MySpace Conversations Lead to 27 Firings

By Deane Barker on August 6, 2005

Auto club fires 27 in message board crackdown: I’m sure this will get picked up as a free speech issue by someone. However, like the guy who got fired for writing about the bookstore where he worked, I have this to say: just because you have the right to say something online, that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to piss someone off.

The Automobile Club of Southern California fired the employees in one of its San Diego offices after at least one worker complained to management about feeling harassed by the comments, which were written by employees on the MySpace.com Web site on their own time at home. […]

“When a worker complains about harassment, you take it seriously,” Thorp said Friday. […] Thorp said employees were also dismissed because they discussed online how they planned to slow down roadside assistance at work.

Yeah, that was bright.

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Comments

  1. I’d sure love to see excerpts of these blogs! Slowing down roadside assistance? I’m a AAA So Cal member and that’s just lovely to hear. If there are employees blogging about something like this, imagine how many must be involved in the plan… whatever it is.

  2. i was one of those 27 fired employees. i would like to see some of what the Auto Club is talking about as well. i was brought in, asked if i posted on the site, which i had no problem admitting to, and promptly suspended and fired. did they ask me what i posted? no. did i post anything harrassing? no. did i joke around about things outside of work? sure. did i post surveys or put Toby Keith on my webspace? you bet. i’m sure Toby Keith on my site would not slow down AAA. have you seen the other groups on myspace? all dedicated to bashing the customers. we never did that. and as far as slowing down service for road service? if we did that, we’d have been out of work. Auto Clubs side of the story is one sided, and unfair to those of us who put in an honest days work and went home.

  3. To be honest, your service will be slowed down due to the fact that they’re missing 27 of their “BEST” employees. I did everything I could to help out my members, I don’t know how they run business now-but if it isn’t me taking your complaint, dispatching your call out on time, making sure the driver gets there in 30 minutes, finding another station to get out there-(if the first one failed to do so) i dont know who is. But……. In the end, Auto Club doesn’t want a bad image- so what do they do? they make it up.

  4. I was one of those employees as well. In my 5+ years of service, thousands of reroutes have been performed, finding other stations to take YOUR member calls that the original contractor did not want to take, or were too busy to take. because YOU cannot wait over 30 minutes for anything in southern california, we bent over backwards to please all of our members, with minimal griping.

    We loved where we worked. This is a 24 hour job and the environment is hectic, and can get stressful, so naturally YOUR Auto Club wants to try to protect themselves and keep their squeaky clean image. Granted, a lot of calls get taken care of within a reasonable amount of time. I am not and never have bashed the Auto Club for the service they provide YOU.

    I was the one that posted a comment about a woman’s weight. I made that joke. I bashed her. Was she employed with YOUR Auto Club at the time of my post? No. Had she harassed me and another current employee and FORMALLY PUNISHED for it? YES. Was this retaliation at me, at a workplace where you sign non-retaliation agreements? YES. When she was re-hired, she mentioned to another employee that was her best friend at the time, who is a fellow fired ex-dispatcher, that her main objective was to get me fired. Did it work? YES.

    Did someone post a disparaging comment about a homosexual? Everything was based on assumptions. And by the way, there is more than one homosexual working at the auto club. Instead of going after the ones who wrote those ALLEGED comments, YOUR Auto Club decided to fire a large amount of those who belonged to a group called “SLAVES OF THE AAA”.

    That is the real reason we were all fired. Yet they are not telling the news, or providing any info on this to the media.

    ATTENTION ALL MEMBERS: BEFORE YOU GO ON TAKING EVERY WORD YOU HEAR FROM YOUR AUTO CLUB, JUST KNOW THAT MAYBE YOUR ROADSIDE SERVICE MAY HAVE NOT BEEN AFFECTED YET BY THIS, BUT IT SOON WILL. HAS YOUR AUTO CLUB PROVIDED ANY EVIDENCE OF THIS TO ANYONE?

    feel free to email me at cordero22@cox.net.

    JC

  5. Hello fellow auto club members, employees, and ex-employees!!

    I am also 1 of the 27 that got fired. I too am 1 of the millions of auto club members of Southern California. I worked at the club over 7 years. Did I enjoy my job you ask? There is good and bad days as comes with any job, but if I hadn’t been on myspace, I would still be there. After a hard work week or days, usually we go home to our families, have dinner, talk about work, get the kids ready for bed, and the same thing happens day in and day out. Then there is those days, where you just jump on line, share a joke or two, send emails, or even go somewhere to hang out… Do you go out to happy hour, hang out with your friends, joke, laugh, and talk about work? YES! and if you answered NO- well then you are probably a home based business by yourself, otherwise there is just days where you go out and have fun with co-workers, and friends! Well we did it online. We talked about that same things that You and Your Coworkers talk about. Laugh and joke about the same things you laugh and joke about… Whats wrong with that? Do you talk about ways to slow your company down? Well neither did we!! The reason the auto club road service department is slowing down, is because they fired 27+ senior people from 1 office, including the office manager. You have all watched the news, you all have your own thoughts already, But please understand what we did is no different then what you guys out there do in your free time, off of work, and at home! The news is gonna cut and paste and make them look good, but if you take a closer look, auto club is saying that they fired us for talking about people in our office, but sends a letter that they are a “At Will” company, and this is a at will termination…What really did we get fired for? Come out and say it, but when you do say it, I hope you have proof! I know for a fact that i did not talk about anyone sexual orientation, I didnt harass anyone, and I didnt make a comment of anyones weight!

