How to Receive Freight Shipments the Right Way

Following the recommended procedure for receiving a freight shipment can make the difference between a smooth processing of delivery and a complicated and costly outcome. When you sign the proof of delivery (POD) or delivery receipt (DR) document, you should be prepared to process all freight deliveries, regardless if the shipment is complete or has damage or missing items.

Steps for Receiving Freight Shipments

Follow these easy instructions to manage the receipt of freight shipments smoothly and for help in filing a loss or damage claim:

Be clear on what you expect to receive

Reference the bill of lading (BOL) that provides information about items in the delivery including freight weight, number of boxes and other details about your shipment. Use a freight transportation management system (TMS) to track your shipment to know when it will arrive. Ensure that a person is available to receive your truckload (TL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipment and inspect the delivered item(s) for damage.

Inspect the packaging and items inside the shipment

If any part of the packaging is not intact or you suspect damage, it's important that you note the breeches on the POD. Ask the freight shipping driver to allow some time for you to inspect missing or damaged parts of your shipment. Then it's time to open the shipment to document any damage to the cargo itself. So, even if boxes look undamaged, check inside each box for cracked, dented or broken items.

Note damaged or missing items

If you find any damage, write "Damaged" and include a description of the damage on both the driver's and your copy of the POD for the shipment. If items are missing from the shipment, write "Order Incomplete" on the POD along with how many pieces arrived of how many expected (i.e., Order incomplete, 1 of 3 pallets delivered or 2 of 3 pallets missing).

Note accessorial services utilized

You may need to opt to use additional services at the time of delivery, such as requiring a liftgate or inside delivery. Check the POD for services circled or check-marked to clarify what accessorial charges were rendered and for which you are expected to pay.

Obtain written proof

It is important to be sure the driver signs, dates and initials both his/her copy and your copy of the POD in your presence if you find any damage. This is your written proof that you noted the damaged or lost parts at the time you received the shipment.

Print and sign your name on the POD

Be sure to write clearly and legibly when you print and sign your name on the POD. The freight carrier needs to be able to identify the person who received the shipment. An illegible signature can cause issues in filing future claims.

Keep your receipt

Retain your copy of the POD. This is a required document for processing a claim for damaged or lost freight. Take pictures of the damage and submit those with your claim for optimum clarity of the descriptions you provide.

Mitigate Loss

When practical, the shipment should be accepted, and all necessary steps should be taken to minimize the loss. In the event the damage/loss is clear at delivery and the receiving party is not an appropriate resource to assess the shipment, the freight may be refused by the consignee and the carrier will contact the shipper for disposition of the refused freight. If you must refuse a shipment due to loss or damage, advise the shipper immediately so they can work with the carrier on rerouting the refused freight to avoid potential storage fees.

Look for concealed damage

Make sure all shipments signed for as "Clear" or "Intact" are unpacked within 5 business days of delivery. If you find a damage or loss that was not noted on the POD during delivery, take pictures of the damage (including packaging) and write a description of the damage or shortage. Also add any information for why it wasn't noticed at delivery. Send the information in writing to the freight carrier or your freight management service.

Store the damaged goods safely

Keep the damaged parts of the shipment in a clean, dry, secure storage space. The freight shipping company might inspect the damages as part of their claims processing. If the damaged products are moved or discarded prior to the conclusion of your claim, without written approval from the carrier, the carrier can decline your claim in full.

Promptly report damage or loss

Be sure to document the damage and notify your freight shipping service of the problem as soon as possible. A damage or loss claim must be reported within 5 days. A delay in reporting the issue can invalidate a shipping claim.

It is important to follow all the above instructions for receiving freight shipments to avoid added fees or complications in filing a claim for damaged or lost freight.

Contact Unishippers for Help Managing Freight Shipping for Your Business

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