Your shipment is being transported via freight truck, and we wanted you to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as the end recipient (from here forward known as the "consignee").
There are a lot of things that can happen between the manufacturer and your delivery location; therefore we are asking you to do a very small amount of work to protect yourself, and us.
To ensure that you are receiving what you ordered, and in acceptable condition, the National Claims Council Regulations specify that you must inspect, examine, and inventory your shipment as it is unloaded.
On arrival, inspect the shipment immediately for obvious signs of damage.
Any and all shortages and damages must be written on the Bill Of Lading or Freight Bill. Should you determine that any items are damaged or missing, you MUST note the item, the discrepancy, and the condition before you sign it! Then call the freight company to report any problems.
You should open cartons and containers.
If there is the slightest doubt that the merchandise is damaged (concealed or not) it must be noted on the Bill Of Lading or Freight Bill, or the liability to prove that the delivering carrier did the damage becomes your responsibility.
Do not be intimidated by the driver.
They cannot leave until the Bill Of Lading or Freight Bill is signed (regardless of how much in a hurry they are or how late they are). The carrier's driver should help you receive your shipment and answer your questions. While your driver is there, compare the pieces of freight you are receiving to your carrier's freight bill. When you've determined that the condition and quantity of your freight is acceptable, you can then sign the delivery receipt. The driver will provide you with a copy, taking the signed copy with them (as a delivery receipt). If one is not offered, request one, as is your right. The Bill Of Lading or Freight Bill is the only documentation of the condition of a shipment when it arrives at your location, and without this document, we cannot hold others accountable for items damaged or missing.
Your signature on the delivering carrier's freight Bill Of Lading (BOL) constitutes acceptance of the merchandise as is and in good order. If you do not inspect before signing you are, for all practical purposes, waiving the right to collect on a damage claim even if the damage is discovered later (known as concealed damage).
If there is discovered damage: if the box, crate, or merchandise is visibly damaged, refuse the delivery and contact us immediately to request a Return Authorization number so the merchandise can be shipped back to its origin at no charge. Please also notify us of the situation as quickly as possible so we can follow-up on our end to assist with any required procedures.
If there is concealed damage: although we strongly recommend inspecting the shipment prior to signing the delivery receipt, some still do not do so. If the consignee or their representative sign for the shipment, and then at a later time discover that there is some damage not noticed at delivery (called "concealed damage"), then a claim will need to be filed by the consignee against the freight company - as a shipment is technically the property of the consignee once it is loaded onto a freight truck, it is the consignees responsibility to pursue a damage claim for replacement or compensation.
In the event of concealed damage, it is vital that you immediately document and photograph (if possible) the packaging and the damage. You must keep the packaging. Do not move the item, but call the carrier and report the damage. They will begin a concealed damage claim and ask for an inspection. You must also notify us so that we are aware of the situation and can be of assistance if required. The inspector will determine if the damage was possibly carrier caused.
Please note: If the consignee has signed for the shipment indicating there was no damage noted at time of receipt, the consignee would then have to take up their claim with the freight carrier if concealed damage becomes apparent after receipt. Many people order products in advance of need, and wait until it is to be installed to finally check the condition of the product (sometimes weeks or even months have passed); in these situations, it is the consignee's sole responsibility to contact the freight carrier and pursue a claim.
Remember: in cases of concealed damage, you signed the document saying everything was OK; a report and a claim must be filed with the carrier immediately - the sooner concealed damage is discovered and reported, the better.
Additional points to consider:
- Whenever signing for freight, always write "SUBJECT TO INSPECTION".
- Whenever possible, inspect the freight before you sign.
- Note on the freight bill any obvious damage at the time of delivery (i.e. box corners crushed, tears, rips, slices, marks etc.); be specific.
- If you suspect internal damage, open immediately.
- Even if no damage is suspected, open the carton(s) within 24 hours and make a thorough inspection.
- After noting the freight damage on the bill of lading, you must call the carrier, and also notify us of a damaged shipment. We will ask you to fax us a copy of the bill of lading that notes the freight damage.
- Hold all damaged goods and their packaging materials, in the original location, for inspection by the carrier.
Further measures that may help in the claim process include the following:
- Taking digital photography of the damage. If possible, photographs of the equipment still on the truck will limit your liability.
- Report the damage to the carrier and request they start a claim. Preferably, the call should be made before the driver leaves the site. Then, notify us.
- Request an inspector.
- Keep a copy of the Bill Of Lading or Freight Bill noting the damage and the driver's signature.
It is the responsibility of the person that signs for received items to inspect and note any and all problems before the delivery person leaves. You have heard the term "FOB" (Freight On Board) - this term simply means that once the carrier picks up the material from the factory/supplier, the factory/supplier is no longer responsible for the material.
If you have someone signing the freight bill for you, for whatever reason, they are acting as your representative; you should inform them that they should check for missing or damaged items. If the freight is signed for without notating damaged or missing pieces, it is almost impossible to get the freight companies to take responsibility.
We realize this can be a time consuming process, but much of the hassle can be eliminated with prompt, well-documented action with the carrier.
We cannot be held responsible for freight damage or missing pieces; we will help you deal with the freight company, but you must call the freight inspector and you must file the claim. Ultimately, it is the Freight Company's responsibility to deliver the shipment in good condition, and it is the consignee's responsibility to inspect and sign for the products and notate any missing or damaged pieces.