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A Shipping Saga

The following story may be hard to fathom, but believe me, I’m not creative enough to make it up. It all started when an independent transport driver, contracted in the past by the dealership I bought my coupe from, overheard them saying they needed to get a car out to Colorado. He told them he could pick it up as soon as it was ready and could do it cheaper since he was headed this direction anyway. The dealer knew my budget was stretched and I wanted it as soon as possible(we split the shipping cost 50:50). They knew and trusted the driver from past experiences but because it was a long trip verified his insurance through the VIN number on his truck, double-checked that his license was up to date, etc. and everything checked out fine.

The M Coupe was promptly picked up as promised on Saturday, August 21st within 24 hours of my check arriving. They were told, and passed along to me, that it should be in my driveway by the end of the next week. I thought perfect, it will hopefully get here just in time for the final Bimmer Burger Night that Thursday. People on Bimmerforums were asking me Thursday morning if it was going to be there, so I got the driver’s number from the dealership so I could check on his progress. I hoped it would be there that day but understood if it wouldn’t be till Friday or even Saturday. I was planning on going to a local Porsche/Audi show on Sunday with a friend, and assumed it would be here at least by then. The first thing he said was “I should have it to you sometime next week”. Hmm… I said, “so…Monday?”. He replied, “Monday to Wednesday. My dispatcher has been running me around, and I’m still in Alabama headed towards Texas. I’ll have it in your driveway on Wednesday at the latest.” I thought, well, I guess I’ll miss those two events, but I’m still getting an M Coupe.

Monday and Tuesday I left the window of my office cracked so I would hear any approaching diesels just in case. On that Tuesday, September 1st, I called again to make sure everything was still on track for Wednesday. My wife was going to be working Thursday and Friday and really wanted to be here for the coupe’s arrival. He said, “well, I’m still in Houston which is 19 hours away, but if I don’t run into any delays I should get there tomorrow afternoon.” On Wednesday, I was so excited I spent the day watching out my window rather than working. At 4PM, it hadn’t come yet and I hadn’t heard from him, so I called the driver again for an update. He said, “my dispatcher is sending me back to Tennessee to pick up a car, we can get it to you by Saturday if I transfer your car to another truck in Nashville tomorrow.” This is when I started to worry and called the dealership and asked if they thought that sounded funny. My contact at the dealership agreed with me and said he’d get the dealership owner involved.

The dealership owner called me 45 minutes later still huffing and puffing from his “conversations” with the driver and his dispatcher. He told them it was ridiculous to bring my car back east, it’s already a week past the original delivery date, they’re not moving it to a different truck with a driver he wasn’t familiar with, etc. He said after a lot of yelling, the dispatcher eventually promised it would stay on the truck with the original driver and be here by Saturday. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I decided just to wait for this Saturday. I figured my wife will be off work, it’s a long weekend, it will be fun to have a few days to drive it without worrying about my own work.

On Saturday morning I hadn’t heard anything else, so I called to check in and see where it was. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the driver say he was in Denver. I was kind of afraid to ask, but just to make sure I asked if it would make it up to Fort Collins that day. He said he had two deliveries in the Denver area but thought he “should” make it by that afternoon. Around 5 o’clock that evening, after spending most of the day hanging out in the garage and driveway with my family waiting for it to come, I gave him another call. He said he couldn’t make it that night because he was running on Eastern time and had to call it a day. This sounded ridiculous to me being only an hour away all day and not making it up to Fort Collins. I called him back a few minutes later and asked where in Denver he was at. He said “South side”. I said, “All I’ve done all day is wait around for you; I’m not doing anything, we’ll just drive down and pick it up and save you the trouble of having to deliver it tomorrow.” He said “Not tonight, I need to go to bed. I’ll be there by lunchtime tomorrow.” What the heck?

I was pretty confident we would probably be getting the car today. I wore my “A Lot Like Nothing Else” t-shirt to church and my mother-in-law drove up from Denver to watch the kids so we could go for a drive when it arrived. We hurried home from church this morning, grabbed lunch on the way home, and ate it in the garage/driveway with the camera out and charged. 11 o’clock became 12 became 1 became 2… I finally called to ask what time they eat lunch on ‘Eastern time’? No one answered. I then wondered if he was avoiding my calls so I called him from my wife’s phone. He didn’t answer but called it back a minute later and seemed surprised to hear my voice. He said something about his dispatcher making him take a car down to Colorado Springs before bringing mine up to Fort Collins. It was 3:30 at that time, and since I found out the day before that he apparently shuts down at 5 I knew that was never going to happen. I said, “You’ve had my car for 15 days, moved back the delivery time 3 times, my family has spent most of the last week in the front yard waiting for it to arrive, you need to come here first. It’s only 45 minutes from Denver, I live 1/4 mile and 2 turns off the interstate on a through street that my neighbor parks his racing truck and trailer on most weekends. There aren’t any accessibility issues. You can be here and back in 2 hours.” He said he’d call his dispatcher and call me back. He didn’t.

