Car Shipping Scams and How to Avoid Them

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5 min to read

Car shipping scams are uncommon in the transportation industry, but they do happen. No matter how professional a car shipping website may seem, car shipping scams exist, and their rates are often too good to be true. When you transport your car across the country, we believe it should be a worry-free process. In this article, we discuss how you can avoid any scams and how to spot untrustworthy auto transport companies. 

Consider Victor. He had just moved from Sacramento, California to Austin, Texas for a new job and had created the perfect moving plan—or so he thought. Victor decided not to drive his BMW to his new home because he wanted to fly there instead. He went online and got four different car shipping quotes to compare rates. They were all very close, but one was about $300 cheaper so he chose that company.

Victor spoke with the nice sales agent on the phone to pay for his transport and after his car was picked up he hopped on a plane and flew to Austin. Once at his new home, Victor waited for his car to arrive. And he waited. Since he hadn’t heard from the driver, he called the car shipping company to check on the status of his car. The sales agent said that shipping rates had increased and it would now cost an additional $275 to transport his car. Victor realized too late that the original low price he was quoted was too good to be true and was now stuck paying hundreds of dollars more to get his car to his new home.

Apparently, Victor was not thorough enough with his research when choosing a company that transports cars across the country and he became a victim of a car shipping scam.

There are plenty of auto transport companies out there and a few of them are in the business of making easy money by scamming their unsuspecting customers. They have professional-looking websites and promise great service for a very low cost. Inexpensive quotes end up costing customers a fortune once all the hidden fees are uncovered. Like Victor, you could fall for a bait and switch scam where you’re given a very low rate but after your vehicle is picked up the company asks for more money because they say that the price has increased. 

Before you go down the wrong path, see how Montway Auto Transport can ship your car the way you deserve! Learn more about our car shipping services.

Car shipping scams do occur and with so many companies in the industry it may be difficult to identify the ones you can trust. Since you don’t want to find yourself in Victor’s shoes, follow these simple steps to save yourself a headache later.

5 ways to spot car shipping scams and find legit auto transport companies

Gather information on the car transport company

Get all the contact information on your potential car mover, i.e. full company name including any DBAs (Doing Business As), addresses, phone numbers (local and toll-free). Ask them for Department of Transportation (DOT) and Motor Carrier (MC) licensing numbers. Once you have all this information, get online and investigate further. Make sure to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) on complaints filed for the auto transport company you are considering.

Do not get discouraged if you see a history of complaints next to the company’s name. Even a reputable company will have some negative comments. Be sure to compare the number of complaints to the total customers served to see if the percentage is high—even 100 complaints in a year for a company that shipped 100,000 cars represents less than 1%. Also check if the complaints were satisfactorily resolved, as that demonstrates a company’s commitment to customer service. 

Read online car transport reviews

Reading online reviews has become a rule whenever you are buying a product or a service today. Seeing other people’s recommendations will help you understand the type of service/product you will receive. Thus, reading reviews plays an important part when it comes to identifying a reliable car transport company.

Pay attention to your car moving quote and terms and conditions

The quote for transporting your car across the country should include all the details about moving your car. Your customer service rep should be able to walk you through the charges as well the terms and conditions and answer any questions you may have in regards to moving your car.

Ask when payment is required (it shouldn’t be before a driver is assigned)

Companies that are just out for your money will try to get it as quickly as possible and may ask for payment upfront, even before a driver is assigned. That’s a red flag. A reputable car shipping company will only expect a payment after your vehicle has been accepted for transport by a qualified driver. The remaining balance will be payable when you receive your vehicle at its destination. 

Talk to the auto moving company

Regardless of the deal you were offered by the car shipping company, you should trust your instincts. So pick up that phone and talk to a rep directly. If the company is not answering the phone or calling you back, scratch that one off your list and move on to a more responsive company. Highly reputable car shipping companies will be more than happy to answer your call as well as any questions that you may have.

If Victor followed these simple steps to research the right auto moving company he probably would have saved himself a headache and would have been able to show off his BMW to his new neighbors a lot sooner.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

How do I know if a car transport company is unreliable?

Besides checking their reputation and licensing, there are a few things to take into consideration when researching car transport companies. Is the company rushing you? Can you speak to a live person? Is the person willing to answer all of your questions to make you feel comfortable? Also, read customer reviews to gauge other people’s experiences with the company. 

How do you trust a car transport company?

See if previous customers trusted the auto transport company by checking their rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and reading online customer reviews. A high rating and plenty of positive reviews will tell you that the company is dedicated to customer service and will most likely treat you well. 

How do I know if a car shipping company is legit?

If a company you’re considering using doesn’t have proper licensing, don’t use them. All operable car movers must have a Motor Carrier (MC) number, as well as a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT/DOT) number. The USDOT number is a unique classifier that the U.S. Department of Transportation uses to conduct audits and track accidents and safety information. Read how to select the best car shipping company

Is car shipping safe? 

When working with a licensed and bonded company with a solid reputation, shipping your vehicle is very safe. Shipping your vehicle can even be safer than driving it to your destination yourself as you may save time and money and have less wear and tear on your car. 

What do I do if I’m the victim of an auto transport scam? 

You can report an auto transport scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC may not be able to resolve your issue, but your report is shared with law enforcers and used to investigate cases of fraud, scams and bad business practices. You may help someone else avoid using a fraudulent auto transport company in the future. 

About Montway Auto Transport

With 15 years of experience and 75,000+ customer reviews, Montway Auto Transport has become the leading car shipping broker in the U.S. We leverage our network of over 15,000 carriers to provide the best rates possible. Use our instant quote calculator or speak to a helpful shipping advisor at 888-666-8929 to learn more about our service and reputation. Here’s what our customers say about their experience with Montway.

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