Just like most things that take some planning, being prepared and knowing as much as you can about how to ship your car is the best way to eliminate anything that can slow you down along the way.
This guide we will cover:
- How to get a good quote
- How to protect yourself
- Booking the auto transport
If you just search the term “auto transport“ you’ll find over 4,190,000 results. That’s a lot of options. You may not have realize it’s a big $11 billion dollar a year industry. It’s not only your local dealer that’s just moving cars. It’s people that are relocating, snowbirds coming up and down every year, and people buying cars from another state (just to cite a few examples).
How to Get a Good Quote
Avoid Fake Auto Transporters
Getting a quote seems to be pretty self-explanatory, but in this industry there’s a a few simple things that are good to know before entering your information anywhere. One of the easiest mistakes can be entering your information in the wrong spot. Why? Because there very convincing websites that will make you think you’re dealing directly with an auto transport company.
It is extremely unfortunate, but some of these results will appear right on the top of your Google search after the ads. They are lead collection websites. Their website will say “xyz auto transport“ or “So-and-so auto Shipping”. They will have pictures of trailers and cars leading you to believe that they are a company.
The easiest way to tell if you’re running into this situation is if they say that you’ll receive “multiple quotes“. It seems appealing at first because you’re thinking it might be something like an airline website where you get to pick the company you want even book right there. But it is not. It’s old school cold calling and it will last a while.
The second way to tell if you’re dealing with one of these is the total lack of reviews. Because they refer her out to other companies, if someone has a bad experience, they will remember only the company that messed things up. Not where they came from. In many cases consumers don’t know which website it was. So it will be very common that very few leave reviews for these lead companies.
It is old-school cold calling and emails that will not stop. Entering information here can be catastrophic for your phone and email.
Check reviews and ratings before entering any information. You don’t want to waste your time getting a quote that might be fantastic if the company’s reviews are on the floor. Reviews are key in this industry because it’s only way one can protect themselves aside from the basic consumer protection laws that exist. This will weed out the companies that will do more harm than good. The industry unfortunately does not protect the consumer a lot in this type of service. The rules and regulations are extremely focused on safety for the trucks and the drivers, however there is little to no regulation how the services sold to the consumer.
Common tactics in this industry are price switching, hidden fees, avoiding phone calls, unless whole times, just about anything you can run into where you are avoided. A lot of times there’s ironclad contract preventing you from even disputing your credit card charge so do be careful.
How To protect Yourself
As mentioned, looking at reviews will be one of the first things you want to do. A lot of times companies will have reviews posted within their website. It’s easy to manipulate their own site so it’s best to look at outside sources for your reviews. For example, you might see fifteen 5 star reviews posted for a company yet anywhere outside their own website it’ll be nowhere near as good. And of course, nobody is going to post the bad stuff on their own website.
Websites like Google, yelp, they make it really difficult for scammy reviews to be posted. You can’t just go make them up. Nobody will be perfect every time but for the most part you should see a trend of happy people dealing with the company.
Choosing Between Carriers and Brokers
There is also a big debate about brokers being bad and carriers being the only good option. Many are looking for a company that is a carrier and not a broker. Remember that reviews will be the best indicator broker or carrier just the same. Also be very aware that there aren’t any fully national car carriers companies in existence anymore because of the way the market has been decentralized by owner-operators and the abundance of vehicles being published to these owner-operators through load boards and partnerships the truck driver has made. Over 90% of all auto transport is brokered. Usually anyone claiming to be a carrier will either only cover a certain region or area, and act as a broker for anything else.
Why is it like this? Companies that broker transport spend millions of dollars a year combined in advertising and marketing. The carrier has no need to advertise because of the abundance of work brokers give them. So, this allows the trucker to do with they do best so if they can avoid having the overhead of staff, customer service personnel, marketing, etc.. They will focus on what makes the money which is driving.
Have Access to Terms, Conditions and Contract Prior to Booking
If the company is transparent about the way they operate, they will have their terms easily accessible on their website or will gladly send you a link to it anytime without hesitation. In there, you will want to look for things that will protect you Price increases, excessive delays, and insurance, no hidden fees, etc. Will have more on that in the next couple of sections.
Make sure the terms and conditions are not just website use or separate to the contract. That is another trick. If they do have it seperate, go ahead and place the order without billing info until you are satisfied with the contract. This is so you can walk away without being charged anything.
Stay away from a contract that says something like that they can “increase the price and you agree with in a range of $200“ as we’ve seen in one a customer showed us.
Trying to not sign up with anyone that tells you that they can charge the deposit for doing the work of finding you a carrier. So that if they are unsuccessful in doing so, you still have to pay them their free because they worked on trying to find someone for you. That is also been in contact we have seen from others.
Booking the Auto Transport
Be careful with promises about pick up dates and delivery dates. This is an industry that runs on estimates because you are talking about up to a 10 car trailer driving across the country and stopping in multiple locations.
Weather can make the trucker have to wait to continue. They may divert to a safer route, etc.There are times a car will not be ready when the carrier shows up or nobody is available for delivery. There could be an issue with a tire or unexpected mechanical issue which can easily happen on a cross-country trip. These types of little delays can add up easily.
If it’s a very popular route it could take anywhere from 1 to 4 days to pick up a car. If it’s a little bit out-of-the-way, you could take up to a week.So that’s why you go by what is the “first available“ date. That is the best way to gauge your time. So if you were leaving on a trip the day after it’s available, air is a high probability that you will be stuck waiting.
The same will pretty much go for delivery. There will be maybe window of a day or two based on the truckers experience that they will give as an estimate for them to arrive. It can’t be expected to be on the exact day. If you were getting promises that indicate something exact, be very diligent and do your research.
Don’t pay when you book. It’s normal to be charged deposit once a dispatch occurs because that is the guarantee if there’s a car available for pick up before the driver goes out there. This also helps identify the person shipping the vehicle through credit card records in case of anyone willing to maliciously ship a car that’s not theirs.
Look the other way if they ask you for money upfront at that moment. No one should be paid for anything they have not yet worked on. Having you as the customer is a privilege and not a right.
Follow the tips listed here before booking. Booking should be done at the time that you have already gone through all the steps above. This will ensure the best possible outcome.