On occasion I receive calls from our shipper members stating that their cooler either accidentally loaded the wrong truck with product intended for a different receiver, or loaded the wrong product on the correct truck. When either scenario happens, the caller will usually ask if the company receiving the wrong product is responsible for paying the FOB price. Unfortunately, the answer is usually no. There are however several options that may help to resolve the problem. First, if you have an established relationship with the receiver, see if you can persuade them to price the incorrect item(s) at an FOB price consistent with the prevailing market. If the first option is not acceptable, then ask if your customer has the ability to handle the incorrectly loaded product, and if so, would they be agreeable to handle on a consignment basis.
If neither of the aforementioned options are agreeable with your customer, you will then need to arrange for the shipment to be handled at a third party location for your account. By acting promptly and taking these steps you may be able to minimize your financial exposure to additional damages to you and your customer.
We all recognize the fact that the shipper has a responsibility to load the correct product on the truck. However, what types of safeguards could you implement to prevent such an incorrect loading scenario? One suggestion is to disclose your shipper loading protocols for your cooler to your logistics provider, which should include several fundamental questions that should help confirm you are loading the correct truck with the correct product.
Consider incorporating the following to your Pre-Load Checklist and require both your employee and the driver to confirm by initialing each line:
- Name and contract destination
- Product description (In not all cases will the driver know specific commodity details)
- Total carton count or number of pallets
- P.O. number
Provide a Pre-Load and Loading Checklist to both your loading crew and carrier's driver to confirm prior to commencing loading.
Communication and confirmation about the shipment identity is key in working with your carrier and/or logistics partner. These and additional questions, along with your cooler verifying the information provided by the driver, should eliminate any potential mistakes, especially when you are loading for the same customer on the same day who has more than one receiving location.
The Western Growers Transportation Program facilitated by C.H. Robinson (CHR), offers these best practices as part of their services for participating members through the CHR proprietary technology platform known as Navisphere. This program offers end to end shipment visibility and can assist in avoiding the very issue described in this blog, thereby enabling the carrier to have all the pertinent information prior to loading and ensuring your shipment consists of the right product and the right destination immediately after loading and prior to leaving the cooler.
Remember, the shipper is the responsible party for loading correct product and when an inadvertent mistake does happen, you need to immediately communicate the loading error to your customer, and you need to always document the agreement on how the matter was resolved.
Therefore, plan to minimize any problems with loading product, but when a problem occurs, take ownership of the situation and come to an agreement, preferably before the product arrives at destination.
Please contact me at TommyO@wga.com with any questions or let me know how I can assist with any other issues.