My experience with CRST

Discussion in 'CRST' started by TheLuckyTrucker, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. TheLuckyTrucker

    TheLuckyTrucker Bobtail Member

    May 1, 2013
    Hey guys, I never really post anything on here, but I saw a lot of people asking questions and didn't feel like writing on anyone else's posts. I thought I would let people know my experience with CRST Van Expedited. I started last year, I went through their school in Fontana, CA. I was in the new terminal they built. It really sucks. It looks like boot camp. When you get there, don't expect to be treated kindly. I am the kind of person that gets along well with others and the people there were mostly unfriendly. After your 3 weeks there, some of people treat you a little nicer, though.

    You basically share a dorm style room with 3 other people. The setup is 1 bed, a closet, then the next bed, a closet and then 1 more bed and a closet. No private bathroom, no privacy at all really, I didn't really care but others did. The only thing I didn't like was there are no locks on the closets and you gotta really trust your roommates if you are going to leave your stuff in there. The new terminal is out in the middle of nowhere kind of. Unless you have a car, your screwed. You can either walk for miles to a gas station or wait for the CRST shuttle that comes every hour. Which is a dirty van that picks up about 8 people I believe and drops you off at Walmart, then picks you up after like an hour. I met a couple guys who had brought their own vehicles who used to always ask me if I wanted to go to the store when they did, so that was pretty cool.

    The restaurant at the terminal is crazy over-priced. I think they were asking like $10 for a club sandwich that would normally be $4 or $5 at the store. They have a couple pool tables which is basically all I did when I wasn't studying. They have TV's in the big day room. But, it sucks because it is a loud echo in that room, it is difficult to hear the TV when everyone is talking. They have 2 refrigerator's which sucks because people like to steal your food. I bought 1 loaf of bread, a half gallon of milk and a couple other things like peanut butter and jelly and people always stole it. They do not allow you to keep food in the rooms. I did anyway because I dang sure wasn't gonna pay for food other people were going to steal.

    Now, the school was a joke. Honestly, I really went into this thinking that it would be an awesome experience. The first week is all studying. No driving. So, they pile you all, we had 20 people in my class, into a single wide trailer, which is the classroom. They give you 5 minute breaks here and there but you basically take little tests on different things about trucking. Then, they give you all the answers for the DMV lol. Everyone in my class passed except for one guy who failed twice somehow. But he tested a time and passed. You take I think 5 or 7 tests all in one day, including your Class C, even if you just got it I found out.

    The second week was exciting because I was going to get to drive finally. Well, it turned out to be a horrible experience. First of all, there are like 5 "trainers" for 20 students. So, They divided us all into groups of 4. Each group had one trainer. Then, they put us all in the same truck, which is just as comfortable as you might imagine. So one person would be in the driver seat, the trainer would be in the passenger seat and the rest of us sat in the back. Now, here is where it got scary lol. I was the only one on the truck who had drove a stick shift previously with my truck at home. The other three had never driven a stick in their lives. It took the entire week for the "trainer" to teach them all how to drive, correctly, and they still didn't have the hang of it. Well, he had one kid drive us out to the freeway, around town and had us stop on this open road with not much traffic. Up until this point, it was a terrifying experience. Now, this kid starts driving and is only looking at the shifter knob, reading the pattern. The truck is driving, and he is not watching the road. Yeah, safety first right. Also, I will mention, there are no seat belts in the back lol. The kid drifts into the oncoming lane and then the trainer freaked out, which in turn made the kid freak out and we swerved hard back into our lane. I figured the trainer would tell this kid he couldn't drive anymore and risk our safety and let one of us drive. Nope. He lets this kid take an hour and a half to learn to shift. We all were supposed to get 1 hour each to drive, so now this cut into one of our driving times.

