Receiving Shipments The Right Way
When moving cartons and pallets across the country, loads can get transferred between trucks several times. While it’s rare, cartons might get misplaced or damaged during the process. Because sometimes things go wrong, it’s important you are receiving shipments properly, inspecting, and documenting any damage.
Here’s a simple 3-point checklist for receiving shipments:
1. Review Shipment Documents and Inspect the Shipment
The two primary documents you have to work with when receiving shipments are the BOL (Bill of Lading) and the delivery receipt. Don’t rush when you examine the load and paperwork. It may take you 30–45 minutes, but that’s okay. The driver can’t leave until the BOL or delivery receipt is signed by your company representative.
- Verify that it’s the correct delivery address.
- Verify that it’s your shipment.
- Count the items on the BOL and compare to quantity received.
- Inspect, examine, and confirm the number as the delivery is unloaded.
- Notate any damages, shortages or evidence of pilferage to cartons or containers on the delivery receipt.
- If you discover any exceptions of damages or shortages, be sure you note them on the BOL or delivery receipt before you sign it.
- Remove any wrappings and open all containers and inspect skids
- If necessary, take pictures to document any damage.
I tell everyone if you find issues or damages with your shipment be sure to notate, notate, and notate! If a box or carton is damaged, open it up and inspect it. Note, if you find concealed damages later, you only have FIVE business days to file a claim.
CAUTION: I witnessed an electrical utility lose nearly a half million dollars in insurance money when it accepted the damaged freight—in this case,transformers—and did not notate any damage on the delivery receipt. (See the accompanying photograph).
2. Sign the Delivery Receipt
Remember, when you sign for a shipment you’re completing a legal transaction. If you don’t note damages or shortages on the delivery receipt, it’s difficult to prove losses or damages didn’t occur after receipt.
Another top reason claims are denied: Shipment problems were not noted on the BOL or delivery receipt.
3. Refusing a Shipment
The “nuclear option” of receiving procedures is refusing delivery. You should only refuse a shipment if all other options have failed.
Refusal may be appropriate if:
- Delivered material is hazardous and/or potentially dangerous to unload
- Delivered after established receiving hours
- Delivered items linked to a previously canceled purchase order
- Delivered a duplicate shipment
- Delivered severely damaged merchandise (entire shipment refused)
- Delivered a “direct collect/COD” shipment and
- Other credit arrangements have been made with carrier
- COD orders are not acceptable per corporate policy
About Lynnetta Cheer:
LPS claims analyst Lynnetta Cheer has 20 years’ experience in the logistics and transportation industries. Prior to coming to Logistics Planning Services, she held several positions at UPS, including claims and auditing. When not helping LPS customers and her team, she’s spending time with family and her 2-year-old grandson.