    You really need the full story before you make your comments, about us that got fired, or the Auto Club.. For any further questions, pls feel free to contact James at cordero22@cox.net

  6. It is too bad that someone gets “revenge” for their lack of self-confidence and laziness. If you are FAT and do not like it, do something about it rather than be a lazy POS.

    I am surprised people continue to post work stuff on blogs, but that does not bother me as much as fat, lazy people using their gluttony as a lever.

  7. Now this is exactly why I quit the Auto Club. The top lady ( I won’t mention her name) made a negative remark towards me and thought I had not heard her. Not getting too into the story, I had contacted Human Resources. And basically, it was her word over mine. Now just from that and other experiences, I am not surprised that the Auto Club took the decision of firing these 27 employees. I am not at all supporting the Auto Club. They obviously did not do much investigation on the matter, otherwise, they would of prevented the situation this has came down to. Unless it just wasn’t a problem to them. This really makes me thing twice about my membership. All I can say now is , I can’t wait to get my Yukon Denalli. “OnStar, here I come.”

  8. Is there a number I can call to complain? I am stopping my roadside assistance. This is bullshit.

  9. I think that AAA should have thought about this layoff a little more throughly. I spoke with an attorney friend of mine and this could potentialy end up into a class action lawsuit.

    And the people who got insulted. Should just get a grip. They should have been fired aswell. Somthing that happens out side of the work place should stay there.

  10. This is not the same as talking about your job outside of work. Griping about your coworkers at the bar is not the same as posting it on the Internet, and naming business+employee names, where any customer, potential customer, employer, prospective employer, coworker, etc. can see it. I’m sorry, it’s not. If a coworker — especially a supervisor — posts “So and so is fat, ugly and stupid” and then associates the name of the workplace with it, the workplace has the right to terminate the person stupid enough to post that garbage.

    Does that mean everybody should be fired who happens to have a blog, sans investigation? Of course not. That’s lazy, and it’s not fair. People have a right to have blogs outside of work.

    However, I had a blog (not on MySpace but elsewhere) and never mentioned my real name or where I worked, because I understand that my employers have a vested interest in the good name of their business. Common sense, people.

  11. I think it’s ridiculous & immature for anyone to post bashing comments about co-workers and workplaces on the Internet. We all have had gripes (minor & major) about co-workers & their workplaces but we vent to our family members & friends in person. I think that it should have been researched much more than it was but the people who were responsible for the bashing of the employees & the workplace were rightly terminated and it’s unfortunate for the innocent bystanders that were just having fun. I’m sure this will upset many and I’m sorry for that but you are all grown ups, some with children & it’s very sad that you couldn’t have handled things more maturely.

  12. Unfortunately, the majority of the people terminated were not involved in “herassing” that ex-employee. It was just one or two people. The problem is, the Auto Club did not ask any specific questions about the situation. I did not see any comments about race, gender, size, or sexual orientation. I do not know anything about slowing down road service. In fact I think, for most of these employees, slowing down road service to members would be a burden. Members would be angry and complain. The employees would have to take those complaints. Who really wants to hear someone screaming at you about not getting their road serivce on time? Not me, that’s for sure. As for the office manager goes, she was fired because she wanted to deal with this situation “in house.” She was looking to educate her employees, not fire them! Multiple supervisors were fired as well. Not because they posted anything negative on the website, but because they posted on the site. Can anyone tell me why an employee should be fired for posting about “What’s would you rather be a pirate or ninja?” It was not important to the Auto Club whether the supervisors even knew that there was “herassing comments” on the site. The Auto Club acted irresponsibly when they fired 27 employees and now YOU the member have to feel the burden of us not being there to take your call.

    Bottom line is: Whether or not you agree with what the employees were posting, if you are an Auto Club member you should agree that you did not get road service to wait on the phone for 5-10mins to speak to a less experienced opeator.

    I wish you lots of luck if you break down and need road service. You’re going to need it!!!

  13. I also used to work at the club. I had to leave because there was no growth and the office moral was just trerrible. I think that was the main reason for the chatroom in the first place. Somewhere people can vent and just let their true feelings out. I don’t agree with the actions taken by the employees, but I don’t feel they should’ve been fired. The people that are going to feel it most are the Members and the company. Why even bring that kind of attention to the situation. As you can see some members already want to cancel their memberships. I thought the manager took the best approach in resolving the matter. I didn’t know she had that in her (taking one for the team and all). In the long run this is a learnig experience for everyone and hopefully everyone takes something from this. AAA you’ve really outdone yourself this time, I guess we’ll see how it pans out. To all the fired employees, good luck finding new jobs.

  14. My husband is a tow truck driver. He comes home mad almost everyday. I don’t have AAA, and I would never want AAA. Every single AAA member is a complete idiot. I feel sorry for whoever got fired.