    Next, he had the next guy go up, same thing pretty much, but without the terrifying swerving action. Another hour and a half on that guy. The he lets this girl go next, she got the hang of it pretty fast and did better than both guys and got her hour done on time. Well, thanks to thing one and thing two in the beginning, I lost out on my hour. So, the trainer told me that I got to drive us home. Yippee. No real turning practice, not much instruction at all really. I drove a 5 speed at home so shifting was simple. I just had to press the clutch twice, no biggie. Flipping the little lever was tricky but I got the hang of it. I basically watched the other 3 and learned that way, what not to do. So, my first day sucked. Now, every day after that went the same way. My trainer told me that since I did so well on the first day with no real instruction that he wanted to work with the other 3 more. I was pretty annoyed but thought, what the heck. So, in my 1 full week of "driving instruction" I got about 2 hours of drive time if that, including my drive test.

    My trainer talked to the boss and told him what had happened and that I didn't get much practice at all. So when it came time to take the driving test, the guy went super easy on me. I probably should have failed on a few counts, because I was the only one in my group and class who never got to practice on the test route. There were a few tight turns that got me but the guy acted like he never saw it happen and talked me out of my dilemma. There was one guy who everyone thought would fail, when he got back from his test, he told me he stalled 12 times, hit 2 curbs and rolled a stop sign, and he passed. Oh em gee. The school really just looks at the students as dollar signs rather than people, so they passed everyone. The only people who didn't pass were ones who failed their drug tests or lied on their applications. Otherwise, they would have definitely passed, I am sure. I got a total of 4 practice back ups on each back up. They have you 90 degree, straight line and parallel park. I got to do all of which, 4 times for the week. Because the other 3 needed more help than me, according to my "trainer" even though I needed a lot of help as well.

    They passed me, even though I ran over a few cones. As did everyone else in the class pretty much. But they said, "CRST will test you as well, so you better pass there.". Well, the CRST drive test is an even bigger joke. My instructor was the older lady with a serious smoking problem. The rules are that instructors are not allowed to smoke in the truck during tests. She smoked about 5 cigarettes in the 30 minutes or so of my test, which was super annoying. She passed me with flying colors, she told me not to tell anyone she smoked so she went easy on me. I was shocked lol. There was no backing test at CRST. They tell you that is what the school is for. Even though the school sucked at teaching us. Then you wait for a trainer to take you on the road. There were guys who said they were waiting for a week or two. If you choose a non-smoking trainer, you will be waiting for a while. I got lucky and was 1 of 2 guys who signed up for the reefer fleet and got a non-smoker in about 1 day.

    My trainer was a really cool guy who taught me everything the school didn't. He taught me the right way to backup, the right way to shift and everything I asked he took time to help me until I got it down. He never got frustrated with me. We got real god miles. Our Reefer route had us going from California to the Maine and back. I mainly hauled Produce from California to Pennsylvania and then Sam Adams back to California. I never made it to Maine, but I did go to Connecticut and Mass. a few times, as well as West Virginia to pick up a trailer once. One funny thing that happened was they made us sit for 3 days because they said they had "no loads". Then they had us go from PA to West Virginia to pick up a brand new Reefer. Then, they had us dead head that, to PA. After that we delivered a couple short loads until we got to Utah. At Utah, they had us pick up an empty trailer and dead head to Sacramento, Ca. Oh em gee. That seemed like the biggest waste to me. Then it made me mad every time they mad us sit, because I knew they had us do that, which at least kept the wheels moving and at the same time, money in my pocket.

    Well, after my month, my trainer passed me with flying colors and I didn't have to take a second road test at CRST. I got my new co-driver and a truck and was ready to go after about 5 days. Turns out, the truck I had to pick up was abandoned in Arizona. So they rented us a car and we drove out to Arizona. No pay for this btw. Then we find out the truck had been in an accident and had been fixed, but the mechanic told me the previous drivers took out the front fender, the driver side fuel tank and the driver side fairing. The previous driver also left all of his things inside the truck and it smelled like a dead body inside. The mattresses were disgusting and there were bottles filled with who knows what all over the place. I told them I would not be driving this truck. My DM told me he knew that the truck would be bad but his boss made him give us that truck. So they rented us a motel for a couple nights until they ordered new mattresses and completely cleaned that truck out. And then we were off. No pay for 7 days at this point. Starving in Arizona.

