In our increased e-commerce world, shipping companies are becoming extremely busy, sometimes to the point of overload. When this happens, the probability of potential freight damage to your shipment increases. It is inevitable that at some point, you will receive a shipment with damage. While the carrier does carry the burden of making things right with the company that owns the freight, it is easy to do the wrong things and accidentally forfeit the repayment if you do receive a shipment with damage.
At Tekra, we know that prevention is key to minimizing freight damage, so we take great pride in taking a proactive approach to packaging our orders. We use a variety of packaging safeguards to reduce the potential for damage to your shipment. Yet even with the best packaging in place, damage can still occur. It is important to recognize what to do when damage or other freight claims causes occur.
Steps for Improving the Freight Damage Claims Process
Know when your freight is supposed to arrive.
Your freight arriving late could be the first indicator that your freight was damaged in transit. Freight companies will repackage and restack a damaged skid of material to both be able to deliver the product and this can lead to concealing the damage (more on this later). So, if your delivery is late, this is a sign you need to look at the freight more closely when it arrives.
Inspect Freight Immediately – Clues that your shipment was damaged and repackaged
Check all sides of the skid for signs of damage, including signs of damage to boxes and material through the shrink wrap. Sometimes this can be more difficult to notice as freight companies will repackage skids they damaged so they can deliver them, and this can conceal the damage. The following are signs/clues that your shipment has a higher probability of being damaged during delivery and requires more inspection before accepting the shipment.
- Blue Shrink Wrap – Tekra almost exclusively uses a particular blue shrink wrap to secure their product to skids. Why Blue? The most common shrink wrap is clear. This is what all the freight carriers have at their terminals and on their trucks. But they rarely have blue shrink wrap. So, if your skid shows up and it is not wrapped in blue shrink wrap, or it is a combination of blue and clear shrink wrap, this is a clue that your skid potentially was repackaged in transit and has a higher probability of concealed damage.
- Corrugated Sheets on top of freight – If the material you order is not boxed and would be exposed at the top of the skid, we cover the top with corrugated sheets to protect the material from dust, debris, etc. If this corrugated sheet is missing, and your material is exposed at the top, this is a clue that your shipment may have been damaged and repackaged by the freight company.
- Edge guards – Tekra uses corrugated edge guards on shipments of sheeted products. These edge guards will be on all 4 top edges of the shipment. If you ordered sheets and the freight shows up with only partial edge guards (say on only one side), or no edge guards, this is another clue that your shipment has a high probability of being damaged and should be inspected more closely. Note: if the product is pre-boxed, then edge guards are not typically used.
- Black Banding – We secure all our freight to the skid with black bands. If some of the bands are broken, or there are no bands present, this is a clue that your shipment could have been potentially damaged.
Your Shipment is Damaged. Now What?
You have inspected your shipment and you either suspect damage or see visible damage. What do you do next?
- Sign for the shipments as “DAMAGED” on both the original delivery receipt and on all copies of the delivery receipt. You must use the word “DAMAGED” otherwise freight carriers will not accept any claims. If you are in doubt before unpackaging, sign for it as damaged to be safe. If the material is fine, then you don’t need to take further action.
- Take photos to document the damage of the shipment from all angles before unpacking. Take close-up pictures of any material loss or harm that occurred.
- If this was a carrier you chose, alert your carrier immediately with the relevant paperwork and pictures. If the shipment was sent on Tekra’s carrier, contact our customer service team immediately with the information you have gathered. Depending on the carrier, there may be additional paperwork to file the claim. If you did not sign for it as damaged because the skid seemed fine upon delivery, and you realize there was concealed damage to the freight upon opening the skid, contact the appropriate above-mentioned contact immediately, as freight carriers typically only give you 5 days from receipt of material to file a claim for concealed damage.
- Keep the material. We know it may be inconvenient to keep damaged material but keep it with its original packaging until the carrier can process the claim.
- Wait for a resolution. The carrier will process the claim and get back to you. In the meantime, make sure to hang onto all relevant paperwork. If it is taking a long time, follow up with them.
Freight damage is inevitable. At some point, it will happen to you. Being able to recognize when it has happened at the front end, and then taking the proper next steps, makes the process much easier and can end with the proper resolution.