I perfectly understand your concern. We suffer in the same way because of the high prices, whether you are the service provider or the client.
Personally the AA works for me, anybody tells me they cover costs, then that is the cost, I will only re-consider if the client pays an extremely good rate or if the offer is really something spectacular.
I have found most companies and service providers work on AA recommended rates. Living in H/s I have to get people from outside for certain services, such as lighting, examiners, etc.. Very often I end up turning suppliers down due to the astromical traveling costs (and yes the same happens to me).
Just for interest but maybe it will help you: SARS allows you to claim about R2.90 per km. Some larger companies still pay employees around R2.50 to R2.80 per km travelled with their own vehicles.
Although AA is expensive atleast it's realistic. Its' what it costs you to have a car and everytime you use it. Those who are charging less are simply screwing themselves, I think they haven't been keeping up with our current prices of fuel and very few people know what the actual cost of their vehicles are.