Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

actual rate, therefore, has been that much higher since the issuing of the injunction than it was before. These rates are also to be advanced December 15, 1902, 2 cents per 100 pounds.

The published rate upon packing-house products from Chicago to New York, both export and domestic, from January 1, 1901, to March 26, 1902, was 30 cents. On the latter date the export rate was reduced to 25 cents, where it now remains. The testimony showed that a concession of 5 cents was regularly given upon export business, and that to this was sometimes added 1 or 2 cents more. It would appear therefore that the rates actually exacted upon these commodities since the restraining orders are substantially the same as before. With dressed meats it seems to have been otherwise. The export and domestic rate upon this commodity is the same, and was January 1, 1901, 45 cents. This was reduced July 29 to 40 cents. January 1, 1902, it was raised to 45 cents, and March 26, 1902, reduced to 40 cents. It appeared from the testimony that there had been during the year 1901 a concession of about 5 cents per 100 pounds, while the rate was 45 cents, and of some 4 cents per 100 pounds after the rate was reduced to 40 cents. It apparently follows therefore that the actual rate applied to dressed meats since March 26 last has been approximately 5 cents per 100 pounds greater than that exacted during the corresponding period in the previous year. These rates are to be advanced 5 cents per 100 pounds, effective January 1, 1903.

Dressed-beef rates from Kansas City to Chicago were during the year 1901 nominally 234 cents per 100 pounds-actually about 184 cents. January 1, 1901, the published rate was reduced to 184 cents, and that rate has been in effect since, so that here, while the published rate has been reduced, the actual rate is the same. It is understood that one line from Kansas City to Chicago has contracted with certain packing houses at Kansas City to transport their product for a period of five years at not exceeding this figure, and if this contract is persisted in that rate can not be advanced.

Our general conclusion is, therefore, first, that the immediate effect of these injunctions was to advance on these commodities the rate received by the carrier and paid by the shipper, to the extent that published rates were higher than the rates actually charged; second, that their operation, by enforcing the published rate, may in the present condition of railroad ownership enable advances in actual rates to be effected which would not otherwise be made and maintained. The

producer of grain will undoubtedly pay more to transport that grain to destination than he had paid for some time before these injunctions took effect. To what extent this is the result of the restraining orders the Commission can not determine; but even if they were the sole cause it would not be an argument against the injunctions, since everyone concedes that carriers should publish their rates and maintain them when published. It does show, however, that there ought to be some power, in court or commission or elsewhere, which can not only compel carriers to maintain the rates they publish, but also compel them to publish fair and reasonable rates.

PUBLICATION AND FILING OF TARIFFS.

In the Eleventh Annual Report of the Commission the subject of “Construction, publication and filing of tariffs” was discussed at some length, and the principal defects in tariffs as then published and filed, including the various ways in which such tariffs failed to comply with the law and the orders of the Commission, were pointed out.

It may be stated that the defects and irregularities in the construction of rate schedules which were shown to exist at that time (December, 1897) are still prevalent, though in a less degree than formerly. Failure on the part of carriers to file tariffs in time to give the Commission legal notice of changes in rates is still of quite frequent occurrence, although in this respect also there has been noticeable improvement since the date of the report above mentioned. An average of about 3 per cent of the total number of tariffs filed fails to reach the Commission in time to give the previous notice required by law. These failures are traceable in many cases to carelessness on the part of the employees of carriers whose duty it is to attend to the mailing of tariffs. The most frequent cause for such failures, however, appears to be that sufficient time is not allowed for transmission, the tariffs in the majority of such cases reaching the Commission one day short of the required time.

All tariffs received, before being placed in the files, are examined as carefully as the limited clerical force available for such work will allow, and the attention of carriers immediately called to any defects or irregularities in their construction that may be observed, and also to failure to give the Commission legal notice of changes in rates or other disregard of statutory requirements that may be noted in the necessarily hasty examination of the tariffs. In this way much improvement has been accomplished, and while, as before indicated, many tariffs now filed are defective in various ways they are as a whole more nearly in conformity with the law than at any previous time.

In one important respect the improvement in rate schedules has fallen far short of what could be desired or expected; that is, in respect of simplicity of construction and clearness of application. The law contemplates that all tariffs posted by carriers for public inspection shall be in such form as to be readily intelligible to the ordinary shipper, and while it is true that the majority of tariffs are so constructed as to be readily comprehended by almost any one, there are many tariffs covering importan, traffic so complicated in construc

more.

tion and in which the application of the rates is so imperfectly shown that it is often very difficult for even a tariff expert to correctly determine,the rates therefrom. A forcible illustration of the point in question occurred at a recent hearing before the Commission when the traffic manager of one of the largest railroad systems in the country, in reply to a question, admitted that he was unable to state from a tariff published by his own company the rate on a given article between given points, although the rate regarding which the inquiry was made was intended to be shown in the tariff which he held in his hand. Such a tariff is, of course, not the kind of a tariff the statute contemplates. In ascertaining the rates on certain traffic from tariffs on file with the Commission, it has, on numerous occasions, been found necessary to telegraph the publishing carrier for information relative to their intended application.

In this connection may also be mentioned tariffs which, while not specially complicated in themselves, are rendered so by the issue of a large number of supplements, sometimes to the extent of a hundred or

To ascertain the correct rates from such a tariff is necessarily a tedious process, as all supplements or amendments must be examined in order to determine what changes have been made in the rates originally published in the tariff.