  15. I am a new aaa member, and it took longer for them to answer the phone today while i was on the freeway, then it took for me to sign up for my membership online. It took over 10 mins for those clowns to answer! Which means 10 more mins that i sat out on the freeway. I called back to complain, they tried to tell me they were very busy, since it was monday, i told them im not stupid, ive been watching the news! I know why it took so damn long. I told her that i wanted this complaint to go higher, and they need to hire some more people. I didnt pay my membership to sit around and wait on the freeway, since someone at the Auto Club didn’t think this through, and fired everyone. Anybody know of any other road side services, im thinking of changing already, and i haven’t even gotten my card in the mail. To those employees who got fired, I for one am on your side, as I am always on the internet, chatting..Whats the big deal? By the way, how can they prove it was you? over the internet, you can be anyone you want. Hope you guys come out on top…

  16. I am a new aaa member, and it took longer for them to answer the phone today while i was on the freeway, then it took for me to sign up for my membership online. It took over 10 mins for those clowns to answer! Which means 10 more mins that i sat out on the freeway. I called back to complain, they tried to tell me they were very busy, since it was monday, i told them im not stupid, ive been watching the news! I know why it took so damn long. I told her that i wanted this complaint to go higher, and they need to hire some more people. I didnt pay my membership to sit around and wait on the freeway, since someone at the Auto Club didn’t think this through, and fired everyone. Anybody know of any other road side services, im thinking of changing already, and i haven’t even gotten my card in the mail. To those employees who got fired, I for one am on your side, as I am always on the internet, chatting..Whats the big deal? By the way, how can they prove it was you? over the internet, you can be anyone you want. Hope you guys come out on top…

  17. To add what has happened to Stacey, 10 extra minutes on the freeway can mean your life. Numerous times there have been members killed by a drunk driver for waiting on the side of the freeway.

    This is reality. No one in Southern California likes to wait for anything. Gosh, that is why even Starbuck’s has a drive thru.

    And to add to what was said about this FAT lady, she was not an Auto Club employee at the time of the “harassing” comment, which was:

    “Good thing now that she’s gone, at least we don’t have to worry about our lunches being eaten out of the refrigerator.”

    Was she mentioned by name? NO. Everything that the Auto Club has acted on has been suspicion, and that is why they are not showing evidence to the media. Has anyone seen proof of these actions? That is why the Auto Club chose as a reason for termination “AT WILL” because they did not have concrete evidence.

  18. I had to go into the La Mesa office today-I saw a couple of people that worked upstairs… All they did was walk by and say ” Christie-I miss you” but couldnt really look @ me… I think they were scared they would get fired for talking to me.. (Which sucks)!!… But anywho, It took 45 minutes to get my DMV sticker-(I have no problem waiting)-but it was funny the members that were sitting next to me were actually talking about the firings. They’re like “if those 27 were here it wouldnt take 45 minutes to get a goddamn sticker”. (Hahaha)-I thought it was pretty cute.

  19. From experince as a ex employee, 10 mins on the freeway does mean life or death. I have heard someone die on the phone while working at the auto club. So no one answering the phone for an extra 10 mins may mean the life of someone. And for the fat lady that cause it all. No one would be making fun of her if she wasnt a bitch. If thats the attitude you give to people then she deserves people talking about her.

  20. Why does everyone keep calling the fat lady a “lady”? She is NOT a lady! As one of the 27-28 people that were fired, the first thing I was told before the even started questioning me was that there was to be no retaliation against the person or persons regarding this issue. Well you know what? This whole thing is an act of retaliation. I know for a fact that the person who reported not only planned this, but also threatend another employee the same day she reported this. She went up to this other employee and said “I just told about the myspace thing, and if anyone finds out it was me, then I know it was you, and I will have your ass.” This is not the first time this person has harrassed a fellow employee. But does she still have a job? Yes! Why is that? So some one makes an obvious statement about her physical appearance, childish it may have been, but none the less, it was not done on company time or premises. It was done in a group bulletin. So this person can threaten some one on company property, and this incident was reported, and no action is taken. Before that she looked up another employee’s private information and contacted her at home, she gets put on final warnng. And before that she was asked to step down from her middle management position for falsifying her time card. Gee this sounds like a model employee, I am so glad she still has a job there so she can answer the your roadside calls.

  21. Can I ask where all you folks are coming from? We seem to have a large percentage of the actual 27 people who were fired commenting here.

  22. Almost everyone who was fired worked out of the office in La Mesa, CA (a large suburb of San Diego).

    The actual company name is The Automobile Club of Southern California which is an affiliate of AAA. They’re so high on their branded name I think it’s only fair to distinguish them from AAA.

    If you really want to place a complaint which goes “higher” write or e-mail a complaint to the President & CEO, Thomas Mckernan. He’ll never actually read it and if he does, I highly doubt he’ll personally contact you unless it’s by mail. Someone else, either his personal assistant or a supervisor out of the office in question, will most likely call you back.

    The thing that hurts members most is not the amount of people lost (they’re always understaffed) but the tenure and experience which those employees had. Almost everyone that was teminated was in a leadership role, quasi management, or management position. So instead of having someone who has worked there for 4 or 5 years handling your call, you have someone who has been there 4 or 5 months. People who have been there only a few months may think they know what they’re doing but they don’t and they won’t figure that out until they’ve been there over a year…I believe I saw a some sort of statistic that stated the average learning curve to be a “productive” employee is 18 months. So you have to figure everything will be cool again January 2007…that’s a lot of road service calls!!!

    Who will be hurt by this? The employees still there (the grunts, not the people responsible for making the decision), the tow truck stations, and ultimately the members.

    Oh, and when did pissing someone off become a terminable offense?

