Bill Frerichs’ Illinois-based six-truck fleet first invested in an e-logs system, an automatic onboard recording device, as he was headed into the first late-2017 electronic logging device mandate deadline. Since then, the e-logs provider he used was bought out and consolidated under another company. Frerichs had been reasonably happy with the performance of the devices — but not with the delays in getting replacement units when problems arose on three occasions. The experience led him this summer to canvass for a potentially different supplier as he considered the transition to the ELD specification required by Dec. 18.
His provider’s customer support “cannot keep up with the eight-day rule.” He’s talking about the eight days the ELD mandate gives carriers and drivers to use paper logs or logs software while attempting to repair or replace a malfunctioning device.
In response to demands from carriers shortly after the ELD mandate’s 2017 enforcement date came down, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration opened up ways to expedite requests for more time to deal with such delays, but the bedrock eight-day requirement remains.
Frerichs sought an ELD provider that would consign two units to his Frerichs Freight Lines – essentially for his parts shelf – in case something goes awry. “Three times, we have had issues that have taken anywhere from three to six weeks to get the replacement parts” to resolve, he said.
With his contract coming to an end this fall, Frerichs found a supplier whose ELD is distributed via the Volvo dealer through which he orders his fleet’s tractors. “It’s a front-runner based on that,” he said, believing they’d be willing to allow him to stock two units without charge “until I turn it on,” for replacement security.
Customer service issues to consider when evaluating an ELD include the availability and quality of basic technical support when problems arise. Plenty of carriers are assigning more value to such issues in the mandate’s wake. Among independent owner-operators and carriers that switched from AOBRDs to ELDs prior to the midyear Overdrive/CCJ survey about the shift, a fifth of them reported the early upgrade came “after experiencing customer service or equipment problems.”
Learn more about your ELD options
One of the most important dates for your fleet is December 17, 2019, when all carriers must use technology that meets the new ELD requirements. When Overdrive and CCJ surveyed fleets and independent owner-operators with authority in June, almost half of respondents in the 100-plus truck fleet group reported they were continuing to use AOBRDs.
When you click to download this guide, you’ll find out information on:
- Device types
- Initial and ongoing costs
- Capabilities of each device
Some providers offer 24/7 support with offices in Western and Eastern hemispheres, while the Drive ELD prides itself on keeping customer support an in-house function centrally located in its Iowa home base, unlike some other providers who outsource support. In other cases, it can be difficult to get someone on the phone when you need them or get a problem resolved quickly even when you can reach someone. Customer referrals from any vendor might go a long way toward giving you a sense of whether a vendor handles support effectively.
It’s an important consideration. If you are unable to resolve a malfunctioning ELD promptly, as Frerichs emphasizes, and you or your driver spend a week on paper logs, you open yourself up to possible violations of the rule even as you request an extension from regulators. Reach out to FMCSA with the message that “ ‘my supplier’s behind’ on the seventh day in the eight-day grace period,” Frerichs said, and “it’s too late. They’re not going to accept that.”
That’s what he was told by his contact in FMCSA’s Illinois division office, he said.
Two past installments in this series on the AOBRD-to-ELD transition: