Plainly put, car shipping is a big deal. Placing your valuable vehicle in the hands of perfect strangers can be a bit nerve racking by itself. Most often, however, there is also some other event taking place when an auto transport company is hired. When you’re focused on relocating due to a new job, buying that new car, retiring to the city of your dreams or finally buying that classic car you’ve drooled over since high school, you want to know for sure your car will be moved with the highest level of care and at the best price. That’s where choosing between a broker and a carrier can be extremely important.
Core Differences in Auto Transport Companies
The basics are the same regardless of which type of auto transport company you choose. Your car will get shipped from point A to point B. But that’s generally where the similarities end. From there you find a list of pros and cons that can help you make a decision on whether to use a broker or carrier.
Let’s define those terms to start with. In the car shipping industry, a broker is a company that resells your job. For instance, when you call a broker, they will charge you a fee for shipping your car. However, they will not actually perform the shipping themselves. They will call several carriers and sell your car shipping job to them. After the job is passed on to the carrier, the broker steps out of the picture.
A carrier, on the other hand, actually takes your car from destination A to destination B. Think of it as going straight to a wholesaler when you’re buying furniture or jewelry. Rather than going to a retail store when you buy these items, you cut out the middleman and buy them for a better price direct from the wholesaler. In the same way, rather than using a broker, you have the option of contacting carriers directly.
Pros and Cons
The biggest benefit of using a broker for car shipping is selection. A broker may either have a pre-approved list of carriers or may post the vehicle online for any carrier to select. When using a carrier, you would be responsible or contacting each one individually which might take a bit of time. However, there are other factors at play when shipping a car.
Fees and Cancellations
Brokers attempt to source carriers at rates below what they have quoted in order to make a profit. That’s how they stay in business. You will be expected to pay a deposit, which is generally nonrefundable. The carrier will collect the balance of the transportation costs when the vehicle is delivered through cash or certified funds only. Many will also allow you to cancel your order at anytime prior to pick-up with a 100% refund. To be sure, always ask first!
Because brokers don’t have full control over every carrier they use, they can’t guarantee when your car will be picked up.
When comparing transit time you need to be careful to make an apples-to-apples comparison. A brokered move may have a shorter transit time from pick up to delivery but it may take more days to get the vehicle picked up. Make sure that you include all of the days in any comparison.
Depending on the carrier, the size of their truck, or the entry into your neighborhood, you might be asked to meet the driver at a nearby shopping center or other landmark for delivery. This is due to their inability to take big equipment into an area that is difficult to maneuver. Unfortunately, brokers cannot always assess the carrier’s ability to take your vehicle directly to your door. Again, never assume. Ask the broker or auto transport carrier what their policies are to be sure.
Before you sign any contracts or releases, make sure you are dealing with the type of company you prefer. There are big differences between brokers and carriers that go beyond price. To ensure the safety of your car and a flawless transaction, check out each company thoroughly before making your decision.