So you have bought a vehicle on eBay...
With eBay, buying the car you have always wanted has never been easier. It could be a stunningly restored classic, a high performance exotic or just the car you learned to drive in all those years ago and in need of just a little TLC. Whatever it is and for whatever reason you want it we now have the opportunity to look at and buy a car from anywhere in the country "on-line". Whilst the perils and pitfalls of buying any car are already well known and documented elsewhere it is the issue of getting it home which can also be a minefield....
Understanding the rules and regulations regarding the transportation of vehicles can be difficult and whilst there are many good vehicle transportation operators out there, sadly as is life there are a number who are not. Spotting the difference will no doubt bring great peace of mind to you as you eagerly await the delivery of your new (!) vehicle and hopefully this simple guide will help you decide who to trust, because if you get it wrong the simple fact is that you just might not get your vehicle at all....
First, contact and approach... some simple questions to ask at the outset...
Do you have a land line telephone number ?
Do you only have a "Hotmail" or similar annonymous E-mail address ?
Are you happy to disclose a correspondence address ?
Are you happy to accept payment by cheque or PayPal ?
Will I receive an invoice ?
Do you have a website with examples of your work ?
Is the transportation of vehicles the only line of business for your company ?
How long have you been transporting vehicles ?
If you are satisfied so far, good. That was the easy bit....
Second, how your vehicle is to be transported.... the technical stuff to ask and the facts....
Is my vehicle insured in your care ? And to what value and level of cover ?
Are you insured to drive my vehicle to and from your transporter ?
Adequate cover is often neglected by operators as it can cost many thousands of pounds per year. Just because their vehicle is insured does not mean that yours will be. Dont be afraid to ask for documentary proof of cover, both for "Road Risks" and customer vehicle "Custody and Control" or "Goods In Transit" as it may be described.
Are your vehicles correctly licenced to "transport" my vehicle ?
All vehicles that are used for the conveyance of goods for money that have a Gross Vehicle Weight ( GVW ) of more than 3500kg must have on display in the windscreen an "O" or "Operators" licence in addition to the tax disc. If it does not, or it is out of date, it may be being operated illegally. These rules do not apply to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 3500kg, but these are rarely used as they can carry little more than the likes of a Ford Focus legally for example.
Are your vehicles fitted with a "Tachograph" ?
All vehicles that are used for the conveyance of goods for money that have a Gross Vehicle Weight ( GVW ) or Train Weight ( Vehicle plus Trailer ) of more than 3500kg must be fitted with a tachograph. In simple terms a tachograph is an automatically recorded record of the drivers working day to ensure that driving rules are adhered to, which are very strict and governed by law. It's a bit like a "Black Box" in an aeroplane.
Is my vehicle being delivered on or in a trailer pulled by a 4x4 / Van etc ?
If your vehicle is being delivered on a trailer then the towing vehicle must be fitted with a tachograph as detailed above irrespective of vehicle type, be it Car, 4x4, Panel Van or otherwise. If it does not, it may be being operated illegally. Further restrictions apply to the total weight of towing vehicle and trailer too. Even when the trailer is empty operators are still governed by the tachograph laws.
Is my vehicle arriving on a "Recovery" type vehicle ?
Vehicle Transportation is NOT Vehicle Recovery and it is the use of "Recovery" type vehicles that are becoming the biggest headache for VOSA - the Vehicle Operator Services Agency. These vehicles are exempt from a great deal of taxation and regulation by the nature of their work which is for the "purposes of lifting, towing and transporting a disabled vehicle to a place of safety" which is not vehicle transportation - for "hire or reward". However a "Recovery" type vehicle may be used if, and only if, it has on display in the windscreen an "O" Operators Licence unique to that vehicle and in date, it is taxed as a "Goods" vehicle and drivers operate the vehicle in accordance to tachograph regulations. These rules do not apply to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 3500kg, but these are rarely used as they can carry little more than the likes of a Ford Focus legally for example.
At the end of the day....
There are a number of very good vehicle transportation companies operating up and down the United Kingdom and thankfully very few rogues. However a few simple checks on your behalf will bring very great peace of mind. Good operators big and small will never hesitate to answer your questions or provide any evidence that you may require as to the operation of their business and levels of cover and vehicle operation. Sadly we hear many tales of those that have been bitten in the past - the delivery of a new car be it a banger for restoration or a concours example is always something to look forward to so...
PLEASE REMEMBER - YOUR VEHICLE IS AT RISK FROM BEING IMPOUNDED IN TRANSIT IF YOUR CHOSEN OPERATOR DOES NOT OPERATE WITHIN THE LAW, AND IT IS YOU THAT WILL LOSE THE MOST.