For those unfamiliar with the moving and trucking industries, they can be downright mystifying.
From weird terminology and confusing tariffs to shady companies and maddening service issues, dealing with trucks and movers can be huge hassles.
In addition, these businesses are shrouded in persistent myths, many of which just aren’t true.
Good, let’s take a look at a few common moving and trucking industry myths.
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Myth #1 – Owner-operators in the moving industry make big bucks
Many owner-operators in the moving business have high-dollar tractors with 600 horsepower diesel engines, polished aluminum wheels, and custom sleepers featuring bathrooms, kitchenettes, and big-screen televisions.
These days even run-of-the-mill tractors cost nearly $150,000 new.
Add in the amenities above, and the price can surge well past $200,000.
Many big-time household goods movers gross well over $500,000 annually.
That said, after truck payments, maintenance, fuel, insurance, labor, tolls, and meals on the road, there usually isn’t that much leftover.
In fact, at the end of the year, many don’t net more than $50,000 or $60,000.
The truth is that many local movers who are home with their families every night make just as much.
Did You Know?
In the trucking business, semi-truck power units are called tractors, hence the term tractor-trailer.
Myth #2 – Eat where the truckers eat
The general public commonly believes that truckers eat where they do because the food is tasty, the prices are reasonable, and the service is good.
There is some truth in this myth, but not much.
During my 5+ years on the road, I based my daily dining decisions on these criteria about four times.
Because most truckers eat where they do for one simple reason – truck parking.
It’s just a guess, but of all the restaurants with friendly servers, good food, and fair prices, about 98% percent have parking lots that are inaccessible to trucks.
Remember, most tractor-trailers are 70 feet long and weigh nearly 80,000 pounds.
Try getting one of these monsters into the lot at your local diner, seafood restaurant, or gourmet burger shop, and you’ll understand how impossible it is.
Not only that, but if you do manage to squeeze your rig in, you’ll probably get a parking ticket and a hefty repair bill for the blacktop you just destroyed.
You’re better off choosing restaurants based on personal referrals and unbiased online reviews than how many trucks are in the parking lot.
Myth #3 – You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be a trucker or a mover
In the mid-’90s, I met an airline pilot at a restaurant just outside New York City.
“What do you do for a living?” he asked.
“I’m a truck driver,” I told him.
“I don’t know how you guys drive those things,” he said.
This is from a guy who flew a 300,000-pound jetliner capable of speeding around the world at nearly 600 miles per hour.
It’s true that other than having a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and a little experience, truck drivers and movers don’t need formal educations.
However, anyone who’s ever driven a big rig will tell you it’s far from easy.
Before getting their licenses, new drivers spend months learning about –
- Complicated air brake systems
- Performing pre and post-trip mechanical inspections
- Coupling and uncoupling the tractor from the trailer
- Shifting transmissions with 9, 10, 13, or 18 gears
- Driving in ice, snow, and mountainous terrain
- How to back 53-foot trailers into tight loading docks
And here’s the thing – that’s just the trucking part.
Movers also need to know how to load fragile and valuable household goods without breaking them.
Loading a moving van from top to bottom and front to back is like putting together a 25,000- pound three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle with pieces that weigh up to 400 pounds.
Moving furniture and driving trucks are skilled jobs that most people can’t and don’t want to do.
Myth #4 – Truckers aren’t the ‘Knights of the Road’ that they used to be
In the glory days of trucking between the ‘60s and ‘80s, truckers got a lot more respect than they do today.
Back then, they frequently stopped to help motorists stranded on the side of the road, but it’s much less common now.
It’s easy to blame this phenomenon on truckers themselves, but it has more to do with society and regulation in reality.
Truckers have limited time to drive and work each day, and once their “clocks” start, they can’t be stopped.
In other words, stopping to help a single mother with a flat tire adds up to less money for themselves and their own families.
In addition, if a trucker does stop and a careless motorist slams into the back of their trailer, chances are they’ll be held liable for causing the accident.
Sadly, it all translates into a “why bother” attitude that sheds a negative light on the industry as a whole.
Myth #5 – Moving companies never pay claims
Take it from me. They do.
As an owner-operator for a large national van line, I paid several claims for items that’d been damaged while in my care.
The really maddening thing, however, is that some of them were fraudulent.
The fact is that reputable moving companies have a vested interest in keeping their customers happy.
On the other hand, they definitely don’t pay every claim that gets filed.
It all boils down to documentation and provability, which almost always falls back on the driver’s inventory before loading.
If the driver noted existing damage on their inventory, claims are usually denied.
Things get especially tricky when a shipment is hauled by one driver, taken to storage, then delivered to its final destination by another driver.
In instances like this, figuring out who (if anybody) broke something can be a nightmare.
Customers are much more likely to have a legitimate claim settled fairly if they’ve hired a reputable moving company than if they’ve gone with a shady internet broker.