Wouldn’t it be nice if you could count on people to do their jobs properly?
In the modern world, simply expecting people to do what they’re paid to do is, sadly, often expecting too much. What’s worse, sometimes this happens despite all of your careful and meticulous planning and research, the point of which was to avoid getting shafted by incompetence. It’s at times like this that you wonder whether all that time you waste doing your “due diligence” is actually just time you’re going to wish you had back later in life, because in the end it rarely does you any good.
Ever feel that way? I’m just asking.
This came to mind recently because of the quagmire I’m presently embroiled in concerning the shipment of my GTO from Florida to our new home in Texas. For some reason, the auto transport industry is perhaps one of the most corrupt, crime-laden, incompetent industries in the entire nation. I’ve had more anxiety with shipping cars than I’ve ever had with buying them, which is supposedly one of the most anxiety-fraught retail experiences that your average American can name. To be honest, though, I have only shipped one car before and I didn’t have any problems, but the whole mess is just such a convoluted spaghetti-mess of brokers, contractors and sub-contractors that it’s a wonder these shipments ever go off without a hitch.
Some time ago, my parents told me that they had planned a five-day trip to Florida, so with those dates in hand, I decided to set up my car shipment. They need to be there when the GTO gets picked up, because most auto transport trucks won’t fit down their street and so my dad would have to actually drive the car out to meet the transporter somewhere else, like at the supermarket down the road. Since the car is a stick and I don’t know anyone else in Florida who could drive it, I’m kind of starved for options.
So I spent hours researching reviews and opinions of auto transporters online, not just by reputation but also by route. After all, since most of these companies simply sub out your job to a local or regional carrier at the origin, the only thing the main company’s reputation can really tell you is how well they handle dispatch and how good their judgment is when it comes to picking that local carrier. You don’t have end-to-end control over who will be handling your vehicle, which is where this whole process always goes down the shitter.
Well, after hours of hair-pulling, research and study, I finally settled on a broker who had a stellar review record on TransportReviews.com, whose price was reasonable and who required no payment whatsoever until the vehicle was at my door. Two weeks ago, I was informed that a local carrier in Florida had been selected to actually pick up and transport the car. I went even further at that point, researching the local carrier to the hilt. Their reviews were also stellar. Everything looked fine.
All along the way, I made sure to stress to the broker that I had only a five-day pickup window, because those were the only days that my parents were going to be in town to supervise the pickup. I even had to pay extra for this privilege, because apparently a five-day window is pretty tight given the fluid nature of most transporters’ schedules. Okay, fine. I need the car, and this is still the cheapest way I have to get it, so it’s full speed ahead.
Until this past weekend, when my dad got a call from the truck driver and was told to expect a pickup on Monday — one day before the five-day window. Naturally, my dad wasn’t going to be anywhere near Florida on that particular day, so he asked the truck driver why the pickup was happening outside of the agreed-upon window. Of course, since this driver was subcontracted by a subcontractor, he had no idea about any “window” and couldn’t tell my dad anything else.
I got my broker involved, but in the end, there was nothing that could be done. Somebody else apparently paid even more money for this same truck driver to get another car to Texas by a certain date, and to meet that date, the trucker had to get out of Florida by Monday. There was no way to delay him for another day, so the carrier had to drop my job. Apparently the old axiom that “money talks” is still as accurate as ever.
My broker apparently got on Central Dispatch and left the carrier a scathing review, which was (according to him) the first negative review they’d ever received. As a result, he claimed, neither he nor most other reputable brokers would ever contract with them again. Most reputable brokers don’t contract out to carriers with less than a 100% rating, he insisted. Okay, whatever. I have no way to verify this information, and I’d like to believe it, but I wonder how feasible that really is. The only thing that makes it truly believable is the fact that there really aren’t that many companies in this business that could be described as “reputable.”
So at that point, we’re back to square one and my broker puts my job back out there on Central Dispatch for another local carrier to bid on. Except that nobody really seems to be bidding on it, maybe because of its last-minute nature. I call the broker on Monday from my office, around lunchtime, and ask how it’s going. He gives me the scoop, says the job is out there, he’s doing searches and we just have to wait until he can find a carrier who’s available.
I don’t hear anything else for the rest of the day, so when Tuesday comes I give him another call to see if anything’s changed. This time the guy gets all snippy with me. “It’s eight o’clock in the morning here,” he says, “and I just talked to you what…yesterday? How much do you think could possibly have happened since I talked to you last?” I was stunned. The guy’s contractor botched my job, and now he’s complaining because it’s been 22 hours since I called him last? Forgive me for wanting a daily update when I only have four days left to get this job done and I don’t even know when another opportunity will present itself!
Now it’s Thursday, we have until Saturday to have the car picked up and I’m still in no better a position than I would have been if I hadn’t called anybody at all, ever.
If this doesn’t go down, I’m prepared to leave a scathing review of my own on TransportReviews.com. Interestingly, when I asked my broker if that’s where he left his own negative feedback for the carrier who dropped the ball, he scoffed that sites like TransportReviews don’t mean anything at all. An interesting take, given that his reviews there are the only reason why I chose (or even knew about) his business. I guess it won’t bother him if I rip him a new one on that site, then, since it “doesn’t mean anything.”
The only consolation to all of this is that I don’t necessarily need the GTO anytime soon and could keep driving Apple’s Mazda for a while to come, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
At least if you expect people to screw up, it seems that you’ll rarely be disappointed.
It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if I’m really making good use of my time when I spend hours researching and planning and studying reviews and reading testimonials. But in the end, I know that I’d probably be getting screwed a lot worse and a lot more often otherwise. I think I put all this effort into research because I’m so bad at doing damage control when things do go wrong, and it’s easier for me to do all the work upfront to make sure I don’t get put in that position. Too bad it’s not a foolproof strategy.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have some kind of update on this in the near future, good or bad. In about a couple of days, I’d guess.