Oops, I didn’t mean to sign up for AAA — how ’bout a refund?

Like millions of other Americans, Yvonne Chan is planning a road trip this summer. She and a friend decided it might be a good idea to get a AAA membership — they’re both students — so they signed up through the organization’s site.

And that’s the problem. They both signed up at the same time. Only one of them meant to become a member, but because of crossed wires, they both ended up with memberships.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb. Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Which is where Chan’s trouble started.

Within 24 hours of my online application, I contacted AAA Northern California to see if I could cancel my membership and receive refund.

While on the phone, the agent not only spent much time promoting the association’s other products, but also kept me on hold for a long time to verify that I had not utilized any emergency roadside assistance during the past 24 hours. At last, I was informed that my membership will be canceled but I would not receive the one-time enrollment fee for the membership.

That disappointed her, because there had never been any indication that the enrollment fee was nonrefundable.

I did a little research and could find no disclosure of AAA’s nonrefundable enrollment fee. To be fair, AAA doesn’t have a central site — each chapter runs its own site, which is often difficult to access if you’re already a AAA member, since it uses cookies to reroute you to your own chapter.

Chan is baffled that AAA is trying to keep her money.

It makes no sense that I should be charged for enrollment in a club that I hold no membership. Furthermore, my friend in Texas became so incensed that he too canceled his membership application to AAA, and was promised to expect a full refund check in the mail in 7 to 10 business days.

I asked AAA about the matter. Its response?

I wanted to let you know that AAA Northern California member relations has investigated this complaint and as a sign of goodwill are refunding the enrollment fee.

I’m happy for Chan, but for all those who come after her, this might not be the best news. AAA offered her and a one-time refund, but as far as I can tell, its disclosure of nonrefundability still leaves something to be desired.

(Photo: One Eighteen/Flickr Creative Commons)

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