Brokers' 3 a.m. calls -- 'Unless there's been a death in the family, a text will suffice'

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Illustration of incoming calls to truckers overnight asking for load status
"There is no reason for anyone to be calling a driver at 3 a.m. ... Unless it's about a death in the family, a text will suffice if there is a change in plans." --owner-operator Andy Soucy
Photo by Todd Dills | Illustration by Kaleigh Watteau

So you've done everything the broker's asked of you. You downloaded the tracking app. You left your phone on as instructed to avoid paying a “fine.” (Don't you love how they call it a fine?) You put in your 14, your 11, and you go to bed. At two in the morning you get a call from an offshore call center, rousting you awake just when you've finally been able to fall asleep.

It's a guy named “Bob,” whose name really isn't Bob. So now, it takes you three hours to get back to sleep and the next morning you're exhausted, just hoping to remain awake until you can find some strong coffee. Well driver, apparently you're not alone.

A big thank-you to everyone who emailed regarding my last story -- the edition of the “Weigh In” about this very practice

It helps at least to know I’m not the only one. Frankly, your messages constitute the largest volume of mail I've ever received on any topic, constituting an outright hue and cry. 

“Got home on a Saturday to deliver Monday. Got a call at 3 a.m. Saturday for a location update! What made me the angriest was that it woke up my wife. I never answered another call or email. Got unloaded and sent everything to factoring. I’m 63, so I feel your pain.”
--David Rollins

So I decided to do something that I've never done before -- write the FMCSA directly. I was hoping to file a petition under the aegis of my friendly trucking trade organization (who shall here remain nameless), where I am a lifetime member. No answer. The jacket they gave me was nice, though.

So, first the current draft, then your comments.

(Thanks to John Grosvenor for helping me find the harassment statute on short notice.)

To: Administrator, FMCSA
From: Paul Marhoefer
Subject: Request for clarification 

Inasmuch as certain third-party logistics brokers, who are under the regulatory aegis of the FMCSA, have made a regular practice of telephoning over-the-road truck drivers (as evidenced by voluminous feedback I have recently received) while they are attempting to sleep on their 10-hour rest breaks, waking them up repeatedly in order to obtain status updates on their loads, and in so doing, have behaved with flagrant disregard of the sacrosanct nature of the 10-hour break, as suggested by the statute related to prevention of harassment of drivers through electronic logging devices, 49 USC 31137(a)(2), disrupting drivers' ability to comply with federal requirements for rest, I ask the administrator to clarify:

  1. Whether this practice creates a breach of existing statute that falls directly within the agency's purview;
  2. Whether, being so notified, the agency deems it in the public interest to consider/invite further action or commentary; and
  3. Whether I may be of any help to the agency in this regard.
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Paul Marhoefer

Now, your comments:

Jessica Flores, Zaya Transport Co., New Brunswick, New Jersey

Is it OK for brokers to call at  3 a.m.? Absolutely not! 

Jessica FloresJessica FloresJust as you stated, we have our main accounts and don’t do many broker loads, but the amount of calls and emails are just absurd! They call at 7 to 8 a.m. about a pickup that isn’t happening until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. There is no reason to call first thing in the morning about something that isn’t happening until after lunch. I can’t even get out of the house and into the office without being badgered, and boy does that grind my gears!

And the ones who have your tracking info and still email for updates?!? What is the point of tracking me if you’re still going to call and email. I started making a list of brokers I won’t haul for based on their level of annoyance. LoL.

Darrin Eitman, MANN Transfer LLC, Whitney, Texas

I am 57 years old and a retired farmer of 37 years in Iowa. I kept one semi and a flatbed from my farming operations to do over-the-road trucking down south in my retirement.

I will admit the one factor of the trucking business that caught me off-guard was no one answering their phones responding back if the load is already spoken for. Then come the calls, constant calls all hours of the day for check-ins, updates, etc., etc. The thing that gets me the most aggravated is most of the calls seem to be from offshore, most likely India. I cannot understand a word they are saying and we both hang up frustrated.

“Total Quality Logistics calls in the middle of the night, so I too, like you, killed the phone. They told me I wasn't [using] cell phone tracking, which I do have software trouble with.” --Dan Cohen, Daniel’s Trucking

Some of my better brokers marked my accounts as do not call, but in the last few months I have been forced to start converting to all their tracking software. I must have five or six different tracking programs on my phone that drain your battery very fast if not hooked to a charger.

I love it when I get emails that start with "You are not answering your phone we must have an update immediately." Sometimes I will respond, "Well you started the trend," or "You need to pay more so I can pay my bill." My wife says I am just arguing with an automated system in a foreign country. She is probably correct. Not going to tell her that.

Billy Moy 

I put my phone on silent.

Billy MoyBilly MoyI believe this is in violation of the 10-hour uninterrupted rest period. They call even though they have you download tracking. This is so irritating. You have an appointment time, but they want to know what time you will be there. I've had them call me at home to ask me if I delivered, or what is my ETA to the delivery, even though I haven't picked up the load yet -- because the load was scheduled for [pickup] the next day.

