He’s frank and fearless; however, the turbulent security situation in Jamaica can make even a man of the cloth, such as Pastor Lorenzo King, at times, a little concerned about his personal safety.
One day in April, he had every reason to be just that- concerned. He was travelling along Red Hills Road in the parish of St. Andrew at about 9:00 p.m. when his car developed a problem in an area, known to be a volatile community. His car slowed and eventually came to a complete stop.
“I was not sure what I was going to do; but, then I recalled that I had roadside assistance through my insurance company NEM,” the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church Pastor said, smiling as he recounted his experience. He called the number on his Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) membership card and got the motor club’s 24/7 Call Centre. Although he had been a member of the auto club for two years, he had never taken advantage of its benefits.
“I remember a male operator answered the call and he was very courteous,” the father of four went on. “I told him my mobile phone battery was about to lose its charge and I gave him another number and asked if he could call me back.”
The callback was almost instant. “The operator took my location and asked me if I needed a security team and within 15 minutes they were on location,” he says. In ten minutes a JAA technician arrived to attend to the vehicle ahead of the security team, Pastor King related. “Although I was surprised at how quickly they responded, the technician apologized for being a little late and also for the delayed response of the security team.”
The technician looked at his vehicle and then called a wrecker service for assistance. The wrecker arrived on time, Pastor King explained, and towed his vehicle to the church as he requested.
“I drove with the technician to the location and waited for another technician to come to escort me home,” he said. When it appeared the second technician would not get to them in time, the technician who was first to respond to the pastor’s distress, took the initiative to meet the other half way. However, when they met, instead of parting, Pastor King explained, they both escorted him home.
“I was amazed at the quality of service, particularly the timing!” he exclaimed. “I really felt assured and safe.”
“The JAA is meant to provide that kind of peace of mind,” says Emile Spence, Jamaica National Building Society Executive in charge of the JAA. “And it is always reassuring to know that members can count on a highly qualified team of response technicians in these times.”
JAA’s response technicians are all certified automotive technicians, he points out, and can operate all standard forms of land transportation, including motorcycles. These highly trained technicians are located across the island, and they respond promptly to emergency calls from stranded motorists anywhere in the island, Mr. Spence said, noting that the Association’s 24/7 Call Centre handles calls with dispatch, and maintains a link between the motorist and the technician, as well as a security team, if necessary.
In addition to its roadside assistance, membership with the JAA provides access to discounts on a variety of products and services, Mr. Spence says. “You can save up to 15 percent when you show your card to any of our 150 local partner merchants. And, the JAA’s relationship with the American Automobile Association also entitles you to discounts and roadside services when you travel abroad.”
Pastor King can also testify to the benefits of the JAA’s discount services. Recently, he bought four tyres at Chad-Ad Distributors Limited in Newport West on the Kingston Waterfront and saved a significant sum.
“I received a discount from Chad-Ad because I was buying four tyres in the first instance, and then I remembered reading somewhere that my JAA card can earn me discounts at some stores,” he said. He queried whether the business offered discounts to JAA members and was happy to discover that they did.
“I showed the cashier my card and received a discount in addition to the savings I was offered by Chad-Ad’s. I cannot recall the exact figure, but I do believe I saved about 20 percent of the cost after receiving both the discount from Shaddad’s and the additional discount with my JAA card.”
The JAA’s offerings so impressed the Portland native he has extended an invitation to the JAA managers and employees to worship at the Andrews Memorial Seventh–day Adventist Church on Hope Road, St. Andrew.
“It’s good that in Jamaica we have access to such services that do make us feel reassured and I would certainly recommend it to others,” he said.