Monday, February 20, 2012

So, What Kind of Insurance does Auto Relocation Have?

The short answer is:  it doesn't matter, and they don't care because they're not insuring your vehicle and don't have to pay for damages themselves.  The shady truth to having your car transported is that the auto relocation company usually subcontracts to another independent carrier (some guy with a truck), and his insurance is what you're going to deal with if for any reason they damage your vehicle.  This is what I mean when I say they're under insured - they just cash your check and pimp your transport out to anyone who will take the work regardless of what type of insurance they have.  The BBB warns about this, and it's wise to listen to their warning.

It seems that this blog has received the attention of Mike Filia, President of Auto Relocation Plus.  He's also taken precious time away from his important Presidential Duties at Auto Relocation Plus to respond to my reviews on various review sites with the following half-truth:

"Our insurance is with Travelers Insurance Company. As with any insurance company, they require an Independent Auto Damage Appraiser to assess the condition of the vehicle and advise on repair costs. This was completed. This vehicle owner had a Honda and he wanted it repaired at a shop that works on Mercedes and Porsche. He was offered a fair settlement."

Wrong again, ARP!!  When my car "hit a bridge"/"fell off a truck"/"was damaged by gremlins and unicorns"/"insert complete BS and unsubstantiated excuse here", I was turned over the the dim-wits at Kingsway American Insurance, not Travelers as President Mike claims handles ARP's insurance needs.  Travelers wasn't remotely involved at any point as he fraudulently suggests above.  Let's take a minute to learn about Kingsway American, shall we?

Better Business Bureau Grade of C- (C, as in Crap)

Hoovers: Kingsway America's group companies primarily offer non-standard personal automobile insurance for high-risk drivers.  Awesome!  High risk is exactly the type of people I want moving my valuable vehicle.

Kingsway is incredibily weak financially, which probably explains why they don't like to pay what it takes to repair a vehicle:    A.M. Best Withdraws Ratings of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. and Its Subsidiaries.  These withdrawals follow Kingsway Financial Services Inc.'s request to no longer participate in A.M. Best's interactive rating process. All companies are domiciled in Elk Grove Village, IL, unless otherwise specified. (See below for a detailed listing of the companies and ratings.)

The issuer credit ratings of "c" have been withdrawn for Kingsway Financial Services Inc. and Kingsway America Inc.

The financial strength ratings of C+ (Marginal) and issuer credit ratings of "b-" have been withdrawn for Mendota Group, Mendota Insurance Company, Mendakota Insurance Company andKingsway Reinsurance Corporation.

Consumer Ratings that Explain A Lot - they're horrendous.

So what, maybe these Kingsway American Insurance People Got It Right This Time?  Nope.

A good insurance company (American Family Insurance, my insurance company of choice for a long time) had an estimate for the repair performed by an independent appraiser.  Survey says:  $6,700 in damages thanks to these clowns.  My insurance company paid this no questions asked.

Kingsway says:  $1,653 in damages thanks to these clowns.  There's some Bozo who will do the work for this much somewhere.  I feel bad for him.

Well, you say, maybe there's a reason for why these two estimates are so far apart.  
According to Mike Filia, it's because "This vehicle owner had a Honda and he wanted it repaired at a shop that works on Mercedes and Porsche. He was offered a fair settlement."

Wrong, but thanks again for playing, Auto Relocation Plus.  Do you really think the shop that repairs Mercedes and Porsche was trying to fuse German parts on my Honda to create some sort of FrankenCivic that's part Honda, part Mercedes?  Give me a break, your answers are desperate and pretty pathetic.  If you spent half as much time being customer-focused and doing the right thing, you wouldn't have to sit in your office responding to every negative review of your firm on the Internet (and trust me, that looks like it's a full time job given Auto Relocation Plus' Reputation...).

And for the record, the shop has this to say on their website:

Very recently, Birkholz Dejong Body Werks has added the Honda line of automobiles to those which we specialize in. Our same dedication and knowledge will be applied to these vehicles.....

