No one likes to have to file claims for damages or shortages on their shipments. And carriers, like insurance companies, do not like to pay them. Sometimes, it seems their claims departments are set up specifically to deny claims – and they certainly will do everything possible to minimize their loss.
To get your claims paid fully, fairly and promptly, it is vital to provide detailed and accurate information. Start by never letting your staff accept a shipment without visually inspecting the goods for loss or damage, before signing off on a delivery receipt. This should be done in the presence of the driver, who is the carrier’s representative.
If there is damage, it must be carefully noted, with descriptive comments specifying the type and extent of the damage. Examples: 3 cartons torn and contents wet; 5 cartons crushed; 2 cartons leaking; cabinet dented top right corner, etc. The notation “damaged” does not cut it, and opens up a subsequent claim to interpretation. Leave the damaged goods in their original containers, and request an inspection from the carrier immediately.
When a shortage occurs, it is equally critical to identify exactly which item is missing. In an actual case, a client received only one carton in a two-carton shipment consisting of a large-screen television and its floor stand. The receiver filed a shortage claim, and made the following notation on the delivery receipt: “1 short.” Which is it, the TV or the stand? Which do you suppose the carrier wanted to replace?
Always file any claim as soon as possible, preferably the same day. The law gives you nine months before your claim expires, but don’t wait – in this case, time is not on your side.