Trucker’s Social Media Videos to Expose Big Brokers Go Viral, Brokers Fire Back
Trenton, NJ – A New Jersey trucker is on a mission to help truckers get “fair” load rates and his recent social media videos to aid in that cause are creating quite a buzz.
Rick Santiago is a trucker living in Trenton, New Jersey.
In a recent series of Facebook LIVE videos, which have now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, Santiago has sought to expose what he contends are exploitative business practices being deployed by some brokers amid the pandemic.
“There is no room for price gouging during a pandemic… period,” Santiago told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) in a recent interview.
The videos have created intense interest among many in the trucking industry as spot market rates have plummeted in recent weeks.
Protests and demonstrations against brokers are happening in cities across the country in hopes to bring awareness to the issue.
After posting a video calling out brokers for allegedly using the national emergency to pad their own pockets with load margins of more than 50 percent, Santiago says he was inundated with messages from people purporting to be brokers.
One of those messages was from a broker claiming to be employed by mega broker Total Quality Logistics (TQL), headquartered in Ohio.
In one video, Santiago reads the message, which he also provided to TNN for our review.
“I can guarantee you we verified he is an actual broker. I have his extension [at TQL],” Santiago tells viewers.
“We brokers are taking every single dime from carriers and making huge margins on freight right now,” the message reads. “I literally paid $1,900 on a load I had $3,500 in. I am going to go back and pay that carrier more because I feel immoral and disgusted for being apart of something so killing. We’re supposed to stand together in tough times not take advantage of it.”
The video quickly racked up thousands of shares and more than 100,000 views.
You can watch it HERE.
Following the release of that video, Santiago says a broker from Delaware-based Trinity Logistics reached out to him to echo much of what the alleged TQL broker claimed.
The woman agreed to tell her story to Santiago in another video.
Santiago admits to TNN that he changed the woman’s name for the purposes of protecting her identity.
“Drivers have been very committed during this pandemic and it’s the right thing to do,” the woman explains as to why she decided to come forward.
Santiago asks, “How much of a percentage of the load do you guys actually keep for yourself?”
“Uh, roughly — what — 65 percent. I mean, we have to make a profit of at least $300-400 per load,” she responded.
Further, she claimed that if the carrier “don’t complain too much,” Trinity will not pay 100 percent of the detention pay it collects from the shipper.
She also alleges that it is common practice to cancel trucks if they get a cheaper truck for a load.
“So, you cancel the carrier and what do you tell them?” Santiago asks.
“That the load is being canceled by the customer,” she answers.
When asked if she is going to continue working for Trinity, the woman was unequivocal in her response.
“No sir. Absolutely not.”
You can watch the video HERE.
Brokers Push Back Against Allegations
TNN reached out to both TQL and Trinity Logistics for comment and each issued exclusive statements.
Tom Millikin, corporate communications manager at TQL, challenged Santiago’s credibility by referencing his previous arrest record for public intoxication.
While declining to address the specific allegations made in Santiago’s video, he stated, “For 23 years, we have taken the well-being of the carriers with whom we work very seriously, and we will continue to focus on those relationships through every market cycle.”
Officials with Trinity Logistics were even more responsive than TQL.
Sarah Ruffcorn, president of Trinity Logistics, addressed the specific allegations one-by-one.
“The margin claim of 65 percent is not typical for any 3PL, nor reflective of Trinity Logistics’ margins,” Ruffcorn asserted. “We are open and transparent, sharing our margin information with Transport Topics Freight Brokerage List. Our margins are well within industry standards, and vary depending on the complexity, modes, and requirements of the freight.”
Ruffcorn insisted the company “genuinely values our network of carriers” and has proven that over a more than 40 year track record.
She strongly denied that Trinity cancels loads and then rebooks them on cheaper trucks, as was alleged.
“We extensively train our team and live by a culture of respecting carriers and building relationships. It is not our practice, nor do we condone removing a carrier from a load once booked for price, and many times we see negative margin on loads because we need to pay the carrier a fair market rate,” she said.
As for not paying detention unless the carriers complain, Ruffcorn stated Trinity is “upfront about the requirements of these shipments” and that its rate confirmations are clear, so that carriers are aware of them in advance.
“Many times carriers rates are ‘all in’ rates, linehaul + fuel. Many times it is split out in separate charges. We can display the rate however the carrier prefers,” she said.
Another Trinity executive confirmed to TNN the company reached out to Santiago to request he remove the video.
Additionally, Trinity also requested Facebook remove Santiago’s video.
Santiago contends he has not received any messages from Trinity.
As of publishing, both the TQL and Trinity videos are still viewable.
Responding to TQL’s questioning of his credibility, Santiago said he’s not a “perfect man” and admitted he has four public intoxication arrests on his record.
“I’m ready for the smear campaign. I’m fully prepared for people to attack me,” he expressed.
“Instead of proving their innocence they are throwing dirt on me. I’m going to keep pushing forward.”
Santiago Takes His Cause to D.C.
Santiago is currently in our nation’s capital preparing for a “peaceful rally” on the National Mall on Friday, May 1 to bring awareness to the plight truckers are facing and push for legislation to better regulate brokers.
He is expecting an impressive showing of truckers to join him, along with other organizers of the event, which is in conjunction with “MayDay” demonstrations being held around the country on Friday.
If the number of messages Santiago has received from independent truckers in recent days pledging solidarity is any indication, he believes the rally will be a success.
“It’s going to be big,” he said.
However, on Thursday, Santiago was informed by D.C. authorities his permit to hold the event had been denied.
In an email obtained by TNN, a representative of the D.C. Special Operations Planning Division informed: “Due to the current COVID-19 crisis and the Mayor’s executive orders issued during this time, your permit for the Trucker Rally has been denied.”
Still, Santiago says he intends to hold the event as many truckers are already en route and taken time off to attend.
He stressed the importance that attendees strictly adhere to social distancing policies and wear the proper personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks.
TNN will bring you the latest on this and other events as they happen, so stay logged on to TransportationNation.com.
Photos courtesy of Rick Santiago / Trinity Logistics