Up until 15 years ago auto transport and shipping was conducted only by commercial entities like dealers, manufacturers and brokers. With the expanding reach of the internet a market developed for general consumers to ship their cars as well, giving them the ability to purchase vehicles nationwide without much difficulty. Since that time auto transportation industry has developed a bad reputation. Too many cases of unethical business practices, broken promises and services not rendered contribute to the overall delinquency . It is important is to know how to avoid these potential pitfalls while shopping for the best rate to transport your car. In this multi-post article it will be explained what needs to be done make sure vehicles are transported safely, on time and on budget. The aim of this article is to provide an unbiased, comprehensive resource for all that are thinking about shipping their cars.
Most common problems that heard from customers are: cars are not getting picked up, price increases, deposits not refundable, vehicles being damaged, phones not being answered, late deliveries and rude drivers.
Finding the Right Company
A company’s reputation is obviously the first thing someone would check, but where does one start and what is considered a red flag. Many internet directories list auto transport companies that offer their services. However some directories are much more useful than others.
Transport Reviews – it is a large directory of auto transporters that features customers reviews & some licensing information. Be aware that many companies provide incentives to their customers to give them positive reviews, therefore some reviews may be biased or padded. Avoid companies with consistent negative feedback.
Move Cars – this is a very professional and exclusive directory used by top companies. It is extremely difficult for a company to get a listing with this website, and the ones that do are concerned with keeping it.
BBB – is a good resource to screen out bad companies with low ratings but unfortunately complaints sometimes take a long time to appear and top ratings can only be attained by being a member of the BBB.
Search Engine – Is often the most effective way to find an auto transport company. Look for a quality designed website with unique content and for companies that are transparent in the services they offer. Make sure you have a way to contact someone by phone and their full address is shown.
Avoid websites that promise you multiple quotes, a vast majority of them just sell leads to other transport companies without a concern for quality, privacy or service. Their business model is based on selling your information up to 12 different brokers who will then solicit you with their rates and terms.
So the question arises, if there are so many potential problems why do people continue to use companies that offer inferior service ? The simple answer is price and lack of knowledge.
Customer services is expensive, naturally companies that offer the best service tend to charge more, sometimes much more than their competition. But just paying more is also not a guarantee that you will get the best service. We often see greedy brokers that charge very high commissions, as high as 30% and in turn pay too little to the end carrier that ends up doing the work. Other companies use low prices to lure people in only to change their tune the moment they get the “nonrefundable deposit” and impose extra “market adjustment” fees later.
A big problem in the industry is that there are too many companies that lack the experience, commitment and expertise to perform the services which they advertise. Government regulations are very loose as to who can become licensed and hundreds of new companies open their doors and go out of business every year. Another problem is that often the companies that quote prices are not going to be the ones doing the work. In the auto transport industry there are 2 type of companies, brokers and carriers.
Learn about carriers and brokers in part II.