I can go on for days on this subject.

"A broker with tracking on me calls just like you said, 3 a.m.: 'Hey, we’ve noticed you haven’t moved in a while, just checking to see if all's OK!' Duh! I’m on my 10 hours off!" --Allan

Jim C., of R&R Express 

I never call in the middle of the night. I have access to "Macropoint" but never use it, as [truck drivers] turn it off, or say "it does not work on my phone!" Hogwash! If most drivers/owner-ops knew how hard we brokers must work to please these customers (shippers/receivers), they would understand why we need to communicate! For any load I broker out, the driver can reach me by phone/text/email 24/7. Once I know the truck is loaded and on its way, I generally leave them alone, depending on the length of the trip.

All it takes is a courtesy text to me. "I am loaded" or ... "I am unloaded." How hard can that be?

I have quite a few lanes and, if I have to post them out on the load boards, my phone blows up. Then, when I give the load away, and there is no communication other than, "I can do this run all the time," I say, ‘Nope, never again, if I have to hunt you down for 4-5 days."

Thirty-five years ago when I got into this before cell phones, faxes, and emails, drivers called in religiously every morning between 0900-1100 AM. I thought once everyone had a cell this would be great! They can do check calls right from their truck! No, it got worse with communication between the driver and broker. Now on some lanes, I put right on the Rate Confirmation that if the driver fails to call me every 24-48 hours I will deduct 10% of the rate. Why? I have to or my customer will do the same to me if we cannot locate a guy after two days going from coast to coast. The short overnight runs are a different story.

If a driver or Owner-op shows me consideration and has good communication, I will give him an excellent review on Carrier411,, etc. Show a little consideration. I do get it...some brokers hound the hell out of a driver. I do not do that but would like some idea of what is going on, after all, I am your CUSTOMER and am paying you! Happy Holidays and please Stay Safe!


I'm opting to text because, despite being an owner-operator who pulls primarily broker loads, I've taken my phone number off of rate confirmations recently, opting to supply them with my tablet number, which doesn't receive phone calls. The load I hauled that led me to that decision required I utilize Macropoint while in transport. I did, and Macropoint was set up with my phone number. Despite running Macropoint, and having location services turned on, whenever I stopped (whether to use the restroom, walk the dogs or grab a bite to eat) the broker was calling me.

I informed them that since Macropoint is required, I do not anticipate phone calls. They proceeded to tell me they understand and will limit calls. However, in a matter of five hours they called me seven times. Ten times in eight hours. Fourteen times in eleven hours. 

I finally removed Macropoint and blocked their calls, sending my dispatch an email to explain the situation in case he got a message from the broker telling him what I'd done. He suggested running Macropoint through my tablet, and he would refrain from supplying my cell number on rate confirmations in the future. 

I can understand one call in the morning. But I'm not a child. I shouldn't have to call and ask permission to go to the toilet, walk my dogs or get food. And I absolutely refuse to lower my standards for any broker in this world. No load is worth my life, or the comfort of my life. I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time. Thank you for reading my story.

Patty Thompson, MAT II Transportation dispatch

I just read your post.  Over the last 25 years, it's gotten 100 times worse.

They have no respect. I lost a driver because of this -- he had enough of TQL. The driver was awoken by TQL four times, from 1 a.m. to 4:45 a.m. I never used them again, and blocked every type of communication from them.

It just happened to my driver yesterday and today -- it was only a 288-mile run. They text him the app to download for tracking, and still called five times and emailed me at 5:30 a.m. three times. (They are East Coast and we are West.) It’s these brokers that have no idea and no clue what trucking is all about or what drivers really do! They just stick a person behind the phone and say, "Call.’

Thanks for bringing this to people's attention -- it really needs to be addressed to these brokers.

They just don’t get it.

[Related: Trucking's State of Surveillance: Inside the costs, benefits]  

More commentary, from Overdrive's Facebook page, where more than 100 professional drivers also weighed in. 

Shawn Mitchell: I had a broker call me at 3 a.m. a few weeks back. After a few choice words and telling him, "Since you woke me up I'm restarting my 10 hours," strangely I never got another call. Yes I kept it PG-13.

Mike Boylan: Time doesn't have anything to do with it. I drive 10.5 hours, and park, making my sleep time change daily. If they call when I'm sleeping, I go back on-duty to talk to them. And that may make their delivery late.

Jessie Howard: Folks, just get a "burner" phone from Walmart, get the bare minimum on service, etc. Put all business on that phone, and no goofy calls at crazy hours. All the tracking apps go on it as well. Problem solved for about $250 a year.

Wes Hansen: I don't mind getting a phone call at 3 a.m. provided I'm up and running. ... With all this satellite technology, tracking apps and whatever else, if a driver is parked for the night, no need to be calling. Just like back in the day before [such] technology, brokers had no clue where the freight was unless the driver called from a pay phone or there was a tracker in the trailer. So if the shipper is that concerned about tracking, put a tracker on the load.

Join that conversation via Overdrive's Facebook page

[Related: ELDs/location tracking making brokers more annoying? Or more efficient]

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