Jan 2006

Member Alert

AAA Watch

Top Story


Washington Watch

In The News

Member Alert
What Members Need to Know Doesn't Change Monthly, So Here's a Review of the Past 5 Months

December: Where's My Gas Rebate Check?
November: When Should My Membership Materials Arrive?
October: Should Better World Club Surcharge Procras-tinators Who Wait Til Last Minute For Maps/Hotels/ Rental Cars
September: When Better World Club Members "Asked" to Leave Town: We Need New Contact Info
August: Don't Ignore New Roadside Assistance Phone Number
AAA Watch
AAA Stirs Resentment With Aggressive Marketing of Plus Program

Better World Would Never Make An Advertisement Resemble a Renewal

Although By Reading This, You Have Agreed To Donate Your Child's Education Fund to Us.

BWC received the following: I've been hearing about the Better World Club on the Car Talk radio program recently, and as a AAA member it intrigued me. Then I received a membership-upgrade promotion from AAA that I consider one of the worst, most unethical commercial solicitations that I have ever received. The form looks like a simple renewal, and only by reading it carefully did I realize that it was a pitch to upgrade to Plus membership, i.e., to receive benefits that we don't need at a higher cost. Complete Story

Member Specials
This Month's Special: Better World Insurance

Kind of Sneaky, Huh?

Better World Insurance uniquely offsets your first 2,000 miles of your cars greenhouse gas emissions when you purchase auto insurance from us.

But we can often save you money. An example from our files: A 19 year old (not-too-Delinquent) driver driving an early 90's coupe receives an initial quote of more than $1200 from Progressive, and less than $1000 from Better World Club. Complete Story
Top Story
Website Redesign Provides Opportunity for Member Input

Lazy Staff Can't Come Up with Ideas On Their Own

Brother, Can You Spare A Graphic?

Better World Club is revamping our website. Since the first vamp is wearing out, we are redesigning our site with three goals in mind:

First, there is much more information on our site then members realize: where else can you find each state's Department of Motor Vehicles Internet sites (where you can often register your car online), as well as discount programs, Important consumer tips regarding car maintenance and insurance), the Calls to Action of every leading national environmental and consumer group and much more. This needs to be apparent--and readily navigable--on our home page.

Second, member response to Kicking Asphalt has been tremendous. We want to get that same look and feel onto our website.

Third, our site graphics can use improvement. The current plan is to convert from drawings to photography--hopefully some clever photography (see Goal Two above).

Here's where you come in. We here at Better World Club are not afraid to ask our members for advice and consent. We find our members to be wiser, more grounded and, yes, cheaper than web consultants.

So, we are opening the floor to suggestions, complaints, invectives and heckling. Do you have ideas about accessibility, color schemes, navigation, or language? Is there something you want to see less of? Is there something you want to see more of? Do you want tastefully-done nude photos of the staff? If so, you've never met the staff--or have absolutely no street cred to be giving us suggestions.

BWC is open to whatever suggestions you have to make our website an easier place to get around in as well as creating a website that you'll find useful to return to again and again and again. (OK, maybe just again and again.)

So e-mail us with your suggestions at club@betterworldclub.com
New York Bicycling Coalition

Better World Club has partnered with the New York Bicycling Coalition. Its mission is to provide a coherent, credible voice for the interests of all bicyclists in the state, on- or off-road, recreational or racer. They achieve this by working with existing cycling clubs in New York and interested individuals.

Some of the goals of the New York Bicycling Coalition:
  • To encourage the use of bicycles for transportation, sport and recreation.
  • To foster among the general public a favorable opinion of bicycling.
  • To monitor government activities affecting bicycling, safety health, transit, tourism and infrastructure programs.
  • To facilitate the exchange of information on bicycle safety and bicycling in general.
  • To serve as a focal point for the network of clubs and other bicycle and pedestrian related organizations throughout the state.
  • To assure highway, street, and transit facilities are amenable to bicyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized users.
  • To promote bicycle and pedestrian safety through education of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages.
  • To seek and advise on legislation improving cycling and pedestrian conditions across New York State.
  • To facilitate the exchange of information on bicycle safety and bicycling in general.
Washington Watch
Drowned Out: Environmental Groups' Oppose Alito

Didn't Know? You're Not Reading Your "Commerce Clause"

On January 25th, more than 50 environmental and conservation groups announced their opposition to Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The groups said that they were taking this step even though they had not opposed a confirmation since that of Robert Bork in 1987. Bork's nomination was rejected by the Senate that year, the last nominee to be rejected by the Senate.

Judge Alito was confirmed on a 58-42 vote on January 31st.

