There are a few dirty trucking company tricks in our industry. They are specifically used to cheat drivers out of money they have earned or have been promised.
I am not aware of just how many carriers are guilty of these scams. But some of these tricks are as old as the trucking industry itself!
5 Dirty Trucking Company Tricks to Be Aware Of
1. SIGN ON BONUS NOT PAID
I saw an ad recently and it read, ‘$10,000 sign on bonus available for joining our team’.
The B.S. alert flag of ALL truck drivers should go up immediately! There is not a trucking company that would give away any amount of money to drivers without a catch, especially $10,000! These carriers are not in the habit of handing out $10,000 bonuses to drivers.
In plain English, a sign on bonus means if the carrier accepts the driver’s documents and hire him/her, then the sign on bonus would be paid to the hired driver, period.
However, the process does not work like this. The companies then say they will pay the so-called bonus over a long stretch of time. The goal of paying over a long period is a way by which they try to retain the driver for as long as possible.
Sign On Bonus Becomes a Safety Bonus?
If the driver approaches the company about payment of the bonus, some carriers will try to twist the original story around and add more requirements to receive the sign on bonus. Some change it from sign on bonus to a ‘safety bonus’.
If the driver in involved in a minor incident, such as a scrape on his truck or receives a violation, he would then forfeit his safety bonus and not be entitled to the original bonus amount. It doesn’t matter that the issue has no relationship to the original sign-on bonus promised!
Then Becomes a Fuel Savings Bonus?
Some drivers have experienced situations where the company will contort the details and intertwine it with a fuel mileage bonus or the like.
Often the driver is treated poorly and abused after being hired. The employer knows the driver is hanging on to his job and willing to do whatever is required, in order to receive this sign on bonus!
It then becomes an ENDURANCE bonus, not a safety bonus.
It begins to look like it’s inevitable that this money may NEVER be paid to the driver.
There could be occasions when a driver DOES collect on this bonus, but I am personally not aware of any driver who has ever fully collected such a large sign-on bonus.
2. UNDERPAYING DRIVERS FOR MILEAGE
Companies can make a regular practice of reducing the miles owed for a driver’s trip.
For example, Dallas, TX to Houston, TX is 240 miles, but the driver’s pay statement shows compensation for only 200 miles.
Maybe it’s a continental drift issue, where geographical points get closer and closer together!
3. UNPAID FUEL BONUSES
Some companies offer a fuel bonus. Company drivers can be expected to achieve a certain fuel economy rate on the truck’s computer readouts. To save fuel, drivers will shut off their air conditioning in extreme heat conditions, or sleep in the truck in extreme cold conditions to achieve the required fuel mileage statistics expected.
The bonus to the driver is often miniscule, like 1-2 cents/mile in addition to wages which are already less than adequate AND may already be scammed by lower mileage.
4. WAITING TIME WITHOUT PAY
Trucking companies charge their customers for excess waiting time for any delays their trucks may experience.
Upon occasion, the company can expect the driver to sit and wait for a pending load for a number of days without pay or meal or hotel allowance. The waiting time is for the benefit of the company. Yet, some do not pass any compensation on to the driver who encounters expenses, such as accommodation and meals during the wait time.
In turn, and rightfully so, the driver should be compensated for his time, as it’s the driver’s wages which are reduced by the delay. Even a meal allowance to the driver would be a step in the right direction of fair treatment.
5. FALSE FREIGHT CLAIMS
When a loading dock won’t allow a driver on the dock, a trailer can be sealed when loaded and the driver is required to sign for correct ‘piece count’ on the load.
The driver has not supervised the loading of the freight nor had the opportunity to count and inspect the freight. Yet they will insist on a signature for a piece count!
The carrier can then use this against the driver, if there is damage to the freight or a freight shortage.
A freight claim can be damaging to a company driver’s record. It can be very damaging to an owner operator’s record and his insurance rating.
Be very careful how you sign the bill of lading. Sign S.L C., meaning Shipper Load and Count, rather than your own name, to relieve yourself of liability.
Advice to Truckers
Some trucking companies profit as much from scamming their drivers as they do from the actual profit of moving their freight.
Happily not all trucking companies are guilty of these practices.
This is just a warning to truckers that some carriers do carry out these unscrupulous practices.
- My advice to all truckers is to check each and every pay statement from your employer, very carefully. Do not ignore your pay statements!
- Check the mileage for accuracy. Track your odometer readings and compare it with mileages from a program such as PC MILER.
If you find you are being scammed by your carrier, it’s time to look for greener pastures. There are plenty of good honest companies out there.
Don’t become your carrier’s favourite charity.