Beefing Up the Bond
Not so for a truck driver’s wife who may broker a load a week, he says.
Spencer says OOIDA has considered such graduated levels, but doesn’t see a need for it. “This isn’t a problem that exists with large brokers,” Spencer says. “I doubt there’s a large broker that’s ever had their bond tapped. There’s simply no point in designing something that’s broader than it needs to be to address the issue.”
A $100,000 bond “doesn’t ensure that a bad broker will never be around, but the crooks have had free reign for decades,” Spencer says. “The legitimate business people shouldn’t have to compete with the crooks.”
New tool in the anti-fraud arsenal
Broker Dan Metully, of TFI Logistics in Stevensville, Mont., has launched an online tool that he hopes will enable owner-operators, carriers and other parties to self-police the freight world.
TransportWatch.com allows users to market their services as well as post alerts on bad actors — whether brokers, carriers or shippers — they’ve dealt with.
“We may not be able to get anybody’s money out to him,” Metually says, “but we might be able to save the next guy, and then the next guy provides some information about somebody else he has dealt with, and maybe that information will save you.”
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer is skeptical. The service “looks to me like we’ll tell him who the bank robbers are so he’ll let the banks know and they can lock the door when they see” the bank robbers coming. Instead, the bond increase would do more to “close the door … to begin with,” he says.
How to spot bad brokers
Owner-operators can do a lot to prevent getting stiffed by a bad broker on a load. Absent a personal referral, do your research on any freight middleman you’ve never worked with.
Long-operating credit-rating services such as RED BOOK (redbooktrucking.com, $150 annually, $25 monthly) and RTS CREDIT (rtscredit.com, (800) 506-7438 for pricing after five-credit-report free trial) offer a wealth of information on registered brokers. RTS’ daily credit alert e-mails make note, likewise, of any significant credit-rating downgrade.
Likewise, premium memberships with load matching services like those of INTERNET TRUCKSTOP (truckstop.com) and Transcore’s TRUCKERSEDGE (truckersedge.net) both offer users days-to-pay credit scoring on brokers who utilize their boards.
Bonding companies’ role in payment conflicts
It’s too easy for truckers to file claims on surety bonds, says Sanders Transportation Management President James Sanders. For that reason, he’s been mobilizing “opposition against this bond issue,” says Sanders, who’s a consultant to bond provider Pacific Financial Services.