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Well, folks, this is not really a Tech Tip, but some of you may find the information helpful nonetheless. Marsha and I recently moved 1000 miles to a new home and one of our Volvos had to make the trip without us. We quickly came up with only three options (listed here in order of increasing expense):
Our "moving consultant" -- that term sounds to me on par with "personal trainer" or "lighting designer," but actually refers to the very helpful lady from the company that moved our furniture -- agreed to get us bids from a few auto transport firms.
The best bid she came up with was right around $1000. I thought we could do better -- there must be companies on the 'net for us to contact ourselves (in fact, that's how we'd found the furniture movers).
There were too many of them; some with detailed sites and some with little but a name and phone number. We found one contact, though, that was genuinely useful -- not an auto transport firm, but an auto transport broker -- a professional who tracks which specialized trucker (or shipper; this works for overseas transport as well) is going where, and when, with an empty slot to fill. Within hours, we accepted a bid under $600; driveway to driveway.
Here are some basic tips we learned:
Give 7-10 days notice. This gives the broker enough flexibility to get the actual long-haul carrier to your house. We were in a rush, so our car got picked up by a "local" when we needed it to leave, but only to be taken in the wrong direction to a transfer depot for loading on the final carrier. We handed the car over to a perfectly smart guy and had it delivered by a different perfectly smart guy; whoever had it in between broke the key, despite a big sign with illustrations and 1 - 2 - 3 instructions taped to the middle of the dashpad. You will also pay a bit for that privilege; the local guy needs to make his money, too.
It's less expensive to go depot to depot than driveway to driveway. If your start and end points are near major cities, you may want to drive the car to a yard on the major truck routes and pick it up from one on the other end. Even when a detour from the Interstate to your neighborhood can be conveniently scheduled, you'll still pay for the trucker's additional mileage.
It's less expensive if your car runs. Your car will probably need to go on and off the truck several times en route to permit loading and unloading of other cars; they'd much rather drive it than winch it, although that can certainly be done for an additional fee.
Be prepared to pay with a certified check or cash on delivery. Once you sign the contract, the price is fixed -- but they won't take personal checks (I wouldn't in their place, either).
Be home when you said you'd be, both for pickup and delivery. The driver will call you for final directions to your house from a few hours down the road. If all your phones but one are in packing boxes, make sure the remaining one has the ringer turned on (oops!).
The broker will be able to arrange for special situations if given sufficient warning: for instance, enclosed transport for your show car that shouldn't get snow on it. It's his job to get you what you need and at the best price, and he'll only contract with drivers who are bonded and insured. Give the man time to do his job well.
Check out The Automover at http://members.aol.com/automover/automove.htm