Tariffs such as described above are no doubt responsible in a large measure for the great number of overcharges which occur and which, on the larger roads, necessitate the employment of a considerable force of clerks in the claim department for the purpose of adjusting claims arising from errors of agents. It is unquestionably true that a large number of undercharges also occur from the same cause, and as these in most cases are not subsequently adjusted the carrier is a loser in revenue to the extent of such undercharges.

The cost of publishing tariffs constitutes quite an item of expense in conducting the business of a railroad, and it appears that complicated tariffs and those which have been excessively amended, such as alluded to above, are the result, in most cases, of efforts to save expense in clerical labor and printing. It appears probable that the clerical force employed in the rate and tariff departments of most carriers is inadequate to perform the amount of work required in a careful and proper manner, the consequence being that various devices are resorted to for the purpose of lessening the work, which is usually accomplished at the expense of simplicity and clearness. A tariff just filed is a fair illustration of such methods. This tariff, in many cases, does not name the actual rates to be charged nor the points of destination. Figures are given which are to be deducted from the rates named in other tariffs (which are not in all cases specifically referred to) in order to determine the rates. Other tariffs must also be examined in order to ascertain the points to which the rates are intended to apply. About seven

[ocr errors]

other tariffs must be consulted before all the rates and points intended to be covered can be determined. The following item taken from this tariff is an example of the method adopted:

Canned goods, C. L., as described in tariff from Chicago, Pekin, Peoria, Ill., and Mississippi River points to all stations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, 12 cents less than fifth-class rates, except where present rates are lower.

The tariff as published contains three pages besides the title-page. If it contained all of the actual rates to be charged and all of the points from and to which the rates apply, it would contain probably twenty or more pages. It will be seen that a very considerable saying in clerical labor in preparing the matter for the printer and in the expense of printing the tariff has been accomplished in the publication of this tariff, but the tariff as published would be of no use to a shipper.

The claim is often made by carriers that shippers never make any use of the tariffs which are required by law to be posted in their stations. This is no doubt true, and it is possible that it might also be the case if the tariffs were in such form as to be readily comprehended, but under present conditions it is certainly not surprising that shippers do not attempt to determine the rates for themselves from the posted tariffs.

As the rate schedules form the basis from which railroad revenues are derived, they are of the greatest importance, and it seems apparent that the exercise of very rigid economy with respect to preparation and publication of same, resulting in complicated and, in some cases, unintelligible schedules, is most unwise. It seems equally apparent that a liberal policy in regard to this essential matter, thereby securing the most efficient clerical force for the preparation of the tariffs, and the printing of same in such form as to be readily comprehended by anyone of fair intelligence, would be the wisest policy, as the tendency of such a policy would be to save loss of time and prevent errors on the part of agents, thereby avoiding to a great extent the occurrence of overcharges and undercharges on freight.

What is said above is intended to show that the exercise of a liberal policy in connection with the preparation and publication of rate schedules is the wisest course from the carrier's standpoint, but it should be borne in mind that the law requires these schedules to be printed in such form as to be plain and comprehensible to the ordinary shipper, and it is therefore the duty of all carriers to see that their tariffs are so published, regardless of whether such a course would result in gain or in some additional expense.

Another source of considerable confusion and consequent errors in the determination of rates from tariffs as filed with the Commission is the practice of many carriers of having in force at the same time a large number of separate tariffs between the same points or groups of points. It frequently happens that different tariffs are found on file which are apparently at the same time in force and which name different rates on the same commodity between the same points. When this occurs, it is of course necessary to call upon the publishing carrier for information as to the actual rate in use. Where tariffs are published with due regard to the requirements of the law no such conflict as above described can occur, and no doubt can arise as to the rate in force on a given article between given points.

Even where there is a general class and commodity tariff in force between certain points, when it becomes necessary to issue rates on other commodities, or to make changes in the rates named in the general tariff, such issues are often made in the form of separate tariffs instead of being made supplementary to the general tariff, so that they can be attached to and made a part thereof.

Some carriers publish all rates, both class and commodity, between the same points or groups of points in one general tariff, which is republished at intervals of two or three months, thus avoiding confusion and loss of time in ascertaining rates resulting from the accumulation of a large number of supplements or amendments. It is usually a matter of only a few minutes to accurately determine the rate on any given article between points where such tariffs are in force. It is realized, of course, that it may not be always practicable to carry all rates between the same points or groups of points in one general tariff, but the number of separate tariffs at the same time in force between such points should be limited as far as possible.

Carriers sometimes adopt unusual and confusing methods in the publication of certain rates for the purpose of misleading their competitors and preventing them from ascertaining the rates which are charged on certain commodities between certain points. A case in point is the following: Several years ago a certain carrier, operating a line between important points in competition with a number of powerful rivals, decided to put in force such reduced rates on certain important commodities as would, for a while at least, give it a virtual monopoly of the traffic on such articles. In order to do this it was necessary to adopt some plan that would prevent its competitors from learning of the existence of the reduced rates for some time, otherwise they would be instantly met and no advantage would accrue therefrom. The plan adopted for the purpose of accomplishing the desired end was unique. The rival carriers soon began to suspect from the increased movement over this line that concessions in rates were being made. The suspected carrier, however, claimed that the rates it was charging on the traffic were published and filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission. Inquiries elicited the reply from the Commission that no tariff had been filed making reduced rates on that particular traffic.

Among the tariffs published by the carrier in question was a large general tariff which contained nearly all the class and commodity rates

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »