Archive for November 29, 2012

Auto Transportation Scheduling

Auto TransportWe love receiving online feedback from our customers following their auto transportation. Not only does it let us know how we are doing, but it also helps to inform future customers about what to expect from the auto transportation process. When potential customers begin researching their transport options, they often have expectations about the process based on other services. For example, many customers assume the scheduling of auto transportation is like scheduling a flight through an airline, but are later surprised to find that is not the case.

Auto Transport Scheduling:

We recently received an online review from a customer named Marie who had a common expectation about transport scheduling. Marie had never shipped a car before, and assumed by placing her order in advance that she would receive a firm schedule in advance. Her Safe Direct Car Shipping Customer Service Representative was Jason, and he was available for her questions while waiting on confirmation. Here is how she put it: “As the first date of pick up got closer I was very concerned that I didn’t have a carrier, but Jason kept assuring me we had time…and on Monday a transportation company called and said they’d be at my house in 2 hours for my car.”

At first, it is hard for many customers to comprehend that auto transportation schedules are more changeable than other transit schedules. The truth is that every auto transport run is unique based on the different customer addresses each time. That, along with issues like weather and road conditions and traffic there isn’t a way for drivers to micro-manage their drive times to conform to advance planning. Carriers are most likely to confirm availability within 24-48 hours of a customer’s pick-up window – and even then, the times provided are estimates.

We understand that providing estimates within 24-48 hours of pick-up can be less convenient for customers than providing a firm time well in advance, but the nature of affordable auto transportation doesn’t allow for precise advance scheduling. We prefer to inform customers what to reasonably expect from the door-to-door transport service. Our customer Marie said: “This was my first and probably only experience with car transportation, but it all worked out just as Jason said it would.”

If you have any questions about anything you’ve read in online reviews about auto transportation or if you want to know more about what to expect during your auto transport, please give us at Safe Direct Car Shipping a call!

Important Responsibilities Of Car Movers

car moversMost people think that the only job of a car transport service company is to move a vehicle from point A to point B. The truth is that car movers are expected to do so much more. Find out what their most important responsibilities are and what customers should expect from their services.

License and Registration
Auto movers have to be licensed and registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation. This agency oversees the practice and business of auto moving and transport. In order for movers to be registered and given a license, they have to comply with the standards and regulations set by the DOT in terms of business operations, practices and safety. Auto movers that comply with these requirements are more likely to offer quality services to their customers.

Insurance
All car carriers and movers are expected to carry insurance. Two of the most common types of insurance to expect are cargo insurance and liability insurance. Cargo insurance provides protection for the cargo by limiting the types of cars or vehicles that a truck can carry. It covers any minor damages such as dents and scratches that could happen during transport.

Liability insurance, on the other hand provides protection for the carrier’s contents and will cover damages that could occur because of driver error. Certain forms of insurance are required by the Department of Transportation, so customers should inquire regarding its availability and the type/s of coverage that the mover carries.

Provide Information
All car movers should provide clear and complete information to their customers regarding the extent and limitations of their services, the types of transport vehicles they can offer, delivery schedules, cost, charges and fees, etc. This will allow customers to identify which service fits their needs best. When customers have access to proper information, they are able to make informed decisions. There is also less likelihood of any misunderstanding that may arise due to incomplete information.

Provide a Formal Agreement
All transactions with auto movers must be covered by a contract which should include in detail important information such as the type of service the customer will use, terms, conditions, fees and other special services that the customer may require.

Moving Vehicles That Do Not Run
Some vehicles may not run properly or may be inoperable. Car movers are responsible for informing the owner regarding the car’s condition upon pick-up and to use equipment that can aid in loading the vehicle onto the carrier. In most cases, additional fees will be charged for the extra service.

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How to Ship a Car to Florida – Without Losing your Mind

car shipping toIf you’re shipping a car to Florida this winter, this one piece of advice could save your sanity. “Snowbird Season” is by far the most maddening time in the world of Car Transport (mainly for customers).

Our advice is plain and simple (but I will elaborate on it below):


Do NOT place your order until the week before you want your vehicle shipped.

I know – that sounds crazy, right?

I can imagine what’s going on in your head right now. – “How can that be?” “Won’t I get a cheaper rate?”  “I’ve got A LOT to planning to do and I want this off my plate!” “This guy from Ship a Car Direct is nuts!”

Bear with me, because I’m going to get a bit ‘technical’ first, but I’ll explain why later.

It’s imperative that you understand this – Car Transport is an Open Market system.

