Product Shortage Claims - Drivers are the first and last line of defense
Would you leave a receiver with a Bill of lading signed this way?
As a freight broker there is nothing worse than receiving a POD from a carrier with a product shortage, especially when it's the first time you are being made aware of the situation. What are the chances, that a driver for a reputable carrier picked up a load and then decided they were going to drop off 13 cases of brussels sprouts to a buddy on the way to the destination? It seems more likely that the farm, shipper or receiver miscounted the product. Unfortunately for the freight broker and motor carrier, the legality of the situation is that when the driver signs the bill of lading, they are stating that they are taking legal responsibility for the product listed on the bill of lading(s).
"They wouldn't let me on the dock" I can't tell you the number of times I've heard these words after a product shortage is identified at a delivery. In my experience I would say somewhere around 80-90% of the time, this is just a driver that doesn't want to count the product or doesn't think it is his responsibility. The other 10 - 20% of the time the drivers are probably told they can't go on the dock but don't realize that they have a right to count that product at the point of loading when they are taking responsibility for the product.
So how do we make this all to common situation stop happening? Do our jobs! We all work hard for our money, from the customers who sell the product to the drivers that haul it, lets not let human error at shippers or receivers determine the fate of our bank accounts.
What should happen on every load?
Should notify the broker of the number of cases to be loaded
Should fully expect their transportation partners to manage their shipments and ensure that there are no product shortages
Should know and communicate the number of cases to be loaded on the truck
Should ask the driver how many cases were loaded on the truck
Should educate carriers on the fact that they are responsible for the product listed on the bill of ladings
Should educate and remind their drivers regularly that it is their responsibility to verify how much product is loaded on their truck and verify the BOLs match
Should educate their drivers about what to do when a shipper says the driver is not allowed on the dock
Should educate the driver what to do when a receiver says there is a shortage
Drivers: (I'm not going to pretend that I know what it's like to be a driver, but I am going to give you some solid advice to make sure your paycheck is not affected by a shortage claim)
Before arriving at the shipper:
When being dispatched on a load, find out the number of cases, find out the number of pallets as well if possible
Ask if the load is shipper load and count
When driver is checked in and in a door:
Access the dock
Check the condition of the product and packaging - if there is something wrong call Freight Lane.
Count the number of cases on one pallet and verify that every pallet has the same number of cases.
Watch each pallet go on your truck confirming that there are no damages and the case count matches the original pallet
Multiply the number of pallets by the number of cases and confirm the count matches your bill of lading and the number of cases the broker said were to be loaded.
What to do if the shipper says you're not allowed on the dock:
Note: Almost all produce loads are not shipper load and count!!!
Ask the shipper if the load is shipper load and count
Shipper Load and Count(SLC)
Ask the shipper if they are going to seal the trailer and if the seal number is printed on the bill of lading, also confirm the bill of ladings will indicate that the load is SLC
Call the broker and make sure this is accurate. We are 24/7, call us anytime.
Make your company dispatcher aware of the situation
Note: Shipper Load and Count does not alleviate your liabilities as it pertains to damages
Non Shipper Load and Count (If the conditions of SLC are not met, you are responsible for the count of the product)
Thank the shipping contact for their time and politely ask to not have product put on the truck until you have a chance to confirm with your company or the broker
Call the broker immediately and notify them immediately and ask how they would like to proceed
Call your dispatch and make them aware of the situation.
Do not proceed with loading until you are satisfied with the answer you receive, I would guess your company is going to hold you responsible if they are deducted for a shortage
What to do at a receiver:
Access the dock
Watch all of the pallets come off of the truck, be aware of how the forklift driver is handling the product
If the lift driver causes damage ask him or her to stop and ask for the manager to document the incident
Watch the receiver count the product
Obtain a clean bill of lading - another job completed correctly
REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING PRIOR, IF THE BILL OF LADING IS NOT SIGNED CLEAN, STOP AND ASK THE RECEIVER TO GO OVER THE COUNT WITH YOU
Notify the broker and your dispatch immediately
Ask the receiver to count the product again with you involved. Identify where the problem occurred and work with your broker to resolve.
In closing, Freight Lane never wants to see a carrier affected by a shortage claim. We want to help educate you, so that you can avoid any such claims.
We are available anytime, our office number which is attended around the clock is 419-500-0305.
If for some reason you can not get through, my personal cell phone number is 419-236-2724. My home phone line is 419-500-0305 x 2001. Don't hesitate to call, we want everyone to be profitable.
***This is not meant to provide any type of legal advice, it is just our suggestions to manage product shortage claims. This does not in anyway alter the terms of the carrier broker agreement we have in place with our contracted carriers.***