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Category : Shipper Liability

Watch for Red-Flags and Avoid Cargo Theft

The FBI estimates the loss value of Cargo Theft at roughly $30 Billion dollars a year.  Don’t think that effects you as an every-day consumer?  Think again.  That $30 Billion loss causes retail business everywhere to mark-up their products an additional 20% for consumers!  … And that’s on items you buy everyday!  Electronics, food and clothing were the top three commodities stolen in 2010. 
(National Insurance Crime Bureau)

According to the NICB’s report, most Cargo Thefts happen within 200 miles or four (4) hours from the driver’s starting point.  Criminals view Cargo Theft as relatively ‘low risk’ and usually produces a ‘high return’ for them when they turn around and sell the product they’ve stolen.  Criminals follow drivers they’ve targeted and can usually steal the cargo within five (5) minutes after the driver stops.  That is scary!  Another growing trend is ‘Fraudulent Pickups’ where thieves access load information online and impersonate a legitimate carrier to pick up a load directly from the shipper… and after they’ve picked up the load, they disappear.

Ways to Prevent Cargo Theft:

  • Run Background Checks and Screen Employees.
  • Train Employees and Educate them on hijack awareness and prevention.
  • Consider In-Transit Security when choosing shipment routes and avoid stopping again within 200 miles (or four hours) after picking up a load. As well, use secured lots and avoid parking in theft hotspots.
  • Conduct periodic supply chain audits to discover gaps in shipment protection.

Let’s work together to keep the cargo we haul safe from criminals and thieves.

Have comments or more ways to prevent Cargo Theft?  Leave us a comment!

CSA 2010 Opinions – The Good and the Bad

Our position in the industry allows us to hear opinions from highly qualified and reputable people about CSA 2010Both the good and the bad

Here’s a brief list of the top 3 opinions we’re hearing –

First, the Good:

  • CSA 2010 is a much better product today than it was a year ago.  Many modifications have been made after extensive work and feedback from states and carriers testing it out.
  • Every violation in detail is now brought to your attention and scored – unlike the old SAFER system.
  • Seeing deficiencies are shocking at first, but you need to view them as an indicator of the need for changes in behavior – take advantage of the information provided and use it to improve.

Second, the Bad:

  • Even no-fault or non-preventable accidents will get count against your score.
  • Some think severe points should not be accessed to certain aspects that would in no way contribute to the cause of an accident.  As it stands now, you can get written up and have points added to your score because of minor infractions.
  • CSA 2010 is turning out to be CSA 2011 … or some speculate even later before it is fully implemented.  Many people (on a state level) need to be trained – Highway Patrol, Inspectors, local FMCSA personnel, etc.  This may end up as the new “CSA” system and drop the 2010 reference altogether.

We welcome your thoughts and opinions as well –
What have you heard or what do you know about CSA 2010?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

Interesting Times for Transportation

Transportation systems are very dynamic.  During the last few years the railroads have become more competitive with rapid service from Chicago to Los Angeles in order to out-compete trucking companies.  With this kind of service available, the large trucking companies have put more and more of their freight on the railroads double-stack container trains.  Truckers are countering this competition with requests to be able to run heavier trucks on the Nations highways with weights up to 97,000# as opposed to the current 80,000# limits on most roads.  This would drop the cost of transportation per ton for the shipper.

But as the railroads have gained market share, they now face an interesting test:  The peak Christmas shipping season is upon us but so is the need to absorb a huge fall harvest of corn and soybeans that must be moved to market.  Will the railroads be able to handle both peak seasons at the same time with their available capacity of equipment and people?  Time will tell but the railroads claim they will be able to handle the heavy volumes of freight.

Union Pacific Railroad, Burlington Northern Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and CSX Transportation are all bringing on furloughed people who had been laid off during the recession.  Union Pacific is bringing on 900 locomotives and a vast supply of hopper cars and containers to meet the demand.  The locomotives had previously been in idle storage during the recent recession.  Other railroads are doing much the same including bringing on line much new equipment that they were anticipating they would need.  In addition, railroads are hiring new people and matching them with experienced people and moving them to specific areas around the country to deal with the logistics of moving long trains on a timely basis.  So, hopefully, the Nations railroads are up to the task of meeting the demands of two peak seasons.

