One of the brokers we use is a well established, international broker who arranges millions of dollars worth of business and assists in the transportation of hundreds of commodities throughout the world. This company, which will remain nameless, started as a produce broker in Irvine, California in 1906. It is a well respected company in the industry and heaven knows they have helped our company in many ways since we started contracting with them several months ago.
My complaint is with an over-zealous, greedy broker agent for this agency based out of a California. When my boss called the brokerage, they informed us that they had two loads set up for us from Seattle to Los Angeles and back. Between the two loads, the rate averaged $1.41 per mile. Not a very good rate to say the least, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad when winter hampers your ability to find good loads in the Northwest. The load coming back to Seattle was first quoted at $2000 dollars for a truckload, one way. My boss then proceeded to give them our information and was told to call back in 5 minutes for his load confirmation. When my boss called back, he was greeted by the over-zealous, demanding, greedy woman who stated the load was available for $1600! What a jump, $400 dollars in 5 minutes! When the boss questioned why the $400 difference, the agent complained and cussed that we, truckers in general, complained too much about low rates and that we should be happy with what we were offered from her, the $1600 dollar rate.
By now you can see the problem with shipping today. The “big dogs” of brokers are keeping a larger portion of the proceeds while giving the shaft to smaller trucking companies. The rate quoted included the fuel surcharge and we would be stuck taking the load or another low-ball company would swoop down and take the load for whatever rate they could get to position their truck in Seattle. Do you ever wonder why our economy is suffering and freight shipping costs are going through the roof? The poor independent trucker is going out of business and trucks are being repo’ed at record rates! With an administration in Washington DC who cares so much about NAFTA and the companies south of the border, no wonder the rest of us need to start buying massive quantities of petroleum jelly because it’s going to really hurt us all who are only trying to make an honest living!
Sure I have change, but I have never given it away to someone claiming to be out of gas at a truck stop. I usually empty my pockets at the end of the day and put the few nickles, dimes, pennies and occasional quarter in a jar or the best change keeper ever invented, the cup holder! At the end of the month, I usually find a Wal-Mart or other supermarket and take my change to an automatic change counter like Coin star. I dump my change in the counter, it prints out a receipt and I use it like cash to purchase food or personal items for the truck. I would imagine I usually cash in about $50 or $60 dollars worth of coins when I do use the coin counter.
Today was different. I was walking with my bag of coins toward the front door of Wal-Mart and happened to see a brave soul, weathering freezing cold temperatures in the rain, ringing a bell in front of a red kettle. Yes, it was the Salvation Army volunteer looking for small donations of loose change from people coming out of Wal-Mart. I decided to forgo the usual this time and I approached the gentleman ringing the bell. I asked if my bag of coins would help and he was speechless. He could not believe someone would bring in so much change at one time. He was extremely thankful and said that my donation really made his day. It took us about ten minutes to shove the bag of coins into his kettle, but it was fun and rewarding at the same time!
So, men and women of the trucking industry, I challenge each and every one of you to empty your change jar or cup holder this holiday season and the next time you stop at a Wal-Mart, give a little cheer to the Salvation Army volunteer. Tell them that a trucker cares. Heaven knows that these people need the help this time of year. And I applaud Wal-Mart for allowing the Salvation Army to solicit donations in front of their stores!