George & Wendy Show

Wendy Parker

To lump or not to lump, that is the question

"Hi. I'm here to be your lumper."

“Hi. I’m here to be your lumper.”


The word itself is as ugly as the practice. I’ve been told they’re no longer called “lumpers.” They’re now called “freight handlers.” You can call ’em The Queen of England, for all I care, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re extortionists.

We don’t do a lot of grocery loads, due to the unnecessary amount of bull ca-ca that comes with them. A grocery load is almost always one of those “appointment” loads. You know, the ones the warehouse sets and then laughs at when you get there on time to deliver. This is what happens when we show up at 7:45 for an 8:30 unload.

“Yes sir, I have an appointment for an 8:30 unload.”

“What’s the date on that?”

“July 17. Today.”

“Yeah, well, scribble the 17 out and put a 19 there and go park in the corral to wait to be called.”

“Uh, is there going to be a two-day wait on this unload?”

(Maniacal laughter) “Hell, there may be a three-day wait, we have no idea! We just put those times on the paperwork to amuse ourselves! We have 20 slips and 4,000 trucks scheduled for them today. And you get to pay a lumper to unload ya’!”

This is where I would open the trailer doors, take the load locks off, and back up as fast as I could get my old tractor to go towards the dock. I’d slam on brakes (or let the DOT bumper slam on the brakes for me), and whatever sailed out of the back of the trailer would be the delivery. We have established the reasons I don’t actually drive a truck.

Grocery loads suck.

The first time I experienced a lumper fee was in Denver, at the Safeway warehouse. Safeway posted at #63 on the Forbes 500 list last year, with a total profit of somewhere north of $43 million. That’s profit, not revenue. Not one red cent of that money would have been generated without truckers, and yet they’re treated with utter disrespect and blatant contempt by the warehouses they deliver to this company for. How is this OK?

George came back to the truck after going inside to establish paperwork, and instead of getting in to wait for an unload, he grabbed a Comdata check.

“What’s up? You gonna bribe someone to get us unloaded?”

“You have no idea how close you are to being right.”

“Yikes. That’s the growly face. Who’s getting ready to be beat down by the trucker?”

“It’s very much the other way around.”

“What the hell, Parker? What’s up? I’ve never seen you so mad about freight.”

“It’s best I don’t tell you right now, because you’ll make a scene and it’ll just take longer to get away from here.”

“I promise I won’t make a scene.”

“You’ll make a scene. There’s no doubt.”

“I have to pee really bad. I probably won’t make a scene.”

“We have to pay a $215 lumper fee to get this trailer unloaded.”

“I’m probably going to make a scene. And wet my pants. What’s a lumper?”

And thus, I was inducted into the halls of the thousands who have been abused by lumpers. I’m going to start a support group called “We Lived Through Lumping and Didn’t Have a Stroke.” We will band together and lament the fact we didn’t have strokes, because after a good lumping, you deserve a stroke. It would be a nice rest from delivering grocery loads and a much more preferable way to spend your time.

“Tell that lumper guy he has to come over here to get the check.”

“Hell no. What are you going to do?”

“I’m gonna grab his ass and snatch him up into the truck, hold him hostage.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

“No. It would not.”

“I’m going to write a story about it. Tell him he dies in my story.”

“I will not tell him he dies in your story.”

“You secretly love lumpers.”

“I do not love lumpers. Would you please go away?”

“Oh that’s good. I’m going to use it in my story. You’re going to be all torn about me kidnapping a lumper, because you secretly love them, and that will be one of your pleading lines. This is good stuff!”

It was at this point I had to flee for my life to the bunk because he secretly loves lumpers. But I got a good story out of it.

