Officials are warning the company in charge of shipping service member's cars to and from overseas duty stations that they need to have a viable plan for keeping things moving during the next peak season -- or they could have their contract pulled.
"Everything is on the table," Air Force Col. Marty Chapin, who leads a U.S. Transportation Command (TransCom) team tasked with overseeing the contract, told me.
That's a pretty significant statement coming from an organization that, not long ago, refused to talk about the "what-ifs" of this contract.
As part of my role is Military.com's spouse and family reporter I spend a pretty significant amount of time reading Facebook pages and watching the discussions of people dealing with various aspects of military life.
The really interesting thing about all of these problems with International Auto Logistics (IAL), the contractor responsible for the vehicles, is that the ground swell of complaints really started on social media and, in particular, this Facebook group.
While the number of people complaining about late vehicles -- an ongoing problem for IAL -- seems to have fallen, the number worried about reimbursements has swelled dramatically.
It's like this: if IAL misses the drop-dead delivery date for a service member's car, the Defense Department funds a rental for seven days (and those costs are, ultimately, reimbursed to the DoD by IAL). After those seven days are up, IAL is required by their contract to pick-up the rental tab. The company has been doing this by direct billing for rentals or, in other cases, reimbursing service members later.
The company also will pay for extra expenses incurred by service members for late cars, such as additional travel to come get the car if it wasn't ready when the service member was supposed to get it.
They also must reimburse for damage to the car -- a system settled between the owner and the company through each service's specific settlement process (not unlike settlements for damaged household goods).
The problem? Service members are complaining that IAL is not just causing them a lot of expenses, but is slow to pay up.
"We do notice a trend of folks who are having challenges getting what is due to them, there's no doubt about that," Chapin told me.
Chapin said if that is happening to you, the best thing to do is to contact TransCom, which has been helping members get their claims settled, he said. Officials there have closed 1,400 dispute cases, he said.
"When someone raises this to us we've had very good success getting those people in the right lane," he said.
If you need to contact TransCom for help with a car shipment issue and have been able to work through the process with IAL, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.