by Allen Larson, San Jose, CA
I want to talk about someone we all know. He is our best friend, pats us on the back and tells us how important we are and what a good job we do. Why, we would go to war for this friend. There are many friends like this out there. This is one I will call broker Bob.
I probably have hauled over a hundred loads for Bob from the California produce fields. The few times a year I would check his rates with other brokers, Bob was always a couple of hundred dollars short.
He sang and danced around this by telling me it kept a customer base happy, and that way he could keep me loaded more often.
Then one day that changed. In a casual conversation with a receiver about produce rates, I found out that the produce receiver was paying $300 more for that load than Bob told me it was paying. Bob told me the load paid $4,400, less his 10 percent brokerage fee.
The produce receiver was paying $4,700 for that same load. Bob got a $440 brokerage fee plus the $300 he skimmed off the top for a total of $740 for faxing me a load sheet that was faxed to him. I got $3,960 for five pick ups and six days of truck time. I paid $125 in lumpers’ fees and my fuel cost more than $800.
That got me thinking about his low rates on his dry freight. A little work and I found out he was double brokering most of it and also skimming off the top of that. Bob has a lot of trucks hauling for him and it is no wonder he has that big house by the lake and those fancy cars.
I don’t haul for Bob anymore. My trust in brokers is gone. I check any load I haul now with more than one source. One thing you need to ask yourself when a broker says the load pays this much and he doesn’t talk about his fees. What does the load really pay?
I called a person I know who is a retired broker. I asked if this was common practice. He said it was. He explained most drivers are only interested in whether it will make a payment and buy fuel.
He laughed when he said it’s the old story – wolves eat sheep.
I think I’ll go to work for Wal-Mart. That way when I bring home a paycheck at least the kids will have something to eat and broker Bob can find someone else to make his car payments.