Archive for August 30, 2013

Car transport “mystery” fees

There are lots of “horror stories” on the internet about how car transport companies surprise unsuspecting customers with mystery fees.  But there are legitimate reasons why your driver may require extra fees on top of the basic quoted transport costs. Let us take away the mystery and give you some tips to avoid additional car transport fees.

Your car transport quote is for a fully operational vehicle. Standard car carriers are not the same as tow trucks, your vehicle must be driven on and off the truck under its own power. The battery must be good, the vehicle must start up and stay running, and all tires must be inflated. Some car carriers cannot accommodate non-operative vehicles, and for those equipped with winches additional charges will accrue for additional labor required. Make sure your vehicle is in good running order before the carrier arrives.

Your car transport quote is for an empty vehicle. If you leave personal items in the vehicle, there may be an additional weight fee. We recommend leaving your car empty and shipping your household goods separately.

Your car transport quote is for a basic stock model. Extensions, lifts, and other add-ons that increase the height, width, or weight of a vehicle will affect the cost of your transport. Inform your representative of any modifications for an adjusted quote, and forwarding pictures can be helpful too.

Your car transport quote is priced for COD (Cash on Delivery). Most carriers will not accept credit card payments, most only accept jobs for cash on delivery. In rare instances where credit is the only option, the final charge will include a transaction processing fee.

Your car transport quote is for transport only, with direct person-to-person delivery. Storage for pick-up at your convenience is not automatic with this service, you or a contact must meet the carrier when the truck arrives in your area. If you aren’t available to accept delivery when your carrier arrives, you may be responsible for storage fees and/or re-delivery fees.

No driver wants to surprise a customer with mystery fees on delivery. Talk to your representative in advance about what exactly is included in the service. If you have any questions about car transport fees, please give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Auto Transport Transit Times – Why are they “Estimates”?

Car Shipping EstimatesPlanning an auto transport can be a real learning experience. It’s not like the travel industry or other delivery services, as many folks assume it might be. When we speak to customers researching their transport options, we have to tackle common expectations around scheduling a long-distance hauler.

As much as we would like to accommodate each customer’s specific timing requests, the truth is that it’s tough to guarantee pick-up or delivery dates.

All dates provided for your auto transport are estimates and projections.Most car carriers will hit those estimates, but you still want to build in some flexibility.

Auto haulers have to schedule a full truckload, picking up and delivering to multiple customers in a given week. They are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can (and do) throw off their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.

For this reason we ask that you give us the earliest possible date you would be willing to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.

Once your move is contracted, we put you in direct contact with your carrier and the carrier will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick-up and delivery. (They won’t just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it.)

Your driver will also provide an arrival estimate so you have an idea when to expect delivery, but the schedule is not “locked” in advance. Because your driver can’t control issues like traffic, it is best to leave your schedule open around your auto hauler’s arrival.

We recommend getting a friend or a family member to help cover if you have to work or have to schedule an appointment. (And we advise against making a flight on the same day the carrier arrives.)

To be really prepared for your auto transport, it is most realistic to accept the timing as a projection, not a guaranteed appointment. If you have any questions about that, feel free to give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Lower Car Shipping Costs Coming Soon!

Car Shipping CostsThe U.S. Transportation Secretary made the announcement last week that a proposal has been made that, if accepted, will eliminate a hefty amount of paperwork that burdens truck drivers. Professional truck drivers are currently required to fill out lengthy stacks of documents both before and after taking a shipment on their vehicles. The federal regulations are designed to protect the safety of the public, but some of the paperwork requirements are unnecessarily burdensome, time consuming, and costly. Costs in the industry could be cut down by as much as a billion dollars a year if the proposal is accepted. (See the official Press Release Here)

The announcement is great news for consumers who may be looking into having a car shipped. Drivers of commercial trucks have to perform pre and post trip inspections of their vehicles and equipment. The paperwork that is proposed to be eliminated is what is known as the Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports, or DVIRs. Currently, the DVRIs must be filled out whether an issue is present or not. Only 5% of the reports that are filed contain cases where repairs are needed. By changing the paperwork requirements to include only reports when issues are present, both time and money can be saved.

Anne S. Ferro, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, supported the proposal, stating that the agency will be able to better focus on the reports that include problematic issues. Safety will not be compromised, since trucks and equipment that are in need of any repairs will receive the attention that they need. Trucks and equipment that are not found to have any problems during the inspections can continue to operate, and drivers will not have to take the time to fill in the paperwork.

President Obama has encouraged his administration to seek out viable ways to reduce burdensome paperwork regulations. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox announced the proposal on August 1st, and quickly garnered a positive response. It is positive news for the administration, for commercial truck drivers, and for consumers who use the services of the trucking industry. The savings of time and costs should be passed onto the consumers, making it beneficial for the professional drivers and those looking to have cargo shipped. Consumers who need or want to have a vehicle shipped anywhere in the United States will benefit from savings on the cost if the proposal is accepted and the changes are implemented across the industry.

