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OOIDA Land Line Magazine Should Hear From CDL Students and New Drivers

Nov
13,
2009
8

Land Line Magazine, the OOIDA business trucking magazine, reported on the recent Dan Rather Reports TV Show in which I was invited to as a special speaker from the audience.  In the article they wrote:

Rather turned to an audience member, Allen Smith, who has spent 30 years in the business.  Smith claimed he has received thousands of responses on his site, askthetrucker.com, since the “Dan Rather Reports” episode aired featuring Wood.  ( misquote)

“The schools are still taking their money.  They’re wasting their time in the truck knowing that within a couple of weeks they’re going to be thrown out of the truck anyway,” Smith said.

Although I’m sure Land Line would never admit to receiving the volume of emails we have received from all of you since our site began, all of you CDL students and new drivers out there who have experienced these abuses you have shared with AskTheTrucker over the years, should consider also sharing your stories directly to OOIDA and their Land Line Magazine.

In fact, here is an email we just received a few hours ago from a gentleman who wanted to share his nightmare story of his Owner Operator Lease Purchase Program, which I have discussed many times.   For Land Line Magazine and OOIDA . . . this is just another one of the thousands we have and continue to receive:

Dear Sir:

I have settled down a bit, so let me put things into perspective and give you some more info:

I am near the end of my 5th week with ********.  I will get my 4th settlement statement tomorrow.  I am a rookie driver – all my  experience is these 5 weeks, plus ******** driver training program.  My driver trainer was a lease op, he convinced me that I would make much more money as a lease op.  I was convinced by many ******** people that leasing my truck would provide me more income, more flexibility in various aspects of the job.   I got back to the yard, tested out, and one of the instructors talked to our group about leasing.  He pulled me aside, and of course I had already made up my mind to do it…long story short, he gets $300 bonus for every one he can get to sign up.  And I did so.   It has turned into a nightmare.  I was making more money ($330 a week)  with Georgia unemployment than with this company.

My settlements so far during my short career have been:  $755 for week 1, $305 for week 2, $56 for week 3, week 4 comes out tomorrow, and of course here I sit broke down from Sunday Nov. 8 to probably Sat. Nov. 14, so when I get the settlement for this week, it will be deeeeep in the hole no doubt.   Those figures
are before taxes and Soc. Security, which I have to pay quarterly.  I probably wont have to pay anything as I had worked in the corporate world in my old job for a half year in 2009.   I have to drive 1800 to 1900 miles to “break even”.

I am told that ******** Trucking receives $30,000.00 from the US Govt. for every new driver it trains and puts on the road.  At the same time, this company has a 120% turn over rate, and it’s because the lease ops are making the truck payments on a fleet of lemons (Cat C-15 engines with problematic Regen systems), and the Drivers (lease or company) are not getting enough miles to earn a living.  What do you think, is it a scam?   Or is aall of the trucking industry just like this??    This is a “$30,000 a head personnel factory” funded by our tax dollars.

Five weeks is not a very long time, perhaps it reduces the impact or legitimacy of this story, you know, here is a guy just whining or whatever, but to me it is very big… I did this as my answer to being laid off from the corporate world, my big career change, a new beginning.

I am planning to complete my 90 day obligation to *******  and then give my 2 weeks notice to break the truck lease.  At least there is a 2 week walk away clause.  Today is Nov. 12, and I have been broke down since Sunday Nov. 8th, and I have to continue making lease payments,  pay my own hotel bill, and basically just wait until it is fixed.  Yes I signed a contract, I knew what I was getting into, but I did not expect I would be issued a lemon.  My truck had 238 thousnad miles on it – just broke in, they all said.  They do offer a truck rental at *******, but I wont be down long enough for it to work out – it would be time to come back up here  & get my truck after only say 1 run in the rental (from back at the yard in *******), and by the way, there are no rentals available right now anyway.  I checked yesterday (Nov. 11).   So, my truck will be issued to the next victim, and this puppy mill will continue to generate $30,000 government payments.

