September 2004 | Commentary | Carriers Corner

Help Your Carrier; Be a Better Shipper

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When employing a carrier to move loads, shippers often do not realize how big a part they actually play in the delivery of the shipment. When shipping loads, it is incumbent on all involved parties to provide accurate, complete, and detailed information to ensure the end customer receives the shipment in a timely manner.

If you are entrusting a carrier to handle the load, then you must provide all the information needed when giving shipping details. It is in both the shipper's and the carrier's best interest to ensure that drivers have all the information they need when they are dispatched.

Shippers can help make the process smoother just by following some simple procedures. Here are some tips for shippers to help alleviate the problems and discrepancies that often arise when shipping loads:

Do not request that drivers call for shipping information. This is very dangerous; it takes away from their driving time. The drivers are paid to drive and the company and dispatchers do the dispatching. If drivers call, the carrier loses control of them.

Know if delivery of your shipment involves crossing a border. Sometimes U.S. shippers, carriers, load brokers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) forget there is a border between Canada and the United States. On every shipment, a carrier needs a customs broker at the time of booking. The broker should be provided long before the shipment reaches the border. Delivery of the load will be delayed if there is no broker secured, and customers will incur extra costs.

Be aware of any extra costs that can come up when shipping across borders. Any time a carrier drops goods at a sufferance warehouse or inland clearance facility, there is a bond charge in Canada. There is also a cost for the carrier to drop the goods, and once released by Customs, a cost to pick up the goods. These costs ultimately go to you, the customer. The costs can include sufferance charges, bond charges, trailer detention, extra pickup, and extra delivery.

Be aware that an original bill of lading cannot be provided on shipments. This is the carrier's only legal proof that the goods were delivered. It should be noted that a bill of lading is three things: a contract for carriage, receipt for the goods, and transfer of title to the goods.

Most 3PL providers, load brokers, carriers, and freight forwarders know what is required. It is important to note, however, that the shipper and consignee are ultimately responsible for all the paperwork involved.

Carriers use the information you provide to schedule pickup and delivery. The following is the minimum information required:

  • Accurate piece count.
  • Accurate weight (gross).
  • Shipper's full name, address, telephone number.
  • Consignee's full name, address, telephone number, contact, shipping hours, after-hours contact information.
  • Customs brokers if goods are being shipped between Canada and the United States.
  • Full description of the goods being shipped.
  • Special requirements such as hazmat and protective services.

If carriers sell service and integrity first, and rates second, we can all prosper, grow, and make a decent living. Carriers cannot stay in business by undercutting everyone else's rates. This is a recipe for going broke fast.

A carrier's costs are fixed both ways. In the transportation industry, like any other, insurance costs have skyrocketed. Claims and maintenance costs have skyrocketed. Driver retention and fuel costs have risen dramatically. Border wait times are horrendous, and border security issues are expensive.

All these factors impact a carrier's bottom line. Any help shippers can provide is more than welcomed.

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