AAA customers frustrated by long wait for help during extreme cold

AAA responds to a vehicle with a dead battery (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- Our frigid stretch is having a big impact on car batteries.

AAA says hundreds of Mainers an hour are calling because their vehicles won't start and some of those people have been calling the I-Team saying they're frustrated because AAA can't get to them.

At the AAA call center in Portland, the record cold is triggering a record number of calls -- about 800-1,000 an hour.

A spokesperson says they just aren't able to get to everyone as quickly as they'd like

For Jeff MacDonald, the cold weather plus a cold battery added up to a 2003 SUV that wouldn't start.

"So I said time to call AAA. I've called many times and gotten exemplary service; this was far from that," MacDonald said.

He says when he called Tuesday afternoon, he was told because he was at home, in his driveway, AAA wouldn't be able to help him out right now.

He says the AAA operator told him to call back this morning.

"I didn't really sign up for that type of program. I signed up for service that when I needed it it would be available. I understand the weather, and I understand it would have probably been a couple hours wait, but not to even put me on the list. They told me I was safe. That's irrelevant to this point, I needed to get to work," MacDonald said.

Others have called the CBS 13 I-Team with similar stories.

"Typically we like to have a response time between half an hour and 45 minutes that's not happening right now," said AAA Northern New England spokesperson Pat Moody.

Moody said they're getting four times the number of calls as a typical winter day.

"So we are triaging the calls, making sure we're helping the people broken down roadside, who don't have a warm place to stay, getting to them first," Moody said.

Moody said while they have the largest network of contractors around, they will consider reimbursement claims if you have to call someone else.

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