I called my contact at the dealership on his cell phone to give him an update. He at first assumed I was calling with good news, but I wasn’t. He said he’d call the dealership owner and they’d get back to me ASAP.

My wife was getting pretty sick of spending all of our time, including the holiday weekend, waiting around for this guy. She called him herself and left a message. He called her back about an hour later. She went on to ask how he’s been in Denver the past 2 days and not been able to make the drive up to Fort Collins in that time. He said, “I don’t know”.

She asked, “What are you plans for tonight?”

He responded, “I’ll probably get some dinner and go to sleep.” (???)

She said, “Joy (the driver’s name, it’s a guy), we have kids, we can’t keep moving our schedule around for this car that you can’t get here. We have a contract and you’ve had the car for weeks. You said you’d have it here today and you’re going to. I’ll make you dinner when you get here. We have Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper we can send with you when you leave. We just want the car.”

He kind of laughed, then said, “I’ll do my best”.

“No, you’ve been saying you’ll do your best for the last week and a half and you haven’t.  We need it here tonight. We’re only an hour away. Did something happen to the car? Is there a reason you do not want to deliver it? Just tell us the truth.”

He responded, “No. No, ma’am, the car is fine. I’ve been taking good care of it. I have a lot of people mad at me right now who want their cars. My dispatcher keeps running me around and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Then sounding close to tears, “I’m about to quit. When I got this truck they said I could do what I wanted with it, but now they’re telling me other things. Everyone is mad at me and keeps calling. I should have never taken your contract and you’d probably have your car by now.”

“I’m sorry Joy, but you did take the contract and you said you’d get the car to us, so you need to do it. Where are you physically at right now?”

He said, “South of Denver”.

“Where south of Denver?”

He said, “Pueblo (which is about 2 hours south of Denver and 3 hours south of us and an hour south of the Colorado Springs drop off he had told me about earlier).”

She said, “We need it here tonight. When can you leave to start heading this direction?”

“Probably in about 20 minutes.”

She said, “OK, call me when you are leaving. I’ll be expecting your call in 20 minutes.”

“OK”

She repeated, “OK, I’ll be waiting for your call right next to the phone. Call me in 20 minutes when you are headed this direction.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

At this point, the day was wasted as he wouldn’t get to us until after 9 PM, my mother-in-law had long gone home, but I felt we had finally gotten through to this guy. And was pretty proud of my wife :). We even felt a little bad for the driver.

He didn’t call back, but about a half hour later, the owner of the dealership called me. He said he had talked to the driver. He said he had asked him the same questions over and over until he felt like he gotten the actual truth. He said the driver told him he had blown a turbo and has been on the side of the road waiting to get picked up. That did not match at all with what he had told us, and I’m sure my wife could read the dumbfounded expression on my face. How was he supposed to leave in 20 minutes to get us the coupe tonight and why didn’t he just tell my wife he was broken down? We would have understood.

The dealership owner then dropped the bomb, “he’s also saying he’s just outside of Pittsburgh which I know we can’t believe anything he says at this point, but I’m pretty sure it’s the real truth.” What?!? He continued, “I eventually got his dispatcher’s cell phone number out of him and called to chew him out. He confirmed that the car was in Pennsylvania broken down but says they now have 7 cars on it headed to Colorado and it would be on the road again by tomorrow morning. If it’s not moving by morning I’ll send a guy out to get it off the truck and bring it back to the dealership. We’ll then get it shipped out with a real transport company.” He said at the time they contracted with the driver they thought he was still driving independently and all his paperwork said so; that they didn’t know he was now running for a dispatcher. He apologized for me being in the middle of this whole thing, said they honestly thought they were doing me a favor by getting my car on the first truck out of town, and said they’d find a way to make it up to me.

No compassion for the driver anymore. Everything he’s said from at least Saturday on (if not before) was a lie including his 20 minute “heart-to-heart” with my wife. I’m hoping the truck is still broken down today, so the dealer can catch up to it and get my car safely off.

What I’m pretty sure happened is that this driver really was headed this direction but thought he could pick up my car on the side. His dispatcher then found out he had taken a side job on their truck and has had him running around the country filling his trailer with other cars coming this direction before he’d let him go. I have no idea why the driver said he was in Denver yesterday as there’s no possible way to back that up knowing what we know now. It’s also depressing that all this time the past week – and especially the past couple days – of us thinking it could arrive at any minute were so far from the actual truth. I”m pretty confident that the car itself is ok though.

So long story short, our car has toured the country for 15 days and is only 300 miles from where it originated. Who knows when and how it will actually get here?

To be continued…

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Jon Martin
Fort Collins, CO
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