201 more reasons to dislike shippers

The load out of the house was a familiar one: head west to Pittsburg, Kansas to grab a load of dog chow heading to Omaha, Nebraska. Since I was set home before the weekend bobtail I was also instructed to pick up an empty in Carthage, Missouri along the way to the shipper. There actually was an empty there when I arrived… be still my heart.

This particular shipper loads trailers very quickly and this time was no exception. About fifteen minutes after I backed into the correct dock there was a tap on my door and I went inside to finish up the paperwork. I noticed an unusually light gross weight — 24,000 odd pounds — and mentioned this.

“Oh,” the clerk said. “They put a partial additional load on the back to fill it up, no more than 34,000 total.”

Lying sack of excrement.

The empty (now loaded) trailer that I picked up was one of our newest, with nice fat super-single tires which not only roll much nicer than duals but also weigh about 400 pounds less, in total. A few minutes pulling it down the road and the weight given seemed to me to be in the right ballpark and I headed off.

Now, Pittsburg, Kansas isn’t exactly the be-all and end-all of the known universe and there are no commercial scales there, to the best of my knowledge. The company I was loaded at has a scale at a different plant a few miles out of route. I figured I would drive with it up KS-69 up to Kansas City and if it felt heavy I’d weigh it somewhere up there, perhaps in Edwardsville (which is the only commercial scale along my route, as far as I know).

By the time I reached KC I knew I couldn’t possibly be over the limit on my total rig’s weight. One advantage to a smaller engine (if it can be said there is an advantage) is that it makes it very clear how heavy my total rig is by just pulling a few familiar hills and watching my tach and spedometer.

The trailer tandems were in the fifth hole which is a bit further forward than normal, but the combination of my super singles and the super singles on the trailer should have made up 800 pounds “net” in my favor.

How far off could I be under these circumstances?

As I moved north along I-29 from KC I came across the North Platte City scale and was pulled in along with a handful of other trucks. One by one the rigs moved through and were on their way until it was my turn. Steers… fine. Drives… fine. Trailer tandems…

“Driver! Set your brakes, exit your truck and come in to the office!” I hear over the loudspeaker. I’m guessing it isn’t to present me with the Missouri Truck Driver of the Year award.

As I enter the office I glance at the scale display and groan inwardly: 36,040 pounds, more than a ton over the legal limit for my configuration. Before I could turn on the charm the officer told me to head back out, move my truck off the scale and out of the way and bring back all my paperwork.

It is a long trudge out to your truck in these situations, I find.

Paperwork was easy, in part because I’m now using electronic logs. I have yet to find a DOT officer that wants anything to do with them. Driver’s license, medical card, truck registration, proof of insurance, etc. He immediately sets to writing out a ticket and asks if I know how to slide my tandems to make my trailer legal. I slouch back outside and take care of it, running through the scale again to prove the weights are now right.

Missouri uses a system where a certain weight is this many cents per pound, and more weight is on a higher scale. The math came out to be $201.50. Sign here and here, here’s instructions to mail in your payment, have a nice day. Blah blah blah.

After having all the weights listed I realize that the shipper took a 24,000 pound order and added on not 10,000 but 18,000 pounds of dog chow, all the way back to the rear of the trailer. Yes, I would have realized they were lying sacks of shit if I had elected to scale, but I didn’t so the boo-boo is on me.

Now, before you go all “Don’t cry for me Argentina” on me, let’s keep things in perspective: this represents about 1/6th of my average weekly take so while it stinks in the short run in the long run it doesn’t really matter much.

Does sting a little, though.

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