    Our first load was local, to Bullhead. It was 120 degrees and my co-driver was really lazy. It was his shift but he didn't want to stand in line outside with the other truckers to give the people the paper work so after a short argument, I just went and did it, just to get the heck out of there quicker. Well, I was standing in that line for 30 minutes. The lady was taking her sweet time in her air conditioned office while 10 truckers stood in line, patiently melting. After I get up there, I giver her the paper work, she tells me where to go, My co-driver is idleing the heck out of the truck at this point, it is nice and cold inside. He is in the bed, and tells me to back it up. I knew at this point, that this guy was gonna be a hassle to work with, but I needed money and didn't feel like sitting any longer to wait for anyone else. Well, I figured out later that his plan was to run out his time and make it to where I would have to drive at night. He said that he hated nights and didn't like to drive at night. I told him he would eventually have to start, because nothing ever works out perfectly like that in trucking.

    Well, it happened, the way it worked out, sitting so long and when I arrived it was early in the morning. By the time they loaded us it was late afternoon and I barely had enough time to make it to a nearby truck stop. Now, he was trying to make up all kinds of excuses to just sleep and start driving in the morning. But, my trainer taught me to run hard in the beginning, that way you can have a little wiggle room on the last day or 2 incase something stupid happens. So I told him, lets go. Now he was 30, I was 21. I figured he would be responsible enough to be able to handle things on his own. Well, by the time he starts driving, after arguing with me it was 8pm. After about 2 hours of me falling asleep, he wakes me up and tells me that he was feeling sick and that he ate some bad food at the last truck stop. So we made it about 150 miles. He signed off and went to sleep. I couldn't believe he pulled this 5th grade move on me. So I had to make up for lost time when my hours reset. And he was putting a lot of pressure on me saying, "dude, you gotta put the pedal down, don't stop for anything, we won't make it one time.". Well, after I drive 600 miles this day, he has to drive again, at night. As you can guess, he pulled the same thing. He drove for 230 miles and said again, he feels sick. Even though, the whole time he was laying in the bed texting and talking to his gf on the phone, he didn't sound sick.

    I pushed myself so hard that month, I drove up until the last minute every day. I was falling asleep sometimes and he would wake up and say, "I don't care if you crash this truck, you better not stop until you have too." even though, he was the one causing us to be late. Then because of his little games, he caused us to make far less money than we could have, even though, he was making most of his money off of me, since we split miles. He told our DM that he wanted 4 more days out so that he could make enough to have money when he went home, I told him that doing that would cause us to be even more late getting home than we already were going to be. He said, "they have to get us home on time, they know me, blah blah blah, they will.". He told everyone he was a big MMA fighter, when in reality he was 150 lbs overweight and knew like 3 moves. Well, as I told him, because nothing works out like you want it too in trucking, that 4 days turned into 6. He freaked out. Started punching the truck, threw the Qualcomm, broke the mirror switch on the door panel. Now before he did all that, this was the day before we were supposed to be home. I had just drove my full hours again, down to 2 minutes left, to Boston. Obviously, he didn't realize if we were in Boston, how the heck were we supposed to get home to California tomorrow.. Well, he freaks out, throws a tantrum like a child. He tells me, "I am too, stressed to drive now, you take the next shift.".

    He knew we wouldn't leave until my hours reset. So that means that I just drove my full hours and then as soon as it's time to go, I drive again. Well, I go to sleep, after about 2 hours the guys at the warehouse knocks on the truck door. I am out cold because I am losing sleep and driving long hours. Well, instead of him getting up to talk to the guy, I slept on the top bunk, he kicks the bottom of the bunk hard 3 times, and yells, "wake up fool, answer the door.". I was in my boxers not knowing wtf was going on. So, I jumped down and answered the door, and find out that the guy knocked on the wrong truck. I was so annoyed. It took me a while to get back to sleep. I was so angry and annoyed. Then he wakes me up, when it should have been his shift and says, "back this thing in, i'll drive after this.". So, I back up to the dock, open the doors, take out the load locks. Then, he gets in a fight with his gf on the phone and throws a tantrum and says he is too stressed to drive. So basically, I got about 5 hours sleep, after driving my full clock down and now I have to do it again.