What that means is – the cost to ship a car is a result of the current conditions of any particular move. Yes, that always includes the price of gas, but in this case it has more to do with the sheer VOLUME of cars that have to be shipped within a VERY SMALL WINDOW of time on a LIMITED number of Car Carriers.

Basically, it’s back to Economics 101 – the law of supply and demand. (I just heard half of you fall asleep)

In the case of “Snowbird Season”, it means there are more cars that need to be shipped to Florida during the months of December & January than there are spaces on trucks to haul them. (i.e. demand for truck space – HIGH, supply of truck space – LOW)

This creates a premium for car carrier’s spots, and car carriers can therefore start to charge whatever “The Market” will pay for those spaces on their truck.

SO – what does this have to do with waiting to book your order the week before?

Well, there is no such thing as ‘being in line’ for those spots on those car carriers, nor is it at all similar to booking a ‘reservation’ on the carrier the way you would on an airline. (In fact, while we’re here, you have to get over comparing car transport to airlines altogether – where booking early saves you money – that doesn’t exist in car transport AT ALL, let alone when you ship a car to Florida) When push comes to shove, if everyone is offering $X to ship their car to Florida and you appear on the scene offering $X + $100, guess who the truck driver trying to run a profitable business during a tough economy is going to view as the front of the line?

Exactly.

That’s why, when you call us about shipping a car to Florida (or FROM Florida in the spring) and you are still a few weeks away from your move, we will always tell you something along the lines of “Well, THIS is what it costs currently, and THIS is what it was last year at the time you are looking to ship, but what we will need to do is look at the competition (i.e. similar cars within 25 miles of you that are going to your same destination at the same time) and make sure that we are priced in line (or just slightly better) than they are.”

Now, quickly (to wrap up), there are plenty of car shipping companies out there that will gloss over this aspect of the industry and let you book far in advance at a rate that will be too low in a few weeks – and you may even spend the next few weeks blissfully thinking that all is well – but when your move date rolls around and you are one of the vehicles only offering $100 less than $X, then I can assure you that when your car is still waiting and you are only hearing excuses and requests for more money from the company you chose, you are going to go BERSERK!

So, keep your wits about you, stay calm, know that there really is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ & that the move may not be a cheap as you’d hoped, BUT get your car priced right when it’s time to move and you’ll be the one in the drivers seat (literally) while your fellow ‘Snowbirds’ are still waiting for their cars to be picked up.

(and, of course, you’re always welcome to use our Free Quote Calculator to get some rough ideas of what the costs may be.)

How to Ship a Car to Another State

how to ship a carIf you’ve never shipped a car before, don’t panic.

You’re not alone, most people are fortunate enough to go through life and never have to ship their car.

Yes, I said “fortunate”.

Because if you ask 10 people about their experience shipping a car, about 3 or 4 of them will give you an real ‘earful’ about their experience.

Here are 3 Quick Tips to help you have the most pleasant experience possible:

Take your time and do your research

Your choice of car shipping companies is not something you want to make a snap decision about, so take the time you need to check out what the folks at the BBB have to say about the companies you are considering.

Word of mouth is another great source, so if your friends have moved a car before, ask them. (Just be warned about the ‘earful’)

And, nowadays, online reviews are very popular. There is a great site that is specific to this industry (www.transportreviews.com) where you can read the feedback from previous customers on just about any company. (Full disclosure: we’re the top rated company there over the last 18 months, so…of course, we’re a fan)

Read the fine print

Don’t believe everything you are told by a sales rep on the phone. Most sales reps in this industry are paid on commission (full disclosure: ours too) and will, therefore…how shall we say…paint things in a slightly different light than…well…reality.

Every company must provide you with the terms and conditions for your order, and it’s imperative that you read and understand them. A lot of what you find in there may surprise you, and you don’t want the first time you read them to be AFTER a problem arises.

Keep your expectations realistic

The number one complaint that you will hear from people is “the carrier was late for (pick up/delivery/dinner etc)”.

Remember – carrier’s “offices” are on the road; and as we all know from our own experiences on the freeway, sometimes a two hour trip can become a four hour trip without warning (especially here in Los Angeles). Truckers have to deal with that everyday.

Now – carriers will always give you estimates (and the carriers we use are really great at hitting theirs) but if you try to take their estimates as more than that, or if you try to consider them (*gasp*) ‘guarantees‘, then you are greatly increasing your chances of frustration.

Stay in touch with your carrier (we always provide you their number) and notify your broker of any problems or concerns, and you should be just fine.

(Also remember – if you are looking for an estimate for car shipping, you can use our Free Car Shipping Calculator without having to provide any personal info. Enjoy!)