Meanwhile, the trucking industry has taken its hits from the Recession and many small carriers are now out of business creating a capacity shortage in some areas.  Adding to their troubles are the new CSA 2010 regulations coming into effect on Nov. 1, 2010 that will target driver safety issues as never before.  CSA 2010 will help to eliminate the unsafe drivers over a few months.  The Winter months are normally slower for trucks and the loss of 3% to 5% of the nations truck drivers may not show up until Spring when freight demand picks up.  But by then, trucking rates will increase due to the capacity shortage that will ensue due to a shortage of qualified drivers.

How does this all affect the shipper?  Generally speaking, from a cost point of view, railroad container freight is less expensive for lanes exceeding 1300 miles between cities where both the pickup and the delivery from the rail terminal is within the Commercial Zone.  Trucks are typically more cost efficient when the mileage between two cities is less than 1300 miles or where multiple stops are required along the route.  Trucks have the advantage of being able to drive directly from the shippers dock to the receivers dock.

Property brokers are finding they must also be more creative to provide the best value to the customer.  Larger Brokers move freight both on trucks and container railroads to meet their customers needs.  The brokerage business is unique in that the largest broker in the U.S. only has 5% of the market share.  According to the U.S.D.O.T., there are over 21,000 property brokers registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Brokers continue to grow as they provide the best value for their customers.

Another facet of the transportation industry are the freight forwarders—specifically those that are international in scope.  Several years ago it was predicted that the large multi-national freight forwarders would gain more and more market share.  Even though these large companies have grown, so has the market share.  But the gains in market share have been by smaller freight forwarders who provide incredible service to their shippers.  Why?  Shouldn’t the bigger multi-national forwarder be able to drive costs lower for shippers?  Yes, they do.  But many shippers would rather be Number One with the forwarder they use knowing that that forwarder will do everything possible to get their shipments to their customers on time as opposed to being customer Number 273 with a large multi-national forwarder.  The price is slightly more expensive with the smaller company, but the service is great and the shipper doesn’t need to worry about what would happen if the big multi-national has a conflict with the service needs of multiple shippers and the resulting costs and problems that would create with missed deliveries.

Transportation world-wide continues to be dynamic, competitive, and both service and cost oriented.  Different modes of transportation compete with one another to present a better value proposition to the shipper.  This is good!  Despite the rough economy during the past few years, business is picking up!  Shippers have more options than ever.

Shippers Beware!

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a final rule that will eliminate Cargo Insurance requirements for freight forwarders and most motor carriers.  Only household goods carriers will be required by law to maintain Cargo Insurance.  All other motor carriers and freight forwarders will no longer be required to maintain Cargo Insurance as of March 11, 2011.

What is the logic of this?  The FMCSA originally proposed eliminating Cargo Insurance in a proposed rule dated May 2005 along with the then new unified registration system.  The FMCSA has noted that motor carriers typically carry Cargo Insurance in excess of the regulatory requirements ($50,000 Minimum).  Most Shippers require the carrier to have cargo insurance as a condition for doing business.  Shippers also have the option of buying their own cargo insurance policy.  As a result, the FMCSA felt that since Shippers and motor carriers negotiate their own contracts, the FMCSA did not need to regulate Cargo Insurance.

Big and Medium Shippers understand this and have mechanisms for verifying that the motor carriers that they use do have Cargo Insurance.  But smaller, infrequent Shippers typically assume that the government regulates motor carriers and that a motor carrier automatically carries all the liability insurance necessary to protect the public—including Cargo Insurance.  As of March 11, 2011, this will definitely not be the case.  Any Shipper who ignores verifying the kinds of insurance that it feels is necessary to protect them and their freight from liability issues with a motor carrier will do so at its peril.

