, in my opinion as a provider operator. Even though AAA’s have to be paid up front for membership, if you are covered under their insurance, it is well worth the money!!!

 However, if you are staying within say 20 miles of your home and mechanic’s shop, then you can find comparable services from other programs, such as Cross-Country and Allstate roadside assistance. Normally, if these are offered in your area and you are within a short distance from home or your mechanic’s shop you will get probably the best and most reliable service from towing companies. Also, most of the provider tow services are more reliable and polite, than the others. Why? Because the provider towing service is constantly being rated by the customer, within about a ten minutes after being picked up. Without maintaining a reasonable score on surveys, they are dropped from the call rotation.


Tow Operators and How They Respond To Calls:

 Tow Operators and How They Respond To Calls:

Since each call is different, depending on both the call type and the Motor Club who is dispatching the call, they are handled differently and sometimes with a very different attitude from the driver. From being helpful to just drudging through the call to get it done, the driver is your direct contact with the a representative of the motor club, regardless of the provider.

Towing or T-7 in Towing lingo

: This is an every day occurrence, and how it is treated usually depends on the attitude of the customer. If the customer is in a bad mood and yells at the driver, you may be in for a long, drawn out process to get help. However, telling the driver you are in a bad mood and realize he or she is not the problem, will probably smooth out the road to a fair to good experience. () Oh yes, don’t try to assist the driver by placing your vehicle in neutral. This can cause injury and or for your car to roll away and become damaged or involved in an accident. Just leave your keys in the ignition for the driver to take care of...)

Tire Change or T-1 in Towing Lingo:

Typically, these are the dirtiest of the jobs we perform. By making sure that your spare has proper air pressure and is in decent condition, goes a long way in getting the job done quickly and with no problems..( Oh yes, if you have custom rims/wheels, be sure to have a Socket and wrench to fit the Lug Nuts. Not every towing agency has a wrench to loosen every wheel’s lug nuts. The tow driver will be most happy with your efforts to assist him/her.)

Lock Outs, or T-6‘s in Towing Lingo


This is when you lock your keys in the vehicle, and do not have a spare at hand. Normally, the driver laughs until he does it to him/herself. However, he/she is most willing to perform this assignment. It is fast and normally gets him/her on the road to the next customer, quickly. (Nope, no suggested notes on this one. )

 Jump Starts or T-3‘s in Towing Lingo:

Typically, quick and easy chores for the towing provider. We are in and out pretty fast, depending on the problems you are having. Sometimes you are going to have to visit a garage, for repairs should your vehicle have three or more incidents within a weeks period, or if the vehicle will not start. You can help out by opening the hood of the vehicle, and leaving the keys with the vehicle, or with someone whom is staying with the vehicle. (Oh Yes, Tow Truck drivers are no mechanics and do not carry batteries. AAA has some service providers who have service trucks with people trained in changing batteries, but other roadside services do not offer roadside mechanics. Arguing with the tow truck driver will not get the battery changed, you will have to go to a mechanic. )

Fuel Delivery or T-4 in towing Lingo:

This is a problem child of calls. Why? because it causes the driver, in most cases to fund the fuel. In some instances, the motor club will reimburse the costs to the driver; however it takes 30 days for that reimbursement to come in. In other instances, the member has to re-pay the fee for the fuel and the roadside assistance program will pay the service call. Normally when the members re-pay the driver, it normally will cost that member at least a 100 percent mark up. Why? Well because we have the money taken from our families budgets, to pay for your lack of trip planning. Since, we service from 5 to 25 members daily if everyone of those people needed fuel, the driver stands to loose upwards of $125.00 out of the family daily. So, the member is charged for this inconvenience, to the driver.


The short fall of A.A.A, towing drivers/operators:

 The short fall of A.A.A, towing drivers/operators:

Depending on the Volume of the driver and the service provider, The experience you gain from the towing company will vary. Arrival times to your location will vary, regardless of who your roadside service provider is. However, unlike most companies who provide services to your roadside assistance program, AAA tow operators may get paid, even if they did not show up, to service your needs.

To emphasis this, let us assume you have a flat, or locked your keys in the vehicle. If a driver decides he/she can not make the estimated time of arrival, he/she can call AAA dispatch and tell them that your vehicle is not locatable. AAA will pay for their attempt to service you, after trying to call your call-back number. What AAA dispatch does not know, is that the driver has already called and tried to reach the member, with no luck, to let them know they are running late. No answer? This means that AAA is not going to have luck verifying if the problem was solved or not. The driver merely goes to the next call and waits for the member to call back. He/She gets paid for two calls against your membership account. Great for the driver/bad for customer.

The short fall of Cross Country and Allstate:

Cross Country and Allstate are great for short distance type issues, encountered by the membership holder. Most of these policies will vary, but most coverage is only on the vehicle, not the person. (Allstate offers the member coverage, like AAA where the member is covered not the vehicle. I do not believe Cross Country offers this feature.) Like AAA, your coverage in towing mileage and call frequency will vary with the plan purchased, so check the options on these plans carefully.

However, unlike AAA., in most cases if service is not rendered then the towing company normally will not get paid. (unless they can properly explain a good reason why they were unable to provide services. Both have review process, via customer telephone surveys, that taken to ensure that you were treated properly and efficiently. )

Mileage coverage and cost per mile over the service allotment will, vary regardless of which programs you join, so get as much mileage coverage available or that you can afford to get. A twenty mile tow, on a ten mile allotment, will cost you over a $100.00, and in some cases over $200.00. Also, in some cases specialized equipment or added labor is required to tow a vehicle. Ask the membership support personnel what if any special equipment and labor coverage, is available to you when you join a program.


Some cases of vehicle disablement, will require for the driver to winch out a vehicle, or put a cable and pull the vehicle to a location where it can be hooked up and towed. other instances may call for the driver has to jack up the front or rear of the vehicle to move it to a safe location. These may be added expenses which may or may not be covered by the program. Also check about accident towing and recovery expenses and if there are extra charges to request a certain type of tow truck, ie.. a wheel life, flat bed, or large tow unit to pull a motor home, or bus.


When discussing roadside assistance programs, be sure to ask all the questions, you can think of. In fact, it may be of assistance to write questions down, prior to your shopping for a road service provider network. This will assist you in making the best and most informed choices, regarding how to handle vehicle break down issues. It is best to know the limitations of each program, before you become in need of the services. I will add that it is by far cheaper to have some sort of roadside assistance program, rather than not. A tow bill will average $50.00 or more. IF for some reason you have two break downs or need to be towed two or three time, you just paid for AAA’s best program. In like, if you get towed over 15 miles you are looking at the same costs that would have been paid for AAA’s best program, plus some additional.

I hope this information will be of assistance to you, while shopping and during the use of a roadside assistance program. Although this may be information which will upset some and not bother others. It is factual information regarding the viewpoint of most service providers and drivers who respond to calls.

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Comments 2 comments

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repoprimo 6 years ago from California Author

Most new vehicle auto warratee programs, will include this service in the actual warrantee program. Sometimes it is elective, others it is automatically included for the first year or so. This is to reduce costs associated with bringing your vehicle back to a dealership for work. It is a great feature. It is in the new car purchaser, to ask and be sure it is included. If not, you may want to give it a deep consideration, to have it added. It's a

"Win-Win" proposition for you and the dealership.

Jenna Atamandas 6 years ago

This is very informative. Roadside assistance through an auto warranty program is a great thing to have.

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