Shipping a motorcycle can be stressful, and scammers know this. They take advantage of unwary buyers and sellers by offering deals that seem too good to be true. However, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid getting ripped off. Follow these 7 tips to avoid motorcycle shipping scams.
1. Do Your Research on Companies
Never hire the first shipping company you find without vetting them first. Search online reviews from sites like Google and Facebook to see what past customers say. Pay attention to any patterns of complaints about damages, delays, or unresponsive service.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to see a company’s rating and complaint history. Search state licensing databases to ensure they’re properly registered. Ask for references from recent clients you can contact to get first-hand experiences.
Red Flags to Watch For Motorcycle Shipping
- Newly created companies with no online presence or track record
- Promise of extremely low rates that seem too good to be true
- Refusal to provide important details like insurance coverage up front
2. Get Multiple Quotes
Don’t settle for the first quote. Reputed companies will take the time to accurately assess your bike and moving needs to provide an apples-to-apples comparison. Request quotes from at least 3 licensed providers, if possible. This will give you a real sense of what competitive rates look like.
Watch out for companies that don’t explain services or give vague ballpark figures instead of fixed quotes. Reputable movers provide transparent proposals with line items for things like pickup/delivery, fuel surcharges, insurance coverage, etc.
3. Confirm Means of Transport Motorcycle Shipping
Scammers may claim they’ll ship by truck but actually have no trucks – they’re just collecting money with no intent to deliver. Ensure the company will transport your bike themselves via enclosed trucks rather than unsecure open trailers. Don’t use any company that plans to ship using third-party carriers.
Verify the modes of ground vs. ocean transport and time frames clearly up front. Reputable carriers will provide tracking numbers and estimated delivery windows, not vague “it’ll get there when it gets there” responses.
4. Check Insurance Coverage Motorcycle Shipping
Transportation insurance is absolutely necessary when shipping a valuable motorcycle. However, some shady operators will falsely claim big coverage amounts but actually have none or very small policies. Get insurance policies and coverage limits in writing before booking.
Watch out for language like “up to $X claimed amount” which is not a firm coverage commitment. Seek companies that provide “declared value protection” and back it up with proof of accredited insurance partners like Safeco, Progressive etc.
5. Beware of Unsecured Payment Requests
Reputable shipping firms only require secured payment methods like credit cards for a small deposit, collecting the balance only after safe pickup and during transit. Scammers often demand full upfront payments via wires, prepaid debit cards or cash.’
Steer clear of any company that refuses to provide services without paying the complete non-refundable fees earlier. That’s a sure red flag.
6. Check for Proper Licensing and Registration
All interstate carriers must have an operating authority or MC (Motor Carrier) number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This proves they are properly licensed, insured and vetted by authorities.
Browse the FMCSA public website to validate a company’s credentials before hiring them. Be wary of unregistered illegal operators as they may have no real business framework to back up claims or refunds.
7. Get Everything in Writing
While phone or email discussions are normal, get all final agreements, estimates, terms and conditions in a signed written contract. This includes details of origin/destination, included services, limits of liability, payment arrangements and post-transport resolutions.
Insist on signed service level contracts so there is no ambiguity later. Reputable carriers will provide well-drafted customer forms as standard practice. Avoid verbal/informal agreements with unscrupulous actors.
By double checking credentials, getting multiple quotes, verifying operations and payments, you avoid the chances of getting duped. Don’t assume honesty – do your diligence to find reliable professionals. Adhering to these basic tips helps stay protected from motorcycle shipping scams.