Auto transport can be a stressful process, and working with an unreliable or even fraudulent broker will only compound those problems. However, taking some basic precautions can help ensure a smooth experience when arranging to have your vehicle shipped. Here are some tips for avoiding common issues with auto transport brokers.
Research Multiple Brokers
Don’t just rely on the first broker you find online. Take the time to get quotes from at least 3 different transport companies so you can compare prices, services offered, and reviews. Reputable brokers won’t mind you shopping around.
Check Review Sites
- Look up potential brokers on sites like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau to see what other customers have said about their experience.
- Pay attention to any complaints about damaged vehicles, late deliveries, or non-refundable deposits.
- Also check review sites specifically for auto transport like Transport Reviews to get feedback from those in the know.
Verify Licenses and Insurance
Only work with brokers who can provide proof of operating authority from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). They should also have active cargo insurance to cover any damage to your vehicle while in transit.
Get Everything in Writing
Once you’ve selected a broker, get all terms of service, pricing details, and the projected delivery timeframe in a written contract before any money changes hands. This includes:
- What is and isn’t covered by the transport fee
- Dates for pickup and delivery estimates
- Exclusions like acts of God that could delay shipping
- Cancellation/refund policy if dates need to change
Never pay upfront without verifying the broker or carrier is legitimate. Red flags include only taking payments via prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.
Credit Card Is Best
Paying by credit card offers the most protection against scams since you can dispute the charges if the terms aren’t met. Just be sure to get a receipt for your records.
Check Payment Deadlines
Reputable brokers typically don’t require full payment until pickup or shortly before delivery. That way you retain leverage if issues arise during transport.
Document Your Vehicle’s Condition
Taking detailed photos of your vehicle from every angle is one of the best ways to prove its condition at the start of transit. Note any pre-existing damage in case new marks appear afterwards.
Following these basic steps can help you avoid becoming a target for unprofessional or fraudulent brokers. Doing your research upfront leaves less room for surprises or potentially losing money down the road.
Stay in the Communication Loop
Once your vehicle is picked up, check in with the broker/carrier periodically for updates on its location and estimated arrival date. Reputable companies will provide tracking information without issue.
If communication suddenly stops or dates get pushed back with no reasonable explanation, that’s a red flag something may have gone wrong. Don’t hesitate to demand answers or reconsider using that transporter further.
Arranging auto transport can introduce stress, but taking the proper precautions upfront helps ensure a smooth experience. Thoroughly research brokers, get all terms in writing, pay safely, and document your vehicle to protect yourself. With diligence on your part and an honest transport company, your car should reach its destination as promised.