  • Chris Harkins

    Lumpers are the sole reason I do not ever haul anything that you might find in a grocery store! Last time I had a run in with them was about 10 yrs ago at McLane Northeast in Contoocook NH. I had a midnight apt which I arrived ontime for with just 6 pallets of pretzels. I handed in my paperwork and was given a door. I was then approached by the lumper “service” and told it would cost me $50 to get unloaded. I said no thanks I’m all set and used my own pallet jack and placed the 6 pallets in a neat row so they could be counted and inspected for damage. After an hr of waiting I inquired about what was taking so long. I was then told that the pallets needed to be broken down and restacked onto smaller pallets, I just laughed. I was then told that the lumper “service” could do it but it was going to cost me $150 now. Again I laughed. I took my pallet jack and reloaded the 6 pallets back onto my trailer, went up front and asked to see my paperwork. The dispatcher gave it to me and I turned to walk out the door. He started yelling at me to get back there because they needed that product. I said apparently not enough to sign for it and get me on my way without some sort of payment to your lumper “service” I also said that the critters that live in the woods behind me thank them for the pretzels and left! It was not 15 minutes later that I got a call from the broker asking what was going on. (its now 2am) I told him what just happened and he told me I had to go back and just to pay the lumpers and he would pay me for it. To which I replied nope not without an additional $200 for a redelivery tomorrow so there better be a rate confirmation on the fax before I get home and when I come back tomorrow if they mention lumper Im outta there. Well its amazing how fast things went the next night no mention of lumpers or breaking down the load…I guess they really did need them pretzels…oh yeah I have never taken any load that goes to grocery, or department stores again!!! Life is good!

  • No Reform

    Finally..a Happy Ending!!

  • No Reform

    Yep ANOTHER RACKET to screw the Trucker….endless hands outstretched to TAKE from the TRUCKER. COPS are first in LINE….hand it over or go to jail!

  • SalenaLettera

    EVERY driver should do what Chris Harkins just described. As I’ve mentioned before, we do flatbed so don’t deal with lumpers, but get just as pissed as Wendy when I’m told I have to wait and then have to ask about detention pay. Ed is like George in that he’s not very comfortable with me talking to the customer, the brokers, the agent and whoever else is in charge. I just don’t get it. I did a job, I expect to be paid. It’s SO simple.

  • No Reform

    Truckers are Low Paid Peon truckers…so a civilized Qualified American Citizen Trucker is ABUSED just for fun and games by Shippers and Recievers….AND they get away with it.

  • No Reform

    Trucking today is set up for immigrunts and ex convicts and Obese slobs..and assorted hardup freaks to deliver goods to these MASTERS….the trucker who complains can and will be Replaced with an immigrunt…..the Dumbing Down of the trucking industry has already ocurred…..NOT a good time to be in this business..the ABUSE is continuous with no letup in sight. MORE net profit is what they want…they have no concern for any Trucker…why should they? If he complains they find ways to get rid of him…he is in the way of the continued Squeeze to gain MORE profit….This Lumper deal is only ONE area where the Trucker gets ABUSED. Trucking is just a Racket and a Ripoff….let me count the ways. LOL.

  • gary d

    I ran out of hours at a grocery warehouse because of the lumper ordeal, they wanted to be prepaid around 350 bucks, my dispatcher said I needed to haggle the price down that there wasn’t that much profit on the load. so I went back and asked if he could come down a bit but got totally ignored so I left back to my truck, called dispatch. they called around 2 hours later we had approval for prepaid 300 bucks., I went to sleep 6 hours later got a bang on my door and they said I was done to move the truck they needed the dock so I told them in 4 more hours ill be able to move it since I had a quallcomm any movement I made would put me in violation. they left but in an hour dispatch called me and told me I had to move my truck .what a nightmare.

  • mousekiller

    Lumper. A non medical term for a pain in the ass. A good number of years ago I was told I had to have a lumper to unload at a grocery warehouse. I said OK. Paid and took his picture. full face.He was not happy. I told him that when I put this on my taxes as a deduction and had no real name as I was sure he had given me a bogus one I was attaching his picture to the return and where it happened.

    I also took pictures of each and every pallet that came off the truck. NO Damage ,No shortage either. I have been known to take load to be interlined to another carrier. Now that really hurts them.

    Do I have stories about lumpers and shutting down a dock. Memories, Got to love the past for it’s teaching of life’s experiences.

  • mousekiller

    Current through Pub. L. 113-9. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

    Shipper Responsible for Assisting.—
    Whenever a shipper or receiver of property
    requires that any person who owns or operates a motor vehicle
    transporting property in interstate commerce (whether or not such
    transportation is subject to jurisdiction under subchapter I of chapter
    135) be assisted in the loading or unloading of such vehicle, the
    shipper or receiver shall be responsible for providing such assistance
    or shall compensate the owner or operator for all costs associated with
    securing and compensating the person or persons providing such

    Coercion Prohibited.—
    It shall be unlawful to coerce or attempt
    to coerce any person providing transportation of property by motor
    vehicle for compensation in interstate commerce (whether or not such
    transportation is subject to jurisdiction under subchapter I of chapter
    135) to load or unload any part of such property onto or from such
    vehicle or to employ or pay one or more persons to load or unload any
    part of such property onto or from such vehicle; except that this
    subsection shall not be construed as making unlawful any activity which
    is not unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act or the Act of
    March 23, 1932 (47 Stat. 70; 29 U.S.C. 101 et seq.), commonly known as the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

  • Wendy

    Mousekiller…where’d you find this? Am I reading it right and understanding lumping is illegal, unless protected under the National Labor Relations act? This is good stuff…thank you.

