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Author Topic: Working on the road?  (Read 3163 times)
thejumpsuitman
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« on: November 17, 2010, 07:28:38 AM »

I was going to post this question in the thread about the Minnesota incident, but didn't want to get too far off topic.

Does anyone on here work on the road at all?  If so, how do you deal with the issues inherent with that?  How about work camping?  Wouldn't that fall into that category since you would always be on the way to make money?  How is an online business affected?  Working and living on my bus is something I thought about doing for a season, but may want to reconsider if it is too much of a hassle. 

Marc
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2010, 01:32:57 PM »

I guess either nobody works on the road or nobody wants to admit to it. Grin
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2010, 01:37:53 PM »

We're  all retired with bags o'cash, or our buses won't start...

Brian
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2010, 01:46:29 PM »

Brian;  Where did you get the bags of cash. I missed that memo and could really use some right now...Cable
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2010, 01:53:30 PM »

I guess either nobody works on the road or nobody wants to admit to it. Grin

I guess I'd better start on my bag so I can be like you guys.
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2010, 02:04:01 PM »

Just to be clear, it's under 40  degrees so my bus won't start...   Cheesy

Brian
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2010, 02:22:10 PM »

I sent you a PM.

Paul
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2010, 03:55:03 PM »

There's several of us here who work from our busses.  Maybe everybody else is out working.  We were busy playing today. 

The hardest part when we started out was teaching our contract employers that we were actually available even though we might be in Miami or Mazatlan at the moment when they called.  Virtual offices are becoming more and more common but it still takes some education and attitude adjustment.  I always make sure my primary contact knows the score but if I am engaged with other people in the organization I may or may not tell them where I happen to be at the particular moment.  I recall one time when I was working from a beach south of San Blas doing a contract for an Alberta crop supplies company.  When I finally connected with a particularly difficult to reach employee it was a bitter cold January day where he was so he naturally asked me what the weather was like where I was.  The business card he had for me indicated northern Saskatchewan as my address and I simply answered "oh it's a pretty nice day here" - which it clearly was.

We have a simple office set up in the bus with a multi-function printer/fax/scanner on a network.  If you are going to work you need to be available and we accomplish that with a Hughesnet satellite internet system.  If you stay where cell phone access is strong then 3G coverage might be an option.  One issue that we have struggled with a bit with less sophisticated clients is payment.  If their only payment option is mailing me a cheque then it can take a long time for that cheque to wind its way from my PO box to wherever we happen to be and from there by mail back to my home bank.  That's only a problem when we are out of the country and unable to make ATM deposits.

The campgrounds in western Canada are often full of oil patch and pipeline contractors now.  Some of them stay open year round to cater to that clientelle.  I can't imagine 40 below in a bus but those guys are doing it in RVs so it must be possible.
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2010, 04:01:18 PM »

I agree with Bob as more and more employees are working from home, Work / Life Balance is projected by my employer.

I just do not want to see a virtual pic of BOTN, bathrobe, fuzzie bedroom slippers, butt & beer answering my call......

Enjoy Everyone,

Gary
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2010, 04:12:52 PM »

I'd like to see that one LOL!
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 05:01:10 PM »

Marc, we "try" to earn money while on the road.  When I say try, it is not a problem with being on the road, but of the terrible economy.

Like Bob, we have a pretty good office set up in the bus.  We use an Efax service, as sending a fax the normal way can't be done without a land line.  We use both the satellite Internet with an aircard as a backup.  We often find ourselves in areas which have little or no cell service.

On one consulting assignment, the customer called me and asked me to get on the Internet quickly.  We pulled onto a side road in Nashville, and I had the dish up and we were connected.  We needed to finalize a report and they wanted to edit that report "on the fly".  We had software that would allow both of us to work on the report simultaneously.

I make these observations to emphasize that technology has advanced to the point that we can do almost anything while on the road.  Having said that, you can't have a Skype video conference on the satellite.  The slow upload speed  speed coupled with the latency kills any video option.  You could do a voice Skype conference, but with the typical "public" service, you have to talk like you are on a radio and say "over" when you are done talking.  I would suspect that both options will work with a GOOD aircard connection.

