Friday, November 13, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXVII

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.

As I've explained before, trucking companies charge "detention" fees when the truck driver waits around (at either the origin or the destination, or both).  I'm sure these charges started for a good reason--if the driver has to wait around, it cuts into the hours he can legally drive, or even before the laws were as restricted as now, there are still only so many hours in the day.  So if you hold him up at the front end, then blame him for delivering late, that's not fair.  So I'm sure they started the fees in an effort to keep their scheduling on time.

Now, I have no idea how it actually works (if someone knows, please enlighten me!).  Maybe the driver codes something in a device he has, or tells dispatch and they're the ones who enter it into a computer or something.  I do know the drivers are in close communication with dispatch as to their whereabouts, PLUS they have on board GPS that tells dispatch exactly where they are (well, within the limits of the device) at any given moment.  But I don't know exactly who pulls the trigger on a detention charge.

But lately we've been getting a ton of them.  First, we got notification of a detention charge for one hour at the origin (our location).  Here's the thing--they allow you two hours "free" and only start charging after that.  So they were claiming that the driver was waiting at our location for THREE hours.  But here's the thing.  That driver was in and out of here the FASTEST I've ever seen.  Seriously, it was about 20 minutes from him pulling onto the lot to pulling out of the lot.  He was an expert parker (some of the drivers take over 20 minutes just to jockey the trailer into a spot on the lot).  He didn't dilly-dally (though we did make small talk while I was photocopying his paperwork), he was in and out of here.  The charge said he arrived here at 10:00 a.m., but he arrived during the lunch hour, and toward the end of it.  So weird.  We told the company, and of course have the driver's log to back it up, so they'll remove the charge.

Then a different driver for the same company was running late to deliver a load.  (And do they let US know?  No.  Do they let the customer they're delivering to know?  No.  They tell dispatch and dispatch apparently sits on the information.)  The customer called at the appointed delivery time, no driver there, so we called and found out they were running late.  By like six hours (supposed to deliver first thing in the morning, now it was going to be late afternoon).  THEN, the next morning, we have a message in our e-mails that they were charging detention.  Now, after all the dealings we've had with trucking companies, we're highly suspicious of whether the driver even WAS at the location long enough to warrant detention charges, but of course in this instance, even if he WAS, it was his own fault for running late so that the customer didn't have the right staffing to get the truck unloaded efficiently.  I'm not even sure we bothered disputing whether the driver was actually there that long, just mentioned the re-scheduled delivery time and got them to remove the charge.

Then over this past weekend, a load was supposed to get picked up while we were closed, by the same company as the other two loads mentioned in this post.  No biggie, we do it all the time.  We leave the trailer on the lot with the bill of lading inside it, and let the company know the trailer number they're to pick up.  We even usually leave the back doors open (our cargo isn't that valuable) so the driver can tell at a glance which trailer of their brand is loaded vs. empty.  Well, Monday morning we get a notification that they're going to charge us detention on a load that the driver literally had to just park his empty trailer, grab paperwork, close doors, and hook onto the full trailer and drive away.  No waiting for the trailer to be loaded, no waiting for us to make copies of paperwork, no driving over the scale and having to adjust the load.  It's all pre-done.  Just drop, pick up, and go.  And yet they claimed they were "detained" on our lot for more than two hours.  Wow.  (And yes, he successfully picked it up, so it's not like the trailer had a flat or some other issue that prevented him leaving at all.)

I really do want to know how these charges get initiated, but it's ridiculous that they are generated in instances where they're clearly not warranted and we have to go to the trouble of disputing them.

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