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May/Jun 2013 Issue

New AAA president focused on service

Making sure AAA provides outstanding customer service to members was Art Johnson’s focus as president of the organization, so when he planned to retire this spring, he wanted to make sure his successor would be just as passionate about service.

Johnson can relax knowing that Jim McGrath has picked up the torch of member service and will carry it in his term of president of AAA Missouri, the territory of which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and eastern Kansas.

“We couldn’t have picked a better candidate to take the reins of AAA because his dedication to exceeding members’ expectations is unmatched,” Johnson said.

Becoming president of the organization won’t be unfamiliar because McGrath was president of AAA East Central, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh and encompasses parts of five eastern states. A 20-year veteran of AAA, McGrath has held many positions in AAA with responsibilities that included automotive services, marketing, membership services, public affairs, and more.

“Jim has a broad wealth of experience, and he’ll do a tremendous job in making sure members, insureds, and travel clients receive the superior level of service they expect from AAA,” Johnson said.

Jim McGrath
Jim McGrath


Motorists aren’t smarter than their smart keys, AAA service calls show

Even as the technology, security, and convenience of automobile smart keys evolve, AAA finds motorists are not keeping pace and are frequently outsmarted by their smart keys.

In 2012, AAA came to the rescue of more than 4 million members who locked themselves out of their vehicles, a number that has dropped little in the past five years, even as use of smart keys has increased. First available in luxury brands, almost all automakers now offer the smart key as standard or optional equipment.

While smart key features provide conveniences, such as allowing motorists to enter and start their vehicle key-free, motorists unfamiliar with operating keyless fobs can face risky situations and lockouts. Forgetting to turn off the car before exiting the vehicle, or not knowing how to quickly shut down the engine in an emergency, has proven to be a problem for some. For those systems with remote start capability, it is critical that motorists never start the vehicle in an enclosed space where poisonous engine exhaust can be trapped.

AAA recommends motorists take special care of their transponder and smart keys, which can cost several hundred dollars to replace. To help prevent danger, loss, or damage of vehicle keys:

  • Familiarize yourself with the full capability of your smart key and know what to do in an emergency situation.
  • Replace the key/fob battery every two years or when recommended by the manufacturer or in-car warning system.
  • Don’t expose your remote or smart key to harsh elements–especially water.
  • Obtain a spare key and store it in a safe location for emergency use only.
smart keys

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