  • Kevin Reynolds

    I see this problem everyday. I deliver to warehouses that offer or require lumper service. Most drivers choose to pay the lumper, but I often choose to unload. The lumper service is needed to receive the load and modify it to fit the warehouse storage requirements. The reason that the trucking co. has to front the fee for this is what I question. I feel that any company that sells their product to a customer should ship it to their specs or prearrange for the charge of modifying when received. The customer should no before the load arrives what work is going to be required and have scheduled the load with the appropriate labor and time to receive the load in an efficient manner for their benefit. I no longer think it is possible that they will worry about each individual driver that arrives at their warehouse, but some forward planning could improve their own efficiencies and that would trickle down to benefit the trucker.

  • mousekiller


    I understand that every one needs to work to make a living. I do not understand why so many are doing it illegally and right in front of every one.
    For the most part do a good job for those that are unable to off load by hand. How ever for many it is a scam.
    Years ago I was making a delivery to a grocery warehouse. Managed to get through the gate, back to the dock. I was told I had to pay $250 to get trailer off loaded.. I told them I could run a pallet jack. Not ours you can’t. So after a couple of hours I began to make my self noticed. I had been listening to and watching them and knew the warehouse foreman was the leader of the gang. I got my bills back and told them I was leaving. They said No I wasn’t.
    So I pulled my truck from the dock. Closed and padlocked the doors. I pulled to gate that now had been closed. The guard was armed. He flatly told me I was not leaving until trailer was empty. I let him know it wasn’t happening. I then moved my truck so it blocked both the inbound and out bound gates and locked it up took the keys.

    Went back inside called the police and told them I was being kidnaped. That statement got a lot of odd looks my way.
    Between the time I made the call and when the officers came things began to happen. I was a real SOB according to the drivers that were happy to pay extortion money and the dock workers stopped working. They were concerned and it showed. I had been explaining to them what they were doing was wrong. Greed was their focal point.
    Work on the dock came to a stand still.
    Now the cops enter., I explained what happened and why I did what I did.. For the uninformed = If you are not allowed to leave of your own free will by threat of coercion or physical harm you are being kidnaped.. You do not have to be tied up ,stuffed in a trunk or chained to a wall to be kidnaped.
    One thing led to another and finally the big boss from the office came out to see what was happening. In the process all of the dock workers were lined up against the wall. The boss wanted to know why. It was explained to him. To shorten the story a bit.
    The cops said that they were all going to jail.
    Did he have to bail them out he asked.? Only if they work for you.
    He fire them on the spot.
    Mean while I am still an SOB by the other drivers complaining of losing a load because they were here so long. A Real trouble maker I was.

    The boss then asked for all of us that could drive a fork lift or electric pallet jack would we do so and he would have office personnel do the counting. and checking.
    Now for the frosting on the cake so to speak.
    After all the trucks were unloaded he gathered us up in a tight group and told us that for every receipt we could bring to him for the last year of lumper fees he would reimburse us for. Some drivers were there twice a week at $250 a pop. Now I am not such a SOB. Can you imagine how much money was extorted at $250 a pop and multiply that by 30 -40 trucks a day.
    It ended up that the IRS filed charges/claims against most of them for failing to show the earnings from lumping. The supervisor had no idea what was going on on his dock. The paper work was right so no problem .Complaints did not make it to his desk. Each of the dock workers were employees of the company. Not lumpers per se’
    It is a shame that it has to take something like this to bring about changes when none would have been necessary to start with had it not been for greed.

    Have you been aware that most companies do not pay their drivers anywhere near the rate they paid lumpers for doing the same job.?
    Drivers. If you have to pay a lumper. Get them to sign a form with their name and address and reason and location.. They probably won’t but still try. Make it look official and it may cause them to lower the rate some.. Take a picture of them. That darn near guarantees a clear bill .
    Find and copy the Federal notes that clearly state that if they are part of or cause a violation to the “lumper law” they can face up to $11,000 fine per each violation.