One Solution to this problem for Shippers is to use a freight broker such as Freight Tec to move their freight.  Freight Tec qualifies every single carrier and verifies that each carrier has Active operating authority, Cargo Insurance, Automotive Liability Insurance, and appears to be reasonably safe according to the information available from the federal government.  This is a great service for Shippers who do not have the budget or do not want to do a carrier qualification process by themselves.  In addition, Freight Tec carries its own Professional Errors and Omissions Liability Insurance Policy (same as Doctors, CPA’s, and attorney’s carry) to protect its Shippers from loss in the event Freight Tec makes a mistake and fails to properly qualify the carrier.  Less than 100 freight brokers out of 15,000 nationwide carry this insurance. This provides added Peace of Mind to Freight Tec’s Shippers.

Diamond Broker with $100k Bond

Freight Tec carries a significantly higher bond than is currently required by the F.M.C.S.A., and has for quite some time now.  Interesting to note that legislature is currently trying to raise the bond limit to $100k instead of just $10k, under the “Motor Carrier Protection Act of 2010” (S 3483).

In the May/June 2010 issue of IT (Internet Truckstop) Magazine, Freight Tec is recognized as a “Diamond Broker” with a $100k Bond.  We are one of only 21 brokers listed that carry this $100k bond.

What does this mean?

Carriers can be assured that Freight Tec’s credit-worthiness is at the top.  Shippers can be assured that Freight Tec is a prominent broker in the industry, and a broker they can trust.  We are ranked as one of the Top 100 Brokers in the Nation.

If you are a Shipper needing a load moved, or a Carrier looking for loads, Contact Us Today.

Oil Speculation

In January of this year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission proposed a new rule that would set limits on who can trade futures in the oil market.  The CFTC has rightly determined that the sudden increase of oil contract futures in Mid-2008 was caused by speculators who did not have a “legitimate commercial interest” in buying oil contract futures other than to enrich themselves by playing a market.  As a result, oil contract futures shot rapidly upward to $150/barrel.

Under the CFTC rules a Speculator is defined as an individual or group who is trading in a commodity that has no legitimate commercial interest in that commodity who is purchasing that oil contract future as an investment with no real intention of taking possession of the oil.  As an example, those who do have a legitimate commercial interest would be trucking companies, airlines, ship owners, taxicab companies, etc.  A trucking company may choose to buy oil contract futures at a given price to hedge against a future rise in prices.

What happened in the Summer of 2008 was rampant excessive speculation set the price in the oil contract futures market causing irreparable damage to thousands of trucking companies who were forced into insolvency since they could not afford to fill their tanks with fuel as the price rose faster than they could collect on their accounts receivable.  This affected the balance of loads vs. capacity and shipping rates rose dramatically.  Airlines that were on the verge of profitability (for once) suddenly were hit with quickly rising fuel prices that they could not pass back to their passengers who had already prepaid for their tickets.  Everyone suffered—except the Speculators! So the proposed new rule by the CFTC would put position limits on the amount of trading that speculators are allowed to make for a given commodity such as oil.

This is not a new law but only a proposed rule.  Some people are saying that it is about time.  Others are concerned because the comment period for everyone to submit their comments to the CFTC ends on April 26th and the proposed new rule has limits that would only affect the top ten traders and leave a host of smaller traders untouched as long as they did not speculate beyond certain limits.  When asked by critics why the limits were so high, a spokesman for the CFTC said that the reasoning behind keeping the limits high was the concern that by setting the limits low, most traders would go to the unregulated markets.  This, of course, poses the question:  What will keep the top 10 speculators who the proposed new rule is supposed to keep from over-speculating from doing the same thing in the unregulated markets?

The system is still broke! Oil contract futures are also bought and sold in the international market place.  Although the proposed new rule might help if the top 10 speculators agree not to go to the unregulated markets (ie, the unregulated world markets not controlled by the CFTC), we are still at risk to the same thing happening again and oil suddenly rising to $150 barrel in the future.

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.

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.

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.