A California man says he paid a North Texas company to ship his car to the West Coast. After it arrived damaged, the company agreed to pay for thousands of dollars in repairs.
But months later, the company still has not reimbursed him.
"I thought they were a relatively reliable company," said Jonathan Zygelman.
With a name like Dependable Auto Shippers, Zygelman says he thought he was in good hands. The company is one of the largest vehicle shipping service providers in the world and it's based right here in North Texas.
"I called them, they were very responsive. We set something up for the exact time I wanted it to be picked up," Zygelman said.
Zygelman inherited his father's 2009 Toyota hybrid and he felt confident the company would deliver his precious cargo to his California address with no problems. So in March he paid $1,206 to get it shipped.
"It was absolutely filthy – just dirt, mud. But once I had gotten a little closer I saw the damage and my heart just sunk," Zygelman said.
He noticed several dents, scratches and even screw marks. He says the driver who delivered the car couldn't even believe his eyes.
"He had actually mentioned that not only was it the dirtiest but also the most damaged he had seen in several months of doing this delivery work," Zygelman said.
Zygelman filled out a damage report and kept a copy for his records. But once he got it washed, he said there was even more damage.
"I saw these weren't two or three scratches," he said. "There were hundreds – if not thousands – of little tiny scratches on both sides of the door."
An auto body shop said it would cost him $6,800 to fix the car, so he sent the quote over to Dependable Auto Shippers and waited.
"After six weeks or so pass, I couldn't wait any longer," Zygelman said.
He called the company a few more times and the agent came back to settle the claim $2,000 less than what he expected.
"It was disheartening," he said.
Zygelman said was told it would take about 30 days before the check would be released, but two months later, there was still no check.
"I realized this wasn't a reputable company," he said.
Customers sharing their frustration with the North Texas company online had very similar stories, but it doesn't end there. Two employees reached out to NBC 5 Responds, saying the company misleads customers about their checks for as long as possible. One worker even sent us a list of dozens of customers whose cars were damaged, and have been waiting for their checks for months. Those employees have since been laid off, but we reached out to some of those customers who sent us photos confirming what we've been told.
"So it's not an isolated incident, unique to me or my case," Zygelman said.
NBC 5 Responds reached out to Tim Higgins, the vice president of Dependable Auto Shippers. He never replied, but he did email Zygelman that same day, saying:
"I am sorry for the inconvenience regarding your claim. I will get your payment processed and sent out today."
But 30 days later, still no check.
"The car was shipped in March. Fast forward the clock to today, I don't live in Texas, so I can't go to their door to see if there's anyone I can talk to face to face," Zygelman said.
So NBC 5 Responds' Samantha Chatman went to Dependable Auto Shippers to try to get some answers in person.
"Is the owner here?" Chatman asked.
"I don't know," said an employee.
"Is the vice president here?" Chatman asked.
"I don't know," said the employee.
"You don't know if management is here or not?" Chatman asked again.
"I don't know, I've got to go" the employee said while shutting the door.
We called again after this visit. We were told again the company's vice president would get back to us, but days later we are still waiting.
"Once they have your money, it becomes a ghost town there. So as sad as it is, I am not expecting it at this point," Zygelman said.
One thing the man regrets is that he didn't have any pictures of the car before it was shipped. Also, his dad canceled the insurance right before the car was shipped so it wasn't covered.
If you're going to use an auto shipping company, make sure your insurance company will back you up if something happens while it's in transit. And always check the company's reviews online. Accidents happen, but if the company isn't willing to make things right, you don't want to do business with them.