Raul watched as Jacqueline placed the cloth over her eyes and tied it securely in the back.  Everyone else, in the surrounding cubicles, was busy; they were all frantically talking, having already taken their turns.

Raul placed his hands on Jaqueline’s shoulders and asked, “You ready?”

With a nod and a muffled “m-hm” Jaqueline confirmed that she was ready to go- once more.

Counting out loud, slightly over the office hum, Raul spun her in a tight circle.  “1 alligator, 2, alligator, 3…Ok you’re ready to go.” He said as he pointed her to the wall.

Jaqueline wobbled a bit in her high hills and tight skirt, then with one hand holding the pin and another out in front- to ensure she didn’t run, face-first, into anything, she moved forward.

Feeling her way into the darkness, Helen Keller Style, she located the target with her free hand…And with as much precision and finesse as she could muster, while biting her lower lip, shoved the pin blindly into the corkboard.

Standing quiet until that moment Raul applauded and cheered as she yanked the blindfold from round her head.  Once her eyes became accustomed to the light she could to see the area on the map she’d pinned.

Quickly grabbing a pencil she drew a perfect circle with the 2 inch string that dangled from the pin.  “That’s my area.” She said as she ran to the phone.

As she logged onto her computer to dial the first number, that popped up on the screen, she beamed with pride knowing how superior her department’s methods of selection are compared to others in the field.  She’d heard that some offices still use darts and other less efficient methods. And there’s even a hub in Pittsburg that swears by Tarot Cards. She scoffed at those outdated, unsophisticated approaches as she slipped on her headset and spoke to the first one on the list.

“Hello, this is Jaqueline from xyz motor club can I get an ETA for a tire change in…?”

Each and every day towers throughout the US receive numerous calls like this from motor clubs inquiring as to their availability. This isn’t news in itself…it’s the requests for service to disablement locations that are way outside their area, that’s what’s newsworthy…they’re becoming more and more frequent.

Have you ever wondered why you get those stray calls?  When the location of the person needing roadside assistance is some 30 to 60 miles outside the area you’ve agreed to service…Why are they still calling you? Have they thrown out their advanced technological locating systems and gone with the pin-the-tail on the contractor method?

Besides the obvious nuisance and interruption these calls can cause as they punctuate the relative peace and serenity that exists in your office—you can’t help but wonder how long those in need of assistance must wait until a service provider actually does arrive.

If the motor club dispatcher is calling your office and you’re some 60 miles from the disabled vehicle does that mean that they’ve already called and been shot down by every other service provider in between?  Or did they start by calling those on the outer perimeter moving inward as they searched…pleading for assistance?  Whatever the answer the outcome for their member seems dire.

If only we had a whistle blower deep within the lower intestines of the motor club industry…Someone eager to shine a light on exactly why they do what they do, we might begin to understand.

With the lack of an insider and no explanation given other than “we’re just doing what we’re told”, there are 3 possible reasons motor club dispatchers might treat their members this way.

  1. There are no contractors willing to service the area of the disabled vehicle
  2. Motor clubs don’t really care about providing fast service
  3. They really do use the pin-the-tail, darts, or tarot card methods

But if we are fair and choose to land on the side of caution, we’d be wise to discount industry-wide incompetence and complacency. And through this benevolent process of elimination the only thing left to assume is that when motor clubs are forced to reach out and touch someone, via long distance dispatch, there must be no contractors available otherwise.

But then this begs the question why? Why aren’t there contractors available to service their members? To that the obvious answer is that minus the monetary motivation to make ones’ self available, contractors have opted to save their labor and save their fuel and stick to cash paying customers.

The 4th option and possibly the only other conclusion to the madness of arbitrary contractor selection is to trick naïve, hungry, young towers into running calls that would leave them empty handed after all is said and done. Barely breaking even they’ll gladly do the work if they’ve been lead to believe, if ever so subtly, that there’s more where that came from.

This strategy works in not only avoiding paying market rates but also in securing a psychological win for the clubs. When towers, already in the area, see others encroaching, while their engines run idle, fears of loss come creeping into their heads. With that fear ever-present, the clubs are betting—that the next time they call—those who were left wanting will be more receptive and much more eager to help.

As for the Newbs…they’ll be content for a while with assurances of loyalty if they go out of their way for motor club xyz. But just as those before them and those who’ll come after they’ll be grist for the mill once their course has run through.  They’ll be replaced with someone else who’s less wise with more hunger, willing to give up profit for work.

But what’s really sad are the pawns in the middle- motorists still wanting. They have no idea of the games being played behind the scenes. If they did have an inkling that their fate and their wait were determined by who’s hungriest and willing to travel rather than “closest available” they might have made other plans.

But don’t pity them their choices for they’ve dealt their own hand. Believing their dimes are worth dollars and our charges excessive they play their own games. They make motor clubs bend over backwards and sit-up and look pretty to attract their attention and gather as many of the dimes as they can.

And in the end they always get what they’re paying for.