Where to begin with the fun and adventures I had with Steven's???? It's hard to put into words, but here goes....
I answered a classified ad in our local newspaper for CDL drivers. The ad offered free, paid training and guaranteed placement with Steven's Transport provided you were able to complete the training program. I called the 1-800 number, and spoke VERY briefly with a Steven's Transport recruiter, who referred me to a local 'training center'.
I called the training center, and was told that yes, Steven's would sponsor students for training and would hire them after the completion of training. The training center representative told me that the training would be free, provided the employee did not quit Steven's before one year of service. They touted the fact that the company had not had a layoff in 28 years.
I was told that the training center would provide housing, at a cost of $75.00 for the duration of the training, and that we would also have to pay for our DOT physicals and drug screen, and our CDL permits and licenses. Finally, we were told that we would not recieve any pay for the three and a half weeks we were in training, but that we would begin to be paid immediately after our arrival in Dallas, Texas for orientation. We were also told that Steven's would provide THREE (3) meals per day on our arrival.
We were told that we would be paid $350.00 a week while in training, shitty, but at least we'd be getting something. At the end of the paid orientation and the over-the-road training, we'd be getting 27 cents per mile-below industry average, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right? Well, read this all the way through, and you'll see that your 27 cents per mile gets eaten up pretty f**king quickly with all the hidden fees, fines, and other Stevens bulls**t.
Since I had always wanted to try my hand at truck driving, and was in desperate need of a job, I signed up, and began the classroom portion of the training with several other students. The first two days were 'free', that is, we were not asked to make any commitment to the company. We had several pep talks from the owner of the school, who told us how fan-f**king-tastic our new 'career' was going to be, complete with promises of around $40,000 yearly income for 'hard workers'.
Other than the company sponsored pep talk, the classroom portion of the training involved taking practice tests for our CDL exams and filling out background questionaires for Steven's. Additionally, we took a DOT physical-at our own expense. After completing the questionaires and DOT physical, we were told that we were hired, and ready to begin training.
On day 3, the scam began. We were asked to sign Steven's Transport tuition agreements. We were instructed to cross out all of the repayment details, and told that this would not be necessary because, if we did not quit before our one year mark, we would owe nothing. Note, nothing was said AT ALL about being fired or laid off.
The total cost of the three and one half week training course was to be $5,999.00, at a 'reasonable' interest rate of 19%. Yes, that's right, campers-19%. We were also told that if we wanted to pay up front, the cost was $3000. Why the 50% increase? In short, to make certain that, no matter how illegal or unethical the employer's demands, that we would be scared to death to quit.
We asked for copies of the signed loan agreements, only to be told that we would get them after arriving in Dallas. The owner of the training center himself refused to provide these contracts, and implied that we would be seen as 'rocking the boat' as brand-new employees if we continued to complain.
In retrospect, I should have bailed at this point, but Steven's KNOWS they're recruiting desperate people who need a job, and believe me, they prey on that. It should be noted that refusing to provide copies of a signed loan contract is ILLEGAL under Federal law, but it would soon become obvious that breaking the law means little, if anything, to this outfit.
Now on to the fantastic "training center". In the interest of fairness, about half of the staff REALLY seemed to take their jobs seriously. They showed up for work on time, provided instruction that was geared toward the individual student, and took extra time with the folks who struggled. They were a little rough around the edges and didn't really have time for folks who didn't want to listen, but who can blame them? Note, I said that this describes half of the staff.
The other half of the staff were, well, worthless. They spent about one hour of their day instructing, and the other ten hours fixing their cars, packing for hunting trips, and generally sitting on a*s. Also, they were regularly late or absent, which made the other staff members divide their time between twice as many students, which was unfair to the students and to the instructors. For $5,999, I expected more. A LOT more. Thanks to the two fellas that actually came to work and (gasp) worked, we all passed our CDL practical and written exams.
We went on to complete our training course, but as we did so, several of the students were eliminated for issues they had disclosed initially on their background questionaires. This was a bit puzzling, since we were told that we were hired already, but we just kept plugging along. We recieved bus tickets to the Steven's Transport headquarters, in Dallas, Texas, for orientation. Our last bit of instruction from the director of the training center was, 'you've all already been hired, don't go down there and 'unhire' yourselves'.
On arrival in Dallas, phase two of the scam began. We all got rooms at the Howard Johnson's in Mesquite, a crack-riddled ghetto suburb of Dallas. Remember the meals that Steven's promised? Well, we found out that the weekend before orientation didn't count, so many of the new employees went hungry since they didn't have any money left after paying for DOT physicals, housing at the school, CDL permits and licenses, and all the other costs of employment with Steven's.
We all met up for the trip to scam central, AKA Steven's Training Center, the next morning-at 5 AM. Remember the breakfast that we were promised? Yeah, that begins at 6:00 AM. No meals, again, and some of the fellas were looking a little hungry and frustrated.
After arriving at Steven's, we started orientation. We were told that there would be no pay for the orientation. That's right, on top of the three and a half weeks of no pay and the hundreds of dollars shelled out to the training center, we would not be paid for the NEXT 4 days. Ouch.
For the next 4 fifteen hour days. That's right, campers, 15 hour days. For free. In their defense, Steven's DID start feeding us-slop. Absolutely indigestable trash. Normally, I wouldn't complain about a free meal, but these weren't free-they were our compensation for 15 hours of work, and not worth it.
While at the orientation program, we took ANOTHER physical-and this one washed about half of the class for various PREDISCLOSED problems. These folks were told that they were still on the hook for the six thousand dollar tuition, even though Steven's had disqualified them for issues they were aware of prior to their arrival.
