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Freight Tec News

Agents Liable for Customer Bad Debt?

Should Agents be 100% liable for their customer’s Bad Debts?

Imagine one of your largest customers going belly up… and they owe you and your Broker company $50,000.00…

You soon learn there is no hope of collecting any of the money owed…

Who should pay for that bad debt?

It should be split the same way your commission was paid out between you and your Broker. If you are on a 50% / 50% split with your Broker, then you should both pay $25,000.00 of the bad debt.  If you are on a 60%/40% split, you would pay $30,000, and the Broker would pay $20,000.

Why?

Its fair. Its ethical. And both parties always have great interest in doing business with customers who will pay you.

I’ve heard of Brokers paying 100% of any bad debts from their Agents… They are CRAZY !

Lets me share a story with you…

I know of a company who practiced the policy of paying 100% of any bad debts from their agents. They did it because they thought it would lure agents into their company, and you what? They were right! They did lure a lot of agents into their company!

A few years down the road, they were hit for a $400,000.00 bad debt from one customer, then another one for 109,000.00, then another one for $55,000.00. The agent (who’s customers they were) didn’t care… he didn’t have to pay any of that $500,000.00+ back. No worries for him…

But there was great pain and anguish for all the other agents, and the broker. The broker was not in position to handle these rapidly mounting bad debts (there were more that rolled in). The broker tried to work things out… but the hole they were in got deeper and deeper too fast.

The broker quit paying the carriers.

The carriers sued all of the customers (and I mean EVERY single customer).

The customers had to pay all the freight bills again. (after already paying the broker months ago).

The customers were very angry.

The customers no longer trusted the agents they had worked with for years.

Good agents and several other good people lost their customer base – and their jobs. They could no longer provide for their families.

Agents now had to start over – their previous customer relationships were ruined because their broker ended up going belly up and not paying the carriers.

The criminal thing behind it all was this: There was a rotten apple agent who PURPOSELY did business with companies he knew were at risk of not paying their freight bills for one reason or another. Because he was paid his commission each week – he knew he would be paid before the bad debts hit the broker.  One bad apple spoiled the bunch… Actually, he put them out of business.

Penalties up to $2750 for Texting

A recent article on Transportation Topics Online posted DOT Sets Texting Ban on Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers.

Distracted driving is a problem for all of us – even if we aren’t the distracted ones on the road.  More and more articles in the news are showing up where distracted driving was the cause of serious, and sometimes fatal, accidents and many innocent people have been hurt.  As we are surrounded more and more with technology, the temptation to use that technology while driving also increases.  Texting is a HUGE distraction and should not be done while driving.

We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the road with them to be safe.  This [Texting Ban] is an important step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.

– Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood

As a result, the DOT and FMCSA have issued the following –
Drivers sited for texting will be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

As a Top Freight Broker, Freight Tec encourages and fully supports any regulations made to protect the safety of the public while maintaining integrity and respect for the drivers that move freight across the country.

Be safe out there.

Shippers Can’t Be Too Careful in Qualifying Carriers

This is a True Story that happened on Feb. 1, 2010.   A carrier calls our office to book a load we had shared with our network.  We start our Carrier Qualification Process and find out that the Carrier wants to use an owner-operator.  We advised the Carrier that we needed to see their federal operating authority, Certificate of Insurance, W-9, and a signed copy of our Broker/Carrier Agreement.  When we receive everything back, we find that the Certificate of Insurance shows CARGO LIABILITY INSURANCE ONLY.

So, we called the Carrier back (Dispatcher was hard to understand with a heavy Eastern European accent) and asked if they had a separate Certificate of Insurance for Auto Liability.  He said, “No. Our owner operator carries Auto Liability Insurance.  All we provide is Cargo Insurance on the load and trailer.”   When we talked to the Owner-Operator, he forwarded to us a Certificate of Insurance showing Auto Liability Insurance.  At this point, most companies don’t check any further.  But our Carrier Qualification clerk, Kellie, called both of the insurance agents to verify insurance coverage.  This is what she found:

The Owner-Operator only had “Non-Loaded” Auto Liability insurance commonly referred to as “bobtail” insurance.  HE WAS NOT INSURED IF HE WAS HAULING A LOAD!!! The company for whom the Owner-Operator was hauling DID NOT HAVE AUTO LIABILITY INSURANCE.  Therefore, if we would have given this Carrier our load, our Shipper and us would have had a huge public liability risk since nobody was insured to protect the public. Imagine what would have happened if this truck was involved in an accident while hauling a load for one of our shippers.  The injured parties would have sued everybody—including our shipper and us—for damages.  The trucker and the company probably are “judgment proof” as all of their operating assets are most likely heavily financed with little or no equity.  That would leave only Freight Tec and its shipper liable.  As a result, we would have had to pay.  Freight Tec carries Professional Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance (the same insurance as medical doctors, lawyers, CPA’s, and engineers carry) in the event we make a mistake.  Fewer than 50 property brokers out of over 15,000 carry this insurance to protect their shippers.  Freight Tec is one of a select group of brokers who does.

