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The Truck Is Early


The truck has arrived, but it is earlier than expected.

We have given the truck an arrival time or arrival window, based the instructions you have given us. If the truck has arrived before the specified arrival time or the start of the arrival window, then it is early.

The objective at this point becomes to deal with the early truck in a manner that suits your plans and requirements, but does not trigger waiting time charges.


  1. Decide whether the early arrival creates a problem for you.
    • If it does not, carry on with loading or unloading the truck. Tell us or not, as you wish.
    • If it does create a problem, or if the driver is getting pushy, follow the steps below:
  2. Call us, and let us know what time the truck arrived, and when you plan to load or unload it.
  3. We will confirm that the truck really is early, relative to the instructions you have given to Copper Run. For example, if you are first-come, first-served facility and you told us you wanted the truck to come on Wednesday and today is Wednesday, then the driver may be earlier than you would have preferred, but he/she is not actually early.
    In this instance, we do not have an ‘early’ problem, but we may have a waiting time problem. If you choose not to take the truck now, and the truck is not, in fact, early, then waiting time will continue to be measured even while the truck is waiting elsewhere.

    • NOTE: If the truck is not early and it is there for a pick-up, but you are not prepared to take the truck now, this decision gives the truck the option of deciding not to come back for the pick-up, and to instead charge a “Truck Ordered, Not Used” (TONU) fee, which you would be liable for.
    • The most likely reason that a truck would choose not to came back would be that making its other planned pick-ups would be take it too far away to return either, while your shipping was still open, or within the driver’s available driving hours. Most LTL pick-ups are planned in a logical order, and changing that order and still having everything work may not be possible.
  4. If you are not prepared to take the truck now, you have two options:
    • Ask the truck to wait, with the commitment that you will take it as soon as you are able;
    • Tell the truck to come back later, at a specified time when you will be able to take the truck.
      • NOTE: Under either option, truck waiting time, if any, will be calculated from the original appointment time or the start of the original arrival window, whichever applies. This applies even if you specify a new arrival time that is later than the original appointment time or arrival window.
      • We will make the necessary arrangements with the carrier, on your behalf. We will also deflect any complaints regarding your decision to not take the truck early: we have experience with these types of conversations. We also have the documentation needed to sort any carrier claims that it was unaware of the correct arrival time.
    • Let us talk with the carrier, and we will let the carrier talk with their driver.
  5. We will speak with the carrier, and the carrier will speak with their driver. Do not discuss the matter with the driver yourself, and do not feel obliged to explain your decision to the driver. If the driver wants to debate the matter, ask him/her to call the carrier’s dispatcher.
    It goes without saying that there is nothing positive to be gained by risking an argument with a driver who has, or is about to have, possession of your freight, and who may be upset that you will not take him/her early, or who may have mis-understood the correct arrival time, or who may think your decision is arbitrary.
  6. If you do specify a time for the truck to return, you should plan to be ready to take the truck at that time. Asking the truck to wait again after the specified time, or to join a First-Come, First-Served line-up at that point would not be received well. And waiting time and charges, if they had not already started, will begin to be measured from the specified time.


Drivers are paid for miles operated, but are paid nothing for sitting without a dispatch, or for waiting for a scheduled pick-up or delivery to happen (exception: waiting for a loading or unloading delayed beyond the scheduled or agreed time), or for being delayed by traffic congestion, or for being stuck in bad weather. And because their waiting time counts against their legally-available driving hours (i.e., their earning hours), most drivers, and all good drivers, look for opportunities to reduce waiting time.

On occasion, a driver who is assigned a new load may have already been sitting empty, waiting for a load, and is therefore able to go to the pick-up point immediately, instead of waiting until a specified time later in the day, or until the next morning. Or a driver may have been able to unload and re-load sooner or more quickly than expected. Or the driver or dispatcher may have anticipated en-route congestion or weather that did not materialize, and as a result the driver is able to arrive at the your dock earlier than expected or planned.

So, when a driver comes across an opportunity to complete a pick-up or delivery ahead of time, he/she will almost always give it a try. Best case: the pick-up or delivery will be completed early. Worst case: he/she will have to wait until the scheduled time. For the driver, it really is a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained, so it is worth a try.

But if the driver’s try at an early dock time does not fit with your plans, you under no obligation to co-operate or facilitate in any way. Your obligation as a shipper or receiver is merely to meet the original plan.


There need not be any impact of a truck arriving early, since there are really only 2 possibilities:

  • If an early arrival does not create a problem, and the truck can be taken early, then there is no negative impact; or,
  • If an early arrival creates a problem, then the truck can simply be told to wait until the scheduled arrival time / window, and the net result is exactly what it would have been had the truck not arrived early.

An early truck is usually loaded or unloaded as soon as is practically possible. But the choice to do so is entirely at the shipper’s or receiver’s option. It is absolutely acceptable to ask the driver to wait, either on-site or elsewhere, until the previously-schedule time.

In terms of accessorial fees, there is no cost for asking an early driver to wait. But waiting time measurement would come into effect if the driver is asked to wait beyond the previously-arranged loading/unloading time or beyond the later of the driver’s arrival and the start of the previously-arranged loading/unloading window, and fees could result.