The orientation consisted of 50-60% classroom training, and 40-50% track time. We used the Steven's Transport facility 'on the hill', directly behind the training center. We did mostly the same things with the trucks that we had been doing at the CDL school on the hill, and recieved grades for each of the skills.
We also took a road test. A complete waste of f***ing time. I was in the same truck with a fella from Guatemala who did not speak or understand English (hmmmm....isn't that against the law?), and who could not find any of the gears with a road map, a complete schematic directly from Kenworth, and the aid of the sweet baby Jesus. I s**t you not, we coasted for most of the road test with this guy driving, and at the end, he passed. But then, we all passed.
During the classroom portion of the orientation, we were asked to sign mandatory, binding arbitration agreements-almost like Steven's is afraid they'll be sued or something. We were also introduced to the Steven's Transport workman's compensation program. It was a short class-they have opted out of workman's comp, so if you're injured, no matter where in the country you're from, you get to do your rehab at the Howard Johnson's, or you don't get any workman's comp.
I'm not kidding, and I couldn't make this up-that's the deal. You will see their doctors, in Dallas, or you will be cordially invited to go f*** yourself. Are you from Vermont? Tough s**t. You're rehabbing in Dallas. From Boston? Hope your rehab doesn't take too long, and I hope you like Dallas. By the way, they're not going to make ANY arrangements to board or transport your family, either-so don't get hurt.
If you're curious about this part of the scam, Google 'Steven's Transport Workman's Compensation', and you'll find that they've been sued over this-repeatedly. Once, during arbitration, they lost, and tried to blame their loss on the administrative judge's MIGRAINE F***ING HEADACHE. All in order to f**k a hard-working employee who bought into their scam.
Another protion of the orientation involves filling our paperwork to allow Steven's to deduct just about anything they feel like from your check. You'll be paying for an $80.00 meat lock, and two $30.00 load locks before you're allowed off the yard in your own truck, by the way. Yep, another $140.00 out of pocket, and all you've gotten so far is some shitty Mexican food and a room at the h*o Jo's.
Also, if your truck is damaged-even by SOMEONE ELSE, you'll be paying the insurance deductible out of pocket, too. Don't forget to check your load temperature-yep, you guessed it, they can 'fine' you for that, too. Over-rev the truck? Yep, that's right-you're paying for it, even though Steven's is a TRAINING COMPANY. Go out of route? Cha-ching. Over on your fuel? Cha-ching. Miss a fuel stop? Cha-ching. Are you starting to see a pattern here?
One of the portions of the class I thought was especially enlightening was the axle and vehicle weight portion. If you drive for Stevens, you WILL drive over weight-or the dispatchers will black ball you and you'll be waiting-unpaid-for days at a time between loads. Remember, this is a training company, and your replacement is probably already being trained. And, if you quit, it's no skin off their nose-you'll still be on the hook for the six grand, at 19% interest.
One of the employees there at the training center, a big African American fella named Eugene, will come in and reassure you that if you get a ticket for being overweight, and you've been told by your dispatcher that you should pull the load despite being overweight, that Stevens will pay the fine. What Eugene won't tell you-even if he's asked directly-is that each commercial driver has a DAC report, on which EVERY VIOLATION he or she commits is logged. That overweight ticket goes on YOUR DAC report-and it WILL prevent you from advancing in the industry.
Also, what Eugene won't tell you is that in some states, you might be ARRESTED for being over gross-which the dispatchers will STILL try to get you to pull-and you're not getting out unless you or Steven's comes up with the fine amount. Nice, eh? And you better make sure that they send you the message in writing on your Qualcomm, or else they're gonna claim that you volunteered to pull an overweight load, and then you're gonna be a*s out!
Another detail Stevens leaves out is the fact that profitable trucking jobs require a SPOTLESS DAC. All those overweight tickets that Stevens pays for mean that you're not going to get hired by Wal-Mart, Fed-Ex, or any of the other big-money trucking companies. You're stuck as a bottom feeder forever-for 27 cents per mile.
Oh, and about the 27 cents per mile-did I mention that you're going to pay for every truck-related expense with advances from your pay? Need toll money? Take an advance. Need to pay lumpers to unload the freight? Take an advance. Money for a fine? Take an advance. Windshield wiper fluid, oil, coolant, or any other minor repair? Take an advance. Stevens claims that they'll reimburse you, but remember, they get to decide whether to do that or not after the fact. Your money has already been spent, and now you have to beg them to give it back.
I know some of you are thinking, "well, I'll just offload my own freight, and take the lumpers out of the equation". My a*s you will. Most of the shippers and recievers I dealt with while in the trainer/trainee OTR phase would not let you on their docks AT ALL, NO MATTER WHAT. Period. No exceptions. And they can be REAL expensive-on trainee pay, the lumpers might cost more that your weekly check for some freight-like Tyson chicken, which is one of the biggest Stevens contracts.
So, provided you're stupid or desperate enough to sign off on all of this (I was...), you'll be assigned to a trainer for the first of two over-the-road training phases, trainer/trainee. I've personally decided to report Stevens to OSHA for the numerous violations I observed, so I can't go into specific detail, but suffice it to say that it is possible for the trainer to use your log book to drive illegaly-and in my experience, he WILL. You'll also need to drive illegally, too, or you'll find yourself out of a job. And don't bother calling Stevens to report it-that's the fast-track to unemployment.
Suffice it to say, if you go ahead and decide to work for Stevens after reading this, you have only yourself to blame. They somehow manage to get these reports edited off of this site and others, but hopefully, you've read this one and can save yourself the scamming I got.