BOTTOM LINE: You cannot be too careful in Qualifying Carriers.  Freight Tec does this every day on a FULL TIME basis to protect our Shippers and ourselves from potentially devastating lawsuits.  To further protect our Shippers, we also carry Professional Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance.

Valuable Freight Updates by Email

Stay current with valuable updates – simply by checking your email.

A great way to stay up-to-date on the transportation industry is by subscribing to Freight Tec’s Email Updates.  You’ll automatically get valuable updates from our blog delivered right to your Inbox.

Technology can be a great asset to your business.  Take advantage of this technology today and sit back and let the updates come to you.  You don’t have time to browse the web, you’re running a business – so let the web come to you.

So, how do you sign up?  I’m glad you asked.

In the upper-right corner of this blog, you’ll see an area that looks like this:

Simply follow these instructions:

  1. Enter your email in the top box, or click on Get Email Updates.
  2. Next, you’ll be asked to confirm your email by typing in a code.
  3. Then, check your email.  You should receive an email from us with a final link for you to activate your updates.
  4. That’s it! Enjoy!!

You’ll now receive updates whenever we post valuable information on our blog.

If you have any troubles at all, please Contact Freight Tec and we will be happy to help.

Container Rates from China Surge 24%

Capacity is rapidly tightening up on ocean containers from China. How will this affect the U.S. domestic market in 2010? How will these containers be utilized in the supply chain?

Fast-paced change buoyed by surge in demand, shortage of containers.

Ocean container spot freight rates on the key export trades out of China to Europe and the U.S. east and west coasts soared by an average of 24 percent in the past three months.

The rate of recovery is much faster than expected, buoyed by a surge in demand this month, according to Alphaliner, the Paris-based container shipping consultant.

Continued high vessel utilization rates on certain trades, especially on services to Europe since Christmas, have also created shortages of empty containers in a number of locations, which in turn, has underpinned the higher freight rates.

The Far East-Europe trade posted the strongest performance with spot freight rates surging by 50 percent since October from $2,500 per 40-foot container to $3,700 based on rates filed with the Shanghai Shipping Exchange.

The steep rise in rates resulted from successive rounds of rate increases imposed by ocean carriers since October and the extension of the peak season surcharge until February.

“It remains to be seen if the rates are sustainable as the Lunar New Year holidays in China in mid-February could lead to some weakening in freight rates,” Alphaliner said.

Spot rates from Shanghai to the U.S. West Coast have risen by 26 percent in the past three months and are 17 percent higher on shipments to the U.S. East Coast.

Asia-Australia and Asia-Africa spot rates also have risen over the past three months, but rates to the Middle East, especially to the Gulf region, remain under pressure.

The high spot market rates on the major trades from China to Europe and the United States have come at a key period as contract rates for 2010 have also strengthened, Alphaliner said.

Twelve-month contract rates for the Far East-Europe trades starting in January or February 2010 are reported to be about 200 percent higher than last year, reflecting renewed optimism about trade prospects.

by Bruce Barnard

The Journal of Commerce Online

Freight Tec Offers FREE Shipper Rate Quote

We are proud to announce Freight Tec’s new Shipper Rate Quote feature on our website.  It’s Quick, it’s FREE, and it’s our special service to YOU.  Even if you are not currently doing business with Freight Tec, we invite you to request a quote from us for your next shipment.

We all know things are changing with the economy – and shipping rates are certainly no exception.  It’s hard to find the time to keep up with the latest rates, so let Freight Tec do it for you.  We’ll quote you a rate for your shippment and offer to arrange for the transportation of that shipment.  That’s our specialty.  You’ll get the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing Freight Tec is a reputable broker, follows a strict carrier qualification process, and has the insurance in place to protect you.

What are you waiting for?  Give our FREE Shipper Rate Quote a try today and let us earn your business.

Comprehensive Safety Analysis – CSA 2010

Excellent article taken from Transport Topics, Jan. 04, 2010.

In Pursuit of Accurate Safety Ratings –

CSA 2010, as it is known, is the agency’s revamping of a flawed and oft-criticized safety rating system based on the unreliable SafeStat database.