    The funny thing is they got so pissed off about the whole thing that shortly after everyone was fired, they went over the ethical code of conduct paperwork again. I guess when they were asking employees about it and those employees said they didn’t understand it or remember the ethical code of conduct it didn’t matter enough to keep those employees but it mattered enough to have special sessions to go over it again with the remaining employees. And not just the employees out of that office but the whole company. Seems like people may have been terminated for a training issue rather than a behavioral one–that’s just not right especially when other employees who have hung up on members are simply warned…multiple times. This is much worse IMO than talking about whatever was being talked about because actions speak louder than words.

  23. Might I add “Slaves of the AAA” was probably a joke then.. but in reality “Slaves of the AAA” is a true factor now. Employees are doing double the work.

  24. You’re all so brave and believe so truly in your cause that you hide your faces and give fake names on TV.

  25. I called for road service on July 4th and waited on the freeway, on a motorcycle for an hour and no tow truck ever showed up. Did you catch that faithful Auto Club members? 1 hour on the FREEWAY on a MOTORCYCLE, and no one ever came.

    3 times I called back for a status report on arrival time of a trusted saviour (aka tow truck) and waited 10 mins each time for a live voice. I was in front of a wonderful blue callbox that plots my exact location and in the event that didnt match, I knew my exact locatation- last street I passed and next one coming up.

    Regardless…. I never spoke to a dispatcher or someone who knew how to get me off the freeway, I was never offered a transfer the the tow company for info and probably no individuals attempted to find another tow company to assist. Not that I did not see a few trucks pass by… the point is that I was never once given a courtesy call to check on my safety or given an updated ETA as requested on the initial and the follow up phone call. 3rd call I made sure was to be a complaint before I mentioned I was no longer on the freeway after an hour and a friend in a pick up truck helped. Now if I can do it on my own, would it really be that difficult for a tow truck?

    Dont believe the hype people!!! The 27-30 employees let go did not do or say anything that could or has not been said in a lunchroom or standing in line at a taco shop. The only delays in road service appears to be the termination of 27-30 qualified, loyal and willing employees.

       Respectfully submitted,
                               James Welch- Plus/RV Member
    
  26. to the person who said i give a fake name to my response. well read up there sugarpie. i put my last name on there. We worked in Emergency Road Service. it is NOT a kickback job. i bet you think, like my husband thought, that all i did all day was talk on the phone. it was NOT that simple. i was at the Auto Club for 10 yrs. its really the only job i have ever known. i held many positions there. one being a supervisor. i would take the complaints from the members who had to wait 5 extra minutes because a driver was unlocking a car for a woman who accidentally locked her child in the vehicle. Ever dealt with that? i think not. i would take complaint after complaint after complaint about people having to wait a little extra time for their service because the driver was stuck on a call. Life happens, and AAA aint Domino’s. I’ve had my life threatened by members, my childrens lives threatened by members, all because we cant always pacify them. So before you comment on how horrible we are, put yourself in OUR shoes. We all have bills to pay, we all have families to support, and need our jobs. if you were on this site and say your work fired you for posting here, wouldnt YOU be a little bitter? as i have said before, if you are mad at one person, dont throw the baby out with the bathwater. Thank you and have a nice day.

  27. I am a employee at AAA and alot of my friends got fired. It really sucks for us who are still working because we are so short staffed. Everyday i get so many complaints because members are callin in and having to wait 25-45 min for us to awnser the phone. I have to take them yellin at me like it my fault. But its the supervisors fault and they dont really care because they are not the ones taking the complaint.. AAA should of thought about this before firing all those people.

  28. You’re all so brave and believe so truly in your cause that you hide your faces and give fake names on TV.

    | August 9, 2005 01:39 PM

    ???? WTF??? Ok so you are so brave to put you name on here too?? I don’t see you giving an e-mail address or a name for those to respond too? Must be someone who is an employee still of AAA. I believe that these people were fired unjustly. If there was indeeded some sort of harrassment going on on this web site then those individuals should have been dealt with. Not all of them. I can understand why you guys wouldn’t show your face. You have to look for new jobs. You have to protect yourself. I say way to go!!! As a now former AAA member, I have not only cancelled my membership but also my insurance and now have 21st Century, they provide roadside assistance!!! Thank you all for your years of service that you put in there. I seriously see that place as a slowly sinking ship!!

  29. You?re all so brave and believe so truly in your cause that you hide your faces and give fake names on TV.

    | August 9, 2005 01:39 PM

    ???? WTF??? Ok so you are so brave to put you name on here too?? I don’t see you giving an e-mail address or a name for those to respond too? Must be someone who is an employee still of AAA. I believe that these people were fired unjustly. If there was indeeded some sort of harrassment going on on this web site then those individuals should have been dealt with. Not all of them. I can understand why you guys wouldn’t show your face. You have to look for new jobs. You have to protect yourself. I say way to go!!! As a now former AAA member, I have not only cancelled my membership but also my insurance and now have 21st Century, they provide roadside assistance!!! Thank you all for your years of service that you put in there. I seriously see that place as a slowly sinking ship!!

  30. You?re all so brave and believe so truly in your cause that you hide your faces and give fake names on TV.

    | August 9, 2005 01:39 PM

    ???? WTF??? Ok so you are so brave to put you name on here too?? I don’t see you giving an e-mail address or a name for those to respond too? Must be someone who is an employee still of AAA. I believe that these people were fired unjustly. If there was indeeded some sort of harrassment going on on this web site then those individuals should have been dealt with. Not all of them. I can understand why you guys wouldn’t show your face. You have to look for new jobs. You have to protect yourself. I say way to go!!! As a now former AAA member, I have not only cancelled my membership but also my insurance and now have 21st Century, they provide roadside assistance!!! Thank you all for your years of service that you put in there. I seriously see that place as a slowly sinking ship!!

