How much crap can you stuff into one letter size envelope? AAA Insurance attempts the world record…
I have no problem with Triple A. I’m not an insurance expert, but my parents and extended family have used them for years, and I was a member at some point in the past also. As far as I know Triple A, (or is it AAA?) has a long and reputable history. I can’t remember a family vacation without a trusty “Triptik” and motel discount book stuffed in the console of our wood paneled station wagon.
But I questioned this mess that arrived at my office last Friday from AAA Colorado (located at Colorado and Arkansas, just a hop from the Bulgarian Market.) I receive plenty of junk mail. Comcast, Xcel Energy, Qwest, and local menus from around the neighborhood are no stranger to my mailbox. But this one gets the 5 star AAA award for most wasteful. It would seem AAA doesn’t think a simple letter stating, “Hey how about joining AAA, we can save you some bucks,” will net an adequate response. I understand them wanting to create an incentive or call to action, but this is just overkill. So grab your knife and let’s dissect it!
Top Center: A four page newsletter addressed to “member-elect” from “Rod Manuel,” summarizing via bullet points and pre-printed blue “highlighting” the full benefits of AAA membership. Ok – I can handle a letter stating they’re great for trips, travel, and roadside assistance, but the following ancillary enclosures start to look frightfully desperate.
Top Left: Actual “insurance cards” with a membership number and my name, good until February 15. The back states “AAA provides services and privileges with the exception of bail bonds.” I’m guessing they’re avoiding DUIs here.
ok – so this is a REAL AAA card good until the February 15th? I can actually USE it for roadside services? But is this real INSURANCE covering comprehensive and liability? I doubt that if I totaled a BMW this would actually be accepted as insurance.
Middle Right: A 6″ x 6″ “personal” note from Rod telling me that he is delighted to include me in this offer. “It’s quite amazing!” writes Rod.
Bottom Center: As if Rod’s personal note doesn’t get me frothing, also included is a letter from member “John Ziegler.” This correspondence is angled to appear as if it’s been hastily slammed onto the copy machine in a mad rush to get this package out to me. John’s letter to AAA states “days after mailing in my application, I locked my keys in my car.” He states he used his temporary card from AAA. Actual quote: “Thanks SO MUCH for mailing me the application.” I guess this answers my above question about use of cards.
Top Right: A glossy quick start guide for new members detailing benefits. (As if anyone over 25 doesn’t know you can throw AAA around for car rental and motel discounts.) Through even more bullet points and photos I’m shown stranded motorists receiving rapid assistance, a happy guy on a road trip, and couples and families dining and shopping with glee, all thanks to AAA.
Bottom Right: A dangerously shiny AAA rectangular sticker to be displayed on car. At the proper angle this could be reflect the sun and blind pilots.
Left Center: Business reply envelope. “RUSH!!! Registration enclosed”
Bottom Left: The envelope in which these shenanigans arrived in- misleadingly marked “Membership Registration Enclosed.”
Whew! There you have it. Normally something like this would make a beeline for the dumpster and not even merit a second glance, but I found it utterly astounding at just how much stuff was jammed inside.
Now – these temporary membership cards: I examined the fine print, which states “If you USE your card you will be billed for services should you fail to send in the premium by deadline.” I supposed that’s fair, but to play the manipulative consumer I COULD use my cards and just not pay. I didn’t sign a contract with them. They sent ME a service card to use. It’s similar to the “Cash this check for $10 and you’ll be enrolled in…” that credit card companies mail. But what’s different here is that they have no way of charging me – All they have is my name and address.
Perhaps I should USE my temporary membership card and try to help a stranded motorist in the next month. I’d like to make SOMETHING positive happen from all this waste. If I can use my card to be a good Samaritan then I’ll win, a stranger wins, and AAA? We’ll, maybe they’ll learn to be less wasteful.
By James Van Dellen