DAT load board glitch could cost small-business truckers thousands

Starting early Thursday, small-business truckers who rely on the spot market began reporting problems logging in to the DAT load board to find freight.

While the DAT online load board and mobile app are back up and working now, DAT told FreightWaves that a “rare, unforeseen problem” resulting from a scheduled maintenance upgrade caused its load board to slow to a crawl as users tried to access its system early Thursday.

“It has to do with basically the amount of data running through the system,” Jeff Hopper, chief marketing officer of DAT, told FreightWaves. “It was running at capacity, which is partly why we were updating the system, to handle more capacity. It was just an unforeseen problem where the system couldn’t handle that load volume during the initial turn-on [after the updgrade].” 

Engineers worked frantically Thursday to purge old data, which took several hours until the system could handle the “capacity to run at full speed,” Hopper said.

Some truck drivers were concerned that DAT, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, had been hit by a ransomware attack similar to the one that struck its competitor, Truckstop.com, a few days before Christmas.

However, Hopper said that wasn’t the case.

“It wasn’t any kind of security issue with malware or ransomware attack at all,” he said.

Owner-operators who rely solely on the spot market told FreightWaves they were struggling to find loads and were sitting in their trucks waiting for the DAT system to come back up Thursday.  Some said they switched solely over to DAT after leaving Truckstop.com following the ransomware attack on its system.

In the wake of DAT’s technical problems Thursday, Justin Taylor, owner of Merge Transit, a spot market agency in San Antonio, struggled to secure loads for approximately 70 owner-operators who pay his company to find freight for them.

Taylor said he books about 80% of the loads through DAT but that he had to rely on smaller load boards like Uber Freight, Convoy and internal broker load boards to find freight.

“It took us awhile, but we booked them all,” Taylor told FreightWaves.

The DAT system being down for several hours could cost owner-operators thousands of dollars and precious hours they can legally drive, Taylor said.

“Because it took so long to book them a load today, it could cost them some hours on their [hours-of-service] clock, which will cause a lag in where they can deliver tomorrow,” he said. “This glitch could easily cost them a load they were counting on this week.”

Some truckers reported they had received a partial credit from DAT toward next month’s load board fees.

Hopper said DAT plans to handle customers’ grievances on a “case-by-case basis.”

“We can’t erase what happened this morning, but maybe we can help,” he said.

Truckers on social media questioned why the DAT maintenance upgrade was scheduled during the middle of the week instead of on a weekend when fewer users may be trying to access the system.

“Honestly, there’s no great time to do an upgrade, but maybe we can try to be more diligent in the future,” Hopper said.

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes