PFN Freight Mastery: Navigating Inspections and Claims for Damage-Free Deliveries

In the world of booming e-commerce, our LTL freight shipping partners are moving tons of shipments each year. With this surge, the risk of damage or loss during transit is on the rise, especially for long-haul shipments involving multiple transfers.

Now, we all know that damaged goods are part of the game, but how you handle them can make or break your bottom line. Recent changes in the LTL freight industry mean that if you don’t follow the right procedures when reporting damaged goods, you might end up footing the bill. So, it’s crucial to inspect your freight before signing off. Let’s dive into how to do it right and what to do if you discover damaged cargo.

Understanding Proof of Delivery (POD):
Think of the Proof of Delivery (POD) as your shipment’s report card. It’s not just a piece of paper; it’s your cargo’s ID, its receipt, and the contract between you and the carrier. When you sign it, you’re saying, “Yes, my goods are here, and everything looks good.” But beware, it’s a binding agreement. If you sign it and then find damage later, you’re in for a tough ride trying to get compensated.

Inspecting Your Freight:
Before accepting your shipment, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is this really my shipment?
  • Is the piece count right?

Once confirmed, it’s inspection time. Here’s your checklist:

  1. Document everything: Take photos during unloading for visual proof. Ask the shipper to do the same before shipping.
  2. Check all sides: Examine every item for external damage – pallets, packaging, shrink wrap, labels, the whole shebang.
  3. Note any damage: If you find damage, take pics, note every detail on the delivery receipt, and have the driver witness it.

Secondary Inspection:
After the initial check, transport your cargo to your facility. Open packages and inspect for concealed damage. If you find any, notify the carrier within five business days.

Post-inspection Steps for Visibly Damaged Shipments:
Stay calm and follow these steps:

  1. Don’t turn away the driver: Refusing the shipment can cost you more.
  2. Accept the freight: It’s a crucial step toward compensation and keeps you in control.
  3. Keep documenting: Detailed notes, photos, and copies of essential documents are your best friends.
  4. Ascertain packaging quality: Check if the shipper made any mistakes in packaging.
  5. File the claim quickly: Do it within the time frames mandated by the Carmack Amendment.
  6. Give carriers a chance to mitigate losses: They can return, re-deliver, or salvage the goods.
  7. Take damaged freight into your possession: Stay in control to have a shot at filing a claim.
  8. Protect the damaged freight: Prevent further damage once it’s in your hands.
  9. Pay your carrier: Clear your bills to show good faith.
  10. Know your liability limits: Understand the maximum amounts carriers are liable for in your region.

Bonus Tip: Consider using a survey mobile tool such as SurveyCams, for inspections and creating your own specific survey checklists.

In the freight world, damage is inevitable, but following these steps will help you protect your company and minimize headaches. Happy shipping!