    It was night time, it was raining so hard I could barely see, I drank 3 5 hour energies and was still falling asleep the whole time, I almost drove off the road a few times. At this point he wakes up, he sits in the jump seat and I figured since he had full hours, he would take over. Nope. He said, "I am gonna sit up here and talk to you so you don't fall asleep.". Now, I never thought about killing a man before, but the things I thought of doing would make Charles Manson cry. So I finish out my hours. Pass out at a truck stop. He starts driving, finally drives almost a full shift. He drove 500 miles. I drove 600+ on some days. His best was 500 a couple times. We make it back to Cali. I go home. Mad that this guy just got payed for half the miles I drove when he barely did any work and cried and complained the entire trip.

    I called my DM and told him the situation. He told me that there were no other drivers in my area. He asked me to "stick it out" with this guy. I told him, "No". He has his supervisor call me and now, this guy was a real tool. He says, "You knew darn well that this wasn't a pretty business.", "You signed a contract for 8 months.". "I will find you a more experienced driver, say with 2-3 months experience who knows what he is doing.". I said, "Sir, this was the hardest time of my life this last month. Is there anybody I can hook up with at all?". He said, "No.". He told me I should just "tough it out.". I couldn't believe the way I was being talked too. There was a lot more said by him, but I don't feel like writing it all out lol. I finally said, "Fine, then I quit.". He said that if I did he would gladly send me a bill for like $5000 or something. I said, "Fine." I would rather pay that off than risk my life for 10 cpm to put up with someone like that and be treated the way I was.

    Well, it has been 6 months since I quit and I got a bill typed up by the company stating that I owed like $5000. I have checked my credit report several times, and there is nothing on there. There is nothing anywhere, other than that letter sent by that guy saying that I owe any money. I ended up getting an Apprenticeship as an Electrician here, and I am making close to $18 an hour. Honestly, aside from all the BS, I loved trucking. But, the crappy pay, horrible hours, no respect from anyone, crappy team mate and horrible people at the company, I would never go back to this company. I know a lot of people who graduated with me and have quit soon after they found out that I did and they haven't gotten any bills other than the same thing the guy sent me. No bill collectors calling, nothing on credit reports. Nothing at all.

    Just thought I would share my experience with CRST. I can't personally recommend this company, but you may have a better experience. The only people who I know that still work there are people who brought their own partner. If you hook up with a stranger, it's a gamble. That supervisor told me that he had guys who went through 5-6 team mates before finding the right one. Either that or the guy just decided to stick it out for the 8 months with whoever he found. I think I made about $1900 in 2 months there. Most of that, was with my trainer. There are better companies out there. My advice would be not to sign a contract.

    All of you guys still on the road, stay safe. Now that I have been out there I have a new found respect for truckers lol. Stay safe in this weather throughout the states. You guys keep America moving.

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  3. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Henderson, NV & Orient
    You should copy this and email/Fax it to several big shots at CRST.
    Many executives are clueless as to what is going on in the lower ranks.
    Tell them you're keeping records of all that happened to give to FMCSA and DOT just in case the mess with your credit report or you get any more harrassing letters wanting $5,000.00 for training you didn't get or anything negative on your DAC.
  4. Pound Puppy

    Pound Puppy Heavy Load Member

    May 31, 2010
    Amherst, OH
    Sorry to hear about your experience. I think you just picked the wrong company to start with. CRST does not have the best reputation in the industry. If your apprenticeship falls thru try someone like Schnieder or JB. From what I hear thier rookie programs are a lot better. Good Luck!
  5. heavyhaulerss

    heavyhaulerss Road Train Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    sounds like a good prelude to undercover boss!
    TheLuckyTrucker Thanks this.
  6. pattyj

