I realize this is an old post, but being I am reviewing all of these complaints today I felt it needed my 2 cents.
I read and re-read the complaint a couple times because it "just didn't make sense" to me. My background: I am the operations manager for a towing company in Oregon and we are also a AAA provider. I've been in the industry since 1996 and with this company since 1998.
As such, I have come to the conclusion that this is not a policy of AAA...because there is no such policy...but what happened is this:
Your car wouldn't start. You called AAA. Not knowing what you told the AAA call taker, if you just said, "It won't start. We just came out from shopping and it won't start." They dispatched your call to the contracted towing company as "won't start, possible tow".
The towing company was probably slammed that day (for whatever reason) and in an effort to try and provide you with faster service, they sent out their "service" truck...not a tow truck...to see if they could get you going.
Trust me. This is standard practice, especially when a contract station is very busy. We have a service truck too that provides jump starts, lockouts and tire changes. The truck is faster and more fuel efficient than having a tow truck running around providing these same services...even though tow trucks are still capable of doing them.
When they arrived in the service truck, the driver probably mumbled something about how he was just trying to see if he could get you going and if not, they would send the next available tow truck.
All of that being said, that is NOT how we would have handled it.
First, if in fact, your call was dispatched to us as a "won't start, possible tow" we would have called you back and discussed what was happening. Is the engine just making this loud clicking sound when you turn the ignition, etc.?
If we determined thru some simple questions that a service truck might be of assistance...because a tow truck was still hours away...we would have asked you if it would be okay for them to respond and give it a try.
Some people respond enthusiastically, "YES...send them!" and sure enough, the service truck can get them going. Others are more sure that it's a "bigger issue" and would rather have their vehicle towed to the repair shop. No problem. We won't waste our time sending the service truck and just get you lined up in the rotation for towing.
Either way, the towing company was at fault for NOT clarifying this with you. We have a policy here at our company that all third party calls need to be verified by our own dispatch if possible.
Meaning, when we get a call from AAA, our own dispatchers will make every attempt to contact you personally to confirm location, # of passengers, nature of the breakdown and an accurate ETA for your situation. Not just an ETA that AAA has us set to on their master screen at the call taking center.
But that is our policy and unfortunately many of my collegues don't adhere to the same customer service principles.
Still, I think the point needs to be made that your complaint is with the towing company and not AAA and it's "new policy".
I respect that as a AAA member, your perception is that whoever responds once you've called AAA is...in fact...AAA...even if it's just a AAA contract station.
And I also recognize that you are rightfully very frustrated with what happened in your situation. I would be too.
However, for clarification to all other readers: This is not a AAA policy that your car has to be "proven to be broken down before a tow".