There are commercial satellite services (big dish and lots of $$$), but I am told that voip is pretty good and there is no problem transmitting huge files.

If you get back to more practical possibilities, then something like Workamper ( http://www.workamper.com/ ) seems to work well for a lot of folks we have talked to.  I think you have to work your way up the latter to get good assignments, but it sure seems like a good option to cover a lot of your costs and make a bit of money.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2010, 05:37:08 PM »

Quote
BTW, in many states and under federal law this is also true if the coach is used to carry, for example, sales samples, tools, or any other items that are used in business or trade (as opposed to items strictly for personal use).  Even signs or the name of a business or professional music group on the coach can cause it to be adjudicated as commercial.

Note that cash money does not have to change hands for a coach to be determined to be commercial and fall under all the requirements for commercial vehicles and drivers.  For example, a coach owned and operated by a church to transport church members on outings, even with no money involved, is a commercial vehicle de facto.  There have been several high-profile accidents in the last few years where churches who did not realize this were found to be in violation.

Many states have exemptions written into their laws that allow passenger cars and sometimes even light trucks to be used for certain commercial purposes without them becoming commercial vehicles.  However such exemptions almost never extend to heavy vehicles such as coach conversions and even off-the-shelf RVs.  And it is certainly the case that there is no such exemption under federal law, which becomes operative as soon as the vehicle crosses a state line.

FWIW.

-Sean

I think this is what Marc is referring to -- I have a computer in my bus and we run an office from the bus while on the road --- We carry business papers and everything across state lines.

And I even use wrenches at my job and carry some of those in my bus -- haven't been busted yet but it could happen at any time I'm sure

Melbo

PS A DOT inspector told my cousin that he can find a violation on ANY vehicle even a brand new one just off the lot.
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thejumpsuitman
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2010, 05:43:00 PM »

Yes, this is more along the lines of what I was talking about.  I have worked remotely in the past, but stationary.  From what I was reading, it sounds like a nightmare to get DOT compliant.
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2010, 06:38:47 PM »

Marc

They pass laws to make EVERYONE a criminal that way they can harass anyone they want

Melbo
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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2010, 06:48:53 PM »

My Wife and I went on the road in 1997 at 50 years old. We have worked Full time or Part time in Indiana,Tennessee,Florida,Kansas,Texas,Arizona,
and California. Some jobs have been fun and some not so much but on the hole it has been fun. Do not expect large paychecks. If you have monthly payments I would not advise trying it as there are some very lean times.
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« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2010, 07:05:35 PM »

Marc

They pass laws to make EVERYONE a criminal that way they can harass anyone they want

Melbo

Not everyone...  Only productive, responsible, God-fearing, good conservative folks.
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« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2010, 07:40:38 PM »

Boy, do I really feel stupid.  Somehow I got the impression that Marc was wanting to get some input on earning money on the road.  I spent some time to give constructive input. 

Instead, it looks like he was fishing for some more crap about government intervention.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2010, 07:47:23 PM »

Jim

Not crap about government intervention but how people deal with being on the road and working and not getting BUGGED by the people who can bug you .


Just keep it simple and don't attract attention and tell him what you do and how you do it

I don't think I have to comply with DOT -- my bus is my home and I have an office in the bus and that is fine and I'm not a criminal

That is what he wanted to know

Melbo
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thejumpsuitman
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« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2010, 07:56:47 PM »

Let me spell it out...  I work for myself both as a high end costume tailor and ebay seller.  I can and have have done my work while taking vacations and see no reason why I can't do this all the time.  How difficult would it be for me to do this and be covered legallY?
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« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2010, 08:18:31 PM »

My thoughts.  I am not a lawyer and I'm not responsible if you take my advice.

If your bus is your home full or part time and you work out of a home office you should be fine as long as you aren't shipping product and have no exterior signage.  This should be no different than working out of a home office in a stick house.

If you're using your bus to travel to do work and you're hauling product to sell or large amounts of tools to do the work you could be tagged as commercial.  If you're a band or a singing group you're almost always going to be tagged as commercial especially if you sell CDs or get compensated in any way.

