Auto Shipping: Expectations vs Reality

Expectations Vs. Reality

“Auto Transport Services”. Sounds pretty self-explanatory, right? Because of this, most people think they know exactly what to expect when booking their shipment. Unfortunately, shipping a car is not as straightforward as one might expect. And, unlike booking a train, reserving a flight or mailing a package, the Auto Transport process is considerably more elaborate. In order for all operations to run smoothly, three or more independent parties need to be on the same page at all times. For this reason alone, ‘debunking’ common Auto Transport misconceptions can be vital to your shipping experience.

Expectation #1: All Quotes are Created Equal

You submit an online quote request form and receive 10 different quotations, ranging from $400 to $1200, but are they offering the same service?

Reality: The truth is that price is merely one factor to consider when looking for a Transporter. Transport Companies are as varied as the quotes you receive and the onus is on the customer to ensure they understand what services are being included in the prices they’re being quoted. The company with the lowest quote may not always prove to be the most economical option for getting your vehicle shipped when and how you want it.

Which company you choose, and for what rate you ship it, will largely depend on:

        • Supply and demand 
        • The originating and final destinations
        • The type of car you need to ship
        • How you wish to ship it
        • When you wish to ship it
        • Upcharges or Special Requests


Expectation #2: Reviews are 100% Trustworthy

Reality: Unfortunately, studies show that happy customers are less likely to leave reviews compared to unhappy ones. This means that review portals are not necessarily an accurate representation of consumer satisfaction with a product or service. Additionally, most review sites are run for profit and some, such as Yelp, offer companies more prominent placement in search results for a monthly fee. Practices like these mean that it’s much harder for honest reviews to rank above those that are boosted through various methods of review filtering.

As the Auto Transport Industry operates so differently to what clients are expecting, many negative reviews result from a severe misunderstanding of the service being provided. Despite the best of efforts by legitimate companies to inform their clients, most customers only become interested in understanding how the industry operates when a problem arises.

Customer opinion has also become an alternate form of currency and clients have learned how to wield its power through Social Media. Threatening a company’s online reputation can often be used as leverage for financial benefit. This further devalues the trustworthiness of online review sites.

In addition to all of the above, Competitors are also aware of the power of Online Reputation. False reviews posted by competitors have become an increasing trend over the years. This common attempt at one-upmanship by damaging a competitor’s credibility is the last nail in the coffin for review reliability.


Expectation #3: The Initial Quotation is the Final Price

Reality: Quotes in the Auto Transport world are always estimations. This is because the industry is a bidding-based industry which rests on complex supply and demand dynamics. This results in fluctuating pricing from one day to the next. It is quite possible that an original estimation may not equate to the final amount requested by your contracted Carrier due to shifts in the market.

Although it is true that some disreputable companies do ‘low-ball‘ with unrealistically low prices, legitimate transport companies will assess your requirements and present you with the Current Market Rate. These quotes are usually valid for 7 to 14 days. Companies offering ‘Guaranteed Pricing‘ will always add a huge mark-up to protect themselves from sudden market swings. This may prove beneficial for some clients, but results in unnecessarily high rates for all others.


Expectation #4: Requested Dates & Times are Guaranteed

Reality: All reputable Shipping Agents will make sure to inform you of a ‘pickup window‘ and ‘delivery window‘ and will never guarantee a specific date and time. This is due to the fact that Carriers never plan their routes more than a few days in advance of departure, resulting in uncertain shipping schedules for each route. There are also numerous factors that can affect a Carrier’s progress on the road (such as delays caused by other customers booked on the same hauler, adverse weather conditions, traffic congestion and mechanical failure)

If you’re being guaranteed an exact delivery date or time – with no upcharge or special conditions – be very wary. You may be stuck with unmet expectations and frustration at the end of the day.

Companies offering ‘Guaranteed Dates‘ are not necessarily guaranteeing that your vehicle will be picked up by a Carrier on a specific date. They will, however, load your vehicle with a local flatbed or towing service, on the date specified, and keep it in storage until a long-haul Carrier can be arranged.


Expectation #5: One Company handles the entire Shipping Process

Reality: The Auto Transport industry is structured very differently to most. In the majority of cases, you’ll be dealing with two Transport Companies when shipping your vehicle; Auto Transport Brokers & Auto Transport Carriers.

The Auto Transport Broker is responsible for :

  • Negotiating with Carriers to ascertain which may best be able to meet a client’s shipping requirements
  • Presenting all bids from interested Carriers to the client for consideration and approval
  • Drafting a Shipping Agreement / Contract between the client and their chosen Carrier
  • Being available throughout the shipping process to provide administrative assistance to the client where necessary
  • Mitigating any issues that may arise with a shipment

The Auto Transport Carrier is responsible for:

  • Executing the Shipping Agreement as contracted
  • Ensuring they have valid insurance for the vehicles in their possession between pickup and delivery
  • Safe and professional handling of the vehicle
  • Doing inspection before and after transit
  • Keeping the customer informed of their progress during transit


Expectation #6: Brokers are just ‘middlemen’. Book directly with a Carrier

Reality: Auto Shipping Brokers perform a vital function within the Auto Shipping industry and are not mere ’middlemen’ in as much as the Real Estate Agents, Travel Agents or Insurance Brokers are not. Shipping Brokers are licensed and insured shipping professionals that work to facilitate all advisory, administrative and logistical arrangements for their clients with the handful of Carriers that might be most suited to their unique shipping requirements within a precise window of time. Most Carriers are single-owner-operators that run limited routes for a select category of vehicles and perform little to no client-facing administrative functions.

Brokers also function to regulate the market. This benefits both the Carrier and the Customer. Even with broker fees, the customer ends up paying less than they would have had they cut the broker out of the equation. Similarly, if the Broker did not serve to keep prices competitive, many independent owner-operators would struggle to get into the industry due to the ability of larger Carriers to dominate the market. Larger Carriers have bigger fleets and, therefore, wider profit margins. Most single-owner-operators work on a razor-thin profit margin and would not be able to compete with larger fleets. Without the Broker’s ability to regulate the market, the entire industry would suffer as a result.


Don’t let Auto Transport Myths get you down

There really is a lot to learn about how your vehicle gets from point A to point B.  To ensure your experience is streamlined, contact (888) 223-5038 to have your questions answered. We can also provide advice specific to your requirements in a free consultation, offer you a quote and even book your shipment in a single call.

Tags in

Related posts