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Need to Set the Record Straight

After my bad experience, I felt compelled to warn other consumers of the risks of moving a car on, a key site for consumers of auto transport services.  I left what I considered to be a fair and fact-based review of my experience, as is common in today's day and age.  About a year later, I was appaled to find the following inaccurate response from the company.  I'll respond to it here, blow by blow:

"The roof of the vehicle was damaged. The insurance carrier sent out an independent auto damage appraiser to look at the vehicle. They determined $1600 in damage as did a preferred body shop. The transferee wanted their 2008 Honda Civic repaired at a Mercedes body shop, the type of shop that only does high end repairs. The insurance company would not cover the additional cost because they could get the vehicle repaired to factory specs at their preferred shop for less money. That is simple business sense. The transferee was unreasonable in their expectations. In the end, his own insurance company only requested that we reimburse the $1600 that was originally offered".

1.  They determined $1600 in damage as did a preferred body shop.  No sir - their insurance adjusted came up with $1600, and no other Body Shop saw the car.  Not true.

2.  The transferee wanted their 2008 Honda Civic repaired at a Mercedes body shop, the type of shop that only does high end repairs.  So what if it was a 2008 Civic, does that make me less entitled to good service?  And it wasn't a Mercedes Body Shop.  in fact, Auto Relocation Plus towed my car to this body shop.  Why would they do this, you might ask?  BECAUSE THE LOCAL HONDA DEALERSHIP SUBCONTRACTS ALL OF THEIR BODY REPAIR WORK TO THIS SHOP!  The place was filled with Hondas!  Look at the picture I posted of my car above - it was taken at the Body Shop in question.  Look at the cars in the background - do they look like Mercedes to you?  I don't think so.  I also asked my (nice, reputable, and highly rated) insurance company if it was common for an insurance company to dictate where something could get fixed/terms, and he laughed and told me flat out "no".  Nice try, thanks for playing, ARP.

3.  The insurance company would not cover the additional cost because they could get the vehicle repaired to factory specs at their preferred shop for less money.  The preferred body shop didn't have 1)  a website, 2) a location I could identify, or 3) a listing in the phone book.  It wasn't near my home.  In fact NONE of the preferred body shops were near my home.  Nobody I asked in the area had even heard of it.  If this is what you prefer, people should know, because it's not what most rational people would prefer if they were put in my situation.  Furthermore, what trained technician would do the work for $26/hour in today's day and age?  A teenager won't cut my lawn for that little money.  Come on.

4.  That is simple business sense.  So you f'ed up my car, and you think using what makes more money for you to be the rationale for ALL of your decisions.  Okay, but people should know this if they consider doing business with you.

5.  In the end, his own insurance company only requested that we reimburse the $1600 that was originally offered".  Really?  If my memory serves me correctly, the sub-par insurance company your driver worked with DIDN'T RETURN MY INSURANCE COMPANY'S PHONE CALLS FOR MONTHS.  $1,600 was probably all they could get. at the end of the day.  I do know that the damage was well over $6000 (probably closer to $8000), and my insurance company covered everything. I asked the Body Shop if they had trouble with the carrier's insurance company before.  They candidly told me that they have a ranking of every insurance company, and the one in question was number 19 out of 20 in terms of being reputable.  Sweet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Buyer Beware!

Auto Relocation Plus was contracted by my employer to move my car from Minneapolis to Chicago for a job transfer. Don't do business with these guys.

They'll ruin your car and make you deal with the aggravation of getting it fixed. ARP moved my car as part of a corporate relocation. My car was on top of the car carrier, and the truckdriver didn't make it under a bridge. My car had nearly $6,000 in damage. They also sat on the car for 4 days before they told me what had happened, and wouldn't tell me where it happened. Anyone reading this should know that ARP has substandard insurance. Their estimate of my vehicle's damage was $1600 vs. the nearly $6k that a reputable body shop AND my own insurance company estimated. The difference? They pay a labor rate of $26/hr. I can't even find a teenager to cut my grass for that low of an hourly rate. Then they tried to tell me that there are "approved" body shops that will do the work for this price - they were all chop shops. I finally was forced to submit a claim with my own insurance and have them subrogate against ARP's subpar insurance company to get the work done right. Not recommended.

I went to trade in the vehicle Auto Relocation Plus damaged. The dealer pulled a vehicle history report, which stated that the car was involved in a rollover. Needless to say, there was a significant amount of diminished value to thevehicle (i.e. now worth much less). I also found it interesting (of not infuriating) that someone had reported the damage, but ARP couldn't/wouldn't/didn't ever give me a straight story regarding what had actually happened. I lost thousands of dollars based on their poor business practices. These people are shady - buyer beware.