  31. Sigh, a shame all around.

    To those that lost your employment: If you posted any disparaging comments (including “blowing off steam” or “joking around”) about your employer, fellow employees, customers, etc. remember that while the government grants you freedom of speech, it does not promise you can’t get fired for what you say under that freedom. Personal blog or not…there’s plenty of documentation out there…just wish you could have learned an easier way.

    For those of you who got caught up in the mess inadvertently, really inadvertently (and I suspect there are very few who truly didn’t know the underlying forum of the site) you got caught at the wrong place with the wrong people. It sucks, I agree. Sort of like giving someone a ride home and the cops arresting you for finding something illegal on THEM. Sorry, innocent or not, you’re going downtown.

    For the scared customers, employees, disgruntled wives, etc. left behind: I suspect this company, like other large companies that have terminated for the same blogging issues, will survive. I suppose the disgruntled wife who’s husband comes home angry everyday should suggest he find a new line of work (wow). And the customer who feels this affects their product or service should look elsewhere for a comparable one – what a novel idea. (personal side note: I have to admit, I have always found the demands of Southern California consumers -in general- to be very akin to spoiled children…they’d last 10 minutes on the East coast where whining is hardly tolerated nor accomodated).

    And lastly, to the employees left behind (and that means all of us who have jobs – regardless of where) take heed…at least someone should learn from this. I at least have.

    Good luck to those of you who lost your positions. Thank you for being brave enough to share your side of the story.

  32. Sigh, a shame all around.

    To those that lost your employment: If you posted any disparaging comments…

    My apologies for not signing my post above. Jimmy P.

  33. Not saying your real name on television is the best idea. It would be hard to find a job if your name was mentioned.

  34. i did not know it was wrong to post anywhere on the internet. i never posted anything relating to work, or about anyone. however i was fired. are they going to follow employees to bars or restaurants to make sure they dont talk about work there? and you know whats funny? the girl who said she was harrassed? SHE herself was caught getting personal information from AAA files and calling another employee to harrass them. The girl filed a complaint and and a written warning was given. This is the same person who was caught falsifying her time card, and threatening someone. why does SHE still have a job there? She’s there sending you out service, along with a short staffed group of new employees that dont have the experience the rest of us did. Its a shame. And yes, companies DO recover from things like this, but what about the members? or the Stations that are contracted with AAA to provide service. They have to deal with the fallout. and AAA, by sending out a newswire, with the incomplete story, has only shown that they are bullies .

  35. Damn, you should all be happy to be away from the Club. They always treated ERS like the redheaded step child, and employees like cattle. No one likes to get fired, but at least you didnt get fired from a great job. Say hi to Merilee for me.

    Sincerely, 407 Lima

  36. As a 21-plus-year “EX” employee with ACSC’s Emergency Road Service (ERS) call center in La Mesa, CA, it saddens me that the Club chose to fire 28 veteran employees vs. doing their own in-house disciplinary action against those employees who violated any of the Club’s workplace policies. However, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that the Club’s executive staff displayed their typical “knee-jerk” reaction in this matter, hoping that it will all just go away.

    If you are a current ACSC member who cares about your Club, please read on…

    You may want to ask your Club’s executive staff why they continue to spend thousands and thousands of your membership dollars every year on recruiting for their three ERS call centers (A typical ERS new-hire class has approx 15-20 trainees plus 1 to 2 full –time trainers and runs for just over 3 weeks. With an average of 1 to 2 classes a month (per office), the costs of paying the trainees (approx $12.00 per hour) as well as the costs for the trainers “and” a full-time recruiter for each office are quite considerable. You may also want to ask for the logic behind the Club’s consistant spending of mega-bucks for employee overtime every summer and winter, basically mandating that all their employees work extra hours “or else”, causing many of them to quit….

    Although it’s not rocket science, the job of an ERS operator can be tough (dealing with sometimes uncooperative towing contractors as well as many irate members (no one is happy to be stranded along side the highway with a broken down car)), yet it can also be rewarding (knowing that what you did helped out a person in need). Almost every ERS employee I worked with took the job challenges in stride and did the best they could to provide the members with first class service, day in and day out. For all their efforts, you would think the company would go overboard to be grateful and generous towards their staff? Unfortunately, that’s not the case and this “blogging issue” is just the latest example.

    When I was employed there, I tried my best to stress to upper management that the office work environment was a major reason for the high turnover. Unfortunately, no one in charge really listened (or cared) because all changes to the work environment were always extremely slow and usually sub-standard, i.e. before I left, all three offices got brand-new “used” workstations from a closed down AT&T call center. Although better than what was there before, the new workstations came with very short sound partitions, which created a very high room noise level in the office – seems that the division manager at the time didn’t like the “look” of the taller sound partitions, so she nixed them. Another environmental improvement that was nixed was a “white-noise” sound canceling system (I can’t count how many headaches I had that were caused from the excessive noise level in that place). Granted, the office did finally receive all new PC’s with ergonomically adjustable chairs, keyboard holders and flat screen monitors but (of course) the new PC’s came with “extremely-limited-to-NO-Internet-access” (God forbid that ONE bad employee might be able to access a porn site!). As usual, so much for the employees being able to easily help members with information requests. I must also add that at the time of my departure, the Club was in the process of replacing their 20-year-old computer dispatch system, yet (typically) they could not simply go out and purchase a proven system (like many other AAA Clubs across the country had already done) instead, they decided to develop an unproven (and probably cheaper in the “short term”) system to meet their needs. When I left last year, this new system was still in the initial testing stages – not sure what has happened with it since then.

