Bottom Line
Hauling Produce
Question and Answer

Randy Gunderman
Red Book Credit Services

Q: I had a load of mixed items rejected in Canada. I had a buyer for the product in Detroit, but when I tried to bring it back across the border, I was told I was not allowed. What could I have done differently?

A: Probably not a lot. We have had several calls like this lately, and I called Agriculture Canada and spoke to them about it. I was told that once fresh produce comes into Canada from the U.S., it is there to stay. The only produce items that do not fall into this category are fresh-cut products, which Agriculture Canada does not presently regulate. This is another reason to make sure everything is in good order while it is being loaded, especially on product bound for Canada. A problem there could take considerably longer to resolve than one here in the states.

Q: I had a load of melons that wasn't ready for pickup when I arrived at the shippers. I called my broker and told him that the shipper said it would be a day late loading the truck. The broker supposedly called the receiver and was told that everything was fine. I got loaded and left a full day late and of course, arrived a day late at the receivers. The receiver charged me a $200 late fee and $500 in market decline. The broker now refuses to help me, and says it is between the receiver and me. Shouldn't he pay me because he was the one who told me to go ahead with the load?

A: If you request an advance from a broker and he tells you to rob a liquor store instead and you do, you'll get put in jail, not the broker. Some brokers give partial advice or simply bad advice or instructions just to get you rolling. Then they hope everything will be all right. When it's not, some of them bail out on you, like this one apparently did. The correct thing in this case would have been to have the shipper note on your bills that the load was delayed a day because of them. Further, if the broker did call the receiver, it would have been smart on his part to get the receiver to sign something acknowledging that this isn't the trucker's fault. In answer to your question, unless you were under some special contract with the broker, they are under no obligation to pay you. In this case, Red Book would rule that the shipper should pay any documented losses to the receiver. The trucker did his job and should be paid in full.

Q: I hauled a load of peppers that arrived with the temperature recorder showing temperatures about five degrees too high for about a 24-hour period. However, a federal inspection was taken at the receivers that indicated the temperatures were right on the money. The receiver says the peppers were bad (they did fail to make grade because of decay, etc.) and is deducting $1,700 from our freight. We sent the unit to be calibrated, but we say the temperatures on the federal inspection should be the determining factor in this matter. We feel that the shipper put some old product on the truck. What do you think?

A: I feel that even if the recorder were correct, those temperatures would not cause the kind of damage indicated by the federal inspection. I also agree with your point on the inspection. A federal inspection supersedes the recorder. I do not see any clear indications that the truck caused these problems, and I would rule that the problem here belongs to the shipper.

Q: We made a major mistake and delivered a load to the wrong wholesaler on a produce terminal. They took the product before our error came to light. Are we out in the cold as far as our freight?

A: This happens more than you would expect in the produce industry. The receiver who unloaded the product bought the load and would be responsible for paying the shipper for it. Unless there is a loss, you should still get your freight. However, you are not completely out of the woods. The receiver who was supposed to receive the product has the right to buy against the account, meaning they can replace the product they didn't receive, probably at a higher cost, and pass those charges on to you.  LL