SPECIAL REPORT: One bad apple

| 3/20/2003

They say it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bushel. But sometimes it's hard to find the bad apple.

A case in point: A rig from Anthony's Trucking ran into extensive and costly delays in delivering a load of apples the company hauled from Washington state to Lotto International in McAllen, TX.

When driver and OOIDA member David Cross arrived in San Antonio, TX, the evening of Friday, March 14, he called Lotto. But Robert Mascorro, head of transportation for Lotto, said the company was closed Saturdays and Sundays, and told the driver to be there first thing Monday morning.

The problem: OOIDA member Tony Lenti, owner of Anthony's Trucking - a three-truck operation in Florida - says the broker, Intransit, OK'd a Saturday delivery. And Lenti had already committed his truck to haul a load from McAllen to Boston Saturday after dropping the apples.

Lenti canceled on the load to Boston and lined up another load for Monday. Meanwhile, Cross pulled into a truckstop until Monday.

Arriving at Lotto at 6 a.m. Monday, March 17, Cross's rig was the 18th truck in line for check-in. When Lotto opened at 8:30 a.m., they checked in about 30 trucks before the 11 a.m. cut-off time.

However, Lotto unloaded only six trucks Monday, which meant Cross had to wait yet another day. Lenti's other customer by now was perturbed by his reneging on a second load.

Tuesday afternoon, Cross was still waiting. Finally, he was unloaded around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Rolling warehouse

While the truck sat for three days, essentially serving as a warehouse for Lotto's apples, Lenti footed the bill to run the rig, powering the refer unit and keeping the fruit cool. In addition, he lost the revenue from the two loads he canceled when his truck was tied up in McAllen.

The brokers - Intransit and Online Express - say it's not their fault the driver didn't make it there Friday and didn't get up early enough Monday to be first in line. Officials at both companies said truckers who regularly haul fruit to the border areas should know that such delays are common procedure.

However, Lenti said his firm has hauled fruit to the border before, and he had never experienced a problem like the one he ran into with Cross's load.

The shipper and receiver - IMEX Trading Co. and Lotto International - deny responsibility for the problem as well. So, what's a trucker to do under such circumstances?

Lenti invoiced Intransit for detention time at $35 per hour. A spokesman for Intransit did not specifically say whether the company would pay the bill, but he did say the firm does not normally pay detention fees.

At presstime, Lenti had not been compensated for the time his truck was idled storing the wayward fruit.

--by Rene Tankersley, feature editor