    As for me, I saw the handwriting on the wall (in early 2004) and it wasn’t pretty. So, I put my ducks in order and bailed from that place at the end of May of last year. I’m currently enjoying my “Auto Club Retirement” by working for another company that has a much better working environment and am living in a beautiful portion of the Great Pacific Northwest (yea, okay – it rains a lot up here but that’s why it’s so much greener than Southern California….).

    I really hope that everything works out for the best for not only the 28 people who were fired from ACSC’s La Mesa ERS office, but also for everyone currently working there as well as for the Club itself. I “used” to work for a great organization called the Automobile Club of Southern California and I sincerely hope that it becomes “great” yet once again…..

    Oh, and BTW … I’m still an AAA member with the AAA Washington/Inland Club and have nothing but good stuff to say about them. When I first moved up here last lear I tried to get a job with them but was not able to do so. Why? Because they have such a low turnover that job’s with them are few and far between. Guess THAT says a lot for THEM, huh?

  37. Steve, thank you for writing it how it is. You know we could all get together and write a book on unfair practices, and the bad side??? Only thing is, who would read it?

    But, with everyone writing, it helps to vent and you feel better. Trust me, you can ask #1 of 28, and #2 of 28 that I was very pissed and wanted nothing but revenge in the beginning.

    After a little bit of time, I had let this go little by little. Not the fight, but the anger. When I really look at it, this is the first time I have had the summer off from working, or at least constant weekends off in 8 years of working.

    I have freedom. I have an unlimited movie rental thing at Blockbuster, and I watch a few movies everyday. I can watch all the sports I want. For the first time in 8 years, I can watch a full Chargers game without having to get ready for work, or coming home and catching the game in the late 4th quarter.

    I am blessed to be able to go and enjoy the beach everyday. Spending time at home with family, I love my dog. We always go walking and play and stuff. I’m doing yardwork all the time, and it is very theraputic. It’s the simple things in life that makes it keep going for us, and I am able to experience it.

    Not only am I making a lot of money on unemployment, I am enriching my mind and my body. I am in the best physical shape of my life, I have never been stronger and felt more happy, in life & in my relationship.

    Thank you Auto Club, you have released me. I am no longer a SLAVE OF THE AAA.

    P.S. If you are an Auto Club member, go to your local D.O. and tell them you are driving all over the country, and you need all 50 state maps and tour guide books. Get the most out of your membership! Your 4 calls go to waste, and you don’t get credit for them. You pay for them, so use them!

  38. I am also a FORMER employee of AAA (La Mesa ERS). I was a good employee while I was employed. I received many Stellar awards, was editor of an in office newsletter, volunteered to clean the refrigerator in the employees lounges as well as the kitchen area.

    I had a marvelous team leader, and an excellent supervisor. However, I was harrassed by another supervisor several times. If he only knew one third as much about dealing with people as he does baseball, he might be a good supervisor. One example – I had a very serious problem with my foot. My Dr. gave me a chit stating that I could not wear regular shoes because of the problem and pain. I wore very comfortable tennis shoes. This supervisor called me into his office and told me that I could not wear the tennis shoes even with my Dr’s note. He said I should go and buy shoes in a bigger size, and that they wouldn’t be all that expensive. I should have reported him to Human Resources but would it have done any good? I doubt it.

    He also put me on “CI” – for some other reason which he dreamed up. When my own supervisor called me into his he looked at the complaint and just laughed. I was immediately excused as there was no grounds for placing me on “CI”. CI = counseling interview. When you are on this it is a warning that you aren’t doing a good job.

    Then again I went to this supervisor and told him that the sofa in the lounge needed to be cleaned (and I wasn’t about to clean that too). Did he ever do anything about it? You guessed correctly …. NO.

    I also worked overtime, not as often as others. I had another life besides AAA. I enjoyed working there, even though some of the members were rude beyond belief. We as employees use to say “we reward the bad members” – and that was so true. I was called names because some member locked their keys in the car, broke down on the freeway or ran out of gas. Because they were “stupid” should I have to take their abuse. YES, because if you didn’t you’d get fired on the spot.

    Why did I leave AAA? We had a problem with RATS. Not only members, but RATS too.

    I had sent a memo to my supervisor, the harrassing supervisor and the Mgr of the dept stating that if I see a rat I’d have a stroke.

    Well, not only did I see a rat – it joined me for dinner. I FREAKED (I have had a phobia of mice/rats since I was a child – bad experience) and I left the building a nervous wreck.

    I spent a great deal of time and money going thru therapy. I did not apply for Workmen’s Comp.

    Human Resources did not find me another job at another AAA even though I was a good employee. I figure it was AAA’s loss. They do not value their employees and as you can see from the 27 or 28 who were fired – AAA has no loyalty what so ever to their employees.

    In closing, I take great pleasure in cashing my little retirement from AAA. I served them well for 5 or so years.

