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Hauling Produce
Produce Q & A

Question: I hauled a load of watermelons that was only on the truck for three days. Upon arrival, the receiver said it looked like there were problems and called for a federal inspection, which showed the melons were overripe. I called the truck broker, and he called the shipper. After some arguing, the shipper finally admitted to my truck broker the fault was his. The receiver rejected the load, so the broker asked me "what it would take” for me to deliver somewhere else. What should I ask for?

Answer: If you had to have a claim, you are in a better position than you could be. Some shippers would not have admitted fault. Others would not have offered you any compensation for your extra effort. First, I would get something in writing from the shipper so you can prove he admitted fault if you have to later. Secondly, I would request layover for your downtime while they attempt to place this load, and thirdly, for mileage to get it to the next destination. I also would keep in mind that the federal showed this load to be overripe. It's not getting any fresher sitting on your truck. This load probably has one more shot before it ends up in some farmers hog trough. You need to make it clear that you will take it to one more place, and if there are problems, you want it off your truck. You do not want to be in a position where you haul this product all over creation or are told at some point they are "your melons.”

Question: I had a load of cantaloupe that was loaded directly out of the field. When we arrived at the receivers, the melons were overripe and pulping at high temperatures. The shipper now says this load was pre-cooled. Both he and the receiver say this is a truck problem. What can I do?

Answer: It might boil down to what you should've done. The problem now, as I see it, is you can't prove those melons weren't pre-cooled. You should have made a notation on the bills that these melons were not pre-cooled and were loaded directly out of the field. If you ran with a temperature monitor/recorder, then that would be your proof you properly refrigerated this product and would point out the problem isn't yours. A reefer is designed to maintain temperature. It will simply not pull out extreme field heat and if you don't run with a recorder, the fault will appear to be yours.

After 23 years in this business, melon season still amazes me. Every mother's son who grows melons is trying to get them to market before the homegrown crop comes in and receivers then don't have to pay freight. Some of the shoddiest recordkeeping I have ever seen comes during melon season. Melons loaded hot, paperwork lost, trucks loaded and rolling while the shipper tries to find a buyer, I could write a book. Don't fall victim to melon season. Make sure you cover all the bases before you get loaded and rolling.

Question: I used to receive your Trucking Update publication and noticed I am no longer getting it. Why did you discontinue it?

Answer: It didn't die. It moved on to another plane. We shifted our focus to our web site, We still publish the broker's directory twice a year, but more complete and accurate credit reports are now available at the site.