I can't tell how many times (having bought a prized classic car long distance) buyers foolishly start shopping for transport companies to deliver it to their home, with their primary concern being " how cheaply can I get it moved?" † All trucking companies are NOT created equal! (See Shipping Wars on A& E TV)
I wanted to share a story with you. Recently a client approached us to help him extract two cars (a '48 Chevy Pickup and a '69 Mustang) from a repair facility in Mississippi that had the cars for 6 YEARS Ė while they were apparently working on them! Well after some calls to the local police station, some background checking, we got hold of the individual who had these cars at his home and arranged to have cars promptly removed. The owner (who lived overseas) had made arrangements to get them shipped (from another location in the same town) to our storage facility in Connecticut. A few days later we received a call from the truck driver who said he and his buddy were on their way and set to deliver them first thing the following morning.† When the truck arrived it was raining, I immediately noticed that it wasn't a proper car hauler but a regular goods truck, or to put it another way a large enclosed single-door box trailer. There was no lift gate to get the cars on and off so the driver pulled out a pair of really long ramps he'd made up in order to remove the cars. As there were no side doors on this box, in order to get in and out of the car he had to climb in through the open window on the driver's side and the trailer was too tight to open the car door.
As he backed the Mustang out he got to the point where the two rear wheels were on the ramps and the fronts were still in the truck, here he got stuck as the angle was too steep. He then proceeded to drive back into the truck and asked me if I had any 2 x 4's to stack behind the rear wheels so he could remove the vehicle without scraping up the underside. It just so happened that I had some lumber laying around so I gave it to him but wondered how he got the car in there in the first place? For the best part of an hour, he went back and forth until he finally got the car out. Once both of my vehicles were out I could see a nice Chevrolet Impala toward the front of the box that was obviously to be delivered at their next stop.
As I mentioned, there were actually two people in the semi, the driver and a friend. I think the driver had just got his license as he couldn't figure out how to turn the truck around. I watched as the pair of them spent the next two hours trying to turn the truck around so they could leave. Eventually I went outside to see if I could help but neither of them were anywhere to be found, I became anxious as when I approached the cab, I saw flames coming from beneath the engine! Finally the pair of them came walking down the road and I shouted for them to hurry as their truck was on fire. One of them shut off the engine and the other lay on the wet road then slid under the engine to discover that the starter motor was on fire. They didn't have a fire extinguisher and they couldnít open a small storage cabinet on the side of truck where apparently they kept water. So they shouted at each other for about 15 minutes until one remembered that they had a bottle of water in the cab and poured that on the fire and put it out. The problem now was that they had turned the ignition off and they had no way to start the truck (which incidentally was now blocking the road).† They asked me where the nearest semi-truck parts supplier might be and I told them East Hartford some 30 miles away. The question now was - how would they get there? Instead of calling for a cab, the one guy slides out filthy from beneath the truck and announces that they would take the Chevrolet Impala out the back and use that to get to Hartford and back! I was shocked, but it wasn't my Impala, so I gave them directions and went back inside my house. Several hours later they returned and a couple more hours after that, I heard the truck fire up. They reloaded the Impala into the back and after an hour more back and forth they got the truck turned around just as it was getting dark. As they drove by my house, I noticed that they had left the rear door of the truck wide open. Thankfully I had the driverís cell, so I called to let him know.
What can we learn from this? Donít shop for trucking companies by price! Certainly, price is a consideration, but when it comes to transporting your new multi-thousand dollar purchase, donít skimp to save a couple of hundred bucks. You WILL almost certainly live to regret it.† Donít use a back-street broker. These are typically people working from home that take your order and promptly post it to an internet message board thatís read by independent truckers (like the two that delivered my cars), asking for the cheapest quote. They then add $100 to the truckers quote and put you in touch with them directly, washing their hands of you. †Now your new prized possession is in the hands of some random stranger of no fixed abode, with your only means of contact being a pay-as-you-go cell phone number. (Scary huh?) Find an established trucking company with offices, ideally one who own their own trucks. It should be one that will go collect the car and keep it on the same truck until it reaches your door not one that moves it from depot to depot. †Remember, the more folks that touch your car in transit the more chance there is of it getting damaged.† Oh, and donít let the seller be the one to arrange the trucking because if the car turns up at your door damaged you will have no recourse with the trucking company as they werenít hired by you. Your grievance will have to go through the seller Ė which just adds to your problems. If you need help with a long-distance car inspection or car purchase contact Buyer Services International, LLC they can guide you through the process to ensure that the car you think you are buying †is the same one that shows up at your door.
Jeff Webster / CEO
Buyer Services International, LLC.