Western Troubles

Topic 14347 | Page 1

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djwaglmuffin's Comment
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I have to use a mobile device to wrote this so please forgive. This is also a kind of long story so I'll try to keep it short, but I need some advice from you veteran truckers out there. Specifically anyone who started out with one of the bigger carriers and moved on.

I've been with Western Express for about 3 months now and the problem started when I got my first truck. I discovered as I was driving it that it had no brakes.. one of them was illegal and the other one wasn't working at all. so it took them a really long time to get me to the terminal and it wasn't until later that I realized that I could stop at a weigh station or something and have them do an inspection on it so that I wasn't forced to drive the truck or didn't feel forced to drive the truck. that was just one problem of many mechanical problems that I had with my first truck and it felt like I had to argue with them every day about the quality of their equipment while I was out there trying to run loads for them.

it finally got to the point where I asked for another DM and that was earlier last week. I was in Nashville and then my new DM found one in Atlanta and I come down here and there's a lot of critical problems with the truck. for example the entire exhaust system had to be replaced the airbag on the passenger side has an active leak in it plus there's an oil leak and plus there's an alignment problem. and to top it all off there's a bed bug issue and they made me sleep in it and I didn't realize it was a problem until I woke up this morning and saw bites all over my legs.

the only thing that seems to bother me about this among other things is that someone here at the terminal knew about the bed bug issue and threw me in the truck anyway so I don't know what their thinking was. are they going to let me get down the road and then discover it and then take it to Nashville or wait for me to raise a stink about it like... I don't understand what these people were thinking.

and now there seems to be a suggestion that I clean out the truck like it's my responsibility to take care of this truck even though I've been sitting in it for a grand total of three days and it's has all of these problems. These problems tell me that the guy who had it before me did not inspect it but for some reason I feel like they're trying to put the responsibility on me.

now the only reason I'm here this long or I was willing to be patient with this company is because I need my experience so I can move on to someone better and, not only they have my stuff in Nashville and I'm here in Atlanta so I don't know what my next move should be. I'm being told that just moving on to another company isn't really going to change anything.

I could really use some guidance.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
C. S.'s Comment
member avatar
it wasn't until later that I realized that I could stop at a weigh station or something and have them do an inspection on it so that I wasn't forced to drive the truck or didn't feel forced to drive the truck.

I feel like whoever gave you this advice might not be looking out for your best interest. It seems likely that stopping at a scale and asking to be inspected could result in tickets/violations being put on your record, in addition to anything levied against your company. It's definitely not a course of action I would take. Also not a great way to develop a good reputation at your company.

there's a lot of critical problems with the truck. for example the entire exhaust system had to be replaced the airbag on the passenger side has an active leak in it plus there's an oil leak and plus there's an alignment problem.

If these things are being taken care of by the shop (and they must be, or how else would you know that they entire exhaust system had to be replaced?) then I don't see the problem. You're new, you got an old truck. Problems are to be expected. Buck up, the good news is that when this one kicks the bucket you're likely to get a much newer (if not brand new) truck.

there's a bed bug issue and they made me sleep in it and I didn't realize it was a problem until I woke up this morning and saw bites all over my legs.

Ask them for a new mattress(es) and clean the sleeper area. Bed bugs live in the mattress, and most companies have dozens or even hundreds of new ones sitting in the shop. Problem solved. Sorry you got bit, though. I know from experience that's no fun.

These problems tell me that the guy who had it before me did not inspect it but for some reason I feel like they're trying to put the responsibility on me.

That's trucking. My current truck had a fridge that was coated with mold, dog kibble in every nook and cranny possible (I am still finding pieces six months later), and was just grimy and abused in general. I cleaned it. You're going to get trailers that people have left unswept, in need of repair, etc. and the only options are going to be deal with it, or complain and be put on the list.

I'm being told that just moving on to another company isn't really going to change anything.

