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As the car shipping market grows, there will be more risk for consumers when selecting a carrier.
- The auto shipping industry is experiencing growth
- Scammers are entering the market as a result
- Watch for signs that can help you avoid scams
- A reputable broker weeds out shady carriers
With auto transportation becoming a growth industry that’s sure to expand even further in the coming years, more carriers are moving into the space. This expansion is positive news on the surface because it means more choice for the consumer. However, with more vendors in the marketplace, there’s more opportunity for scammers to get involved and take advantage of you.
Much like any other industry, shady carriers will go where they can make money at the expense of unsuspecting customers. Fortunately, there are warning signs you can watch for to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of their scams.
Here’s a look at five things to keep an eye out for to avoid getting scammed by a bad vehicle shipping carrier.
1. Read up on their reviews
Perhaps the most straightforward way to avoid getting scammed is to read some online reviews on each carrier you’re considering. Reputable carriers will usually have hundreds of verified reviews online, making it less likely that they’re a fly-by-night organization that will disappear with your money or vehicle.
In fact, most trustworthy vendors will be proud of their reviews, so they might even ask you to read up on them before making your final decision.
Keep in mind that a company with exclusively positive reviews might raise some red flags, too, because they could be suppressing negative comments or paying reviewers to leave positive ones.
2. Check for licenses, registration, and insurance
All vehicle shipping companies must have a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) registration. A motor carrier number and USDOT number are also necessary.
Make sure you ask for these numbers when speaking with a carrier or look them up yourself on the FMSCA website before signing any contract. Any vendor that isn’t registered on that website isn’t legally permitted to transport your car.
You’ll also want to ask your carrier about their insurance and the extent of their liability. Reliable shipping vendors will be happy to go over their insurance policy with you so you can fill in any gaps with additional coverage.
3. Examine the Contract
Yes, it’s time-consuming, but reading over every detail in the contract can provide you with further insight into your chosen carrier. There could be hidden fees or ambiguous language that you’ll want to discuss before signing anything.
If the carrier is unwilling to answer your questions or explain purposely unclear information, it should raise red flags on their true intentions. You could also end up paying far more than what your quote states if there are additional fees hidden in the contract.
4. Question suspiciously low quotes
Of course, you’ll want to secure the best possible rate on your auto transportation, but a vendor with suspiciously low fees could be too good to be true.
The problem is that space on transportation trucks increases and decreases in price based on demand. In a period of high demand, rates will swell. When there isn’t much demand, rates will shrink.
If you receive a suspiciously low quote, there’s a good chance it isn’t tied to a specific date. In this scenario, your carrier charges you a reduced amount right now and then waits until there’s empty space on a truck that it can give you for that price.
This scam is common with resellers who don’t have trucks of their own. They’ll promise you a spot for the quoted price, but you could end up waiting months for a space to open up at that rate.
Ask about timelines when receiving a quote to ensure you don’t end up in this situation.
5. Trust your gut
It’s a bit of a vague anti-scam method, but you’ll probably have a pretty good idea if you’re dealing with a shady vendor based on your interactions.
Will the vendor give you time to compare quotes, or are they rushing you to sign a contract right away?
Is the exact price clear?
Did they provide you with a free, no-obligation quote?
Do they have a high-quality website?
Is there a phone number?
All of these factors are worth considering because scammers are usually looking for a quick buck and don’t bother putting a professional appearance together. Also, if you question their methods, they’ll simply move on to the next victim because you’re causing them too much of a hassle.
Since selecting the right vendor could be the difference between your car arriving at its destination in one piece or not, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if something seems fishy, there are plenty of other options available.
Consider using a broker
With so many carriers coming and going every year, keeping track of who’s trustworthy and who might not be is challenging. Fortunately, a reputable auto transport broker can handle much of the research for you, ensuring you’re dealing with solid vendors and making it easy to conduct your own research.
Mercury Auto Transport only presents you with offers from FMSCA licensed and insured carriers. We guarantee that there won’t be any hidden fees and ensure that you can speak directly with your vendor before shipping. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you avoid shady characters in the auto transport industry or for a free quote.