Nicola Millar was out shopping with her 17-month-old daughter Violet when she accidentally locked the young toddler in their car. The first instinct was to call her roadside emergency service AA for help. She just couldn't believe her ears when she was refused help simply because her membership fees were outdated.
The person who received Ms Millar's emergency call, whom AA said was new on the job, not only flatly rejected her plea for help but even told her the company would help her if she updates first her dues.
"I was told I needed to make the payment first over the phone," Ms Millar said. Problem was, her purse was also locked 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."
A baby stroller is seen as mothers play with their children at a public area in downtown Shanghai November 19, 2013. China will further ease its family planning laws after announcing last week that it would allow millions of families to have two children, a senior official from the government's family planning commission said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Without a beat and any consideration, the AA call handler told the distraught mother "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."
An hour later, a man driving a van passed by. James King stopped seeing the mother and daughter duo.
He phoned AA himself and asked the roadside emergency service to use his membership to help Ms Millar. Still, the company refused until only the distressed mother signs herself up.
"It is absolutely disgusting," Mr King said. "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 back seat."
Mr King ultimately did the inevitable. He smashed one of the car's windows in order to retrieve the keys from the boot.
AA has since apologised for the "unfortunate" incident and blamed the person who was new on the job.
"We would like to apologise to Nicola Millar for the distress caused," the unidentified AA spokesman was quoted by the Daily Mail.
"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."
By way of apology, Ms Millar was given a free one-year membership by AA.