It should first be said that most Auto Shipping companies are legitimate. National regulations make it very difficult for dubious companies to operate successful scams. However, with the abundance of Auto Shipping services available today, a variety of scams are still present. In order to spot shipping scams, you should always do your due diligence through some research. We’ve listed a few helpful tips to guide you through this process.
CONFIRM THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION
Although some scammers do provide phone numbers, it’s always best to call and speak to a customer service representative. By doing so, you can ask for their insurance and licensing information, including Broker License and Motor Carrier numbers.
CHECK THEY’RE LICENSED
As all companies must be licensed to operate legally, you can confirm their status by entering their Motor Carrier (MC) or DOT numbers with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration here.
CONSULT ‘THE ORACLE’
Any research project starts with Google, today. Most companies will have some form of online presence, including review portals such as Google Reviews, Transport Reviews, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. Due to the nature of the business, some negative reviews are inevitable. However, what’s most important in these instances is to see how the company responds to them.
ASSESS THEIR WEBSITES
Not all scammers will have poor quality websites, so do not automatically trust a professional looking presentation. However, there are some red flags to look out for here as well.
- No MC or DOT numbers visible on their website
- Vague description of the service on offer
- Minimum contact information outside of the order form or contact form
- Little to no industry related information outside of a basic home page
- Frequent typos or conflicting information throughout the text
- An unreasonable number of dead buttons or links
AVOID EXTREMELY LOW QUOTES
A common red-flag is the low quote. Bargains certainly exist, but consider it highly questionable should you receive a quote that is much lower than the average rate offered by other companies. It is also a bad sign should a company be too willing to accommodate requests for a much lower rate.
DO NOT PROVIDE CREDIT CARD INFORMATION PRIOR TO DISPATCH
In as much as the customer does not wish to be ripped off by companies, companies are similarly wary of being duped by no-show clients. The deposit indicates the commitment of a client to a shipping agreement. That being said, reputable companies will not require up-front payments. Consultation, booking and negotiation services are usually free & deposits may be required only once a Carrier becomes available.
REVIEW YOUR SHIPPING AGREEMENT PRIOR TO SIGNING
Read all documentation and emails well. Prior to signing a contract or shipping agreement, be sure to review all terms and to ask questions if you need something clarified. Auto Shipping companies know the stress involved in having your vehicle shipped and should gladly answer all your questions to give you peace of mind. The less information a company wishes to give you, the larger the red flag.
LOOK OUT FOR ‘BAIT’ TACTICS TO GET YOUR ORDER
- “We have a truck in your area”
- “Your deposit guarantees a spot on a truck”
- Date & Price Guarantees (be sure to read their terms to assess any conditions to the guarantee)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN CAUGHT IN A SCAM
Firstly, make sure you’re aware of how the Auto Shipping industry generally works. It’s a unique industry and does not operate in the usual way. It’s prudent to ensure your expectations are in alignment with the actualities of the industry. Secondly, ensure you have read a company’s website, email communication, documents and terms prior to assuming you have been dealt with in an underhanded manner. If you have done your due diligence and feel the service you received was not in accordance with the information you were provided, you can officially report questionable companies to the Federal Trade Commission here.