36-year-old Nicola Millar accidentally locked her young daughter in the car, along with her purse, and was denied help from the company AA until the fee was paid.
The mother-of-one was shopping in Chingford, London when she was putting items into the trunk of her car, closed the door, and realized that she had accidentally locked the car in the process.
Millar had flagged down a car whose driver is a member of AA and he pulled over to help the stranded mother. When he called the company, they told him that they could not help until the woman paid for the services upfront. With her purse, keys, and 17-month-old daughter, Violet, in the car, Millar was unable to pay the £150 upfront and recalls bursting into tears when they refused to come.
The driver of the car who pulled over to help, James King, said he has been let down by AA. “It is absolutely disgusting,” he said to Daily Mail. “If anything, they should have come out and done something using my membership but they totally refused… This poor woman was really upset and it was out-of-order for them to leave her in tears whilst her 17-month-old girl is crying in the backseat.”
“I was told I needed to make the payment first over the phone,” recalled Millar. “I told them I couldn’t as my purse was in the car,”
“They then asked me to ring someone I knew to make the payment, again I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t know any numbers off by heart and my phone was locked in the car,” she continued. “At this point, they said they couldn’t help me. I was disgusted by their response; it’s not as if I was going to knock them. I was desperate.”
After 45 minutes, King smashed the back passenger seat window to retrieve Millar’s belongings.
Today, AA told Daily Mail that they would normally help someone who was not one of their members and charge them a membership fee later. However, they explained that a new staff member took the call from the mother and did not know how to handle the situation correctly.
To apologize, AA offered to give Millar one year of free membership.
“We would like to apologize to Nicola Millar for the distress caused,” said a spokesperson for AA. “We would normally send a patrol and sort the paperwork afterwards. Unfortunately, the call handler she spoke to was new to the team and didn’t flag it up to a manager, as should have happened. Every year, we rescue thousands of children and animals locked in cars and our patrols regularly go way beyond call of duty.”