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Hauling Produce
Signs of a claim

Randy Gunderman
Red Book Credit Services

I received a call from a produce trucker the other day who asked me what can be done about a broker who makes promises that the trucker can't possibly keep. The trucker said that the broker told the receiver that the truck would arrive on a certain day, which was too tight to be done legally. On top of this, there was a delay in loading at the shippers, which caused further delay. The trucker figured that he must choose between the lesser of two evils: run illegally or face the receiver buying against the account when he arrived late. The trucker wanted to know if I knew of any other options.

The best option that I could think of was to use a good broker. How do you find one? Use the sources available to you. I am not going to turn this into a Red Book commercial, but rather one for credit reporting. Any decent credit service is going to be able to tell you if the broker you used has a history of pulling the same stunt with others as he tried to pull with you.

This is an obvious sign that there could end up being a claim on the load you are about to haul. Other signs to look for are slow pay/no pay from the broker. What about their customer service? Is the broker truck friendly? They should be because without the trucks, they are out of business. Does the broker have a history of going to bat for the truck if there is a claim? That is their job. These are all things that a good credit rating service will tell you so you can identify those "signs of a possible claim" before you ever agree to take the load.

What else should you look for when checking credit and looking for signs of a claim? Check out the shipper. Shippers who have a history of loading marginal product are problems waiting to happen. Also, shippers who have a track record of not having product ready when the truck gets there are a potential problem. If you take a load that the shipper delays, you had better document that fact or you will be looking at a late claim when you arrive at the receiver.

With the advent of the Internet, getting a credit report has become very easy

When doing a credit check, always check the produce receiver. In particular, if you are dealing with a collect and remit truck broker, your freight hinges on how the receiver pays. What other habits does this receiver have? Claim happy? Poor documentation? No documentation? These are definitely signs of a possible claim that a good credit rating agency will call to your attention when you get a report.

I know what some of you are thinking, "I don't have time to get a report on everyone I deal with." My question is how can you afford not to? With the advent of the Internet, getting a report has become very easy. If you deal with someone time and time again and have good experiences, you obviously don't need a credit report on that firm. But, if you are dealing with someone for the first time, you should make it a habit of getting a credit check done on that firm before you deal.

Hauling produce isn't easy. It is an expensive, perishable commodity. Don't make it harder by not checking out those you deal with. Look for those telltale signs of possible claims and be aware of them. If something doesn't seem right, don't take a chance. Leave the load for someone else. If you do see a potential problem and still want to haul the product, make sure you do whatever documentation needs to be done before you load. Finally, use the credit service to which you subscribe. Many now have web sites and reports are easily obtained. Our produce web site is www.rbcs.com and our web site to check transportation brokers is www.redbooktrucking.com