    pattyj Road Train Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    Sioux City,ia
    You had a bad exp no doubt about that but why did you take up the slack for your co driver?You ran yourself ragged and for what to leave crst on bad terms.They told you to stick it out.You should have done just that and don't drive more then you have to and tell the boss that called you the same thing.You should have told this pos boss to talk to your co driver and hand him the phone.You wasn't making much money to begin with because of this loser of a co driver.You should have done just what he did,have a no care attitude because your caring about making delivery ontime and doing your job made things only much much worse.Your co driver know he could take advantage of you so he did just that and you allowed him to do so.I'm glad you found a good paying job.No otr company pays that.Its been 6 months since you quit but don't hold your breath about you not paying the school bill.It might be another 6 months before you hear anything.
    KW Cajun and TheLuckyTrucker Thank this.
  7. blairandgretchen

    blairandgretchen Road Train Member

    Dec 9, 2011
    South west Missouri
    Thanks for taking the time to write this.
    I often get flak for my opinion of CRST, and it is posts like these that simply reinforce what I see out here on the road.

    CRST is a junk company that only cares about shifting freight, at the expense of students, other road users, and the industry.

    We all have to start somewhere, but this is one of the worst places to do so.

    You gave it your best shot - I don't fault you for refusing to work yourself to death.

    Please, all wannabe drivers - read and reconsider. There are better ways to do this.
  8. KW Cajun

    KW Cajun Road Train Member

    Apr 12, 2013
    Copperhead Road
    It was a lengthy read, but it well described just how bad training is, how management neglects to address bad drivers (co-drivers), and I'm sure scores of other shoddy & unsafe practices of CRST. Glad you warned future drivers of the realities of CRST and also the realities of teaming with "Joe Unknown".

    As for what you experienced, you should have put a firm foot down, and nipped it in the bud, at least by the 2nd occurrence of your co-driver sluffing off and faking illness just so he didn't have to drive. I would have called the TM immediately and explained the situ, and also refused to just "tough it out". You can't be expected to tough out a safety issue, or a genuinely unfair/unsafe work condition issue.
    On that part where he kicked under your bunk 3x, woke you, using a disrespectful name to you... I would have lost it for sure right then.
    Talk about "clouding up and raining on someone" would be putting it mildly.

    I would also send a copy of your bad experiences, as you have posted here, to the higher-ups at CRST (and to all appropriate Dept's), and further demand that this issue of supposedly owing them $5000 for unsafe substandard schooling is immediately dismissed in writing. Don't leave this to "chance".
    I can assure you that, even tho it hasn't worked it's way to your credit report yet, it will surface somewhere/somehow negatively in the future.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  9. Moon_beam

    Moon_beam Heavy Load Member

    Aug 29, 2012
    When I see CRST, Swift, CR England, Prime or any other 6 months no accident no ticket so yer a trainer company truck in my mirrors about to pass me I drop 1 mph until their cab is past my front bumper then I drop 2 more MPH. I think that I am going to change that to 2MPH and then 4MPH so that they can get AWAY from me faster.
  10. TheLuckyTrucker

    TheLuckyTrucker Bobtail Member

    May 1, 2013
    You know, I didn't write down a lot of things that happened. Like, at times when my co-driver pulled those little stunts, I called my DM and he told me, "Look, we need you to really hustle, you guys are already running late as it is.". He never acted like he cared that I was tired or anything. My trainer taught me that they can not legally force you to drive tired. So, I would pull over for a couple hours for sleep. But, the whole time that Qualcomm was going off with messages basically wanting me to get back on the road. Also, a few times we were in extremely bad areas or bad weather when my co-driver would pull a stupid move and I would really just weigh my options. Did I want to really walk off this truck and be in the middle of a really bad ghetto where you just see the crazy people walking around, or out in a tornado warning or out in the hail or bad rain, with no money for a cab. Also, my DM kept telling me that he had no idea how long it would take to find me a new driver. That I would have to get a motel, which I would have to cover and then CRST would reimburse me later. So, I just wanted to get home. I know I could have made different choices, but really, I just didn't want to be stuck away from home any longer. Because of my co-driver, at the end of our 28 days out, he added on 4 days, then it took 3 more to get home. Most of which I drove. I got some legal advice from an attorney who worked with clients from CRST previously. He said that all they can really do is put a "hold" on my CDL from working with other big name OTR companies until I pay the money. He said that is really all they could do. If they do come after me for the money but he said he doubts they will, he told me to contact him again because I have a good case. I recorded a lot of what went on and have witnesses from school and CRST willing to back me up. So, I guess we'll see what happens now, if anything.