Even the Better Business Bureau has complaints.....

Auto Relocation Plus - Better Business Bureau Complaints

There's a consistent theme here of Auto Relocation Plus not owning up to the damages they cause. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like many people read/have access to/pay attention to the good advice the BBB posts on the industry.

Industry Tips
Our experience with auto shippers is that although they may advertise fast, responsible and affordable shipping services, their contract does not guarantee anything. Many such firms do not ship your auto themselves despite entering a contract with you, but act as a broker and subcontract the transport agreement to a third party.

Complaints about these companies generally allege that vehicles are not picked up or are not delivered on the date promised, that they are damaged during transport, or that claims for loss or damage are not paid. Deliveries may be days or weeks later than the window given, and the owner may have to rent a car while waiting for delivery or for repair from damages.

Although the broker may legally be liable for any loss or damage you suffer, they will probably refer you to the actual transporter for recourse. The transporter may be reluctant to accept responsibility for the damages. Either way, unless you are dealing with a reputable company, you will probably find it extremely difficult to collect for your damages.

Independent Reviews by Other Customers. Look at these links:

Auto Relocation Plus - Google Reviews

They are the worst! Family run companies suck and lack customer service is very apparent with the Vic squared show! My car was clearly damaged and they tried to argue with me that it was pre-existing damage. I proved them wrong and they were pissed. I am concerned that they are not interested in satisfying customers based on my own experience. I recommend to not do any business with them until I've been convinced that they are a customer oriented company, which I do not think they are today based on my experience which was a HORRIBLE experience.

Auto Relocation Plus on Citysearch

I had a door to door auto shipping service organized by them. The front windshield arrived severely cracked but they promptly arranged to have it replaced the next day. It also arrived about 5 days into the window they specified, so overall it took 16 days to ship from Western Pennsylvania to Southern California.

Auto Relocation Plus is contracted by my employer to handle auto transport for corporate relocation. Mike Filia, President of Auto Relocation Plus is an unethical, fraudulent businessman. Auto Relocations Plus denies most claims for damage, and uses their Uniform Straight Bill of Lading as an escape goat to avoid payment of damages. My employer will not use transport companies with too many claims on their record, so I believe Auto Relocations Plus simply denies claims for damage obviously caused during transport. My brand new vehicle was damaged during transport, and I ended-up paying for said damage out-of-pocket. In addition, my vehicle was delivered three weeks late. My employer is in the process of locating another transport company due to Auto Relocation Plus' faulty track record. I suggest using any other transport company if at all possible.

Also look up Autotransportrankings. They replied to my review and were dishonest by saying I insisted on having my Honda Fixed at a Mercedes shop. Not cool. They delivered my car here, as the Honda Dealership referred them there since that's where Honda sub-contracts their body work. They're also dead wrong in saying my insurance company thought I was unreasonable.

Our move was 11 months ago and through the relocation company at place of business. They picked up our cars in a rain storm. The cars were delivered the following week in another state. One of the cars had to be jumped to drive it of the ramp and also noticed some damage and scratches to that vehicle. We never signed off on anything before or after. The following day, we noticed puddles of water on the floor in the back of the other car. To make a very long story shorter, Auto Relocation Plus, located in California, would not do anything for us. We ended up going to our insurance companies. The car that would not start ended up being totaled and the other had $8,000.00 damage due to the cars being under water. Both cars had different insurance companies and numerous opinions and all came up with the same conclusion that the cars must have been in a flood because there were water lines in the bottom of both cars.

Both of our insurance companies are suing them and trying to get the money back.

Never use their service as it will result in nothing but frustrating and useless irony. My car was moved as a part of relocation package. It arrived with many new scratches and filthy condition. First they asked to email pictures from all angles, etc. and estimates from 2 places. Both estimates were around $2k to fix the scratches, but somehow they came up with $25.00!, that's right just $25 for buffing 1 small scratch. They insisted that "ALL" the damages were pre-existing when the pictures and Bill of Lading showed there were extra scratches. After many phone calls, I gave up and asked them to buy themselves coffee with that $25 instead of sending me which I think they did since they never even bothered to send that as well. STAY AWAY and use someone else. I had another car to transport which I ended up using different company and I was really happy with their service!

Anyone else had a tough experience here? Let me know and I'll add to the list.