My sympathy is with your correspondent P. Everard of Luton who complains in the January issue of the increase from 2 1/2p to 12p in the price of Esso road maps—an increase of 380% over the original price. I have just been subjected to a similar percentage increase—in my A.A. subscription.
When I joined in 1965 I was informed that the then £2 2s. subscription covered my wife and my son in addition to myself. I accepted the subsequent increase to £3 3s. without complaint. Now I am asked to pay £4.50, and, if I still require cover for my wife this will now cost £1 extra. My son will have to take out separate membership at a further £4.50 per annum. Thus the cover that was available in 1965 for £2 2s. will now cost £10—an increase of £376%.
I have discussed this with Mr. R. H. Hayes, the Association’s Director of Regional Operations, who accepts my mathematics as correct but insists that I am quoting “an extreme case”. I do not agree that it is exceptional for a man, wife and son to drive the family car these days, and, whereas our total mileage could be in the region of 6,000 miles, I would consider a one man car doing 15-20,000 miles per annum a much greater liability on the AA services. I would think this could be more fairly classified as an extreme case yet his service costs him only the basic £4.50 per annum.
I am now informed that I was in receipt of “a very good bargain” when I enrolled and that I was not promised that these terms “would be maintained in perpetuity”. That is true, but then it is equally true that I was not warned that the subscription would increase by 376% in seven years—an annual increase of more than 50%, which bears no relation to the increased cost of living, etc., during the same period, and can certainly not be justified by Mr. Hayes’ statement that “the AA has had to acknowledge its inability to stem the relentless tide of economic change”.