2006 Summer/Fall Volume 6 No. 2

Customer Service: Shipping Damage Can Happen!

Why You Should Always Check Shipments from Your Suppliers

By Steve Washburn

No matter where you are shipping to or from, chances are your ship-ment will be lifted and dropped by people, jostled by trucks bounced over uneven roads, and scraped by shifting loads. Despite all the care a manufacturer takes in packaging, or a shipper takes in handling—damage happens.

This is not a problem that shippers take lightly. They spend millions per year in training drivers, improving equipment, and perfecting packaging. And of course, nearly everything moving from one place to another is insured by the shipper’s or the manufacturer’s insurance carrier. Transportation of goods is big business and the insurance industry has developed policies that meet the specific needs of those involved.

I’m sure you can recall times when a shipment arrived at your home or business, and after the product was received and the delivery person got away, you found upon closer examination that something was damaged. We all have been through this, so here’s some advice on identifying freight damage—what to look for when receiving products and how to avoid any liability on your part.

Whether it is a small package or a truckload shipment, always take the time to check all goods shipped for damage before the driver leaves. Any small sign of the packaging being soiled, scuffed or torn on the outside could mean big problems on the inside.

If you find damage and show it to the driver, you have zero liability. You have the right to refuse all or part of the shipment. You won’t be asked to pay for the product or the shipping expense.

It is also important that you make a note on the shipping document (Bill of Lading) of the nature of the damage and what part of the shipment is damaged. If the driver leaves before the damage is noted on the paperwork (clean bill), then claims become much harder to settle with the freight company, the manufacturer and the insurer.

It’s also good policy when you find damage to contact your representative or customer service department, from the company that shipped the products and let them know what was damaged. Try to do this before the driver leaves. This gives the manufacturer time to respond to your need and get you what you want when you need it.

Regardless of which manufacturer you order from or which freight shipping company they use, all experience an occasional lost or damaged shipment. If you ever find damage from a PolyJohn or Rid-It® shipment you can call me, Steve Washburn, or one of our Customer Service Representatives—Carol or Louise at 1-800-292-1305.

A few things to remember whenever an order is delivered:

• Don’t let your guard down just because you have a good relationship with the driver or manufacturer. Your role in checking a shipment is fundamental to establishing that damage occurred in shipping, not at your facility.

• If a piece is broken that was not visible from your inspection before the driver left, most carriers require notification within a certain time period, say, seven to ten days. Do not remove the item or any of its packing from the delivery location before it has been inspected by the shipper’s agent or insurance carrier. Doing so might void your claim. If the shipment is blocking a driveway or service area that is vital to your daily operation, take extensive photos of the damage before moving the shipment out of the way.

• Retain copies of the shipping documents and be ready to submit a packing list, invoices for the item(s), bill of lading and written claim notification to the carrier's insurance company.

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