If you're visiting customers to sell them stuff or letting them into your bus to sell them stuff you would probably be considered commercial.
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« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2010, 08:21:56 PM »

If you are going to be carrying raw materials of your craft and/or finished products on board, your safest bet is to bite the bullet and get a CDL and register commercial.  I say that because even though you could potentially go years flying under the DOT's radar, you could just as easily be in an accident, or catch the attention of a DOT enforcer at any time.  

Rick's recent encounter with them ended in his favor.  And a desk/computer on board doesn't shout "I'm doing business here" these days.  But if you were caught with business inventory on board, that would quickly grab their attention and you would not likely be able to win that case.  Then the fines, impound fees, and hassles can be very severe.
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thejumpsuitman
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« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2010, 08:33:07 PM »

I would be working when parked and stationary, selling through the internet, but not selling to those in the state where I would be.  No sales taxes on internet sales.  The bus would in no way be a part of my business. 

I understand this is really a two-part issue...  One:  Do my plans necessarily require a special license, commercial considerations, etc.  Or do they necessarily not require such?   Or is it a gray area?

Second part of the issue of course is having the appearance of being commercial, even if not and dealing with potential hassles.
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« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2010, 08:46:06 PM »

I havent done any research on this at all, so take it for what it's worth....... not much! But I do know times are a changin and there are more people working out of their homes (even if they live on the road) because of the internet. I also know that historically laws have continually been challenged and changed to keep up with the times. This is an area that eventually, I think, there will be some high profile case and the laws will be clarified...... eventually. But for now, unless you are willing to be the target case, stay within the law or dont get caught!
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2010, 09:05:57 PM »

I havent done any research on this at all, so take it for what it's worth....... not much! But I do know times are a changin and there are more people working out of their homes (even if they live on the road) because of the internet. I also know that historically laws have continually been challenged and changed to keep up with the times. This is an area that eventually, I think, there will be some high profile case and the laws will be clarified...... eventually. But for now, unless you are willing to be the target case, stay within the law or dont get caught!

Times are changing indeed.  I have every intention to stay within the law, I am just not clear as to what would be required in the scenario I am describing.  I would not doing anything to make money using the bus at all, just getting myself from place to place and working there.  The only thing I could see as a potential issue would be having any kind of tools or materials with me at any given time.  Actually, nothing I would be carrying would necessarily even be specific to the work I do.

I am not trying to figure out how to circumvent any laws, just want to know where the lines are drawn if anyone knows.

To be honest, the more I explain myself, the more ridiculous it seems to have to worry about this.  During the time I would be on the road, the bus would literally be a mode of transportation, nothing more.
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« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2010, 09:28:15 PM »

Maybe place a call to the DOT or other's who may fine you? Ask them and get it in writing so that you have proof in case some mistake is made later down the road....
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« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2010, 09:34:10 PM »

Now this is a very interesting article.... It deals with laws in states with income tax.  Talks about how if you do any work at all in that state, even for one day, you are required to file an income tax return in that state.  This might explain the heightened enforcement by State police of potential commercial vehicles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/business/22tax.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
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« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2010, 11:30:31 PM »

I think the lines are drawn mostly by the officer that is on the scene, the next question is whether the local court will back him up with his interpretation, most times they will. A person can appeal the case and possibly overturn an unfavorable court ruling but to do that you would need to prove that not only was the officer wrong but also the court that heard the case and it's hard to find a court that will declare openly and publicly that a lower court was wrong and needed correctling.  The easiest way to do all of that is to convince the officer at the start of the process that your not commercial so it doesn't start the legal ball rolling, signage, advertising, promotion of a product, all of those things will work in the officers favor down the road.  Not only will each state vary on how they view mobile commercial ventures but you also will find counties that have their own set of rules and licenses too so it's a crap shoot in whatever you do, with more and more people taking to the road to earn or just suppliment their income this will probably be more clearly defined over time, hopefully, we won't be the test cases that lead to the case law developement, I carry a certain amount of music and music producing equipment and DJ from time to time, it's hard to explain that it's for my personal enjoyment and not as a means of filling the fuel tank, I also am one of the few that concider a table saw as part of a tool kit, there again an officer could question why I would be concerned about cabinet repairs while on the road, it's not like a tire jack or a lug wrench.  I also find working off the road safer from the stand point of avoiding oncoming traffic lol.
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