After coming under heavy fire, a company under contract by the Department of Defense to move cars of military members serving overseas has made improvements to provide troops with better service.
As NBC 7 first reported in July, International Auto Logistics (IAL) in Santee had been operating in the slow lane. Over the past month, the company received more than 1,000 complaints from U.S. military service members about long wait times, the lack of a customer service call center and missing cars.
Cars were packed like sardines in the lot in Santee six weeks ago. Inside the small on-site office, NBC 7 found a couple dozen military members and families waiting four to six hours to pick up their cars, some sitting on the floor.
One Marine who asked to remain anonymous told NBC 7: “I came this morning to the vehicle processing center to pick up my vehicle and found out from the manager that my vehicle isn’t here and they are not expected to receive another shipment for a week.”
Since NBC 7’s story aired, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command looked into the complaints. A spokesperson said inaccurate information on vehicles led to confusion and slow service.
Now, U.S. Transportation Command is taking inventory of cars and looking at operations of IAL.
Fast-forward to today and the operation appears to be moving a bit smoother at the company that took over the $300 million POV contract back in May.
An IAL representative told NBC 7 the company has now more employees and the wait time has improved at the Santee location.
Customers are happier, too.
Pamela Gill was picking up her car shipped from Hawaii Friday and said the process was painless.
“It really didn't take that long, about 45 minutes,” she told NBC 7.
A number of others also said there was little wait.
Still, one person who picks up members of the military there regularly said off camera that at times there is still a four hour wait for a car pick-up.
Pierre Aoun owns the Ranch House Restaurant near IAL and said the company is constantly using his lot to park and load cars onto trucks. This is costing him business.
“My customer has no room to park,” said Aoun.
The management said drivers have been instructed not to park there.
A representative from U.S. Transportation Command said June and July are typically the busiest months for moving cars. More than half of the 68,000 cars moved each year are moved during those months, meaning IAL took over the contract at a tremendously busy time.
For military customers using IAL, the call center number is (855) 389-9499 (press 2 for customer service).