Red Flags For Car Shipping Fraud

Car ShippingIn spite of improved customer awareness and the availability of information to protect consumers, fraud still exists. Each year, consumers pay billions of dollars for commercial fraud, most of which were avoidable had they considered the most commonly used fraudulent practices. Although fraud in the auto transport industry is rare, it is best not to take any chances, especially considering that cars are high-value assets. To avoid loss, theft, damage and unnecessary expense associated with scams, keep these red flags of car shipping fraud in mind:

No Business Address, License, Or Established Identity
One of the most common red flags of car shipping fraud is the lack of an established identity.  A simple online search for the business name should identify the business on various listing and review sites.  An established website filled with helpful content, FAQ’s, Videos, and contact info, is a solid indication that you are dealing with an established business.  You should also verify the business with reputable business review sites like the Better Business Bureau, and Transport Reviews.com.

Unable To Reach Customer Service Or Get Answers
Any reputable car shipping company will be immediately accessible to its clients. If you dial the company phone number and your call is rejected, ignored or if the person on the other end of the line fails to answer your questions about how the auto transport process works, you should avoid this company. A reliable company should be able to provide you with all the necessary information you need regarding any transaction you may make with them.

Payment Upfront Prior to Providing the Service.
Beware of car moving companies that require a significant amount as a deposit for their service. You may also want to avoid companies that require payments to be made through Western Union and other money transfer services that make the recipient hard to trace.

The Car Shipping Company Fails to Provide A Detailed Agreement.
Another way to spot a red flag of car shipping fraud is the company’s refusal or failure to provide a quote or a detailed agreement. The quote should include the type of vehicle being shipped, the origin and destination of the shipment, the type of carrier (open or closed) that will be used, and other related details.

No Inspection or “bill of lading”
Another red flag is if the driver does not require or initiate an inspection of your vehicle.   When the carrier arrives for pickup, they should initiate a vehicle inspection and fill out a report called a “bill of lading”.  They take note of any existing damage to the vehicle before shipment.  You will inspect your vehicle upon delivery, and if all is well, you sign that bill of lading to release the truck from any liability.

Car Transport To A Large Metropolitan City

Car TransportDoor-to-door car transport by open carrier is the most common method of transporting a vehicle across the country. And often the service is exactly that: door-to-door. The car carrier will load up a vehicle at one home address (or place of business) and deliver right to another home address (or place of business), as requested by the customer. But there are times when that convenience is not logistically possible. Especially for cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, or Washington DC, it is realistic to plan to meet your carrier outside of the tight metropolitan area.

The open carriers that ship vehicles across the country are large, multi-vehicle haulers. For standard door-to-door service, you are contracting transport on just one truck and usually just one driver. That one large truck has to have enough space to easily access each address and load or unload vehicles safely. Such loading is not possible in tight downtown areas, especially with one way streets and congested traffic, steep hills or security restrictions. These are all challenges that your driver simply can’t negotiate.

For car transport to or from major cities, it is realistic to plan to meet the carrier outside of the urban area. Because the carrier needs a wide, open space away from traffic, a meeting location in a nearby shopping mall parking lot is a popular option. If you don’t know the city very well, your driver may have a suggestion too. Either way, it’s best to allow for a little flexibility when coordinating carrier arrival. It may mean that you have to rely on a friend to drive you or public transportation to get to/from the meeting location. And to spare yourself some angst, don’t schedule other important activities on the day of the meet.

Your driver would prefer to make car transport completely convenient for you. But for major metropolitan areas, it is more realistic to think of the service as person-to-person rather than door-to-door. If you have any questions about that, feel free to give us a call: 866-221-1664.

Don’t Ship A Car When It Is Full Of Stuff

car shippingWe know you want to pack your car before shipping it. Everyone planning to ship a car across country full of stuff assumes it would be an easy way to save costs on moving. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend loading your car with stuff before shipping it on an open carrier. We occasionally receive pictures from our drivers of what customers want to include during their transport. Don’t be like these folks. It will actually cost you more in the long run: in funds, in drama, and/or delays.

Your car shipping quote is priced for an empty vehicle. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the weight of a vehicle effects how much gas is required to transport it. Even if you only want to include a few bulky items, it adds up.  If every vehicle on the auto hauler has a few items, the total weight load is significantly increased throughout the transport. A driver may be willing to transport your vehicle with some items in it for an additional fee, but we can’t negotiate or guarantee the charge in advance for you.

But let’s be practical, leaving items in the car may increase the risk of theft. When your car is on the open carrier, anything visible in your vehicle is visible to every vehicle the truck passes. While your vehicle is insured during transport, items left in the vehicle are not covered. You may be willing to risk theft, but your driver may not want to take the gamble on your behalf – and he’d be most affected by any incident.

Most importantly, though, your driver has to be able to load your car safely on and off the hauler. When a car is packed, luggage obstructs his view. If the truck arrives to the pick-up location and finds your car packed to the ceiling, your driver will ask you to remove items or he will have to refuse to load your vehicle. (And even if he doesn’t load your vehicle, he is entitled to compensation for making the trip to your location.)

It’s less hassle to leave your vehicle empty of belongings. Leaving stuff in your car may accrue additional surcharges, or it may invite theft, or it may cause your driver to refuse your load. If you have any follow-up questions about leaving stuff in your car for car shipping, give us a call: 866-221-1664.