Lumpers have a complicated history in the trucking industry. Some shippers require them. Some carriers require them. Who ultimately pays them is sometimes a matter for debate.
A lumper is someone who loads or unloads a trailer. In some cases, particularly in food warehousing or grocery companies, the shippers require the use of lumpers. However, Title 49 of the United States Code, § 14103 says that it is up to the discretion of the driver as to whether to use a lumper if he or she is not going to be compensated for the lumper's service. Even in cases in which reimbursement is approved, it is the carrier's responsibility to pay the lumper and then seek reimbursement from the shipper or broker. In about 9% of the cases, that reimbursement never comes, according to Convoy.
The digital freight company is trying to change this for carriers by introducing hassle-free lumper payments nationwide.
"We've seen lumper payments ranging from $50 to over $500, so any time a carrier is not paid back, it is a really bad experience. And even when they get paid, it's an additional burden for drivers to chase reimbursements," Ziad Ismail, Convoy chief product officer, told FreightWaves. "Convoy handles the payment by issuing the carrier an EFS (electronic funds source) code directly [through an EFS integration into the Convoy app]. The carrier uses this code as payment for the lumper service."
The goal is to remove the burden carriers face in waiting for reimbursement. Once a lumper code is received, Convoy accepts responsibility for securing payment for the lumper's services. In some cases, the lumper may require payment at the time of service or in cash. In these instances, the carrier can still get reimbursed quickly.
"We understand that there may be a circumstance in which the lumper services require cash payment. We support that as well," Ismail said. "In those circumstances, carriers can pay cash to a lumper and then request reimbursement through the Convoy app. To do this, they select ‘I already paid' and submit a receipt for reimbursement through the app."
Convoy said that approximately 35% of the loads in its network require lumper services, but the option for lumper payments is available for all loads.
"Different loads going to the same facility may or may not require services," Ismail said. "The facility informs carriers whether a lumper service is needed at the time of arrival. Convoy therefore makes this feature available for all loads in the event a lumper service is needed."
All the driver needs to request lumper payment is the lumper company name and the fee amount. This eliminates time waiting for a shipper or broker to approve lumper service, a process that can take hours in some cases, Convoy said.
Taber Harden, owner of TT Hauling in Stockbridge, Georgia, was one of the trial fleets for the service and came away impressed.
"Requesting lumper payments is one of the most frustrating and inefficient processes I have to deal with on a daily basis," he said. "Now it takes just seconds to request and receive a lumper payment code in the Convoy app, which saves me time so I can be more productive every day."
That's the ultimate goal, Ismail said.
"Dealing with lumper payments has been a major pain point for carriers, yet the experience fundamentally hasn't improved for carriers for decades," he said. "With hassle-free lumper payments, we are excited to simplify the time-consuming process of retrieving lumper payment codes and eliminate those out-of-pocket expenses for carriers."