Monday, June 16, 2008

‘Nobody does anything about it’

There’s an old quote from a man named Charles Warner. He said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

The problem – and the irony – is obvious. No one does anything about the weather because they can’t.

The same can be said about the price of oil. We can’t change it. The only thing we can do is cope.

One of the ways truckers are coping with current fuel prices is by asking for a fuel surcharge.

I don’t need to tell anyone here that truckers aren’t all getting it, that, in fact, most aren’t.

Now, one of our regular callers has found a new aspect to the situation. It turns out that some shippers have been listening to XM Satellite Radio, and heard some of the folks there saying that they’re on a mileage contract, and pay only $1.25 – or a similar, incredibly low figure – for their fuel … no matter what.

The shipper our caller talked to was furious. Why, he said, should he have to pay a 58-cent surcharge for fuel when the trucker was paying a buck 25?

Good question.

I hope our caller explained the reality of the situation as most truckers experience it.

A very limited number of truckers have that deal, where they only pay a set price for fuel, and are insulated completely from the free market forces the bulk of other truckers face.

To those truckers, I say good for you. I’m glad you found a carrier who’s willing to shoot you that deal, and I wish all truckers could get the same deal.

But we all need to be careful and explain to folks outside the industry how this really works. We need to explain how rare that situation is, how most truckers really do pay the price at the pump.

If we don’t, we risk a misinformed public turning on the whole industry. And that would be very bad, indeed.