Dispatch Favoritism

terryandrene

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Dispatch favoritism will always be a topic of discussion as long as there are humans involved in the truck dispatch process. It is known by drivers and by management to have occurred at FedEx Custom Critical in the past. Does favoritism still exist? Many who did not or will not get a run offer that they thought they should have gotten, will continue to think so.

I can't realistically express an opinion on any carrier other than FCC so my opinions are specific to that carrier, but may apply to others. As many of our EO members know, Rene' and I have been volunteer members of the FCC Contractor Council for quite some time. In that capacity, we have spent well over 30 full workdays sitting with, observing and discussing roles and responsibilities with every level within the organization including customer service agents, dispatch agents, contractor coordinators, Operations Department supervisors and managers. So, let the reader of this post decide if my comments about dispatch favoritism have merit.

One might think that an owner/operator with such on and off duty contact with their carrier's rank and file, as well as management at every level, would occasionally be the benefactor of a run or two. Not so. To our knowledge, we have never received a run offer that we didn't deserve. I truly believe that our dwell time, truck or driver qualification, proximity to the shipper or any one of a number of other variables were used to determine that our truck was the correct vehicle to be used as a solution for a particular customer's shipping requirements. The oversight of dispatchers and supervisors demands adherence to the carrier's non-favoritism policies. With these safeguards in place, I am confident that favoritism for run offers is so rare as to be virtually non-existent. I'm also confident that when drivers are sitting idle for extended periods, while others are moving, they will continue to believe otherwise.

Have you non-believers ever filled out an on-line form only to have it rejected because a field was not populated or you didn't click on the "I agree" field? Well that's about the way it is with the dispatcher screen. If they offer a run on the QC or try to telephonically connect to the wrong driver, the software kicks back the action for the dispatcher to fill out a field explaining the dispatch of the wrong truck. These situations are then flagged for audit by a supervisor. The likelihood of a dispatcher dispatching the same wrong truck more than once, without an adverse recourse, is pretty slim. The likelihood of a dispatcher and a supervisor each agreeing to a similar action is equally slim. Neither dispatcher nor supervisor is likely to place their job in jeopardy for a one time benefit for an owner/operator.


So, the next time you feel that you were overlooked for a run offer that you believe you should have received instead of that other truck, consider each of the following situations to see if they apply to you before you determine that dispatch favoritism is the cause of your sitting idle:

  • The other truck is closest to an ASAP pickup;
  • A truck one size larger is also qualified for the offer;
  • A truck one size smaller may have more dwell time for the smaller load;
  • A large truck needed tomorrow at the load destination may be offered any smaller load in order to get that larger truck to a pickup without the need for excessive deadhead;
  • A solo driver is limited in mileage/HOS;
  • A truck might be locked onto a pending offer awaiting customer confirmation;
  • Might be a short solo load but two drivers needed for special handling;
  • Load may have required a liftgate and/or pallet jack or other special equipment;
  • The load may require a dockhigh truck;
  • Other truck may have been dispatched as an escort for constant surveillance requirement;
  • Other drivers may have special qualifications required by the customer, i.e. nuclear handling, A&E (ammunition & explosives) handling;
  • Might have been a reefer load;
  • Other truck may have come into center or been passing thru with a <75 or mini status;
  • Your truck have been placed out of service due to expired documents;
  • A solo driver or half of the team may have been placed out of service due to expired documents;
  • Your truck might be slightly beyond 25 miles of the center of an Express Center, or beyond another carrier's minimum distance to layover point, so you lose some dispatch points to a truck with less dwell time;
  • The company software works in whole numbers of time, so you and a truck that checked in during the same hour would be considered equal in dwell even though you've been told that you are next out. This one could be luck of the draw as determined by the computer;
  • Computer thinks you are out of hours because your on duty clock started when you moved a fair distance during the day;
  • Your telephone is on silent or very low volume and you never heard the phone ring;
  • Computer indicates that you don't have the hours of available service to complete a trip.
 
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dhalltoyo

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Terry,

You sat with me in Milwaukee and looked at the truck information available to me. Obviously, I have access to information that validates my comments. I can see when a unit leaves the board and to which board it is headed. I can also see the idle times and the delivery times.

On my home board, there are 4 units. One driver attends my church and we communicate daily. Another one lives 5 miles to the north and the other sits 12 miles to the south.

