The Importance of Shipping Documents
“Cops”, a popular reality/documentary television show that aired for roughly 23 years, making it one of the longest running TV shows in the US. The show was intriguing, at times quite humorous, and gave an insight into parts of society where few of us have experienced. Many times, the events would reach a point that required backup support, not only for reinforcement to resolve the issue, but for witness and to account for the actions that lead up to the arrests if ever questioned in the future.
You are probably thinking to yourself, how does this relate to freight? Often times we place heightened faith and value into our own product knowledge, industry experience, and/or our customer’s knowledge and experiences. Not to say those things aren’t needed or great assets, but to ensure the customer and carriers are clued in from a cost perspective on all aspects of each shipment handled via Priority1, it is essential that documentation is filled out correctly from the beginning and at delivery, as well as having proper backup readily available from the customer to dispute charges that are incorrectly assessed when the shipment has been completed.
The BOL is a legally binding document providing the driver and the carrier all the details needed to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly. If any information is excluded or incorrect on that document, there might be a challenge of proof once it becomes time for invoicing where there is a discrepancy.
The Delivery Receipt provides important information as to what actually occurred once the consignee received the freight from the carrier. If the shipper and/or consignee are not properly educated on what to look for upon delivery, there might be complications due to items that the driver marks on the document or what the consignee failed to address on the document that could pose challenges once invoiced by the carrier as well. It is the customer’s responsibility to audit the DR as closely as possible for infractions, as well as to inspect every shipment received.
Valid backup documentation is key to presenting “proof” in instances where the carrier is billing based on what a weight and inspection may have possibly revealed, a system error, etc. Manufacturer spec sheets, pictures of the freight before and after, and packing lists are good examples of back up documents. Unfortunately the times of presenting an argument without evidence have faded, with documented facts and paperwork being standardized across the board.
Documentation, audit, and presentation of correct data from the beginning does not eliminate the possibilities of encountering issues during or after the shipment, but they are crucial to limiting those issues and correcting issues where we have valid backup to prove our case.
John Redam, Vendor Relations Manager