Today we’re going to talk about shortages and damages. As an independent truck dispatcher, sooner or later, you will, unfortunately, run into a situation where you will have to deal with shortages or damages.
But what are shortages and damages? Shortages happen when your client’s truck arrives at the receiver, and according to the paperwork, some of the product that was supposed to be transported is missing. There just aren’t enough boxes or pallets or something like that.
Damages are somewhat similar. When your client’s truck arrives at the receiver, some of the product or the cargo is damaged.
In this situation, you, as a dispatcher, can only provide two things. One is efficient communication, and the second is advice (if you are experienced enough with your client as to what should or should not be done). We will discuss some solutions below that you can utilize that may help you and your client in the future.
Dealing With Shortages
So first, we shall discuss shortages because they are somewhat easier to deal with than damages. In most cases, when a shortage occurs, it happens because the shipper miscalculated the number of products they put on the truck. The shipper assumed that they loaded, let’s say, 50 boxes onto the truck, when in reality, they only loaded 48 and two went missing. It is a much less likely scenario that your driver ate a pallet of potato chips or sold three boxes of 7Up off the back of the truck.
So, more than likely, it is a miscalculation, and to deal with it, the easiest thing that can be done is to make sure that the freight broker is immediately notified and reaches out to the shipper to see what they say about this situation. Because very often, the shipper will say, “oh yeah, that’s right. We thought we shipped this much cargo, but in reality, it was this much.”
With that being said, the next question might be, “Is your client responsible for this shortage?” And the answer is that it depends. In most cases, the shipper loads the trailer, and the driver does not participate in the loading process. Therefore, the driver doesn’t know what or how much is being loaded. Very often, the trailer gets sealed at the end of the loading process, and the receiver breaks the seal when it is unloaded. So, as long as your client’s truck arrived with the seal intact, it is very likely the shipper miscalculated, and this needs to be noted.
Now, in a different situation, some loads require the driver to count the freight. So, the truck driver has to count the box as, say, pallets, and then the driver must sign off on the number of items that went on the truck.
Now, in this case, if there is a miscalculation, it was made by the driver. And if the shipper does not play along or agree that something went wrong with calculations here, this may become the responsibility of your client because the driver had to count the freight and the driver put a certain number on the bills of lading.
So, if the driver doesn’t know how to count, that can lead to an unfortunate outcome. One way or the other, it is very important for you as a dispatcher to immediately do one thing:
Advise the driver to stay where he is.
Don’t leave the facility. Don’t sign any bills. Don’t do anything until he gets further instructions.
Second, you must call your freight broker immediately and let them know you’re dealing with this problem. Then, you may want to wait for the broker to clear out this situation.
For example, if the shipper says, “Oh yeah, we forgot to load this X number of boxes on the truck,” you’ll want to get a confirmation from the broker that that is the case and that it is okay for your driver to leave the facility.
You may want to send them an email and say, “Hey, I want to make sure that those five missing boxes were a miscalculation by the shipper because when we build this load we want to make sure there are no issues.” You want to get that confirmation in writing, preferably not over the phone. You could have them send you an email that says, “Hey, yeah, everything is fine. You know, there is no problem.”
Once the situation is resolved, everything is clear and good to go, so the driver can leave and pick up another load.