Many times, I have watched the computer and witnessed the other two trucks get loaded although my church brother and I have greater idle times than those units do.

When I call to inquire regarding how those units can get loaded before those with greater idle times the reply has been every one of the items you listed, and a few others as well. I have made a list of these responses, complete with the date, time and dispatcher's name. I'll show it you some time; you will be amazed at how close it corresponds to your list.

Yes, I have also sat in the dispatch office of several carriers that have the same "safeguards" built into their systems, but one thing I have learned about human nature is that folks are determined to circumvent the rules. People will do that which makes their job easier; regardless if it is protocol or not. Just as in the physical world, when water or electricity seeks the path of least resistance, humans in a spiritual world will mimic such.

I am not complaining either. Favoritism does exist. Sometimes it has worked to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment. It would simply seem realistic for all of us to admit that it does happen on a regular basis. Once we get to that level of honesty the negative impact of favoritism will markedly diminish.

Therefore, I'll begin by publicly stating that favoritism does exist. Now, in the spirit of fair play and honesty, let us hear from a few dispatchers, managers, recruiters, fleet owners, etc. Once all have acknowledged the existence of favoritism, then we can all moved forward toward eliminating the detrimental effects of this human foible.
 
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layoutshooter

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AS long as people are involed there will be problems from time to time. I doubt, at least at FDCC, that it is the rule. They have too much to lose. I sometmes think that I have been passed by for runs. Once they even told me that a mistake was made. It can and does happen. I don't think for one minute that it is company policy. Nor do I think that it is a normal part of the operation. I don't think that we are being singled out for more or less runs. I would not want an un-fair advantage as I am sure that Terry and Rene would not as well. The vast majority of people in this business as with most other professions are honest, hard working people. We all feel that we have been wronged from time to time and might even feel that we are "looked upon with favor" as well. People will be people and I have faith in most. Layoutshooter
 

terryandrene

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David

It may be realistic for each of you leased to your carrier to admit that dispatch favoritism occurs there on a regular basis; I do not believe it is realistic to make that same assumption at my carrier for the reasons I stated. Thinking so does not make it so and the many recent comments on the subject prompted me to comment as I did.

You said that other trucks were loaded before you even though you had greater idle time. Your carrier gave you reasons for not getting a load for which you believed you were qualified. I infer from your comments that you believe they were not truthful with you and had personal reasons for engaging in dispatch favoritism. Lacking real evidence to the contrary, I would choose to believe that dispatch favoritism is not as rampant with your carrier as some may think.
 

ATeam

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Terry can add one more situation to his list:

You think your reefer truck is flagged for reefer service when it is not. The result is no reefer loads offered to you (same for liftgate or certain driver credentials).

We once met a contractor that complained he had no reefer freight in a month. On our recommendation he called his contractor coordinator and discovered that when the truck was brought into the fleet a month before, the reefer was not flagged (listed in the database) as part of the truck's equipment. That was fixed with a phone call and they started getting reefer runs (this was before TVAL standards went into effect).

It happened to us in a different way (also before TVAL). After hauling no reefer freight for a period of time, we checked our flags. Sure enough, the reefer had not been put back in service (re-flagged) after we unflagged it for repair. We called in the repair and faxed in the receipt, but owing to human error the reefer was not re-flagged.

Having learned our lesson, we now run a credentials check with our contractor coordinator every now and then. No errors have been found after that one time, but we like to check every now and then, just to be sure.

I concur with Terry. Dispatch favoritism at FedEx Custom Critical is so rare that it is virtually non-existent. There may be times when a truck moves out of an area before you do, or when a truck is locked and other trucks are dispatched around it, but that is not favoritism. It's not personal. It's not about the person driving or locking the truck. It's about how the system works.
 
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Turtle

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Virtually. Virtual. Virtually non-existent. Virtually.

That word makes me smile. Giggle, even. Virtually. The way it's often used is a tour de force in contradiction. It's one of my favorite words. Virtually. Yes, but not really.

The Romans used "virtue" (Latin virtus) to mean valor or courage on the field of battle, stoutness of heart in a soldier. It came from the Latin root for man, vir, and so represented something inherently masculine. But by the nineteenth century, "virtue" was reserved almost exclusively as a euphemism for a woman's ability to preserve her virginity before marriage. Sweet, innocent, virtuous.

