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We have Been in the Auto Transport Business Since 1999 and are accredited with an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau!

Use our auto transport calculator to find out. You will see your auto shipping quote in less then 30 seconds with our price calculator, and find out when your vehicle can be picked up.

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Auto Shipping Red Flags

Spotting Auto Transport Red Flags

Auto shipping red flags exist. There are no two ways around it. They exist in every industry, no matter what it is. Sometimes, things just don’t seem right, and if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Auto shipping red flags follow the same tendencies as red flags in anything else. There are warning signs that tell you to stay away from certain companies. But what are they, and how critical are they to listen to?

These aren’t necessarily easy questions to answer if you don’t know much about shipping a car. Luckily for you, though, we know all there is to know about the car shipping world. We know what it takes to move a car at the right price and we understand how to spot red flags. More importantly, we know how to do things the right way, to the point that we want to warn others about the wrong way to do things.

So keep reading about auto shipping red flags. Learn how to spot them and read about some of the more common ones we see. Then, get a quote to ship with us and see how easy it can be to get your vehicle moved.

How to spot auto shipping red flags

The easiest way to spot red flags is to first know what it is you’re looking for. Which is great, because you can find that right here!

In all seriousness, though, if you’re not sure what to look for, how do you know it’s a red flag? In the auto shipping industry, it pays to compare prices. This is the easiest way to spot red flags from potential shippers.

The car shipping industry operates the same way no matter who you book with. Some companies may have slightly lower deposit prices, some may have deals with trucks to get cars moved at a discount rate. But everyone uses the same ten thousand trucks on the road.

The truck is to find a company that knows what they’re doing and that can do it at a price you can afford. You want to find a company that is knowledgeable and that has been around a while. Companies with experience tend to last in this industry. Also, companies that are well-run last as well.

Just about anyone can carve themselves a niche in the industry so long as they provide good customer service…and avoid red flags.

No one guarantees pickup (or delivery)

One of the most problematic red flags for customers is the idea of guaranteed pickup or delivery. The idea that shipping a car is like shipping something with UPS is ludicrous. Any company that tries to convince you otherwise is showing a big red flag.

Why? Because it’s not that kind of shipping service. Cars are moved on the backs of auto transport trucks. They are specially designed to haul cars safely and securely. But they’re still shipped over the same roads and highways that we all use every single day.

What this means is that auto transporters have to deal with all the same things we have to when we’re on the road. Traffic, inclement weather, construction, detours and reroutes. But then you also have to factor in that they have to stop frequently to pickup or deliver other vehicles.

When you ship a car you’re renting space on the truck, but there are generally nine other spaces they need to rent out as well. So shipments often go in order of where the carrier is coming from and going to next.

Take all of this together and it paints a clear picture: carriers cannot guarantee pickup or delivery dates. Instead, they give pickup or delivery windows, often of 24-48 hours in size. This allows them to navigate the U.S. Interstate Highway System, deal with all the delays and whatnot, and still get to you on time.

Any company that says they can guarantee a pickup or delivery date either doesn’t know the industry or they’re flat-out lying to you.

Deposit prices

Low prices are a red flag for sure, and we’ll talk more about why in a minute. But low deposit prices are also a red flag.

Oftentimes you don’t see the deposit price until you actually talk to a representative. Many times you’ll get a quote and it’ll just be the total price. But the thing is that your price is actually made up of two different prices: the broker fee, and the carrier fee.

The broker fee is what is referred to here as the deposit. It is, essentially, a payment to the brokerage for their services in helping you ship your vehicle.

The carrier fee is the rest of the balance due to the carrier. There are different ways you can pay your carrier, and different times you can pay as well. But these are the two components of any auto transport quote.

The red flag is when the deposit price is low, but the carrier pay is average. Low deposit prices don’t keep auto shippers afloat no matter how much they may think it does. Low deposit prices often mean a company is struggling to book orders. These kinds of companies tend to be desperate for cash and will do anything to book orders.

But the problem is that their issues don’t come from their deposit price, but rather how they operate. Maybe their cancellations are high because their carrier prices are too low. Maybe they lost the ability to charge credit cards, or they have other financial issues.

There are a lot of reasons why brokers charge low deposit prices, but they’re always a red flag. Normal broker fees range from $150-250, with most falling around $200. That’s the sign of a legitimate brokerage, and it goes to show that sometimes, a low price is just too good to be true.

Low prices for shipping

Something else to be wary of is low prices in general. In the car shipping industry, it’s money that moves cars, nothing else. Carriers won’t take loads that are priced too low, as they need to make money too. So they look for the highest-paying loads on their route and book as many as they can.

Low prices make cars sit. Now sometimes this isn’t a bad thing – sometimes, you don’t have to worry about how long it takes to ship. So there are times when a lower-than-average price and waiting a few months to ship is just fine!

But for most people this isn’t the case. And unless you’re okay with waiting that long, low prices are only going to bring bad times.

Any auto transport company that knows the industry understands that money moves cars. It’s that simple. So they need to make sure their prices reflect the ever-changing state of the industry and the prices of the many, many routes. Most companies have some automated way of doing it. Some companies price each shipment individually, which can be a great way to ensure the price is always set.

There are also some companies that just go really high on their price regardless. They know it’ll move at that price and they don’t worry about customers that want to move for less.

But, overall, low prices are a red flag. It shows either inexperience or a lack of caring about customers. This is also why it’s important to compare prices, so you know what is the average range and what isn’t. Most companies will fall within a $100-200 range; some may fall a bit outside that, but that’s usually about where it is.

So, if you have multiple quotes saying it’ll cost $1000 to move your vehicle from A to B, and then a quote that says it’ll be $750, well…one of these things is not like the others.

Too many bad reviews

But perhaps the most important red flag to watch out for is also the easiest: bad reviews, and lots of them.

It’s easy to find reviews of companies online, especially nowadays. With the rise of Google Reviews and Yelp! and other platforms, it’s easier than ever to read customer reviews of different businesses. It’s completely reshaping how we approach online shopping and interactions with businesses in general.

And it’s no different in the car shipping industry. Auto transport reviews are still one of the best barometers for determining whether or not a company is the right one for you.

When you’re looking at reviews, obviously you want to avoid companies with lots of bad ones. You should also try to avoid companies that don’t have very many reviews, or their reviews are all old. While there are shippers that don’t care about reviews, most understand their importance. A company with nothing but old reviews either doesn’t do a great job, or they aren’t too active in the industry. Either way, it could cause problems for you down the road.

You want to find companies that have lots of good, recent reviews. These are companies that you know are actively shipping vehicles for customers and that are working to ensure their reviews are always good. These are the companies that provide stellar customer service and move vehicles at a timely rate.

Avoid auto shipping red flags with American Auto Shipping

If you’re interested in shipping your vehicle with a top-rated company, choose us! We know all about auto shipping red flags, and we know what it takes to ensure we don’t have any ourselves. We are a fully licensed and bonded auto transport company with decades of experience shipping vehicles. This means that we understand what it takes to get a vehicle moved on time and on budget.

You can get a free quote to ship with us via our online quote form. No hassles, no hidden fees, just a free, no-obligation quote right on your screen. If you like your price you can book your order directly through our online order form, or you can contact us over the phone at 800-930-7417. We have friendly, helpful representatives standing by that can answer your questions, give you a quote, book your shipment, and much more.

So no matter what you’re shipping or where you’re shipping it, let American Auto Shipping help you get it moved.

Dave Armstrong
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