Freight Tec pays close attention to Safety Ratings and strives to only use safe, qualified carriers in order to protect our shippers as well as public safety.  Our rigorous qualification process has always been somewhat weakened by the often skewed SafeStat and Federal reports.

FMCSA, to its credit, recognized the need to change the way it evaluated motor carriers when it launched CSA 2010.

The data is getting better and more reliable – and thus, it will give us all much more accurate safety reports.  A major difference now will be that a carrier’s ratings will be based on MILES TRAVELED, and not just the size of their fleet.  This is “the real measure of a carrier’s exposure to potential accidents”.

Merry Christmas 2009

 

Freight Tec would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

– Best Wishes to you and your family, from Freight Tec’s corporate office.

 

Great Dispatch, or Great Customer Service

Excellent article taken from Transport Topics, Aug. 11, 2009.

Opinion: The Customer Service, Dispatch Dilemma –

By Greg Shelton, Dispatch Consultant

As the recession deepens, there is growing awareness in the transportation industry of the role dispatchers play in keeping third-party logistics firms and freight brokerages competitive, particularly in the areas where dispatch and customer service collide.

This article reviews the fierce competition that exists in today’s market.  More and more Brokerages and 3PLs are striving for higher levels of customer service standards to keep customers.  Let’s face it – “keeping customers happy is a matter of corporate life or death”, states Shelton.

Think of it as the evolution of dispatch, in which basic survival depends on a company establishing and observing customer service standards. In a normal economy, hiring more customer service staff might solve the problem, but that’s difficult during a belt-tightening recession. It’s a dilemma that has caused some companies to reach outside the transportation industry and hire customer service and call center managers to help them make do with existing staff.

An experienced manager from another industry could help a company become more efficient by instituting phone upgrades, call accounting and service standards and by creating clear guidelines for various problem-escalation situations. An outside manager also could optimize staffing models by examining call volume spikes and pinpointing scheduling needs by means of forecasts.

But there is a caveat: Bringing in a manager from another industry might sound good to a company in this chaotic environment, but it also might prove to be counterproductive.

Look at this way: Hockey and lacrosse are somewhat similar sports. They both use sticks, have face-offs and use goalies. A hockey coach, while unfamiliar with lacrosse, could use the same techniques to motivate players and evaluate talent on the field, but that is where his effectiveness would end. Shooting a puck off a stick while on skates is radically different than running full speed and launching a ball out of a net.

This is the potential problem with managers from nontransportation backgrounds. Their intentions are good, but relying solely on their previous experience and knowledge will block any chance of success.

Customer service’s focus is on the individual caller and on never giving that caller cause to consider the experience negatively. Call center managers are trained to promote efficiency and work inside statistical models — calls should be answered in so many rings, resolved in so many seconds and agents should answer a predetermined number of calls per shift.

But one cannot assume these methods will translate effectively in a dispatch environment. A dispatcher’s job is to keep freight moving, and as a result there are countless situations encountered on a daily basis that may require excessive time or a firm hand. A manager has to realize that.

There is a real danger in companies becoming so dazzled with call reports and efficiency upgrades that they fail to see the department actually is regressing. Dispatchers become less self-reliant, less diligent and less focused on the overall goal.

Should dispatchers be evaluated using negative feedback, efficiency and call totals? Of course, but letting these philosophies be the only criteria in defining the position will undermine the department’s effectiveness.

My favorite point that Shelton makes is “Can one learn to swim by watching someone or by reading a book?  Perhaps, but without getting wet, you’ll never know what it’s like.”  This means that in order for a company to be successful, those that manager dispatchers need to know exactly what it’s like by doing it.  They won’t learn or understand how to fully motivate, teach, inspire, or otherwise manage a dispatch team if they have no idea what it is really like. 

The Question, as Shelton puts it, is “Which service did your customer pay for?”  Are they paying you for dispatching their loads, or are they paying you for your customer service abilities, which will inevitably become, empty promises.

During this downward trend in the economy, focus on what you do best.  Focus your efforts on your company’s Core Goal.  And strive for that goal in everything you do.  It’s time to simplify processes, re-think programs, and get back to the basics of customer satisfaction.

Freight Tec on the Cover of Internet Truckstop Magazine

If you didn’t catch it yet, be sure to check out Freight Tec on the cover of Internet Truckstop Magazine for the Sept/Oct 2009 Issue.

Visit Truckstop.com for more information or go right to the full magazine by clicking Here.

Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think by commenting below.