Here’s a warning: this whole story is absolutely, maddeningly baffling. It’s the story of a man who bought a 1967 Cadillac Coupe DeVille as a project car that he hoped would be a surprise for his dad. It’s the story of truly staggering incompetence on the part of the car haulers, or perhaps a local tow company. It’s the story of a car dumped on its side, on the side of the road.
Oh, and there’s an alleged shotgun involved, too, which the owner vehemently denies. But I will get to that.
A Reddit user that goes by the name Sharkcock (no relation) relayed his entire, miserable story on Reddit’s Legal Advice subreddit, because, yeah, the guy could probably use some legal advice. He later reached out to us as well and we spoke to him. His name is Sim, and he requested we not use his last name.
There’s pictures of everything here, but for the full story, it’s probably best to read his own words:
I am an automotive enthusiast. I have been working with my dad on project cars for over a decade. I recently saved up enough money and purchased a “non-operational” 1967 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (me & my dad’s dream car). I wanted to check it out and surprise him with it once I got it up & running. The owner gave me a good deal as long as I tow it from Alabama and do an inspection when it arrives in GA (it was about 2.5 hrs away).
Company fails to call me upon pick-up. The seller’s neighbors noticed the truck hauling the vehicle and texted him pics that he forwarded to me. This was at 7AM. He notifies me, so I immediately call the carrier to confirm if they picked it up and when I can expect them to show up (it’s a weekday so I needed to make sure I’m available). The carrier never picks up, I’ve been sitting around all morning & afternoon postponing my work, errands, and entire day because I don’t want him to show up without me being present. Just trying to get a vague idea of when to be on-site and ready to help.
Yeah, already not a great start. But nothing awful just yet.
Fast forward a few hours. Truck arrives, the main driver is very irritable, annoyed, treating and talking to me like it’s my fault that it’s dark & late after I’ve been waiting for him a full day without notice. Turns out, him & his partner can not remove the car off the rails because they secured it in the wrong place. I was outside trying to offer them help for hours, calming the situation, consolidating, offering water & trying to strategize. I know as a client I don’t “have” to, but it was a signature moment for me in buying this car, and I wanted to get it here safely. It was obvious that they were extremely incompetent but I gave them benefit of the doubt.
I went inside and let them do their work without bothering them. At this point it’s 2AM and the car hasn’t moved. They were fed up, so one of them proceeded to push the car. He applied too much sideways force (to an already non-operational vehicle) and made it slip off the truck railing. At this point the car is sitting on ONE rail, whole weight on its oil pan which eventually cracks oil starts pouring out.
Okay, now it’s bad. Sure, the Caddy wasn’t running (which the towing company was aware of from the get-go, by the way) but a cracked oil pan sure isn’t going to help things.
At this point, it’s still just an unfortunate accident. The driver could have made arrangements to assess the damage and get it covered, and then get the car off the flatbed as carefully as possible. This is not the path that was taken:
The driver tells me “I can’t help you any further, get this car off my damn truck cause I gotta leave. If I have to, I’ll sell it in Alabama it to recoup the time I’ve lost here”
I was shocked & appalled. Threatening to leave with my private property after HE knowingly picked up a non-operational vehicle and couldn’t fulfill delivery (damaging my property in the process) even though the contract is “Door to Door delivery” “No risk guarantee, Fully insured etc. all the shits & giggles.”
He gets in the truck and is about to leave. Keep in mind I already paid $150 deposit to the 3rd party company that assigns the load location and carrier who wants to fulfill the shipment. I also had to give the driver $200 cash once he arrived before “attempting” to unload my car. I run up to him and say “You can’t leave with my property. Stop right now!”
To try and resolve the situation, the owner calls another local towing company to assist at the request of the driver of the transporter. The transporting driver talks to the local towing company, and, for a bit, everything seems to have calmed down.
The owner goes back inside his house to let the driver finish the work of getting the car off the truck, and the local towing company truck arrives.
“Fast forward 30 minutes, I run outside to check up on everything see MY CAR FLIPPED ON ITS SIDE LIKE WTF??. Blocking an entire lane of traffic on a major downtown boulevard. Broken roof, cracked oil pan, doors, mirrors, wheels, everything.
