It’s a perennial question among RVers: Which emergency road service (ERS) is the best? If you Google the question, seems like everyone has an opinion. Trouble is, too many who bugle “such and such” a road service as the best have a stake in the game. Some get kickbacks if you click the link from their site and sign up. How can you get an objective look into what’s truly the best service for you?
You helped us answer the question of best road service
We’ve done our best to answer that question by asking it of our readers. Hundreds of RVTravel.com readers took our survey. We didn’t just ask, “Which one do you like best?” We dug for details. How easy was it to deal with the dispatcher? How long did you have to wait for the service truck to arrive? Did the service truck even arrive? These and other questions help you look past the hype and get down to the details you’ll need to make an informed choice. And yes, we asked just how likely (or unlikely) was it that you’d recommend a given emergency road service to a friend or family member.
In our survey, we offered options to report on various ERS providers. Readers could choose from AAA, Allstate, Coach Net, FMCA, and Good Sam. We also offered an “other provider” block for other services. Among the “other” providers, respondents often included the Escapees Club road service, and service by Progressive. There were a few others, but sadly, the number of responses made them statistically difficult to evaluate. Please know we appreciate your answers, even if the service you evaluated doesn’t appear in our results list.
Here are the number of participants by service provider: AAA = 252; Allstate = 14; Coach Net = 136; FMCA = 50; Good Sam = 262; Other = 38 (divided among several companies, and too few to factor into the percentages); Total = 752.
So, without further ado, let’s look at what you told us.
First contact with road service provider
After whatever evil has befallen your RV, the first step in getting road service help is contacting the dispatcher. When ERS plans first had their advent, contact by telephone was the only way to get help. Now most ERS plans offer “an app for that,” where folks with smartphones can simply punch a few buttons to request help. You told us about your experiences with both telephone and app contact. We’re including the results, but we should mention, an extremely small number of survey respondents use apps. Of the major ERS providers, only about 16% of our respondents have ever tried using the option.
All of the graphs in this article can be clicked on to expand.
So the question, If you’ve called for emergency road service by telephone, how easy was it to deal with the dispatcher?
While responses ran a scale from “very easy” to “I found it slightly frustrating” and “I had real problems with them,” we’re including the “top and bottom” results for ease of presentation. So here’s what many would call the best of the services.
Here are the responses on which ERS dispatchers were the most difficult to deal with. In this case, the ERS provider ranked with the most “problems” in dealing with the dispatcher fell to Allstate, while the fewest issues were reported with Coach Net.
We’ll deal similarly with experiences using an ERS app. If you’ve used an app for requesting emergency road service, how easy was it to get help using the app?
Waiting for the dispatcher
Another way to ferret out which ERS is best for you is wait time. Sitting beside the freeway with semi-trucks blasting by inches from your motorhome isn’t the easiest stress-reducer. You want help quickly. But before the tow-truck rolls your way, the dispatcher has to get one out to you. We asked, If you’ve called for road service by phone, how long did you wait for confirmation that arrangements had been made for service? This was NOT a measure of time you had to wait for the truck, ONLY the time waiting to hear from your ERS that they had found help.
In our response box, we allowed you to gauge the time in various intervals, for example, “Less than 10 minutes,” running up the scale in increments. To get an average response time we had to make some assumptions, but these were applied equally to all ERS providers. Here’s what we found.
We think this is a pretty good measure of an ERS provider’s efficiency. It could indicate how many dispatchers the outfit has. Too few, one dispatcher will be working multiple cases at once, and you’re just “one cog in the works.” There’s a big difference of waiting around a half-hour to hear that help is coming, to nearly an hour of agony.
In the bleakest area, here are the results of those who told us they’d asked for help, but the dispatcher couldn’t find help for them. Results show the percentage of time that a given ERS user couldn’t get help, out of all calls made.
Waiting for the truck for road service
But just having dispatch tell you that help is on the way doesn’t mean your troubles are over. Tapping your foot waiting for the driver to appear at your window is quite another matter. Of course, there are a lot of factors that can affect how long it takes help to arrive. Bad weather is notorious in making for long waits, as tow companies are stretched with tons of customers. And if you’re making that “bucket list” trip through Alaska, the truck yard may literally be hours from your location. But here’s the average response time across all providers, again with assumptions made, but equally applied.
Here are some “brass tacks” from the survey we couldn’t easily graph. Of all the time intervals reported on, here are the most frequently reported by percentage for each provider—that is, the most common wait time reported.
- Waited more than a half-hour, but less than an hour: AAA and Allstate.
- More than an hour, but less than two hours: Coach Net, Good Sam, and FMCA.
- Waited more than two hours, but less than three hours: Progressive.
- An equal number of respondents reported wait times for Escapees ERS to be more than two hours but less than three, and more than three hours but less than four—12.5% each response.
The worst case scenario is that your the tow truck never came. It happened to readers from all ERS providers. Here’s the graph:
Imagine being stranded beside the road with a flat tire—and no spare. Or a starting battery gives up the ghost in the middle of nowhere. ERS providers will bring you things like these—but, of course, you’ll likely pay for them. We’ve received reports from readers that sometimes it appears an ERS provider will “pad” the bill for those things. Here’s what you told us about that.
If your road service provider ever brought you a tire, a battery, or fuel, how would you rate the price you had to pay for the product? Responses in percentages.
Finally, we asked our respondents about just how likely they were to recommend a given ERS plan to a friend or family member. Four choices of response were given, and we’ve graphed the “Definitely likely,” and the “Not at all likely” responses.
That’s a lot of material to digest. But there’s more to picking the best ERS plan for your needs. Here’s a chart that shows which plan offers what benefits, and the annual cost of each plan. Note, some plans offer an enticing “first year rate,” and then jump higher at renewal time. We’re showing the renewal rate. You can click on the chart to enlarge it.
In evaluating what plan is best for you, ALWAYS check the fine print. Prices and services can change. We could goof and provide information that isn’t accurate. Read the offers closely and make sure they meet your needs. And for folks who’d like to see the fine print in our survey, you can click to read the specific results by the numbers, here.