I guess I am a complete idiot.  Trucking has turned into a nightmare in only 5 short weeks, I have gotten a real education.  I think it is God trying to tell me something.  I await some kind of sign from Him, or maybe its that simple: that he wants me to go home and not be a truck driver??  I know this has hurt my wife badly, and I am lonely as hell.   What can I say?   I can do this work, I know it, but I cannot survive at the abysmal level of income.  If I had some other source of income, it would be OK to stick with it and learn the ropes, get the experience, and so on.  I believe trucking has a chance to come back like the old days, I believe that is why the old veterans are hanging in and running on.

I cannot afford it.

If you can use any of this please do so.  Bear in mind I still have to work with ****** for 4 more weeks or so to fulfill my 90 day obligation – that covers training expenses.  They say they can charge me with it if I leave early.

Very Best Regards,
***********************

MY REPLY:

Hi ******** :

I’m really sorry this has happened to you and is the reason we are working so hard to expose these scams and abuses by the trucking industry, from those companies and schools which are allowed to operate in these abusive manners.

I don’t have to tell you that “yes” in many cases, these lease purchase plans are nothing more than scams. There are good companies out there with good lease programs.  I cannot really say about the company you mentioned, but again, this lease purchase programs show to have an 87% failure rate.

They are simply designed for a driver’s failure by many companies.  Understand, you ARE NOT AN IDIOT! Sounds like you are just another victim of the abuse and scams of the trucking industry that we are working to expose.  I cannot verify the $30,000 you mention – that sounds very high to me – but I will look into it.

Industry leaders will always say that it’s YOUR fault … but trust me … it’s not.  It’s their fault for allowing these scams and abuses to continue.

I’m sorry that once again, another newcomer to the industry who only wanted a new career and a way to support their family, has been victimized by this industry.  We will keep fighting to expose the truth.

Sincerely,

Allen Smith

So here is ANOTHER story shared by one more victim of the scam and abuses of trucking.  We maintain all emails within our system, so if OOIDA wants to say that I “claim” to receive . . . we will be glad to start posting more here on AskTheTrucker including the names of those trucking companies within the emails.

Allen Smith

© 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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8 Responses to OOIDA Land Line Magazine Should Hear From CDL Students and New Drivers. - Post a Comment

  1. Linda Sunkle-Pierucki

    My heart breaks for all of these new lease drivers – I ve been trying to talk them out of it for years. Because even when its not an outright scam, they dont yet have the knowledge to make a go of it.

    As for OOIDA, they likely DONT get email from new CDL grads. The ongoing problem in this industry is that drivers trash OOIDA because they dont know what they are: they are a lobbying organization. They are NOT a union. They are prohibited by law from engaging in things like truck strikes, etc. And, their emphasis until recently has been owner-operators, not new CDL grads and company drivers. OOIDA has one advantage most of us do not: they have the ear of Congress. They may not be as big a player as the ATA, but its a start and its the closest to a voice drivers have. So, it may well be to our benefit to share the emails with them. Only then will they see how big the problem really is. Unfortunately, there are many drivers with a bad feel for OOIDA, usually without good reason. As lawyers and lobbyists, they cant afford to deal in conjecture but must have concrete facts before they can act. They also must wait until the time is ripe – an upcoming bill or major trucking discussion. That makes many drivers feel they are not doing enough for them. Its how politics is done, unfortunately. Drivers tend to bad-mouth OOIDA to other drivers because they do not see their value as they want instant results. As truckers, we seem to need immediate action – thats how we get things done. Unfortunately, it doesnt work that way in the world of politics. Their tactics have won more lawsuits than individual drivers ever have. So, we need to be encouraging the CDL school victims and lease truck victims to contact them with their stories. We can commiserate. OOIDA may eventually be able to force changes. I have no connection to OOIDA other than a regular membership but I do see their value to the industry. In order to get anything done, we’re going to have to stick together and settle our differences at another time. (just my 2-cents 😉

  2. Allen Smith

    I agree with most everything you mentioned. No one can argue that OOIDA has done much work for drivers : traveled to Washington – Speaks before Congress for drivers rights – have done battle in the courts representing drivers who have fallen prey to these O/O Lease Programs – nobody can say OOIDA has not done many things for drivers – and that is not what I was saying. The point of the post is that as a professional trucking magazine … they need to get the story right. First, I did not say that I have received thousands of emails since TruckerDesiree’s story broke. I said that I was there as a voice for the thousands of emails we have received since we began our site(s). Secondly, I said that we have received hundreds of emails since Desiree’s story came out (not thousands). Thirdly, we have always tried to be fair by not posting or discussing the names of the specific trucking companies who operate in these abuses. I wanted to make it clear, that if they want me to start exposing the names of the companies, I will. All they have to do is say the word. Allen Smith