Whoever told you that is probably correct. Stuff like what you've described is going to come up at any company you go to. I don't think changing companies is going to help. With only three months in, you are still building a reputation with your DM. As you establish yourself as a driver who can get it done, these issues will start to become less numerous (although they will never disappear entirely). If you start over at another company, you're just the new guy again.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

DJ, you got some great advice from C.S. Let us know what else we can do for you...nothing more to add, C.S. gave you a thorough and truthful answer. Good luck.

*LIKE*

Chris K.'s Comment
member avatar

This is second post I have seen about bedbugs. I feel companies should take some responsibility for this.

C. S.'s Comment
member avatar

This is second post I have seen about bedbugs. I feel companies should take some responsibility for this.

Unfortunately the only feasible way to tell if a mattress has bed bugs is to sleep in it and get bit. Companies could automatically replace the mattress when the truck is reissued (and some probably do), but some mattresses are still perfectly usable and they're trying to save money. Most will issue you a new mattress if you request it.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Djwaglmuffin, sorry to hear about your troubles, but I want to point out for you how you handle stuff like this. I realize that you are brand new to all this and because of that you are not handling things properly and it therefore "feels" to you like you are with a "bad company" and they are treating you wrong.

Let's talk first about your situation in your first truck. You said this:

I've been with Western Express for about 3 months now and the problem started when I got my first truck. I discovered as I was driving it that it had no brakes.. one of them was illegal and the other one wasn't working at all. so it took them a really long time to get me to the terminal and it wasn't until later that I realized that I could stop at a weigh station or something and have them do an inspection on it so that I wasn't forced to drive the truck or didn't feel forced to drive the truck. that was just one problem of many mechanical problems that I had with my first truck and it felt like I had to argue with them every day about the quality of their equipment while I was out there trying to run loads for them.

I'm having a little trouble understanding exactly what was going on because you say your truck "had no brakes," but then you go on to talk like you were being forced to run loads with it anyway. There is no way for you to run a loaded truck with "no brakes," so something was working well enough for you to not only get by, but you apparently survived it also. I can only surmise that you did have breaks. So, I can understand how your DM must have thought you were good until he could more easily get you to a terminal.

Your truck has a Qualcomm in it, and you are supposed to do a daily vehicle inspection report on it where you indicate what is wrong with your truck. If there are mechanical failures (i.e. brakes not working) in that report it goes to safety and you will be asked to bring the truck in for repairs. This is your responsibility to report these things properly. It does not have anything to do with your DM or anybody else. I understand about how some DMs will try to push you to extremes, those guys at Western are paid just like the drivers - the more they can get accomplished the more money goes onto their paychecks. That's not a conflict of interests, but it can become that if the driver does not understand how to handle teh needs of maintenance on his truck.

Here's another thing that you have got to do. Don't argue with your DM on the phone, or keep trying to convince him over the phone that you need to get to a terminal. Put the issues on the Qualcomm, I'm talking about the safety related maintenance issues with your truck. List them, and put in there that it is unsafe to keep running loads with this truck as is - please get me to a terminal immediately. Now that creates a record of your conversation that your DM cannot deny. Phone conversations are useless in this situation - Qualcomm messages do not go away, and are incriminating, so therefore they are not ignored. If you still are not getting satisfactory results you just make a phone call to safety. I've been through orientation at Western, they were very careful to give us all the phone numbers like that in case we ever had a problem like you experienced. I never had any kind of problems like you are when I was there, but I sure would have gotten out that list of phone numbers and made a few calls if I had. The safety department would jump all over this and get you to a terminal had you been doing your DVIR properly and handling this issue over the qualcomm instead of the phone.

