Contracts serve a very important purpose in auto transport. Customers and carriers alike need to know that once an agreement is made the terms will not change. Carriers don’t want to waste their time or resources and customers want to be able to budget and schedule confidently. This article is not about these kinds of contracts.
This article is about the non-refundable payments and ambiguous car hauling contracts that some brokers require before they know the price, dates, or have even talked to any carriers. These types of contracts place all of the power with the broker but remove all of the responsibility. A contract like this is considered an ‘adhesion contract’ and would not hold up in court; the broker has no motivation to find a carrier at a low price or at all because he is already paid and isn’t required to return the money either way.
This isn’t exactly a scam but it is close to it. Every company that requires a contract and deposit up front isn’t necessarily unreliable, but keep an eye out for red flags. Is the agent pressuring you to act quickly? Is the agent promising a very low price or a price much lower than any other company? Are reviews of the company on the web poor? Does the contract have spelling errors or casual language? Use common sense. Don’t sign or pay anything if you are not getting any kind of guarantee in return.
If you have signed a contract and feel cheated the first thing you should do is ask for your money back. This is not likely to work but it’s a good first step. Tell them you feel their business practices are illegitimate and if they give you your money back now you will forget the issue. They will have plenty of excuses for you, let them talk, keep them on the phone for as long as possible and be very firm with what you want. They will have a lot of phone calls coming in and they won’t want to dedicate an inordinate amount of time to you. Before the call ends mention that you will be speaking with your lawyer.
The next call you make should be a few hours later or the next day. Say that your lawyer looked over the contract and he doesn’t think it would hold up in court. Do a little research on adhesion contracts and you will sound convincing. Also say that you will be leaving a negative review of the company online. Again, keep them talking and mention that if they give you the money back you will drop the matter. Most companies will give up at this point because whatever money they might keep isn’t worth the trouble, but if they persist tell them the next communication they get will be from your lawyer.
If you have reached this point you are dealing with a very stubborn company. Leave a bad review or two on some sites and they may reach out to you. Don’t ignore them. Answer the phone and be unwavering with what you want.
If a couple of days have gone by and you still haven’t heard from them then it’s time to contact a lawyer. They won’t need to do much. An official looking statement from a law firm or a quick call will most likely do the trick. If they still aren’t persuaded then legal action is your only remaining option. Whether or not you have a case and if it is even worth pursuing is for you and your lawyer to decide, but you have exhausted every other option.
The best way to deal with these companies is not to do business with them in the first place. Remember that promising extremely low prices is how they get customers, don’t be fooled. At MIG we try to remove all the risk from transporting your car. We never have people sign car hauling contracts or pay a deposit until we have a carrier ready to go. This means we know who is moving the car, what the exact price is, and what the estimated pick up and drop off dates are. We require no commitment from you when looking for the driver. If you are in business with a good company like our’s and you have a legitimate excuse for cancelling then your money will be returned.