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Published on July 31, 2006

Mail Call, July 31

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Opinion

A real eye opener


For the past year I have been completely involved in a sizable trucking fleet's road breakdown service. I must say I was very surprised.


As an “outsider,” you see the road service reports from fleets that make you go WOW! We've all seen them—the three hour “emergency road service” charges billed on a national account for the truck that is 15 minutes away. The two tires you didn't need for $900. And of course, the casings you take off that are never any good (even though they are off the steer position on a truck you haven't seen in a while).


We have always shrugged off these types of things as “isolated occurrences.” Some fleets raise enough stink that they receive credit on these obvious abuses, but the majority of us chalk them up as the “cost of doing business.”


To add to the problem, the major tire makers—realizing that it is becoming more apparent that truck fleets can no longer leave their revenue lanes—have set up truck stops throughout the country to provide more points of light for service. Many of these truck stops want volume and revenue when a truck enters their shop.


To help accommodate this, they pay their service techs a spiff for all the tires they sell. Now, to add to the problem, some technicians tell a customer that not only is that flat not repairable, but you also need two, three or even eight more tires because they are “separated and going to blow.”


Now the driver is alarmed about safety and screaming for tires.


I can tell you that I have not replaced any of the additional “separated” tires and to my knowledge all have made it back to our shop for further inspection. This further magnifies the problem because when the honest technician finds a real problem, the customer doesn't believe him.


Unfortunately, the fleet loses again.


As I was growing up, I recalled that the service industry was most proud of its belief that the way to build business was by helping individuals and treating them honestly. This meant billing fairly for only the work that they needed and making sure it was of the best quality.


Shouldn't we as an industry be a provider of this simple concept? This could only help the trucking industry—which, by the way, is our life's blood—survive these already tough times.


There are many good, honest people in our industry. We should not be the “silent majority” allowing these practices to continue.


I invite any dealership to become involved with one of its good fleets regarding “road breakdowns.” I guarantee it will be a real eye opener.


Steve Powers


Commercial sales manager


Brahler's Truckers Supply Inc.


Morton, Ill.


Vehicle inspections needed


I read in the June 5 issue that U.S. motorists neglected to do $52 billion worth of needed maintenance on their vehicles in 2005, according to a report from the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.


In Arkansas, we no longer have a vehicle inspection program of any kind. It is unbelievable some of the cars and trucks that are on the road.


In 1997, when vehicle inspections were done away with, my business dropped 47 percent due to little or no maintenance work being done.


It's not only our state, but we see many tourists whose autos are in such bad shape that I wouldn't let my family leave the driveway in one of them. No one wants his/her vehicle repaired. They say: “Just fix it so I can get home.”


I'd like to see the vehicle inspection program reinstated in Arkansas—with a little more bite.


Ken White


Owner


K&D Tire & Auto


Murfreesboro, Ark.

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