There is more than $4 trillion in merchandise flowing through supply chains each year. Needless to say, the potential of receiving a damaged product is higher than you’d think. In fact, a 2018 study indicated that nearly 20% of all oversized shipments arrived at consumer homes or offices damaged. Additionally, 15% never arrived at all due to extensive damage or being lost in transit.
Unfortunately, most customers simply aren't familiar with the process of submitting a concealed damage freight claim.
Concealed freight damage is a reality that all shippers and their recipients will eventually experience to some extent. Reducing the potential of concealed damage occurring in the first place is great. However, knowing what to do when it happens is just as important. Knowing how to handle the aftermath of freight damage can reduce stress, improve the customer experience and expedite the process.
And that’s what we’ll address in this blog post. We are going to outline a few important steps that everyone should include on their concealed damage freight claim.
What Determines “Concealed Damage” During a Shipment?
There is a lot of confusion about what classifies damage as being ‘concealed’ when you process a shipment.
The classification of 'concealed' simply means it is discovered upon final delivery. It basically means the damage occurred somewhere along the trip to its destination but was discovered after delivery. In order to be classified as concealed, the damage can’t be noted on the invoice or proof of delivery.
This is the main issue with processing this type of claim. Many carriers will not cover damage unless it has been noted on the bill of lading or freight bill delivery invoice. They expect a final inspection of all freight by the recipient upon delivery. However, this simply is not always feasible.
Predicting when damage will occur is an involved process. However, there are several important steps for ensuring the protection of the shipper and recipient. Furthermore, it ensures that their damaged freight claims can be processed effectively.
Make Sure You Demand Signature Service
While it’s convenient to allow a carrier to leave your package on the doorstep or with a neighbor, this could lead to confusion and frustration when concealed damage is discovered. Since many carriers will not legitimize a concealed damage freight claim if it’s not noted on the POD, the best way of ensuring this is to demand a direct signature from the recipient while the carrier is still there.
So long as a verified recipient is there to sign for it, it is that persons job to inspect the package before the carrier leaves.
Inspect the Shipment Before the Carrier Leaves
Every shipper and freight recipient have rights. One of them is to inspect their shipment before signing the receipt. All recipients have a right to complete a basic inspection of the condition of items. If you notice on most bills of lading, you’ll find a lot of small print, that in most cases makes a statement of “I’ve reviewed and accepted the condition of freight received as good condition.”
While it’s inconvenient for a delivery driver to wait for items to be inspected, it definitely falls within your rights. If a driver is not willing to wait, a freight recipient should be instructed to note “pending further inspection” on any proof of delivery signature box or invoice. It’s important to complete the freight inspection immediately and record this process with video evidence, as we’ll discuss below.
Record the Inspection of the Freight
Always record the initial opening and inspection of freight! Some carriers may not be willing to wait for you to do this, but it is your responsibility to do so.
Standard best practices are to take video with a mobile device. Pictures or still frames are always a good idea too.
To dive a bit deeper, there are a few specific items that you should recommend recipients record:
Packaging prior to opening: This will verify the condition of the packaging – noting any damage, impact markings, or total condition of the packaging that may prove that damage occurred while in transit.
The delivery agent vehicle: If the driver delivering the package or shipment is unwilling to wait for a quick freight inspection, take a picture or video of the vehicle, specifically a license plate. This will verify that the driver was unwilling to comply with the inspection request.
Opening and inspecting the freight: It’s crucial to inspect the process of opening the packaging and inspecting the freight for possible damage.
While these steps might seem to be overkill, they will save you a lot of undue hassle later.
As always, upon discovery of any damaged freight, it’s critical to contact the shipper ASAP. Filling out the concealed damage freight claim as soon as you can will expedite the entire process.
For those shippers looking to expedite their freight billing and claims process, Redwood Logistics is here to help. If you’d like to learn more about how Redwood Logistics can help you minimize damage or handle freight damage claims, contact us today.