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There’s a common misconception among customers. When you enter your information on a website where they ask for your email and phone number to afterwards bombard you with calls, texts, and emails, that is not a broker. That is a lead farming site a.k.a. lead provider.

Lead Providers Are Not Shippers or Brokers

I’ve seen it for a while now but lately it’s been a issue I have addressed with many customers all in the span of a week. Many of us in the industry have our opinions of these websites. These are not car shipping companies in any way and definitely have not a single truck. They are not licensed either. Some have gotten creative, featuring deceptive information such as bogus reviews that will aid their attempt to look like an auto shipper.

Why and How This Exists

Why is it worth such an elaborate ruse? There’s a ton of money in leads. It can be even be run by a a single person with near zero overhead. The whole process can be automated. The site collects the data end sends it to the buyers in real time. Each one could be potentially put about $30 dollars in the pocket of the website owner. No customer service whatsoever. That’s up the 1 of maybe 12 suitors blowing up your phone right now.

Small transport firms will not show up online unless Bing, Google, etc, trusts them to show up naturally. They need to get business somehow. The alternatives are ads, but they can be pricey. However, shared leads are cheap. They’ve been around for as long as the car shipping buisness has. Because a company are buying them is sharing them between 5-10 or even more companies, they can cost as little as a 1.00 a lead. (And you get about that much’s worth of customer service at times).

Because they are bought at rapid pace, some have the strategy that they need to weed out those that aren’t trying to close. So that means if you ask more than a few questions, you are being rushed off because the need sales fast before the leads go to someone else. And around and around the wheel goes. This is where you get all these comments about rudeness and pushiness.

What We See Happening Lately

Sample of traffic drop detected by a competitor analysis tool showing the decline of a popular lead site.

We are have for quite a while now been transitioning to an era where search engines like Google are becoming better at spotting websites trying to mislead those searching to an undesirable experience. I underline that because that is almost straight out of their own guidelines. Some of these sites really try hard to make you think they actually ship cars, when they do not at all. Search engines are getting better and better at seeing this. I say undesirable because I can almost guarantee not one single person is going online hoping they run into this situation. If the site said, “Get ready, you will get called for days and days to help you decide!” not one person would fill that out! We are an time where we want to do our own research and pick. Not be forced to pick.

Less and less of these sites remain active on the first page of your search results. That is unless they place ads. But before you decide you want to file a complaint with the FMCSA, they are not breaking any laws. Because they are not brokering. They do not ship cars neither as a 3rd party or a carrier. They are just selling leads. Nothing more. To this day, no regulation has been created saying they can’t. Many industries are like this, not just auto transport.

How to Avoid These Websites

Don’t share your info. Nobody needs your phone number, or even your name. Asking for an email ok. I mean it helps to send an email saying “Hey, remember me?” But nobody wants to be called. So if you see a phone number field, it’s a great way to tell.

Go to https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx and try to enter the company name. If nothing is found, it’s a lead site. Be careful though. Some companies have similar names. Check city and state, do address comparisons.

That is not a broker, and clearly a lead site. The writer of the review made the same error many do when determining where they went for a quote.

Also search reviews for tell-tale signs. Any reviews like the one above will be an indicator. They may not be readily available by phone or they may answering service that just collects your information, only saying ‘a salesperson will return your call shortly”.

A ‘Sort of’ Disclaimer

I do want to say we live in a great country where someone with the right amount of creativity can make a business out of anything. Look at us! In theory, yeah it’s a great business idea! But I am also an advocate of quality and good service. Something that creates longevity and lasting relationships. A brand. But that means something different now. A brand is only as good as it’s individual product or service people buy and think highly of. Not who sells or makes it. Our philosophy is not to be the biggest brand, but to be the best choice for the service. That’s what the concept brand means to us and why we don’t sell our quotes.