AAA member shops are concerned about this requirement, partly because of customer privacy issues and partly because AAA has for the past five years opened AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel (CCIT) Centers in various parts of the U.S.
This is a major change from the previous AAA contract with AAR dealers and a totally unacceptable one, according to TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield. “This is basically saying that our competitor (Club-owned AAA repair centers) may gain our customer lists,” Mr. Littlefield wrote in an April 5, 2016, letter to AAA President and CEO Marshall L. Doney.
“There is no way we will ever allow a competitor access to this information that many of us have spent a lifetime gathering,” Mr. Littlefield added.
This is our most prized asset, it would be foolish and possibly fatal to share this information with someone who has openly stated and shown that they are in direct competition.”
In his April 19 reply to Mr. Littlefield, Mr. Doney said AAA would never use the information from AAR shops to compete against them.
“The latest changes to the AAR program use technology to provide AAA with the information about AAA member repair events to help us validate the AAR certification process and minimize the impact of an unexpected breakdown in our members' daily lives,” he said.
AAA will use the information to verify AAA member discounts and assess the scope of needed repairs, according to Mr. Doney.
“The program enhancements you expressed concern for include the two-way flow of information to and from the AAR shop,” he added.
“AAA is informing the AAR shop of an incoming tow, including the information needed to contact the member, their vehicle information and the type of problem they're experiencing,” Mr. Doney continued.
“In exchange, the AAR shop will provide AAA with information about the cause of the breakdown, including the parts and labor needed to repair it.”
However, there are other issues as well, Mr. Littlefield told Tire Business. The AAR membership fee is increasing substantially next year — by about $1,400, he said.
“AAA is justifying this as a way to increase marketing of AAA repair shops, but the dealers are not sure this increased marketing will help their businesses at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, AAR dealers continue to protest the new AAA policy. Mike Brend, president of Chicago-area dealership Auto Plus Inc., said AAA took the database from one of his three stores, then opened a CCIT center about a mile and a half away. “We haven't seen any AAA business since then,” he told Tire Business.
AAA has some 7,000 AAR locations nationwide, compared with about 138 club-owned repair locations, according to the association. AAA membership is approximately 56 million.
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