The bed bug issue is easily resolved, but it is your responsibility. When I was working for Western there was a young man named Jojo at the Nashville terminal who cleaned out the trucks. All you have to do is go to him and tell him about the issue and he will give you a new mattress - no questions asked. So many of your problems are because you are totally green and don't know how to handle them. When you go into a terminal for repairs they give you a sheet to write up the problems you are experiencing with the truck - that is an official document that has your signature as the driver and inspector of the truck on it - if you write it up properly they will take care of it - that document is kept in a file for that truck. Their mechanics and service writers are not going to ignore what is on that report, there are serious repercussions from the D.O.T. for those kind of shenanigans.

and now there seems to be a suggestion that I clean out the truck like it's my responsibility to take care of this truck even though I've been sitting in it for a grand total of three days and it's has all of these problems.

I'm not sure how you think some people in an office can keep up with which trucks are nasty or not, but come on man, that truck is your responsibility - you are the driver. I recovered several trucks when I was at Western, and I personally cleaned out each one because they were in remote places where some ornery driver abandoned them. Nasty doesn't even come close to describing them, one of them I removed something like eight or nine huge lawn and leaf type garbage bags full of indescribable filth. Guess what? Each time I cleaned out a truck they would pay me 150 dollars for taking care of the problem.

Continued...

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Those nasty trucks were no reflection of what type of company I was working for, but rather a reflection of a poor driver who probably needed to be doing something else for a living. Some of these disgruntled drivers will do just about anything to get back at the company because they thought, like you, that they were being mistreated. For the most part just about any issue can be easily handled if you understand how to go about it with the proper procedures. Don't waste your time arguing with your DM over the phone, it will only frustrate you and give him more time to keep you moving without anybody knowing what he is doing. If there are safety issues, put them on the qualcomm , they will get handled, and if the don't then a simple phone call to the safety department will get the ball rolling - trust me, I know you didn't handle it correctly or else you would not be in here singing the blues to us about it.

I'm trying to put this information out here for your sake, but also for other rookies to realize that you can easily become disillusioned in this business if you don't understand how to get results and get things moving. I have seen so many rookies who literally appear to be demoralized by this job, when they could have been so much happier had they just gone about things the proper way. Everything was gone over during orientation and a lot of information was given you. Most people stuff all that stuff away, or throw it in the trash as if it were something they will never need. In trucking it is totally different from any other type of job you have had before. You are pretty much separated from your co-workers because of the independent nature of the job and it's responsibilities. Because of the unique situation a professional driver finds himself in there is also a unique way of communicating his issues with those who can help him/her resolve them. That truck is completely your responsibility. The proper communication of safety issues with your company that need to be addressed is also your responsibility. It is not your DM's, nor is it the former driver's once you have been issued the truck. That is now your truck, and you bear the responsibility, as the driver, to make sure that things are taken care of.

Whoever told you to just go through a weigh station and ask to be inspected was an idiot - do you really want to be put out of service and written up some hefty fines? Those fines are yours, and the reason they are yours is because of the very things I have been trying to express to you in this little novelette. The condition of that truck, though it is maintained by Western, is your responsibility. The way you do that is to communicate properly and effectively by using the methods I shared with you above. I went through orientation at Western, and all those things I shared with you were told to me during that orientation. I was also given plenty of information with people's names, titles, and departments to call if I had any issues that could not be resolved.

I could really use some guidance.

I'm hoping I was able to provide that for you, but I fear you have let yourself become so disillusioned that you have gone the way of the many moaners and groaners who frequent the whiny, somebody done me wrong, trucking web sites that encourage this type of self destructive behavior in today's unfortunately misinformed crop of newbies and rookies.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Chris K.'s Comment
member avatar

Well said Old School. My first solo truck w Stevens was nasty. I spent my first 34 hr reset scrubbing it out. I went thru s tub of Clorox wipes getting the funk off the steering wheel. The sleeper, hmmm, previous driver didn't use tissues. I was at a receiver unloading my 2nd load and another Stevens driver got in my truck and saw the nastiness. He said "I hope you are new my friend and you received truck in this condition " I asked if I should complain and he laughs and gave me a tub of Clorox wipes. Not sure why I'm sharing this story but here it is.confused.gifsorry.gif

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