Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shipping Wars: Fighting the battle with Damaged Freight Claims, by Tom at Iron Mountain Iron & Equip., LLC

Well, the inevidable has happened unfortunately...a shipment assigned to a common carrier in good faith has arrived to the customer damaged, and the games begin.Nothing new under the sun here... A couple of weeks ago, I expressed my elation on the "power of social media" on how I took a short video of a brand new aluminum flatbed body that I was marketing on and various other media sites. Within 24 hours of posting that little cellphone-produced video on YouTube, I received a call from a buyer 1100 miles away from here! At first, I was apprehensive about this due to the shipping cost most likely being prohibitive, but the customer suggested we list the item on UShip, a site that basically lists items that need transporting that carriers bid on until they win the shipment. He said if he could get this body delivered to him for a certain amount, he'd be glad to buy it from us. The UShip idea didn't seem to be working out as they were not bidding on this item within our price range, so I went online personally and found a third party logistics company that was very professional, straight-forward and best of the budget exactly to our numbers. Their job is to find a common carrier that will accept the said shipment, book the move, and coordinate the pickup and delivery scheduling. The company,, did exactly what they said they would and everything seemed to be going according to plan. The customer/buyer did a bank transfer of funds and paid for this aluminum flatbed body in full sight-unseen, except for the video presentation of course. I commend him for his trust and good judgement as well. The body was purchased by Cutter's Small Engine Sales & Service in Pinson, Alabama, and Bill Misko is the gentleman that I have been dealing with on the transaction. I called him a few days after we decided UShip wasn't going to work, and suggested we use for the shipment. He agreed, and proceeded to pay in full, for this item including the freight charge. I went ahead and purchased the insurance coverage, for $23.00 for $3,500.00 worth of damage. This was a key factor in this entire story. On July 26th, 2013 I personally prepared the aluminum flatbed body for shipment, by wrapping the critical area in the rear of it with carpeting, etc. to ensure the lights and soforth would remain intact during transport. The shipment was booked through YRC, inc.,(Yellow Freight) and a driver arrived one Monday afternoon, loaded the body onto a trailer, was very friendly and professional...and off into the sunset went my first long-distance shipment that made me feel that I have begun a great journey into selling my quality products to people outside of the normal areas we always have, and that by partnering up with, that it opened up another door to our business. Indeed, I still believe that is the case, but unfotunately, there's another side to this story but with good lessons in the end. About a week after the body was sent off to Alabama, I got a call from the buyer, that the freight company called him and informed him that the body was indeed damaged. (The item was transferred several times at various locations on/off trucks and loading docks...) He is only a few minutes away from the freight terminal, so he went there to observe the damage personally. As he suspected, it was bent up in the rear from a careless forklift operator, and he refused the item. Now, it becomes an issue. He (Bill Misko,) informed me of the situation, in turn I contacted, and they went to work immediately on the report of damage. Within an hour, I was speaking to a damage claims representative and she gave me all the necessary information needed to file a First Notice of Loss with the insurance carrier. (Please note...this blog is focused solely on the importance of INSURING a SHIPMENT...!) That $23.00 I spent on the coverage...turned out to be a huge benefit due to the circumstances. The poor customer/buyer on the other hand, is really getting the worst part of the deal, in that he went out and purchased a truck to mount this new aluminum flatbed body onto, has paid for this item in full, and now due to negligence and lack of quality performance (to be as polite as possible,) he and I are sitting here waiting this out. The ideal conclusion we both agreed on is to remain calm, do not get upset, live your life as normal...and once the claim is processed and hopefully they simply pay the claim in full without argument, deductions, etc...when the check for settlement gets to my mailbox, I will immediately turn around and submit the entire amount to the buyer for all his troubles. That is the only way I can see to deal with this unfortunate mishap that was completely out of my hands and compensate for the losses which won't get completely reimbursed given his expense, inconvenience, etc., but I think that morally, ethically, and spiritially it was the proper thing to do. To emphasize another reason for this topic today, is the need to stay calm and collective, despite the circumstances. Human nature by default alot of the time tends to drive negative emotions, stress, etc. which leads to bigger problems. Mr. Misko is a true gentleman, and his perspective on this whole incident has actually taught me personally to engage myself in a way that leads to a positive experience, the "get more with honey than vinegar" attitude that always will prevail in the end. We can't avoid carelessness by others, but we can avoid the negative results if we remain professional in our fields. Honey is definitely sweeter than vinegar...if you don't think so, then try a swig of each one and get back to me on it, LOL... I hope this has inspired someone today to take that little piece of experience and apply it to their circumstance. This deal isn't settled for us as of the publishing of this blog of course, but the outcome will be fine regardless of the whole deal because of Mr. Bill Misko's attitude at Cutter's Small Engine Sales & Service in Pinson (Birmingham area,) Alabama, and for their excellent customer services as well. Business in general, is very simple...the wrong people involved can make it difficult. Happy selling & buying! Tom Szirbik, Sr. Iron Mountain Iron & equipment, LLC