As a factoring company, we get this question a lot, “What should I do if a broker doesn’t pay me for a load?” While uncommon, sometimes brokers underpay or refuse to pay a carrier altogether. This can happen for many reasons and it can be confusing to know what to do. So we’re going to break down those reasons, what to do if they happen to you, and how to prevent them from happening in the future.
But before we begin, you can save a lot of time, money, and frustration by using a factoring service to check brokers’ credit, invoice brokers, and get paid fast. Contact us to learn more!
Ok, we’re going to split this into two areas: underpayment and nonpayment.
When a broker pays you for a load, sometimes you’ll receive less than what you expected. Here are some common reasons that’s the case:
- Hidden service fees: some brokers charge you for invoicing, money codes, or other relatively small fees ranging from $2 – $25. Be sure to read your rate confirmation and contract with the broker carefully to be aware of these.
- Communication failures: sometimes brokers set rules about when and how you should contact them to get paid for detention, accessorial fees or tracking acceptance fees. Always communicate everything by phone and in writing via email to ensure both timely communication and a paper trail.
- Missing receipts: fleet managers know this struggle all too well. Receipts for paying fees can get lost. Even if you got a money code to pay for any fees, you still need to keep all your receipts and submit them to the broker for your full payment.
- Missing details on the BOL: for example, in and out times on the bill of lading help prove that you were detained. If you don’t have them, the broker can refuse to pay detention. To avoid this in the future, always call the broker when detention begins and ask for a new rate confirmation that includes detention.
In the case of underpayment, here are some steps you can take to get paid what you are owed:
- Call the broker. Give them the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to make things right. It could be that you forgot to include a receipt or they didn’t see the receipt when processing payment.
- Call your factoring company. If you’re factoring with us here at Bobtail, please give us a call and talk to your Customer Success team. They can help you understand why the broker underpaid for the load and provide some context before you get in touch with the broker.
- Request documentation. If they continue to refuse payment, you are completely within your rights to request any and all documents related to the transaction, as brokers are required to keep documentation on hand for 3 years.
- Consider filing a complaint. If they refuse, you are within your rights to file a complaint against them with the FMCSA. At this point, you can communicate to the broker what you’ve decided to do and they may decide to pay you what you are owed to avoid any problems with the FMCSA.
However, before you jump to reporting them, take a pause to consider if it’s worth ruining your relationship with the broker. If you have a good relationship with a long history and this is only an occasional issue, you may want to forgo any further action. If the problem is persistent with the broker and you don’t want to work with them anymore, maybe it’s worth the risk.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid underpayment issues in the future:
- Read your rate cons and contracts carefully to note any additional fees or rules about getting accessorial fees paid.
- Always call promptly and leave a paper trail for all agreements you make with the broker verbally.
- Get an updated rate confirmation with anything that’s changed in your agreement.
While it is rare, a broker may refuse to pay a carrier altogether.
Contact the broker
As we mentioned above, give them the benefit of the doubt. Mistakes happen on both sides, and it may be an issue of the broker simply not having the information they need to process your payment.
However, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already tried contacting the broker multiple times. In that case, your next course of action is to…
File a complaint
The FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Database allows carriers to file complaints against brokers who have not paid them. This will give you another piece of evidence that you are pursuing actions against the broker for the payment and can bolster a collections case.
File a claim on their bond
If the broker has gone completely silent or has filed for bankruptcy, you can file a claim on their surety bond. Brokers are required to hold a $75,000 surety bond by the FMCSA.
Find the broker’s surety bond
- Go to SAFER
- Search for the broker by the MC number
- Click on Licensing & Insurance under “Other Information for this Carrier”.
- This will populate the Licensing and Insurance Public with the broker’s USDOT number. Click Search.
- Click HTML under “View Details”
- Click “Active/Pending Insurance” at the bottom.
- You will now see the surety bond listed in a table.
File a claim
- Call the insurance carrier listed in the table, give them the Policy/Surety number and request to file a claim on their bond.
- Provide all the paperwork related to the load, including the BOL with the shipper and receiver’s signatures and the rate confirmation with the load number. The more documentation and proof of the load you can provide, the better.
Hire a collections agency
If, for some reason, you are unable to file a claim on the broker’s bond, you can consider hiring a collections agency. They will charge approximately 15-30% of what is recovered, but it may be worth getting back at least a portion of the money you are owed.
Report fraud as soon as possible
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, report the case immediately to the USDOT Inspector General. Here’s their contact information:
- Website: https://www.oig.dot.gov/fraud-hotline
- Call: (800) 424-9071
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail: DOT Inspector General, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Bldg 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20590
Here are some steps you can take to avoid nonpayment in the future:
- Do your due diligence on the broker before you book the load. Look them up in SAFER and check their credit rating. (When you factor with Bobtail, you’ll get credit rating checks for free!)
- Look out for red flags, like a generic email domain (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) or mismatched contact information between the load board and SAFER.
Unfortunately, issues with payments are a common problem for all business owners. They can be frustrating to deal with. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and try your best to work with the most trustworthy, reputable brokers you can.
Better yet, work with a factoring company that helps you weed out the bad brokers! At Bobtail, our hassle-free factoring service includes free credit checks on brokers, so you can make sure you’re doing business with people who are going to pay on time! Contact us to learn more.