Every retail store that you go to will have some type of return policy. Whether it’s lax, stringent, or simply a statement of “all sales final,” every retail store has a policy when it comes to trying to return merchandise. And in the car shipping industry, it’s really no different, except for the fact that once your vehicle gets going to a destination, it’s going to arrive at that destination regardless of what you say or do. See, instead of a return policy for auto transportation services, brokers have what are called “cancellation policies.” Usually, once you book your order with a shipping company, it takes said company a few days to a week (generally; exceptions, however, abound) to find a carrier for you. Once they settle on a carrier company (this is known as “dispatching,” or “dispatch”), you’ll have another 3-5 days generally to wait for the vehicle to be picked up. You generally have the option to cancel up until the time your vehicle is scheduled to be picked up; after that, it’s pretty much “all sales final.” At the same time, though, different companies have different rules regarding when you can cancel your order, and in this article we’ll take a look at some of the more common versions of the cancellation policy and what you can expect out of your own.
For starters, the cancellation policy will cover several things: when you can cancel, the reasons you can cancel, cancellation fees, and refund policies, though not necessarily in that order. Let’s break it down a bit easier:
1. When you can cancel
This is basically stating up until which point you are allowed to cancel, and after said point are no longer allowed to. Generally it’ll say either until the vehicle is dispatched to a carrier company, or else any time before the carrier company picks up your vehicle. This type of policy varies company to company.
2. Reasons you can cancel
Most shipping companies will just take any cancellation request for any reason – it can be you don’t like having to wait as long as you have, or your grandmother just died and now she doesn’t need the car – really, anything goes. This is how the vast majority of brokers work nowadays, but there are a few companies out there who won’t let you cancel without a good reason (though none that would advertise with us).
3. Cancellation fees and policies
Companies that charge a cancellation fee aren’t necessarily wrong in doing so, but it is kind of a pain in the butt when you have to spend more money just to break the connection with a crappy company. That said, many companies will offer free refunds up until dispatch (see #1 for more on when you can cancel), and after it’s dispatched will charge a cancellation fee that basically pays the driver that was going to pick your vehicle up an inconvenience fee for pulling a job out from under him. Then again, some companies don’t charge a cancellation fee at any time until the vehicle is picked up (because then it’s too late).
4. Refund policies
Refund policies only apply to orders where money has already been paid, because you are entitled to your money back if the company doesn’t do their job. Most auto transport companies won’t dispute this in any way, shape or form, but there are some out there that use “processing” in order to push how fast you can get your refund. Typically refunds go out anywhere from a few days to a week after cancellation. But not every company does that. Some make you wait thirty days before they even cut the check, then another few days for mailing. It can be a cumbersome process, to say the least.
These are some of the reasons why reading the cancellation policy is incredibly important. All the details we just went over will be in there, and if there are any problems with your shipper and you need to bail on their service, this is what they’re going to make you abide by. Cancellation policies are almost always included in the standard Terms and Conditions of any auto transport broker, and is easily accessible either on their website or through a representative – they can always e-mail you a copy of their T&C and cancellation policy. But it’s important that you read it thoroughly and understand when everything takes place, how long it takes to get a refund, and so on. Every company is different, so make sure you get a good understanding of the ones you’re interested in booking with before actually committing. If you’re interested in finding an auto transport company, you can fill out our free online quote request form and get multiple quotes e-mailed to you, absolutely free, within about an hour. If you have questions or concerns about this website or about the car shipping industry in general, call 800-930-7417 to speak to one of our live agents.