Car Shipping Broker or Carrier – Pros and Cons

You’ve probably read bad things about brokers and carriers.  Now the question is, “Should I use a broker or carrier to ship my car?”

Read on to learn the pros and cons of carriers and brokers and get a little more information to help you make an educated decision on whether to pick a broker or carrier.

You’ve decided that you need to ship your car.  Maybe you’re going to Florida for the winter.  Maybe you’re moving to California.  Maybe you’re sending an old car to your daughter at school in Michigan.  Regardless of what you’re doing, you’ve likely gone online to get some quotes and find out a little about the process.  There’s a good chance that what you’ve read and the people you have experienced, have scared the crap out of you!  If so, trust your instincts.  This can be a very scary industry.

Carriers – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Low price – If you are able to find a reliable carrier and their truck doesn’t have any mechanical issues along the way, there’s a good chance that you will pay a little less that you would have with a broker.
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth – You’re dealing with the actual company that will handling your car.  You don’t have to worry about a broker lying to you about a delay.
  • They are charging you directly – The price you get quoted is almost always the price you are going to pay.  You usually don’t have to worry about them quoting one thing, then having a showing up with your car expecting more money than what you were quoted.

Cons

  • Repairs can take a long time – If that carrier had a mechanical issue, you are stuck waiting for that truck to get repaired.  It could be a week or more delay.
  • Timing is difficult – Most carriers have a truck or two.  The odds of your timeline matching up with theirs, is slim.
  • You aren’t that important – In the whole scheme of things, your business isn’t very important to them.  Most cars being transported in the country are for dealerships.  Private customer moves are a small part of the industry.  If you aren’t very happy with how their service is, it doesn’t really matter.  They aren’t relying on you as a source of continual business.
  • Communication – If the carrier is an owner operator, it’s probably going to be difficult to get them on the phone if you are looking for an update or have a question.  They are driving a 75’ truck that could weigh 80,000 pounds.  We’d all prefer they don’t answer while they drive.

Brokers – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lots of options – Brokers have access to hundreds, sometimes thousands of trucks.  A good broker can find a truck to meet whatever timeline (within reason) you want.
  • Plenty of plan B options if necessary – If your vehicle is on a truck that breaks down and will take more than a day or two to repair, a broker can find another truck to pick your vehicle up from the broken down truck and reduce your waiting time.
  • Industry knowledge – There are lots of bad brokers out there.  There are just as many bad carriers out there.  A good broker will have a list of carriers that they use regularly.  A great broker (*Cough *Cough – Fisher Shipping) will also have a list of companies that they wouldn’t trust to deliver a pizza down the street.
  • Easy to reach – This will depend on who you work with.  A good broker will answer their phone and be proactive about any issues that may arise during this process.  We actually know of a great broker that answers their phones 7 days a week, until 9PM.  I think their logo appears somewhere on this site.

Cons

  • Liar, liar, pants on fire – There are many brokers that will lie about trucks breaking down or other delays when in fact, they don’t have your car scheduled.  They are simply making up stories to buy them more time because they can’t find a truck to move your car.
  • Bait and switch – A lot of brokers will quote one price, then tell you that they only way that they actually need to charge more.  Oftentimes, there are hidden fees for things like fuel surcharges, insurance and door to door service.
  • You still aren’t that important – Most people never move a vehicle more than once in their lives.  Some brokers will put your move on the back burner while they focus on the moves for their dealership clients.

Key Takeaways

Let’s sum up what we’ve learned here.  Brokers or carriers can be good or bad.  Unfortunately, this industry seems to have more on the bad side than on the good side.  Auto transport is a very loosely regulated industry.  Research is going to be the key to a pain free auto transport experience.

We suggest checking out company profiles at the Better Business Bureau website.  Yelp is also an excellent place to look for reviews.  They are one of the few sites that you cannot “buy” reviews on.  Sites like google and many others are very easy to spam with false reviews.  If you do go to these sites, sort the reviews by lowest star rating.  Look at negative experiences others have had.  There are times when things just go wrong.  These are trucks hauling cars.  Things happen sometimes.  There are other times that a broker or carrier is deceitful or purposely tries to scam a customer.  Look closely at negative reviews and make your own judgments.