Car shipping scams

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Jen has just moved from Miami Los Angeles. Besides all the household items, she was bringing her car along on the move. Jen wanted to avoid an exhausting cross-country drive, so instead, she decided to book a flight and ship her Audi to her new home in L.A. with an auto transport company.

She looked online and quickly found a few car shipping companies that promised safe auto transport services. Jen requested several quotes and without giving it much further thought went for the cheapest offer. She received a phone call from an agent who helped her complete the booking and charged her credit card for the initial partial payment. And off she went to her new home in Los Angeles.

Upon arriving, Jen received a call from that same agent telling her that her Audi has not been loaded yet and they are still looking for a carrier. The most important they said is that the cost of shipping will have to increase if Jen wants her car shipped soon. Jen did not want to pay extra and was told that in this case, the auto transporter will have to hold her car until she agreed to pay the new price because she has already booked.

Jen has become a victim of a car shipping scam.

Unfortunately for Jen, and other customers alike, some “vehicle shipping companies” still use unfair business practices to trick their customers into paying more money. They seem legit at first, but all they do is lure people in with a promise of low prices and then all of a sudden increase the costs. If the customer refuses to pay the additional amount, they say the car will not be transported or held until the price is paid.

Unrealistically low quotes often end up costing customers a small fortune once all the sweet talk is over and the shipment is booked. In some cases, vehicles even get taken hostage.

How to avoid car shipping scams?

For a smooth vehicle shipping experience with no surprises, invest some time to understand the basics of auto transport, learn what entities are involved in the process, understand the auto transport rate equation, read the small print, employ your intuition. Learn how auto transport works.

Learn about the auto transport company

First things first, understand who you are dealing with. In your search for an auto transporter you will come across the following entities: lead providing and auction websites, carriers and brokers.

Lead providers make you believe they are either a carrier or broker when in reality they are none. They collect your information and then sells it to various brokers. So, whenever you see a promise of multiple car shipping quotes from one single company, think twice before you leave your contact information on their website. There is a big chance you’ll be contacted, and maybe even hounded, by multiple companies trying to sell you their services.

Auction websites foster underbidding wars between companies driving auto transport rates to unrealistically low values. Booking at a “too-good-to-be-true” price means you will have to wait weeks before your vehicle gets picked up or, like Jen, will receive a call asking for more money in order to move your car.

Most carriers are mom and pop’s businesses that will physically transport your vehicle. They would rather be on the road making money – moving cars. Hence, many carriers don’t even have an online presence. They rely heavily on brokers for customer leads.

Brokers, in turn, don’t have their own fleet but have the resources to reach out to a vast network of carriers. They do all the legwork to find a carrier and accommodate your particular situation. They will make sure the carrier has proper insurance and all the necessary equipment, should your car’s condition require it. Good brokers will negotiate a car shipping price with a carrier on your behalf and make sure it’s acceptable to both, you and the car hauler.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you better grasp the difference between brokers and carriers and their roles in the auto transport industry.

Whether you decide to work with a broker or carrier, make sure you select a reputable company. Gather all the information you can about your potential auto transport company – name, address, phone numbers, USDOT license information and insurance policy. Consult the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and see if the car shipper’s license is active.

Ask the company rep for possible referrals. A business referral is always a good source of legitimacy. You can go further and read online reviews but take them with a grain of salt. Don’t dismay if you find some complaints and negative reviews – it is normal for a business to receive some negative feedback. Nobody is perfect after all and things do happen.

Understand your auto transport rate

It’s important to understand what affects the cost to ship a vehicle, so you don’t end up in Jen’s shoes.
In general, the cost to ship a car depends on a few factors such as the distance, pick up/drop off locations, car’s make, model and modifications; it’s operability, the type of service you select – open or enclosed carrier, as well as seasonal fluctuations.

The car shipping business is competitive, so it’s only normal you’ll get widely varying quotes. But here’s why you shouldn’t settle for the lowest price. Both brokers and carriers use the same third-party database, which shows vehicles that are awaiting shipment, what customers are willing to pay to ship their cars, and what’s been paid for the same route in the past. So, after checking the database, carriers pick the higher paying vehicles first.

In other words, you as a customer compete with other customers for your car’s spot on the carrier. And when the demand is high, prices increase, and better-paying vehicles usually ship first. Carriers prefer loads that pay a realistic price. Anything lower than the current market rate means that you will have to wait longer for a carrier to pick-up your vehicle. Unfortunately, certain dishonest companies take advantage of this situation and use it to make money off their unsuspecting customers.

Read your auto transport contract / Bill of Lading

In vehicle shipping, there is no a contract that you sign officially. Similar to many other services and products you buy your confirmation and the company’s terms and conditions represent the contract. The confirmation email will walk you through the process, and the terms and conditions will go into the details of service. Most companies you find online will also have a car shipping questions section with answers to the most common inquiries.

If you forgo reading the terms of service, you end up keeping yourself in the dark about your rights and responsibilities until something goes wrong. Hence, it’s really important you understand everything before you enter into a legally binding agreement.

Bill of Lading is another important document you shouldn’t ignore. It’s not only a receipt but also a pick up and delivery inspection report. Don’t skip the inspection regardless of time of the day and weather conditions. It’s important that you don’t skip this step. If you fail to document the damages, you won’t be able to claim compensation later.

Last but not least – talk to a representative

Despite all of your research and all you have found out online, call, talk to a person. Pick up the phone and dial the number on the company’s website; ask all of your questions. Try to find out all about the company and how shipping a car works, ask the person on the phone to walk you through the terms and conditions of service. In many cases, you will be able to trust your instincts and learn a lot from a phone call. If you feel that you can trust the company, after you have talked to an agent, it means they have really answered all of your questions and made you feel at ease.

Follow through with this steps and you will save yourself a headache and some money because you will know how to avoid a car shipping scam. Your car is a big investment and it’s important to be able to trust your car moving company.


To ship your vehicle with Corsia Logistics, fill out a simple online quote request or call us at (818) 850-5258. We strive to provide our customers with fair and realistic car shipping prices that reflect the most current market conditions. To achieve this, we do not use pricing calculators. Instead, our logistics experts manually track price fluctuations on a day-to-day basis, so you get the most realistic quote tailored to your specific situation.

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About the Author:

I am the marketing director and the content curator. I believe in creating useful contnet for our customers and readers. I have been involved in the auto transport industry for several years and I enjoy it. If you would like to contact me please do so via our contact us form or any social media channel. Thank you.
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