  39. Hey #3 of 28, you need to give up your name like everyone else did (well at least “most” everyone else did….). I mean, since you were fired why hide behind a number? AAA can’t touch you any more and I would like to know who you are,

    BTW, thanks for the compliment….

    ps – I just read the comment from 432C at Eastgate Towing – note sure who that is but I’m sure he/she has no idea what really goes on at AAA dispatch … probably someone that I/we pissed off at one time – oh well …. (HA!)

  40. How many of you had files as thick as my johnson before you were fired for this offense ???? Why not tell the members about how you sat around and made fun of their situations … or were too busy talking to your friends to answer the phone …. I too am a former employee, I resigned with no ill will towards the corporation or what it stands for …

    And if we are going to be straight about it …. I’m not surprised to see some of your names on the list ….

    Its this simple ….

    GOOD EMPLOYEES DON”T GET FIRED

  41. hey person above me. you are the ones that make it difficult like us to get our point across. you dont have the slightest clue what you are talking about. thats probably why you left AAA. before you speak about your little ‘johnson’ be sure and get the facts. and while you are there, can i have a Big Gulp and 10.00 of gas on pump 3?

  42. August 16, 2005 04:52 PM an anonymous troller wrote:
    Its this simple ….
    GOOD EMPLOYEES DON”T GET FIRED

    Well actually they sometimes do. And no, it is not that simple. And a perfect example is the 27 people who just got fired from the Auto Club.

  43. Whoa, Whoa guys. What point is that.?… YOu go on the PUBLIC internet and talk smack, defaming the character of your bread and butter…. At least I have a job, and believe me, I have lots of clues! But no need to get personal here, you dont even know who I am and I dont really care who you are. There may have been a few good people that got fired, but I just wanted to point out that most of you were not the stellar employees that you are making yourselves out to be, thats all. Not once, in any blog, or splurge, or whatever did I ever see any of you say that you made a mistake. That is MY point, and after all of this… im still not sure what your point is other than that you all got caught (finally) doing things you werent supposed to be doing and actually had to pay a consequence. If life is so great, and you have weekends off, blah blah blah, then why is it that all of you will not just move on with your lives… Out of 27 of you, over half are drama queens! thats why… Get over yourselves…. look in the mirror… they didnt do anything to you, you did it to yourselves….

  44. my file was probably as THIN as your little johnson! you probably are the one we were talking about, and your just hating cuz you were involved…you were probably that little guy in the corner, that had no friends, and needed a buddy for about 3 months, and not 3 weeks… we do know who you are is the funny thing! and go with your job, cuz $8 an hour isn’t close to what we were making…DRAMA QUEEN?? thats why you are on here trying to talk smack! bottom line is, when we are done, we wont have to work, and you will still have to pump our gas for us! LOSER

  45. Dont try to start stuff without saying your name… Im sure you weren’t the model employee either. Go send emails to your friends if you have any, cuz nobody on here wants to here you.

    P.S. the only guys that talk about their johnsons, are ones that have small one! sucks to be you!

  46. You mean H-E-A-R me? Well, im sorry that you all feel the need to make personal attacks, so im done.. Your comments are just another display of the maturity and education level of the stellar employees that all got fired. Everyone is entitled to an opinion so I just wanted to share mine. Im very confident in the fact that you dont have any idea who I am, I probably was your buddy, and probably made more money than you think. You just dont like to know that I am right and you are wrong, hence the personal attacks and no valid points. So maybe in a couple of years when you look back on this time, you will realize the mistakes that you have made, maybe you wont. As for me, I look back at the time I spent there knowing that I did the best that I could, and learned as much as I could while I was there, and thats all that matters to me. I honestly do wish you all the best of luck in what ever you do. I just want everyone to know that there are 2 sides to every story. So if there are members of this organization in this forum, just be confident in the fact that although somewhat harsh, this decision to fire these people was in your better interest. The phone might ring a little longer for now, but I would rather you know that the people replacing these 27 employees will be there soon, and they will be trained, and they will help you. Hell, I may even go back, because the time I have had off, has not been pumping gas. Im glad to know that I at least have the option of going back if I want to. Do you?

  47. Dear Realist, Although your points are very valid. I just want you to know that AAA doesn’t re-hire employees. They will let you apply, but the chances that they will re-hire you are slim to none. The Club does not like to take back people that have left. I know this from my 6 1/2 yrs there. And yes I was one of the Magnificent 27. I was probably YOUR buddy. You probably were my friend, hell I don’t know. But the fact is that even though they can replace the bodies that have left, they will never be able to replace the knowledge and the expirence that most of us had. And true, we might not have all been model employees. I know that at times I wasn’t the greatest employee, but I know that I was good enough to have been asked to be the original quality assurance person when the program was initially started, I also know that I was asked to be a coordinator assist not once but twice! Also I scored the highest on the test for the new service counselor III position. So what went on in the blog might not have been nice, but it didn’t effect my job in anyway. So members yes you will get you phone call answered, it might take awhile, but they will answer, and it may even take then a few mins to even figure out how to set up your call, then when it gets over to dispatch, it may get dispatched to the correct station, and that station may even have a driver available to the job. SO you will get service…. but remember that 15 mins you are on hold sitting on the side of the freeway waiting for some one to answer that is 15 more mins your life is in danger… and while you are waiting for an unexpirenced operator to place that order… I am sitting on the beach getting a tan and enjoy my summer vacation, paid for my the Auto Club and your membership dues. Thank you!