    (49 U.S.C. §§ 14103 (a) and 14103 (b)

    Effective July 1, 1980

    I will not be a sit down shut up do as your told driver.

  • No Reform

    Truckers are now mindless obediant servants of the Rich.
    Observed and monitored robotons…Trucking is more like a Utility today…regulated…far from free enterprise capitalism.
    Totally Gov Controlled…..not much of a “business opportunity”. Better off with a lemonade stand.

  • Craig Vecellio

    Kudos to mousekiller! I have my own story to tell. Normally, I pull a flatbed, and lumpers are among the reasons. One time when flat freight was low, I got put on a dry van…delivering to a grocery warehouse in Jersey. When I got there, they pulled the same crap. 4 of em sitting at a table playing cards, and they wanted me to wait 15 hours to unload. I said “Where’s the pallet jack? I’ll do it.” NONONNONO this is a Teamsters shop, you CAN’T do that! I said “I usually flatbed, I’m used to handling the load.” and started pulling boxes off the pallets by hand. Meanwhile I’m thinking “Teamsters? Go ahead, get Guido. I have a winch bar, we’ll see who gets busted kneecaps.” I got unloaded.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    That made its way around back in the early 80s Were did you find them, them regs are a scam LOL the only way you well not have to deal with the lumper crap is not to hual to them places ! I have not been in one since 1989 , and i have a dry van , i just run a lot of haz-mat and stay along the gulf .

  • martymarsh

    I started to get offended, then I thought, he is right.

  • martymarsh

    I love the truth.

  • martymarsh

    Lumpers? Oh don’t get me started.

  • lfhpueblo

    This is true, some cities make even little kid lemonade stands take out a business license. No kidding. They also in some cities have to make sure they collect taxes on what they sell and turn the taxes in.

  • lfhpueblo

    Truckers shouldn’t ship anything anywhere for two weeks until their demands of lumper charges being paid for in advance by the supplier, or by the receiving company and not the trucker is meet. This is ridiculous and to me is extortion. Mafia Like Extortion pure and simple.

  • No longer driving!

    You forgot the part about shortages. After you pre-pay the crooks they come back and tell you that you are short some boxes. How can I be short when the shipper counted every box carefully and checked off the bill as they loaded my truck. I watched them load it, put on the seal and the lock. It wasn’t opened until after waiting in the bullpen for three hours past delivery time. After sitting at the dock for over seven hours while the crooks unloaded the pallets, they had the balls to come and tell me that I was short two boxes of frozen foods.

    I thought, how convenient that the food that was missing was something that they would like at home. This warehouse has over 400 dock doors. I’m sure half are shipping and the other half is receiving so do the math. Somebody is making a good living on the fees and the thefts.

  • Jon McLaughlin

    I just tell them that I did not just show up with this load and ask them if they want it. That somebody for the company ordered it and that I will not pay to have their order unloaded. If they want it they will unload it, otherwise I will leave and start selling it in the local truck stop, or drive it back to the shipper. That has worked several times. Or, I call the load broker and tell them that it is their responsibility and that I was not paid enough for this BS. Now when I go to load I check what the commodity is and ask if a lumper fee is involved. If so, I decline the load.

  • SemperFi

    Jeez, all the horror stories you guys got, I think I’ll just stick to hauling cars. A lot harder than hook and drop, but the only hassle I get is from the wife LOL

  • charles reid

    Bahahahahahaha this is awesome

  • ishboo

    I’m no lumper lover, but I was one once upon a time. Lumpers generally work very hard for their money. Especially when they get paid piece work. Most union warehouses refuse any type of hard labor for receiving whether it be for cutting product down, re stacking, or even if the product is floor loaded. Lets face it – in this day and age everyone is concerned about liability. Major warehouses outsource this difficult labor to fly-by-night companies to curtain much of that liability.

    When a lumper gets hurt, there is no workman comp for them — hell most of them are paid cash and its untraceable. Illegal or not, they are a necessity to get my freight unloaded. Theres no way around it…

    Being a driver now, and delivering a lot of loads in Canada — my loads almost always require a lumper crew to unload. Big warehouses wont accept any freight unless its delivered to them at the proper tie-tier that the warehouse accepts the fright in. I don’t lump anything anymore. I make the company pay for everything.

    If you deliver to a certain area, find out what companies service those area. I’ve negotiated rates direct with the companies that are far cheaper than what most warehouses have (because warehouses have to get their cut too) strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.