Indeed, vir for man is taken from an earlier proto-Latin root, either Hindo-Sanskrit or Greek, for stick, twig, or rod and, by metaphorical association, phallus. We can certainly imagine that the phallus came before the stick, pun intended. Virility, Virile. Argh, argh, argh.

With the roots gn=knowing and vir=man, one can easily see where virgn, or virgin, evolved, whereas Virgins are ignorant (gn = knowing) of the vir. A virgin doesn't know the stick (or twig or rod). Ahem. Virtue now means chaste, the opposite of what it used to. argh?

Nietzsche once quipped that virtue, which originally meant virility in a man, had come to mean chastity in a woman. Nietzsche thereby marked the genealogy of the word, contrasted two cultures, and also marshaled evidence for his own genetic fallacy that Western culture had become increasingly feminized, and thus shrunk the arena for manly heroism, a conceptual evolution that continues to this day. The opposite of what it used to mean.

Current colloquial usage is different, but it's still the same in its evolved roots. It has a meaning that is somewhat like pseudo, or quasi, meaning something that is almost something else. It is something which is not real, but exhibits many of the qualities of something that is real (virtual reality is a great example).

"Virtual" is not opposed to "real" but opposed to "actual," whereas "real" is opposed to "possible." This is the definition in which is it actually used the most today, and is almost indistinguishable from the term "potential", and originates in the medieval (and pseudo-Latin) "virtualis". So it might not be really real, but it could be, it has the potential to be. And "virtually real" (can't touch this) is the opposition of "actually real" (oh, yeah, you can touch this).

Yet, at the same ontological level (study of conceptions of reality and of being) as "possible," "real," or "potential," "virtual" is defined as that which is not real, but displays the full qualities of the real, in a plainly actual way.

The classic case is a reflection in a mirror. It is already there, whether or not one can see it. It is not waiting for any kind of actualization. This definition allows one to understand that real effects may be issued from a virtual object, so that our perception of it and our whole relation to it, are fully real, even if it is not.

Stick a dog in front of a mirror. There's some virtual reality for you.

So when you say something is virtually non-existent, it's saying it is, but it's really not. You're saying it is non-existent, but that in reality it is not non-existent. Virtually. Yes, but not really.

That cracks me up. OK, so I'm easily amused. But in reality :D
until dispatch favoritism is no longer virtually non-existent, and finally becomes actually non-existent, it is existent, even where it is virtually non-existent.


On a side note, Nielsen Media Research recently reported that the average American home has more televisions than people. I bet they're being watched by virtual people.
 
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terryandrene

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Mea culpa, mea culpa. I agree with the witty Turtle; my use of the adjective virtual in my post was not the best choice. I should have said "in essence" vice "virtual". The dog in the mirror must have eaten my english class homework that day.
 

layoutshooter

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LOL, I get around my lack of proper English by not speaking it!!!! I speak 'Merican!!! I lived in England for 5 years, take my word for it, we DO NOT speak English in this country. As to the real subject of this thread, there will always be people who look to blame others if things don't work out thier way. Just as there will always be some favoritism. That is just the way it is. Layoutshooter
 

TeamCaffee

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I will have to agree with Terry and Rene' on this one if favoritism were to exist with a dispatcher for any reason they would be out the door in a flash. This is one of the policies we really admire about FCC is their stance on NO FAVORITISM and sonority does not mean anything.
To us the beauty of not having a dedicated dispatcher is that it keeps this situation from happening. We have had dedicated dispatchers and we found it was very hard work to keep a positive relationship going with them so we could get the loads.
 

x06col

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Me tink, maybe, the "percieved" favoritism is real, and, in direct corelation with the length of the "don't wanna list", or, how historically boneheaded a person is from wait time expectations etc. Seen many shoot themselves in the foot, just being difficult most of the time.

Be difficult to send someone "out the door" while viewing historical data for cooperative performance. And, other things.
 

ATeam

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Turtle's etymology illustrates how a word, in this case the word "virutal", has been used in different ways, by different people, in different times.

When I said, "Dispatch favoritism at FedEx Custom Critical is so rare that it is virtually non-existent." I used the word in the way Turtle suggests. Namely, yes, dispatch favortism is non-existent, but not really.

The "not really" or "virtually non-existent" part is required because there are rare exceptions.