Before I can even ask for my money back, since the car was technically never “delivered”, the trucker storms off EVEN before police could arrive. Leaving the scene of a crime, or at minimum damaged property that he’s liable to deliver safely. I had to spend another few hundred $$ on the tow truck service that the local PD called in order to get the car off it’s side since it was impeding traffic. I filed a police report + 2 witnesses.
The cops were very helpful and sympathetic. We spent hours discussing the situation while they helped me get it on my property. At a certain point we all started laughing on HOW RIDICULOUS THIS IS. They said they’ve never seen anything like this before. It was almost 8AM at this point, I thanked the officers, at this point we all wanted to just go home & get some rest. I filed a complaint with the BBB the next morning.”
Wow. I can’t believe how incredibly, disastrously wrong this all went.
Just as maddening has been the Caddy buyer’s attempts to sort things out the car delivery service:
I reached out, their manager told me it’s not their problem. I proceeded to file a case with the BBB. The company responded claiming they are just a 3rd party which assigns a carrier to the load at a certain location, kind of like ‘bidding’. They charge a fee on top for simply being the middle-man. (even though they are the ones that advertise “No risk guarantee” “Insured door to door delivery” etc.)
Also in the BBB case, they added that our contract states the “carrier” is insured through their own insurance, and that the company I signed the contract with holds no liability (yet I hired THEM, not the ultimate assigned towing company. They choose who to assign/back with their claims). The carrier is a small 2 man operation in Alabama so I immediately turned to the main assignee firm to seek consolidation through the main company that assigned them to this task.
It’s also worth noting that the car transporter reported the car as “delivered” to the main shipping company, which is both hilarious and rage-inducing all at the same time.
There’s different sides to every story, so I reached out to Butler Hauling, the company that transported the Cadillac from Alabama, and spoke with Harvey Butler, the owner.
Butler told me that the car had flat tires and was proving very difficult to get off the trailer. When the Atlanta-area towing company that Sim called, Fast Action Towing, arrived, Fast Action Towing’s driver decided to use a winch to pull the Caddy off the trailer.
Butler said this is when the car fell off the side of the trailer, during the winching process, and he blamed the error squarely on Fast Action Towing.
Butler also told me that the reason he left the scene was that the owner, Sim, brandished a shotgun and pointed it at his co-worker. Butler said Sim brandished the gun in the doorway of his home, but the owner and the gun were pulled back in by a woman and man who were standing with Sim in the doorway. Butler said he reported the shotgun incident to nearby police officers, who advised him to leave the scene.
I reached out to Sim to confirm or deny the shotgun incident, and he categorically denied it:
I don’t own a shotgun, weapons were never a threat to anyone. The only threats that were made were by Harvey the entire time (his co-worker was extremely nice and actually told Harvey several times to “listen to the customer” when the first wheel was about to come off the rail) so I have no idea where he’s getting this claim. Especially since his partner was ultimately way more helpful and understanding of the situation. Police were on the scene within 2 minutes.
I’ve also reached out to Fast Action Towing in Atlanta. When I was on the phone with them and asked about the incident, I was told that the number I dialed was not Fast Action Towing (despite it being the number to show up on their Facebook page and other directories). When I called back later, the call went right to a Spanish-language voicemail.
I called Dynamic Auto Movers, the company that Sim had his contract with and who is responsible for getting the subcontractors, and spoke to the owner. He corroborated Butler’s story, including the incident with the shotgun, and said that the owner needs to file an insurance claim before anything can be done.
Sim told me that he has started the process of filing an insurance claim, but that Dynamic Auto Movers have not been helpful in this regard.
So far, the biggest unknown point revolves around Fast Action Towing. Sim was not present to see what happened when they came to winch the Cadillac off the trailer, and they’re the only party involved who I have not been able to speak with.
Holy crap, what an insane mess. I hope this gets all figured out, somehow, and I hope nobody actually ended up pulling a gun on anyone over this, but who the hell knows, at this point?
I spoke with Sim again, and he sounds exasperated, as you’d expect. He re-affirmed that he owns no weapons, and also mentioned that he found that the car had its parking brake still engaged, which could have been the source of Butler’s initial difficulties in getting the car off the trailer.
Sim stated he just wants this resolved, and he’d rather put his money into the car than a lawyer, which I think we can all understand.
More on auto shipping from G/O Media’s partner. Jalopnik is not involved in creating these articles but may receive a commission from purchases through its content:
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