9 Early Signs of Questionable Car Transport Services

9 Early Signs of Questionable Car Transport Services

This section of our website is aimed to educate our customers on the car shipping process in general, with no necessary connection to the ProStar process. For details strictly related to ProStar, read our “ProStar Process” section.
If you want to avoid an unpleasant car shipping experience, the best thing is to read the signs – as soon as possible.

There are usually enough of them to tell you that working with a certain company may be problematic. Here are some you should watch for:

1. Too many complaints filed with the BBB (Better Business Bureau)

This may look like a no-brainer, but it is worth talking about, since many overlook this important step.

Running a company check through BBB is extremely easy and takes only a couple of minutes. The number of complaints, the way the company responded (or not) to these complaints and the rating offered by BBB are good hints to the company’s quality.  Consider what former customers have to say.  They had the bad luck of running a painful real-life check on the company to your benefit.

It is not uncommon that trustworthy companies that have long been operating have some complaints with the Better Business Bureau.  Things may happen. However, there is a big difference between 3 and 30 complaints.  Also important is how prompt the company responded to said complaint.  If they are genuinely interested in resolving the dispute, they should at least be given some credit.

If you cannot even find the company listed with BBB, our advice is simple: don’t even think about it.

2.  Too cheap or too expensive

Whenever a quote is unbalanced compared with what other car shippers offer there is a great chance that, sooner or later, the auto transport company will have some explaining to do.

The cost that motor carriers charge for their sevices can certainly vary.  If you request multiple car shipping quotes and there is one substantially low quote you feel you cannot overlook, you should know the main three reasons a car shipping company could afford such alluring charms: hidden fees, terminal to terminal services , or low payments offered to the actual shippers.  Take some time to read more about the dangers of extremely cheap car transport services.

While an unbalanced high cost does not guarantee the absence of any of the problems above, it generally means one thing: you are getting ripped off.

As a rule, anything that deviates too much from average should be regarded with caution.
3.  Low-quality customer service

You will get a fair idea about the interest a company takes in their clients when talking to them over the phone. Do they try to sell their services with any price, rather than inform you?  Do they take the time of the day to really talk to you?  Do they sound like they would rather be do something else besides answering your questions?  All of these are good hints for how you’ll be treated later.

4.  Large deposit required up front

While some perfectly respectable companies may require you to pay a deposit before they pick up your car, this may also be a sign of lack of confidence in their abilities to resolve your car shipping requests or, in the worst case, their smart way of letting you down and make a financially favorable way out.

Be curious about the necessity of this deposit and if you pay a deposit use a credit card just in case of a future dispute.

5.  Fairy-tale promises

Closely related to #4, promises that sound too good (and usually are) may be the reason why the auto transport company requires the initial deposit. Beware of companies that offer extremely cheap, next-day services. Whoever has been in this business long enough knows that shipping a car is largely a game of circumstances, and that every order is unique, as is every attempt to respond to it.

That DOES NOT mean these promises have no chance to be kept – only that you should remember to run some extensive checks on the company and see if they are in a good habit of delivering what they promise.  If you choose to trust them obtain these promises in writing.
6. Not able/willing to provide proof of their operating authority

When a company is not prompt to provide you with such proof, it usually means one of these:

They do not have one, therefore they are not authorized to operate.
They may have had their license revoked and may try to operate from another identity.
They are not happy with you checking their credentials.
The operating license for auto transport companies comes in the form of a USDOT number and/or MC number granted by FMCSA.  You can use these or the company name to check if they are specifically authorized to ship cars, or to view safety and insurance information about the carrier on www.safersys.org.

7.  Not willing to provide a contract in a timely manner

There are auto transport carriers that will introduce you to their contract (or Bill of Lading) when they show up at your door for the pick-up. This may be a recipe for disaster.

The contract that you sign is the one document to which auto transport companies will refer to should any disputes arrive.  A quick read before your car’s departure is an uninspired way of playing with the fire.

Keep in mind that you will most likely have questions regarding the contract and the driver at your door may not be willing and/or have much time to answer them.  If you refuse to sign the contract at this point, you may still have to pay a certain amount of money for the trouble that you caused.  Who says that?  Well, it’s in the contract.

Do not work with a company that is not willing to hand you their contract before you are bound by any obligations.

8. Unreliable instant quote

Some companies offer instant online estimates.  If you ask for one:

Do not take it literally.  The estimate might not take into consideration extra fees like door to door services,  insurance coverage, or terminal fees.
Read the fine print.
Always ask for a customized quote, that considers only your particular situation. Every auto transport company should have an easy system that allows you to request such a quote.
Spend some minutes playing with the instant quote system.  If you ask what it costs to move a car 10 miles down the road and you get an estimate of some hundreds,  you know the system is unreliable.
The point is,  you should spend some extra time asking questions, rather than relying exclusively on what the online system tells you.

9.  Low-quality website

Someone who doesn’t put any effort in his/her own image is highly unlikely to put any effort in anything else.  Keep in mind that creating a high-quality website is not a significant challenge anymore.

Does the website offer only generic information without a clear explanation of the process?  Do they care to objectively inform the customer about the car shipping process without trying to sell themselves? Are you introduced to the people behind the curtains? Does their website look like it was created by the neighbor’s nephew, who happens to build websites in his spare time?

The fact that a company pops up among your first results when you are searching for options on the internet is not a guarantee for the quality of their services.  Getting a website to rank high and shipping a car are two completely different things.  Run a BBB check on some top websites and see if their ranking corresponds to the quality of their services, or if their top ranked site may just be the carefully polished image of some questionable car transport services.

The way a company presents itself may not be the most accurate way of measuring their performance, but it is still a good indicator as to how they view “quality” and how much of that you’ll get.