PORT SECURITY

The upheaval that comes with being reassigned across the globe is an issue that many military families are forced to face. We know it's tough on families, but did you know that it's increasingly difficult on the vehicles of service members and their spouses? A change in contractors for automotive shipments is making the process of relocating to a new base an even bigger challenge for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Military.com reports on the issues, which have arisen a few months after the Department of Defense brought in a new vehicle-shipping contractor, International Auto Logistics. Significant others and service members complain that IAL's online tracking system is often incorrect. That might be tolerable, were it possible to get a hold of an actual human being to locate a vehicle, but even that is being made difficult due to unanswered phone lines and full voicemails. That's left those waiting on their vehicles fed up.

A Facebook group has sprung up to catalog the complaints. "International Auto Logistics: Reviews, Complaints and Inconveniences" was just formed last week and it only has 275 members, but that hasn't stopped dozens of complaints from popping up on the group's wall, while others are looking for advice on navigating the IAL shipping minefield.

The company's president and CEO, meanwhile, blamed the issues on a "perfect storm," according to Military.com.

"It's not an excuse, but we started at the busiest time of the year," Doug Tipton told the website. IAL was originally supposed to start shipping vehicles during a slow season – late fall – so that any bugs in the system could be squashed before the busier summer months. Instead, the former contractor, American Auto Logistics, contested the $305-million contract, delaying the IAL's takeover from the end of last year to May 1.

On top of that, Tipton said the company was overwhelmed by the call volume from customers who wanted to know where their vehicles were at, an issue confounded by the hiring of new employees who lacked adequate training time.

"It has been a little rough around the edges starting up, but we're getting better every day," Tipton said.

While that should prove to be good news for servicemen and women who are yet to ship their vehicles, for those that haven't seen their rides since May (which is a fair few, considering the Facebook page), it's becoming increasingly difficult to be patient with IAL.