  48. It’s unfortunate that people must resort to name calling.

    The employees who are portraying themselves as perfect angels aren’t being entirely honest with themselves. They did goof off here and there but in reality they were also among the most productive employees in the office. When it got busy they also busted their asses to get the job done. Hey, if the grade was a straight scale they may have been B or B- at the very best but when you’re grading on a curve they sure look like A+’s which I have always thought was rather sad but what are you going to do?

    On the other hand, the Auto Club is also not being entirely truthful either. They’re taking small tidbits of information and bending them to form the picture they wish to represent. If people were really harassing someone or slowing work down, Why not just fire them for that and explain it? Almost everyone that was fired was fired for “at will” reasons, the rest were fired for vague reasons like “disregard of club standards” or violation of company policy. If the club fires someone because they’re absent too often, they tell that person that’s the reason. Why not be consistent?

    And regarding employee files, you should request yours. Unless you were there for a really short time, i.e., before anyone noticed you, yours will probably be larger than you think. Having been instructed by my supervisor, I know it’s their de facto policy to “write everything up.” So remember that time a coordinator told you go to group xx and you said you would as soon as you got back from the bathroom. That’s probably in your file. That is unless the coordinator was too lazy at the time because they were should have written it up. Steve C. should be able to back that up.

    Realist, I’m not trying to bash you. I just think it’s unfortunate that you’re speaking from what appears to be a very myopic point of view. I’m not sure how long you were there but in the opinion of someone who has been with the club for well over 5 years and privy to a lot of information not even known at the coordinator level, people have been f’d with a lot there. The supervisors will go and dig for any information that could get someone fired or as they like to say “build a case.” I know this because I have done the digging.

    And if you don’t work there anymore, why won’t you give your name

  49. I left the club over 3 years ago. I was exhausted with the substandard work environment. While employed at the La Mesa ERS office for over 5 years I had the pleasure to work with some exceptionally good people. Yes, there were some bad employees there too and in time it alway caught up to them. The one thing that was consistant was poor management from the Office Manager, who also got fired, FINALLY :) !!!

    She had little value in employee contentment. Supervisors, Coordinators, and employees would often make suggestions or pleas for a better environment with better equiptment (eg. desks, chairs, updated software program that was more reliable, and employee recognition programs… etc.) She didn’t care about her employees. Every year a survey would go out to the employees to have them evaluate their supervisors. Needless to say that the comments relating to her were extremely unfavorable. She managed to convince her superior that she was a scape goat and that those comments should not be included in her perfomance evaluations. Year after year she continued to get raises while she required her staff (Sup’s, Coords, Dispatch/Receivers) to be judged on similar surveys that did not include an immediate supervisors review. I even heard her say “I dont even bother reading my survey results anymore, because they just dont affect me” She rarely ever addressed the employees personally. During my employment I might have seen her address employees maybe 2-3 times. She worked on that floor in an adjacent cubicle to the workers.

    I could go on and on about her poor leadership and sometimes unethical characteristics. The bottom line is that she created an environment that promoted low moral. The turn over was extremely high. Many employees would quit, often times for lessor pay like I did. What lead to these employees getting fired was years of being ignored, lack of leadership, encouragement and tools to succeed at work. Not to mention stupidity on their part for participating on a compromising website and not using an alias (how freakin dumb can you be).

    She fired those employees because she feared for her own job. She did not want to repremand employees “in house” or counsel them because she was afraid to report the reasons to the president of the company. She chose to terminate siting “Employee Harrassment” so that the truth would not come to light. She was the root of the problem, the office failed due to her actions, or lack their of. In the end she got what was coming to her, like the others.

    I was shocked and amazed to hear of what had happened to the club. Finally a group of people got so frustrated with the way they were treated that it evolved into this. For those who still work there speak up to injustice and dont let them ignore you. For those who got fired, this like everything else in life is only temporary, good luck, I wish you the best. There is life after AAA. You are the only one who has the power to control what you allow to be a part of your life.

    Thanks for listening to my account of ‘how it really was’

  50. Good employees quit. Dumb employees get fired. Accept it and move on, you didn’t like the job anyways (you were talking shit about it). You got comfortable with the job and needed a kick in the ass to move on. Collect your unemployment and find a new job. Oh and to the ones that were looking forward to a class action law suit is not happening. A judge already ruled in favor of the big companies ( IBM, Microsoft and Google ) for letting employees go on grounds of blogging and mentioning the company. Pick up the pieces and go work for Hartford (if they’re still hiring).

  51. as an employee of aaa // not the 004 club !!! — this is crazy …… 065 new orleans — i hope all of you are better now that you wont have to go back to that god forsaken place ever again ….. bless all of you 27 and i hope that y’all find better jobs …. it is hard @ aaa and morale and welfare and recreation of all of our clubs i think really sucks — our jobs dont seem hard — cuz really they arent — but our jobs in road service are extremely stressfull — and lying to people day after eday , call after call , — is very tiresome !!! to say the least ……….. good luck and i wish you all the better — 065 employee

  52. Stupid A$$! merrilee was on vacation while this was all happening, shows how much you know!! “how freakin dumb can we be”…you know your stupid a$$ did some stupid things while you were there too! oh wait, let me guess, your mommy tells you that you are perfect? she lied to you!! The employees their do speak up, but they are shot down, and told they are not allowed to speak!! they all fear for loosing their jobs. you dont even know what is going on, so dont even speak on it!! Thats why nobody liked you there…and your just talking shit, and upset, cause your lunch was probably stolen a few times!! SUCKA

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