Moving my business elsewhere

I pay $73 per year to the RACV because I want someone to get me out of a scrape when I’ve locked myself out of my car or the battery is dead or whatever. It somewhat disturbs me that what’s left over from that $73 goes into lobbying for more, bigger, faster roads.

I saw this in action on Tuesday at a discussion at Treasury Place. The same day the RACV were seen on the TV news calling for the expansion of roads at the end of the Eastern Freeway, and “missing link” ring road sector through Melbourne’s northeast “green wedge” — or else Melbourne would grind to a standstill.

I don’t believe that for an instant. Melbourne would survive, and could thrive if no more freeways were built, and the money was put into public transport instead. In fact, just the $1 billion currently being spent to add two extra lanes to the Monash Freeway would pay for at least two major rail lines to be built.

And while the RACV continues to claim that more road building helps traffic, what it really does, apart from burning billions of dollars in transport funding, is provide more road space that gets more people driving, undermining cycling, walking and public transport, and leading to further traffic congestion and pollution.

I don’t want my money going to lobbying. But it turns out there are alternatives for getting roadside assistance, which don’t involve the RACV.

I found one (outdated) list of options, but of these, some are affiliated with RACV: Assist Australia, Caltex. ANZ at one stage had Auto Assist, but it’s not clear if that’s still on offer, nor who they outsource(d) to.

Some don’t make it clear if they outsource: International SOS, Mondial Roadside Assistance (won’t touch vehicles over 10 years old, which rules me and my 15-year-old Magna out).

Hard to know how good they are when you’re in a spot, but it looks like 24/7 Road Services might be one to try. Base-level coverage for $55, so it’s actually cheaper than RACV. I’ll make sure they’re not involved in lobbying, and I’ll going to sign up with them when my RACV membership expires.

And if you’re another one of the RACV’s 1.9 million members, and are only in it for the road service, and don’t want your money to pay for lobbying for paving the planet, I’d encourage you too to move your business elsewhere.

19/4/2013 A more comprehensive list of road service companies.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “Moving my business elsewhere”

I couldn’t agree more!
Many years ago when my RACV renewal was due, I rang them to ask if I could STOP being an RACV member, but continue to pay the membership fee, and only use their roadside assistance. I said I objected to them claiming to represent me when lobbying for Roads, Roads and more Roads. Of course I couldn’t.
We might make the move to another road-assistnce company when our renewal comes up.

I recall the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, VACC used to have a scheme too, but that would be out of the frying pan into the fire. So many have come and gone. I am not sure it is a wise idea. Having used the RACV today, I am pleased by their service. Note in their mag, everytime they have a piece arguing for better roads, they add some lipservice to public transport. Have to remember, it is an organisation about cars, roads, driving and motorists. Although given its size and membership, not a particularly effective one.

What a bloody good point – we’re all paying these groups for a specific service, and they’re off lobbying matters and/or opinions we don’t even agree on or want our money spent upon… will definitely have to reconsider.

It would be quite strategic for a road-side assistance service with no lobbyist ideas to contend the RACV and reduce monopolization. They could also offer a bike-assistance service and perhaps offer some other services.

The RACV are, admittedly, avaricious and reckless. They have an agenda and are willing to drive it as far as possible (pun unintentional).

The number of railway lines that have been closed with no hope of ever being reopened in Vic is disgraceful but the Vic Govt will listen to the likes of RACV lobbyists over public transport user groups everytime.

Perhaps those of us who still maintain cars in these heady peak oil days, but don’t want to support RACV paint the planet with roads lobbying, could form a buying group.

We simply re-sell RACV roadside service for the same price, and the difference between the volume rates for roadside assistance and the standard directly marketed fee gets split between the Public Transport Lobby (Daniel’s mob) and Bicycle Victoria.

Just stumbled across this entry – I’ve gone through a similar thing with my RACV membership. I was deeply uncomfortable with my money going to RACV lobbying for a long time, but was worried about not having roadside assist. In the end I decided that I didn’t need it because they only tow for 7km for free and I carry a set of tools and alternator in the boot anyway. I couldn’t believe the effort they went to to stop me from quitting. I got about 5 letters and 2 phone calls trying to get me to stay. They really want to hold onto that leverage of having lots of members.

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