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
    Moon_beam and blairandgretchen Thank this.
  11. TheLuckyTrucker

    TheLuckyTrucker Bobtail Member

    May 1, 2013

    Yeah, if I knew then what I know now lol. But, really I just wrote this for other people who are considering this company. I don't want anyone else to go through that. Not saying they will, just letting them know it does happen. Also, other people from my class who quit after I did had their own bad experiences, some of which I witnessed myself. 2 of my friends had horrible trainers who just used them for the extra pay, didn't teach them anything. 1 of my friends who was half white and half mexican had a racist trainer. The trainer was mad that the guys were taking so long to load their trailer and the guys loading it happened to be mexican. Well, the trainer didn't realize my buddy was half mexican, he really didn't look it but is proud of his heritage. The trainer made some really offensive remarks and my buddy walked off the truck.

    The best advice I can give people wanting to get into trucking is first of all do NOT sign a contract. CRST has the shortest contract, but beware. Also, do NOT believe anything CRST recruiters tell you lol. I was told I would start out with 31 cpm for signing up for the Reefer fleet because I turned them down when they wanted me to run Dry Van for 22 cpm. I agreed. When I got there they still told me the same thing. Then, when it came time to sign the contract on the last day, it said I would only be getting 22 cpm. I asked the woman in charge, I went to her office and she looked at the paper saying I would only make 22 cpm like everyone else. Now this is exactly what she said. She said, "this says 22 cpm because you will be going with your trainer, sign your name here, it doesn't show that you will make 31 cpm on this paper but when you get back, come speak to me and I will adjust it right.".

    I honestly couldn't believe she told me that lol. These people really are so full of themselves they think they can tell you any BS lie and you will eat it up. So I went and got 2 of my friends to come back to her office with me and I recorded her saying it again. Just to have proof. Well, needless to say it was a straight up LIE lol. I signed pretty much knowing that, but since I went through the schooling and 3 weeks of hell already, screw it lol. When I confronted the supervisor guy on the phone the day I quit about that, he said, "Well, obviously she lied to you, you actually believed her?". I said, "Is this how you guys run your company? You lie to your future employees and when they realize it you just sarcasticly answer like that?". I played the recording on the phone and told him others were there to hear it, he got quiet. He told me he would call me back. He did a few hours later, pretty much begging me to come back to drive. His whole tune was changed.

    Honestly, I would never go back to that company. That was the biggest joke of a company I have ever worked for. I am embarrased to tell people I worked for CRST. Making 10 cpm. Starving because they have you sit more than you drive half the time. Not just because we were late due to my co-driver either. When I was with my trainer, we were almost always early or on time. We were late 1 time, due to the fact that they gave us the wrong address which was 50 miles away.. And they still made me and him sit a lot. Every customer I talked too said that CRST was a big joke to them. The Kohl's warehouse in Wurtsboro, NY even had an excessive amount of orange cones around the guard shack and when I asked why, the guard said that it was for CRST drivers. Because he said the guard shack had been hit 3 times by CRST drivers. Then the Sam Adams guys in PA told me that he felt bad because they purposely put the CRST trailers close together to make it hard on the drivers. But the guy liked me and helped me out.

    Biggest joke of a company. Really dissapointed in them. I really was enjoying trucking with my trainer. Him and I were early most of the time so we would go walk around different cities and go out to eat, enjoy our meals, go hang out at the mall even a couple times lol. I saw a lot of cool places and cool things. Like, I am from So-Cal, we do not have deer, moose, bears, severe weather lol. I got to experience a lot of crazy stuff and see stuff I probably never would have without driving otr. Also, I have seen a few drivers for these newbie companies struggling to back in places around my city because their trainers suck. If I am not running late I always go over to help them. I know what it is like out there in some of those tricky areas, especially blind side lol.

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
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