Fool You Twice, Shame On You

An owner-operator called to complain about the carrier he’s leased to. “You need to write an article about how (insert name of carrier) takes advantage of its owner-operators,” he said.

“They promised me a minimum of 8,500 miles per month. They said I’d get home whenever I needed to. None of it was true.”

None of it was in writing, either. And the owner-operator didn’t take the time to talk to other owner-operators to find out the scoop before he leased on.

Then there was the owner-operator who called to say he found out his carrier had been taking money for maintenance out of his settlement. Turns out the guy’s carrier has fine print in the contract that allows it to take this deduction. But he didn’t know it, because he signed the contract without reading it thoroughly – or maybe at all.

Too many owner-operators believe the carrier they’ve leased to has not fulfilled its promises or has in some way taken advantage of them. But the question is: Whose fault is it? Is it the carrier’s for making promises it didn’t keep or for covering all of its bases with a contract’s fine print? Or is it the owner-operator’s for not researching the carrier thoroughly before leasing on? I’m going to lay the blame at the feet of the owner-operator.

Before you fire off an angry letter, hear me out. There’s no question that among the nation’s many good carriers are some less-than-reputable ones that may – legally or otherwise – take advantage of owner-operators. But people can take advantage of you only if you let them. And too many owner-operators fall into this category.

You are an independent businessperson. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal before you lease on with a carrier, to do your homework before hopping from company to company, to read the fine print before you sign a contract and, preferably, to have your lawyer or accountant review it, too.

If more owner-operators assumed this responsibility, those few bad carriers wouldn’t be able to attract owner-operators. Owner-operators’ churning in hopes of greener pastures would drop significantly. It might put the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association out of the litigation business. I’ll bet pay would rise, too.

Covering all of your bases before you sign the lease is time-consuming and hardly fool-proof. But this is your business we’re talking about here, not a minimum wage summer job. Give it the attention it deserves. You, your fellow owner-operators and the nation’s reputable carriers will be glad you did.

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