Alito generated this opposition because of his narrow view of the U.S Constitution's "commerce clause" which permits Congress to regulate interestate commerce and is the legal basis for nearly all environmental laws (as well as virtually all economic regulation). The groups also conclude that Alito's record demonstrates that his confirmation would threaten Congress' ability to ensure.... Complete Story

Read the letter the groups sent to the Senate.
In The News
The New York Times: Stranded on the Highway and Looking for Help/January 7, 2006

BellaOnline.com: Roadside Assistance Plans

These articles are essentially lists of Roadside Assistance Alternatives, but we're including BellaOnline because they put BWC near the top--our standard for consumer sensitivity.

By Bonnie Sayers
Roadside Assistance is a great plan for all motorists to have besides their Automobile Insurance Policy. Personally I have only had experience with two plans over the years - Allstate Motor Club and Great American Driver Club. Besides these two there are many other plans to choose from for an annual membership.

Most plans are available through your insurance carrier or an association. There is a variety of perks depending on the Roadside Assistance Plan you choose, which could range from free gas coupons, travel discounts, bicycle assistance, trailer and motorcycle assistance, travel expense reimbursement... Complete Story

You can read the NYTimes article online. (Subscribers Only)

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" has also moved. You can now find it in Go Forward, Better World Club's monthly Action Alert.

We know how tough transitions can be. To ease your suffering Kicking Asphalt will be providing consumer information on automobiles and insurance. Here is a list of the nation's most recent recalls. Check online at the NHTSA to see whether there has been a recall on your car.

Nissan North America Inc.: nearly 200,000 cars and crossovers. The recall involves 2003 - 06 Infiniti FX35 and FX45 crossovers and 2003 - 04 Infiniti G35 and Nissan 350Z cars. A common pollutant in the air causes the vehicles' fuel filler hoses to crack and leak. The hoses are prone to crack from exposure to ozone which can lead to emission control malfunction and fuel leaks, Nissan told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dealers are to replace the hoses.

Chrysler: about 216,000 cars to replace power steering hoses that age prematurely and may leak. The hoses are on 1999 - 2000 Dodge Stratus, Chrysler Cirrus and Plymouth Breeze cars with 2.4-liter engines, the company told NHTSA.

Chrysler: 16,000 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles built for the 2006 model year. Rear brakes lock up under certain conditions, the company said, and antilock brake control modules need to be reprogrammed.

General Motors: expanding an earlier recall to include vehicles in more states that use corrosive chemicals on roads during wintry weather. The chemicals can damage a mechanism of the vehicles' antilock brake system that measures the speed at which a wheel is turning. The expansion adds 553,000 vehicles to the previous total of 801,000. The list of affected vehicles includes the 1999 - 2002 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra; 2000 - 02 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL; and 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche. All affected vehicles are to get ABS service to prevent low-speed malfunctions that increase stopping distances.

General Motors: about 426,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans built for the 2003 - 06 model years. They have faulty seatbelt buckles. Dealers are to examine the buckles, replace those that are malfunctioning and install new upper buckle covers on those that are working.

Kia: 91,000 Rios from the 2003 - 05 model years. In those cars, some child safety seats don't engage lower latch anchors.

Mercedes-Benz: 2005 - 06 C-Class vehicles with sport steering wheels indicate that the airbag may not protect a small, out-of-position driver. Mercedes will replace the airbag inflator on 61,000 vehicles.

Honda: 13,000 2006 Honda Civic coupes due to malfunctions in Front passenger airbag suppression system

Lexus: 2006 IS 250s because the accelerator pedal sticks on a plastic pad in the carpet

Lotus: 2005 Elise with a six-speed-manual transmission has a faulty gear lever that can break. That recall affects 1,700 models.

Update on Last Months Top Ten Stolen Cars.

Last month, Kicking Asphalt reported on the vehicles that are most likely to be stolen, leading the list were the 1995 Honda Civic and the 1989 Toyota Camry.

Kicking Asphalt received all kinds of answers from readers as to why the Civic and Camry were the most stolen vehicles.One perceptive reader, Willard Sunstein wrote to tell us that while the list is accurate, it also might be misinterpreted. The list reflects the number of stolen cars regardless of the number sold. In other words, those cars with the largest sales volume are likely to be the cars that are stolen the most. The list does not reflect the percentage of cars stolen. As a result, there is not a direct one-to-one relationship between these cars and higher insurance rates for comprehensive/theft.

Kicking Asphalt wants to thank Mr. Sunstein for his response--and for the fact that he called the author of the list to check it out. Kicking Asphalt needs more readers like you. (Heck, we may need more writers like you, but you didn't hear it from me.)


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