  3. Linda Sunkle-Pierucki

    You’re right, Allen. They should get their facts straight. That press release was worded badly. And, I have no idea who wrote it. . . somebody second or third hand, most likely. And I think it’s up to us to make sure they GET all the facts. One thing I’ve noticed about OOIDA – they dont usually get involved in naming the guilty until they get to the lawsuit level. That tends to make drivers think they arent being responsive. However, they have to make sure they have all the facts right before they go sticking their necks out in Congress or in court. Most court actions involve forcing FMCSA or DOT to do something or not do something and dont involve going after specific carrriers except things like their truth in leasing actions. That’s how they define their role and may have some valid reasons for doing it that way (probably ATA’s big bank of lawyers-lol). I guess if I were you, I’d be very cautious about naming names . . .these big guys retain more lawyers than live in my small town! So, be very careful!! I’m just hoping you’ll help me fight the constant bad-mouthing of OOIDA by the guys who dont even understand their role. They aint perfect but they’re the best we’ve got.

    Thanks for your ‘take’ on it. I appreciate it.

  4. Dan Jeffers

    If indeed this story is true, which I don’t doubt, it would be a good idea to include the company name. There is no legal reason, I can think of, not to. Then the company would have an opportunity to engage in the conversation, which could be quite interesting as well as educational for current and prospective drivers. By failing to include the company name askthetrucker is playing into their hands or protecting them.

  5. Allen Smith

    Thanks Linda,

    Yes, that’s why it’s important we DO stick together. So many times we get caught up in things, but the fact remains, there’s bigger fish to fry: CDL and Training issues, DAC abuse, Lease Options Scams, Women Trucker harassment issues, and the list goes on.
    The Megas count on driver confusion, apathy, and non-unity.
    Can you imagine what a scary thought it would be for them if even 10% of the almost 4 million drivers joined together in one voice?
    Something we should strive for.

    Allen & Donna

  6. Desiree

    I have been trying to catch up on all the posts made since Part 2 of the Dan Rather show aired.

    It’s really a complex “Backstory”
    and trying to explain it all is difficult and even the Dan Rather Producers have observed how this thing began to “Spin”.

    There was about 20 minutes that had to be cut and much was Allen who in my opinion is the only advocate for student truckers that exists and he does not get paid for this.

    While OOIDA does know and has known what is going on in the Student Trucker Industry for many years, there are not advocating for Students who are little more than desperate unemployed people seeking a better life who having nothing when they come to trucking.

    Many have only the clothes on their backs, a pre-paid cell phone and a sleeping bag. They live off advances to eat and feel blessed to get drivers point for the fuel purchases to get a sandwich at subway.

    OOIDA has much history on this topic but their priorities do not lie in actively fighting for better treatment of these people, yet they will say their membership is open to anyone.

    OOIDA is tackling many different issues in trucking but these are not things that are a matter for students as they work through the obstacles those crucial first two years in order to become professional drivers.

    I was disappointed the Mr Spencer did not mention once the issue for Women Truckers being abused during training but there again, he is the VP of OOIDA , Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association which no female student will ever become if they cannot survive training

  7. Allen Smith

    Hi Dan: There are plenty of trucking forums across the net where the drivers are “naming names” constantly, and have been doing it for years. These companies are no secret … veteran drivers know who they are, the problem is that nobody was telling the CDL students and new drivers. I can post emails with the companies name mentioned, and would be within legal right to do so, but again, there names are already plastered over the net in other forums and blogs …. Allen

  8. Allen Smith

    As I said, OOIDA has done many things fighting for drivers rights, but the key to winning and getting things changed for all drivers …. is YOU KEEP FIGHTING! How can any organization be for all drivers when they won’t even “listen” to the stories they are trying to tell?

What do you have to say about this?

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