Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

I have never seen a more bizarre and UN-customer- (either us, who pays for the freight, or OUR customer, who receives the goods they transport) friendly industry as the trucking industry.  Our shipments often have specific days and times for delivery.  Usually this is because a retailer has specific times that they operate their loading dock, or our direct customer has specific days they designate for various large trucks to navigate their property, or because neither of these types of customers in southern California wants to do the heavy lifting of unloading a 53-foot semi trailer when it's 100+ degrees out so we schedule delivery for the morning hours.  Sometimes it's because one 53-foot trailer is loaded with product for two different customers, so they each have an appointed delivery time a couple hours apart (or longer, of course, depending on the distance between them), so the delivery for the second customer being on time depends on the first one being delivered on time and unloaded efficiently.

We have had drivers show up to our customer late by hours and even days.  Once, on a load that was critical to the customer (they were out of the product) and had critical timing for unloading (we contract with a local-to-them temp agency to provide people for unloading, and had reserved the crew for a specific time), the driver was not just late, he* was unreachable the morning after the delivery was supposed to have arrived.  The dispatcher could see that his GPS tracker was moving, but was unable to reach him by their communication methods.  When they finally reached him, about 24 hours after the load was supposed to deliver, he said that he didn't realize it was that critical.  We not only send the trucking company a request that indicates the date and time we're requesting the load to be delivered, but it's written on the bill of lading that goes with the driver in the cab.

Another driver had a 6:00 a.m. delivery time.  We verbally told him that while he was standing in our office, plus it was written on the bill of lading, as always.  When the barn called at 8:00 to ask where the driver was, it was news to us that he hadn't shown up, so we called the trucking company, and they eventually (at 10:00 a.m.) tracked the guy down.  He didn't feel like getting up that early, and had slept in.  Now they DO have requirements about how many hours of driving they can do and how much rest they need to get between shifts, but this was not that kind of issue.  He just didn't feel like it.

Do we (or OUR customers) get any sort of compensation for this gross incompetency?  Of course not!  In fact, one carrier was delivering late so frequently that our company complained to them.  They said that since they'd delivered within 24 hours of the appointment time, it wasn't technically late (wonder how well that works in other industries!).  But of course, if we keep the driver waiting at EITHER end for more than two hours, we get charged for holding him up.  Then, as a punishment for all our complaining about them delivering late, that company quit having any trucks available for us for a couple weeks.  (Which does punish us to some extent, but then they don't get paid (by us, anyway), so I'm not sure the point of that.  Unless they have so many customers that they can just pick and choose...)

* Yes, I'm referring to all drivers as males.  The two specifically mentioned were male, and out of the ~300 drivers I've met so far while working here, exactly three have been female.

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