It’s almost impossible to avoid talk of the EU referendum at the moment. It’s everywhere.
John Fitzpatrick examines one of the claims of the leave campaign, by applying a similar approach to his personal circumstances.
I don’t want to burden you with my problems but, due to change in circumstances, my family are having to tighten their belts at the moment. We’ve sat down and looked at the things we spend our money on and a few things have come up that could be cut back on.
One suggestion was my membership of the AA. At £28.99 per month, it could be seen as a bit of a luxury that we couldn’t afford. Of course, it gives us peace of mind that we won’t be left stranded should my steadily aging car break down. However, since my car needs to break down to get the full benefit. I don’t always get out what I put in. I don’t get to choose how the AA run their services. I don’t get to choose who they take me to if a more substantial repair is required for my car.
Cancelling my AA membership was starting to look like a feasible option. Also, I could spend that money on other things… Gym membership might be useful, as I would need to be fit to either walk or ride my bike in the event that my car breaks down post AA membership exit.
A new mobile phone could help me call a taxi should my car break down post AA membership exit.
Even better, just like we hear from the Leave campaign, I could use the single sum of and spend it on BOTH gym membership and a new mobile contract. That would be perfect.
Now, admittedly, cancelling my AA membership would leave me without access to certain benefits that I enjoy and rely on. But as I’m paying for a service that I don’t always use and the AA apparently value my membership according to their letters, the Leave campaign have given me another idea. I could cancel my membership and re-negotiate some terms with them.
So, I rang the AA to cancel my membership. The helpful lady on the end of the phone tried to convince me to stay with them but could tell I was adamant. “Why would I hand you £40 per month for this service when I don’t have a say in how you run your service? I don’t even need to use you sometimes.”
She pointed out that I don’t pay £40 per month. If I did, she assured me, I would be given £11.01p back immediately. She told me that the £28.99 per month that the AA actually require for my level of membership is used to run their overall service and, in the event of a breakdown of my own vehicle, I would be entitled to the same access as every other member.
This is where I had the genius idea of the Leave Campaign approach. I wanted to re-negotiate. I definitely wanted to cancel my membership but I still wanted some of the benefits, just without the membership fee.
The helpful lady at the AA agreed to that. The Leave Campaign had done me proud. Why had I paid £28.99 per month when I could have just renegotiated to have the deal in place without the membership fee. This was excellent. I would have to tell everyone.
However, the very kind and patient lady at the AA said it would not be completely free. Yes, I could change what service I wanted but it would still have to be paid for. For instance, I could have the basic membership for £15.99 per month. I would lose the home start element but still have basic roadside assistance.
I thought about this. It wasn’t the saving I’d thought. In fact, I was beginning to think that the Leave campaign hadn’t really thought their position through at all. To keep some level of membership with the AA, I could save £13 but not the full £28.99.
And the Home Start option was really useful. In fact, it was the one aspect I’d used since I’d been a member. It was time for a counter-offer. What if I was to take the basic membership and then just negotiate a deal for Home Start if and when I actually needed it?
Again, I was delighted to hear I could do that if I wanted to. If I took just the basic membership, I could indeed have the Home Start option.
Success again! I was too quick to rubbish those cheeky scamps in the Leave campaign.
However, the kind, patient and now slightly sighing lady explained that it would cost me a lot more for the Home Start option if I chose to use that service without agreeing in advance. It would be about double the normal fee, in fact.
What?! It would cost me more? That was ridiculous! I asked her what she thought she was playing at. What could possibly justify such terms?
She explained that the AA would go out of business if they gave better terms for non-members rather than actual members. It was the way a business was supposed to operate. She had a point.
So, I kept my membership of the AA as it was. The renegotiation wasn’t as beneficial as I thought and I really do need my car for my work and family.
However, what about the TV and broadband package with the cable company? Surely, I could pull out of that and re-negotiate?