I have wanted to be a truck driver since I was very young, my Uncle, my brother and some of my friends were/are truck drivers. I grew up around it and I saw the lifestyle and understood what it involved. I decided to attend a Company training program with CRST. To start they're recruiter lied to me about everything to get me to follow thru with the application process...I asked tons of questions and he gave me answers, however they were lies. To begin with I was allowed to start the school even though I was in an area of the country they "do not service". I was not told this and now as an employee I will NEVER get home. The only alternative I have to get home is an 8 hour drive from a terminal which if I ever get home time I will be spending two days of it traveling to my house. Secondly I was told if I paid up front the costs would be $2400 and all food, boarding, physicals, and licensing would be covered. I chose to not to pay ahead thinking I would just pay my own food, boarding and such so I owed them less on graduation. I was told if I did not pay up front I would only have to work for them for 8 months and I would owe nothing and be free to find another company if I wanted. I requested countless times to see a copy of the contract so I could read it before I actually started the process to determine if I wanted to work for them based on thier policies. I was told repeatedly by everyone I asked that they did not have access to such documents and when I was done with training and orientation I would have time to review the contract. I was ready to become a truck driver so I assumed if everyone else is ok with the process must be its on the up and up. I was wrong.
I went thru the driving training school and being there for 2 weeks I only had 10 hours of total drive time and most of that was going round and round the state DOT driving test route. The only backing instruction I received was a day practicing the DOT bare minimum skill to pass the test...no real backing at all, no other trucks around me, no docks, no practicing parking. Basically the school was there to cram 30-70 students into one class to learn how to pass the DOT driving exam. Possibly CRST does not get their government pay check if the student doesn't pass. Once we pass we are carted off to the DMV to sign a paper saying we are residents of Iowa, which we ARE NOT. They do this to get thru some loophole so we can all be licensed right out of school and they can get us with "Lead Drivers" asap. Once we have our temp license we are pushed thru orientation and given about 10 minutes to read and sign our contract. Reading thru it I had some concerns and refused to sign but was told if I didn't I was still responsible for $700+ in costs and it would be due immediately. Even though I paid all my own expenses and the other students did not the contract I signed was for the same amount of money as them. $4000. So no matter what you pay for yourself you owe them that flat amount. If you are fired or quit 1 hour before your 8 months is done you owe the entire amount. So basically CRST gets both the $4000 and the government handout of what I hear is roughly $10000 for each student no matter what. So its in thier best interest to go thru as many students as possible in as short a time as possible to make more money, much more money than any company driver would earn the company. So if this isn't bad enough the training "on the road with a lead" is even more of a racket. They charge the Trainers to teach the student! They take approx. $300 in fees out of the trainers pay to cover the student. So CRST once again is charging someone else for something they should be paying for.
the Lead I was with had 30+ yrs exp driving which was rare as most of their Lead drivers are students themselves and only have a couple months exp. However he was losing money the entire time I was on his truck. I was only getting paid for half the miles I drove, he was an owner operator so he got paid by the load and as a company driver I was getting paid by the miles - I was driving ALL the miles as required by CRST so that I can learn how to drive yet they only paid me for half of them. I asked why, and just was told "thats our policy". So limping along in my training for 20 days I repeatedly asked my Fleet manager to route me close to home so I can get my license transferred to the state I actually live in (required by law) before my 30 days was up and my license would be suspended. I was never routed anywhere near my home. I finally had to just tell them my license was no longer valid and I have to get off the truck. Finally they responded by bussing me home.
While on the road I heard countless stories of other CRST students with suspended licenses still in trucks because CRST wont send them home - or even care. Now Im waiting to be assigned a new Lead driver so I can finish my training. They're planning department is deplorable, ALWAYS sending wrong directions and information on loads. No one knows where the empty trailers are so drivers are constantly searching for them (unpaid miles) so they can comply with thier load instructions and timelines. Fleet managers treat people like garbage talking to them like they are annoying children and heaven forbid if you refuse a load because you wont even break even on it because they will punish you by making you sit for days. I feel all this is in an effort to get drivers to quit. The more that quit the more money they make. As a result the majority of the fleet is students with no experience...thier CSA score is the highest of all trucking companies, they keep opening new "branches" to try and keep from being shut down because of the score. How do they get away with this? Why is the State of Iowa allowing fraud regarding residency? This company is making the entire trucking industry look bad. Thousands of other students forced into a contract because they have no choice, because they are far from home with no money, want to know why....Dont let this happen to you!!!!!