Although signing a contract is common practice, in the auto shipping industry they can be designed to protect the company not the client.
Before signing, we advise you read the paper carefully for clauses which are not in your best interest, such as:
- Excusing the company from paying potential damages your vehicle may incur during transportation,
- Allowing the company to keep your deposit even if you change your mind and no longer wish to transport the vehicle.
There are several reasons a company may ask you to make a deposit. Some companies may want proof you are serious about the transaction. Others may try to protect their interests, using the deposit to compensate for potential losses in time and resources they may incur if you change your mind. In this case, the deposit is nonrefundable, meaning you cannot recover it if at any point you want to cancel the shipping.
There are companies that require you to pay the full price of shipping, while others collect the deposit on the pickup date, not when the order is placed. To protect your interests as the client, you should consider the moment you make any sort of payment as the point of no return for your transaction. All preparations and research should be done beforehand.
While Auto Carriers have their own trucks and employees transporting your vehicle, brokers connect customers with the carriers who will do the actual shipping. They are middle men, earning a commission from these transactions.
You can do a thorough inspection on the auto shipping company you want to work with, but inspecting the company recommended by your broker can be far trickier. Also, the reason why the broker recommends an auto transport carrier may not be due to the higher quality of its services, but to the higher commission he receives per transaction.
Using the internet, you can easily find a number of shipping companies operating in your area, so an intermediary is generally unnecessary. For more details on Brokers vs. Carriers, read this article.
When looking for a vehicle shipping service online, you may find false websites instead. To avoid being scammed, check Google and forums for customer reviews and any external data you can find about the company.
Visit its website and look for the following warning signs:
- A basic layout and design. A simple website may mean the company isn’t putting much effort into its online promotion, but it can also be a sign of a mock company website created for scams.
- Few pages (for the same reason as above).
- Numerous typos and poorly written text (for the same reason as above).
- An email address and almost no other contact information. It is far easier for scammers to trick people through email than through phone or Skype, since they can prepare their answers. Also, a serious company will leave as many contact details as possible to accommodate the customer.
Fraudsters often repeat the same tactics to take advantage of people. Many scammers will ask you to pay upfront, either partially or fully.
If your auto shipper is requesting a money transfer through Western Union or MoneyGram, you will not be able to trace or recover your payment. This is a common way to trick people in transactions on an international level. To avoid such scams, use only bank to bank transfers or services like PayPal, whose security policies are far stricter and enable you to recover your money.
Asking for Information
As the client, you are entitled to as much information about the company and your transport as you require. As long as you do it out of interest for their services and in a positive manner, a serious company will gladly answer all your questions.
Call their representative over the phone, so they won’t have time to prepare their answers, and ask for everything you require, from sending you a copy of the contract to the name of the driver who’ll be driving the truck carrying your vehicle.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.