As a practical matter, FedEx Custom Critical has strict policies against dispatch favoritism and those policies are enforced. The result is a dispatch system that is virtually free of dispatch favoritism. Or, to put it another away, a dispatch system that is so free of dispatch favoritism that the vast majority of drivers and contractors will never see it.
 

OntarioVanMan

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you talk about dispatchers having to match load and truck...it must be a nightmare sometimes for them...because there is NO conformity amongst the classes. Example many times we've pulled into an area and been listed 6th BUT with our 70" high and 12 feet and team with Haz....we are #1 in that range...which shows the importance of having as many tools as possible for load opportunties. We were 1st in our class so to speak..but along comes the 07's and their 74 high 14 feet long and 52 between the wells...and knock us down a notch! It's easy to see where the perception of favourtism can be formed.
 

dhalltoyo

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How ironic that your first reason is actually the most used excuse from dispatching departments.

· The other truck is closest to an ASAP pickup;

It is the perfect excuse! I have seen two trucks parked within 500 feet of one another and the truck with the lesser idle time moves first. Come on! 500 feet makes how much of a difference in an ASAP pickup?

Due to the software that all major carriers use, I understand that a portion of these practices is simply due to human nature; that is, just being lazy. It is easier for the dispatcher to simply toggle one key and conduct a radius search for the "Closest Unit". And yes, the 500 feet example comes into play when they take the path of least resistance. Oh no, it is not favoritism, but it is also not fair to the unit that has been sitting for 24 hours and the unit that is 500 feet closer, who has only been empty for 2 hours, gets the load offer.

Of course, that software also permits the dispatcher to load the unit they choose to load. Oh yes, they are operating within the guidelines set by the parameters of the software; therefore, it appears they are not loading a unit by predetermined choice.

A service tech who works on those systems gave me a detailed overview of other scenarios that also could allow a predetermined choice to occur and without documentation; it would appear that the dispatcher is working within the corporate expectations. He also told me that a written log of the occurrences, accompanied by the screenshots of those occurrences, would be the only way to thwart such practices. How many drivers have the technical ability, or even access to the load boards, to document those occurrences? FYI…he services the systems for all major carriers. The three dispatch centers I have personally visited all use the same software, so I have no reason to doubt his statement; besides, what motive could he have that would make him utter an untruth? He isn’t a driver; therefore, what the users do has no impact on his bottom line.

As I said in my original post, I could care less. The point of my post deals with a change in the character of people. It begins with honesty.

Questions that should prick the heart:

Am I doing me job correctly or am I just doing what it takes to get by?

Just because a driver refused to take a load that I wanted him to take, am I going to use the chink in the system’s armor to load another unit, even though I know that I should make my decision based upon the FIFO agreement my organization has with the O/O’s?

I know that I am having a bad day, and the driver who has the longer idle time is a real pain to talk with on the phone. Should I just toggle for the closest unit and the few miles difference between the units will allow me to forego calling somebody I just do not feel like dealing with right now?

It happens. That is just life. To think that it does not happen, whether you determine it to be favoritism, or just simply taking the path of least resistance, really does not change the outcome…both are deceiving…both have negative consequences. You are deceiving either yourself or you are deceiving yourself and another person too.
 

OntarioVanMan

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Lazy dispatchers? Nah....It's 20 mintes before the end of shift your handed a crappy load... your YES driver is sitting 6th...you'd have to go thru 5 others and listen to thier whinning. Oh what to do...the path of least resistance??
 

TeamCaffee

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For us the point of this thread is the computer rules the roost here and that can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. The computer could care less what type of person you are or what time it is. When you are at the top of the list for a load the dispatcher can not pick the second truck in line with out a putting very good reasons on the first trucks screen so they can by pass that truck and even offer the load to the second truck. I would believe if a load came in close to quitting time there are plenty of dispatchers to hand the load off to so then can go home on time.
I also do not think many of the dispatchers understand how trucks bubble up for the next available load at FCC so they give an easy reply. To get a true reply on how the trucks bubble up for a load and all of the intricacies involved you are going to have to talk to the IT department.
 

terryandrene

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David:

One of the flaws in the software, as I see it, is that it rounds minutes off to hours. If the computer polls each of our trucks at 14:01, by 14:59, I could realistically travel 50 miles to your location before the next hourly polling. At 14:59 the computer thinks I am 50 miles closer to the pickup than you are, even though we sit side by side. With this scenario, I'll get the offer and you'll attribute it to dispatch favoritism.

