By Bridget Foster, Lead Contributor. 8/18/2014
“We’ve not lost your vehicle…it’s in the system somewhere.” Not what you’d expect to hear if you’re leaving or being transferred to an overseas station and had to ship or store your vehicle. International Auto Logistics, (IAL) the company newly responsible for shipping and storing service members’ personally owned vehicles, has been having some serious difficulty tracking the transfer of POVs between their trucks and container ships, and locating vehicles that were in storage when they took over the contract from American Auto Logistics.
Some troops have said the delivery of their cars are being delayed, they can’t get information about where their vehicles are, they’ve experienced problems accessing the online tracking system or have had difficulty reaching anyone at the company’s headquarters to get answers to their questions.
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, (SDDC) the Defense Department agency that assists with the movement of personal goods, estimates it has received 250 complaints between May and the latter part of July.
Officials attribute the problems to a 6 month delay in the start of the $305 million contract due to a dispute filed by the previous contractor, American Auto Logistics. When IAL took over on May 1, 2014, they had only two months to “prepare” for the busiest season for permanent change-of-station moves.
“We have noted in the early stages of this contract transition that IAL has faced some challenges with training of their personnel, and refinement and expansion of their information technology system, to include phone and Internet,” [my emphasis] U.S. Transportation Command chief Air Force Gen. Paul Selva wrote in a July 11 response to an inquiry by Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
Say what?! This company was formed in 2012 specifically to bid on this contract…Where in the planning stage did they forget to include the scope of infrastructure, i.e. telephone and internet systems that would be required to effectively deliver on the contract specifications?
According to Doug Tipton, the company’s president and CEO, IAL has taken steps to immediately help service members whose POVs have been delayed such as adding extra staff to call centers and vehicle processing centers; expediting the process for paying inconvenience claims; and direct billing from rental car companies Avis and Budget to IAL. That allows service members whose cars are delayed to get a rental car without having to pay upfront.
Navy Capt. Aaron Stanley, director of the SDDC’s personal property division said the first seven days of rental car expenses after a missed required delivery date (RDD) are handled by the service member’s local military claims office. Rental fees and temporary lodging expenses after the initial seven-day period are paid by IAL.
As of August 5th, Defense transportation officials have set up a team of experts to quickly address any problems service members may be experiencing with the shipping and storage of their privately-owned vehicles.
The team will monitor and evaluate IAL’s performance, recommend improvements and help set priorities, said U.S. Transportation Command spokesman Army Maj. Matt Gregory. The team, which meets twice daily and includes representatives from IAL, will track required delivery dates of vehicles, and ensure that customer service is prioritized.
The SDDC is directing anyone whose vehicle delivery is late to call International at 1-855-389-9499 (Option 2) or visit the company’s website, pcsmypov.com.
ABC 7 News (WJLA) in Fort Belvoir, VA reported that their investigative team got a look at the contract that says IAL is supposed to provide a secure website customers can use to track down where their car is with estimated and actual arrival dates. But on an IAL complaint page on Facebook , many say the site doesn’t work and provides inaccurate information. The Facebook page has two petitions urging the revocation of IAL’s contract.