FMCSA Seeks To Finally Improve Complaint Process For Freight Brokers And Trucking Companies
Adjusting the complaint process For Freight Brokers And Trucking Companies within the FMCSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) seeks to improve its complaint process in light of harassment and coercion complaints from drivers and brokers. They view the agency’s current national database as ‘toothless’ and want an effective outlet for their complaints.
FMCSA regulators acknowledged what the drivers and brokers had to say and have implemented measures to improve their complaints system. Recently, the FMCSA announced these measures, including the enhanced user experience for those drivers and brokers logging complaints.
Complaints can now be logged on the National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB) against ‘unscrupulous’ or ‘unsafe’ companies or their employees. These could include shippers, receivers, or intermediaries.
These changes were documented during the FMCSA’s information collection renewal request to the Office of Management and Budget. This request undergoes a 30-day review and comment period before approval.
The purpose of renewing their information is threefold:
Enable enforcement action.
Develop safer motor carrier operations.
Improve consumer protection.
During a previous submission to improve the database last year, the FMCSA received only four comments. However, two of these came from significant parties; the Transportation Intermediaries Association and the Drivers Association.
Both these industry groups felt the current database does not address significant issues affecting safety. Todd Spencer, CEO, and President of the OOIDA, stated that, in its current form, the NCCDB does not meet the requirements of drivers wanting to report coercion, harassment, or commercial regulatory violations.
More specifically, Spencer highlighted the following issues:
Unsatisfactory service from hotline and online portal.
Poor response level.
Insufficient follow-up after complaints were filed.
The results of these issues are a multitude of unresolved complaints and a lack of engagement from drivers. Ultimately, this leads to unsafe practices going unreported.
The OOIDA CEO went on to state that if the NCCDB is not to remain “toothless,” it must improve its response times. He added that the present situation was unfit as a means for reporting coercion, harassment, or commercial regulatory violations.
The TIA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Chris Burroughs, highlighted the issue of double-brokering. He stated that many within the industry considered the practice a scam, and the FMCSA’s lack of enforcement encouraged it.
Burroughs went on to say that he knew of several complaints about unlawful brokerage reported to the FMCSA, none of which had had any action taken. He stated it was “mind-boggling” that the agency had failed to act, given the impact on safety. Safety, as you know, is the FMCSA’s core mission.
In response, the FMCSA stated they are currently updating the NCCDB. They are hopeful this update will improve the NCCDB’s effectiveness, enabling drivers and brokers to coercion, harassment, or commercial regulatory violations. Moreover, the update will allow users to report broker allegations associated with specific carriers.