I choose to embrace the opinion I expressed above and offered the potential reasons for dispatch choices with the goal of helping others understand things they may not know. I have no problem with you expressing your opinion, I just don't agree with it in this instance.
 

Turtle

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After I posted the above I worried a little that the thread would be derailed. I'm glad it wasn't. It's just that virtually is one of those words that just crack me up. It's on the wane now, but there was a period of a few years there where you would be hard pressed to find a newspaper or a new Web site that didn't have "virtually" in there somewhere.

When you're dealing with individual brokers, and in cases of smaller carriers, that's where favoritism can surface, as they have the opportunity and time to do it. Larger carriers, like FECC, and I know Panther, the system is set up, and the time constraints so demand, that favoritism in the manner of this driver over that driver simply isn't practical. Where favoritism exists, and it's not even really favoritism, is when it falls onto the list that Terry posted above. True favoritism actually exists, even at large carriers, but as Phil so aptly put, it's so rare that most drivers will never see it.


I go to Canada, many drivers don't. I sat in Detroit at #1 on the board while #2 and #2, who don't go to Canada, both in Sprinters, same as me, were right next to me. I was dispatched around and watched the other two drivers get loads going to Memphis, TN and Darlington, SC, while I was never offered those loads. I was dispatched around in order for them to save me for a Canada run. Yet, I've sat in dispatch and know for a fact that the system is set up so that that scenario can not happen. Yet it did.

You can imagine the smile on my face when a dispatch supervisor told me that them dispatching around me to save me for Canada, "is something that virtually never happens."
 

ATeam

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It is the perfect excuse! I have seen two trucks parked within 500 feet of one another and the truck with the lesser idle time moves first. Come on! 500 feet makes how much of a difference in an ASAP pickup?

I have a better story than that. Two trucks, one of them ours, travel together under load to the same location. The other truck gets off the load at midnight and remains in service. We get off the load the next morning and also remain in service.

Since we were both waiting for freight, we met for breakfast at a nearby Waffle House. With the equally-equipped trucks parked side by side, the other team having eight more hours of dwell time than us, and equally-credentialled teams seated at the same table, our phone rang with a load offer that we believed the other team should have received first.

We told dispatch the circumstances but the dispatcher said the computer pulled us up first and she would not further offer the load until we answered. The other team was gracious, said it was no big deal, and to take the load if we wanted it, which we did.

(By the way, the new dispatch system would have offered the same load to the two trucks at the same time, which further reduces the likelihood of favoritism.)

Was the Waffle House incident an act of favoritism? I think not. Beyond a location polling glitch, there was no reason in the world for a dispatcher to call our truck ahead of theirs.

The glitch was unfair, but it was not an act of favoritism. It was a glitch that occured with no reference to the people in question. The dispatcher, being policy bound, remained firmly committed to the offer, even though we asked her to offer it first to the other truck.

The system is not perfect but it is good. Human beings are not perfect either but when they can get fired for acts of favoritism, they tend not to do it. The result is a dispatch system at FedEx Custom Critical that is virtually free of favortism.

Favoritism in dispatch is an important issue. People making a carrier choice will be wise to research the issue fully and ask probing questions when talking to your prospective carriers.

In this thread, readers have seen a number of FedEx Custom Critical drivers rise to speak about the lack of dispatch favoritism at their carrier. I know Panther underwent a housecleaning when Fenway took over. I would hope drivers from other carriers would also rise to talk about the favoritism practices, or lack of them, at their carriers.

Another angle on this is Landstar, where it is widely known that some agents run their own fleet of trucks and favor those trucks over loads they offer to others. There, the policies are different. Favoritism is not prohibited and contractors (BCOs) know it. Many have learned how to opperate successfuly in that environment.
 

TeamCaffee

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One thing that FCC does not do is have any distinction for trucks that will or will not go to Canada, New York City, Boston, Chicago, California or any other areas drivers do not like to go to.
With FCC if you are qualified for a load you get the load offer no matter where the load will take you, then as a driver you get to choose if you want to accept the load or refuse the load.
 

dabluzman1

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Fedex drivers can check their flags with message 61.
We check at least once or twice a month, more if it is around inspection time for any of
our flagged options.
 
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