In a footnote to a letter in your August issue “C.R.” complains about AA handbooks not being sent to members because of rising postal costs whilst on the other hand the Association continues to send out promotional literature.
In doing so “C.R.” immediately falls into the trap of relating the finances of one with the other when a quick check on what has been stated by the Association on many occasions would have shown that whilst the handbook is a charge on the basic AA subscription, our commercial activities are not.
Handbook production and distribution costs this year rose to an estimated £1.3 million, some £500,000 higher than the last issue two years ago. Much of the additional expenditure is attributable to postal costs, thus the new self-collection system (which, incidentally, is going extremely well) saves money. The handbook is not a saleable item and therefore profit-making, and all costs come directly out of subscription income.
Our commercial activities, on the other hand, are self-supporting and produce considerable revenue (some £1.5 million net profit in 1975) that helps relieve some of the pressure, caused by rising costs, on the fixed income derived from subscriptions. Postage and promotional costs are taken into consideration when an item is marketed and these and other factors are reflected in the way the product is priced.
In other words, our commercial activities subsidise the membership income, not the other way round.
Basingstoke R. S. CAMPBELL Public Relationships Manager The Automobile Association
[The question is: has this commercialism improved AA service? Readers’ and my own experiences suggest not.—C.R.]