Courier-Type Jobs. Beware!

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CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT: What’s Behind the Sweat-Stained Curtains?

            Drive 1000 miles, strain your back by lifting and delivering office supplies, and spend over $250 in gas. In return, we’ll give you $78.

            Allow me to begin by saying that my father is a hard-working, honest human being. I have always admired the attitude he takes-on when facing a challenge. His sole motivation is that of providing his family with all its needs, and that of providing a better quality of life for his children, his wife, and, of course, himself.  I can account the same for my mother; she, as my father, strives to that same extent. They have been married for over 25 years and to this day continue to be a happily married couple, constantly improving their way of life and that of their children. To surrender is not an option with them; or to their children (having been brought up by hard-working parents.) Before my brother and I were brought forth into this world, my parents have since been working hard to build a safe “life-nest” for the family. Life has not always made things easy for them, but then again, it hasn’t also for most of us. Drip by honest drip, sweat has been, and continues to be (for better and, sometimes, for worse), the key element, towards our family’s wellbeing.

Just a few months ago, my father sited an employment ad, on the now common knowledge Website known as Craigslist. Omitting certain items like the company’s name and such, allow me to briefly point-out what the ad said and/or offered:

                        Title: Independent Contractor [Job Location]

[Company Name] is looking for Van, or Cargo Truck, owners. Must be 21 years of age, provide a clean MVR. Insurance required. Routes given all-week long. Routes can produce between $800 and $1300 per week. Company will pay-out electronically. Must be hard working, professional, and dependable. If interested call [Number.]

            When my father found this ad, he decided to let his family know he was thinking of applying for the position. My mother, my brother, and I, weren’t all that supportive of the prospective choice of employment, mainly, because we were worried he might injure himself by lifting too much weight; in short, because he would be putting his health on the line. Additionally, the investment of a Van had to be made; the gas expense was another thing to consider (“Did they pay for the gas? Surely they must pay the gas for you.” we said, and we thought.) However, we did agree on one thing: the money earned was “pretty good.” Earning over $4000 certainly didn’t amount to a bad monthly outcome. Sadly, a time machine hasn’t been released to the public yet, so the decision was made: the van was bought; the job was sought.  

            Comparing reality to an ad is quite an interesting thing. An ad invites the person in, ever so gently, whereas reality “welcomes” that person by kicking him in the face.  Of course, this is just plain old bitterness, not all ads are rubbish, or perhaps, fraudulent (like the one above.) There is surely something to be kept in mind: a handy helper (as I like to call it); a personal savior; a few simple words, “too good to be true.”  

            He called, and it turned out that a job interview wasn’t required. The company just wanted to know if he had a van, and after proceeded to inform him that the training day, for all new “independent contractors,” was held on Tuesdays. We found that a bit odd, but we didn’t make much of it at the time; came Tuesday, he went and he trained. The training day consisted of two parts: the first one consisting of a five-hour training on the “how-tos” and “what-nots” of the job; the other part, was the signing of a binding contract, a CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT between the company, legally referred to as the “CARRIER”, and my father, then legally referred to as an “INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR.” After the agreement was done, he was told that he had to wear the CARRIER’s uniform, so he bought 5 shirts from them (as per the contract, a 5-shirt minimum was required), at $17 apiece, totaling $85. They let him know that they would be discounting $10 each week from his earnings to pay for them. How considerate! Additionally, they told him that they would be paying a 50% surcharge of his fuel costs based on what they collected from the customer, and having crossed that amount with the loaded miles that my father, the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, did. Oh yes, this company is amazingly humane! Can anyone understand this? Basically, if my father delivers, say a small personal printer to a company, and drives 50 miles over there, the CARRIER will charge the customer say $3 for the fuel, and then give the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR 50% of that amount, but crossed with his loaded miles… That sounds like my father is receiving less than a dollar for driving 50 miles, right? In effect, the first “catch at the ballpark” was the day my father received his first and final payment. In the first week (because he labored there for two weeks), in over 1000 miles, my father earned a fuel surcharge of less than 16 dollars. He spent almost $300 in gas that week.

            Besides the fuel “earnings”, let me get into the real deal, the real money, those $800 to $1300 per week! One fine Friday night, after a hard work’s night (and week,) my father arrived home early (like at 6PM) with the refreshing notion that he would be getting paid! My mother and I were speaking in the living room, so he came in with the telephone in hand, greeted us, and called the Bank while putting the phone on speaker, so we could all hear what had the payment been for all that hard work! The serene, lifeless, arbitrary female voice of such Bank spoke, “Your balance is-seven-ty se-ven, do-llars, with-eighty-two-cents.” I can’t even hope to describe what happened after that. My father didn’t say anything for a whole minute… We had been cheated, we had been cheated, and we had been treated like fools. We began to make sense of it all. I began to read, in detail, all of the clauses in the INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT contract my father had signed. Fine and angry combs were being passed.

The realization of why all the training days were held on Tuesdays came to be. Certainly, every Monday, at least five or more INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORs would go there to release hell, and who wouldn’t? Try driving 1000 miles, delivering over 50 packages, in over 50 different places, and be paid a rounded sum of $78. Of course, we then learned, that they had paid my father a total of $160, but it had been reduced to $78 due to the safety expense, $25 (didn’t inform him of this); the insurance expense $28 (this, they did let him know); the uniform, $10 (considerate, much!); Wireless Scanner $20 (when had they given him that? He surely hadn’t received it.)

             I decided to inspect the Website of the clever CONTRACTOR and learned that what they claimed in their Website was different from that of Craigslist. In their Website, they said that the weekly, average, earning was $550. “Some drivers earn in excess of $1000 per week,” it said. So much for that $800 to $1300 per week! Again, no wonder the training days are on Tuesdays! Who wants to train on a Monday with all that noise of the former contractors complaining and demanding their human rights!

The company issued each CONTRACTOR a special profile on-line, where they could “review” their earnings. In no way could they verify why they had earned any amount, or how to measure each delivery with its particular earning, because all the amounts given, in such profile, were already totaled and added up! I decided to divide the total amount of deliveries my father did in a week, with the total amount he was paid for them. So, the total amount of backbreaking deliveries he made in that one-thousand-mile driving week was 58. He was “paid” for those 58 packages, plus their kind “fuel surcharges”, the staggering amount of $160.95. Dividing that amount shows us that each one of those trips was worth, take or give, $2.80. Minus the expenses, real or fake, he was deposited a rounded-up figure of $78. 1000 miles of driving a full size V-8 van is worth in gas only, at least, over $200, or no? I honestly wonder if that $800 to $1300 is humanly possible. Maybe if a contractor drives over 10,000 miles and works over 60 hours a day (aren’t days made-up of 24 hours?), the contractor will probably achieve this goal, and then, DIE.

What about the contract? I won’t even bother going into detail about the contract, because frankly, it is a piece of evil legislation created to fish-out the honest hard working people; the honest hard working Americans. I certainly hope that this article saves a person or two from this fraudulent scheme. I hope it serves as a time machine

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