Questions & Answers
My carrier is getting fuel surcharges paid, but is not paying the appropriate fuel surcharge to his owner operators. Are there any court cases that speak to this problem?
I'm sure there are a few cases in the courts at the moment relating to fuel surcharges. Many owner-ops aren't getting their due on that front. However, I doubt any of those cases will set precedent.
Payment of fuel surcharges is a matter of an agreement between the carrier and the owner-op, and therefore subject to an interpretation of any contract that may exist between the two parties.
There are no laws in Canada governing the payment of surcharges like there are in the US. Canadian owner-ops are on their own to sort it out.
Here's the problem: Most owner-ops don't read the contract closely enough to determine the carrier's position on the surcharge payment. Usually, the carrier agrees to "pay if the carrier gets paid," but how the heck is the owner-op supposed to know if the carrier was paid, or more importantly, how much the carrier was paid?
That kind of a deal is simply unacceptable with fuel the price it is.
I'm afraid to say your options here are limited to the terms you agreed to in the contract. If the contract is specific about how much will be paid and the carrier is not living up to the agreement, I suggest you file a claim in small claims court BEFORE the amount in question exceeds $10,000. At less than 10 grand, it's still a small claims court issue.
If the terms of the contract are too vague for your liking, I strongly suggest you discuss an amendment with the carrier. If the carrier doesn't want to talk, you need to walk -- after serving him with an order to appear in court to settle the disputed amount.
Not a really good deal, eh?