Best Practices for Incorrect Deliveries

Best Practices for Incorrect Deliveries

Copyright 2008, Traffic World, Inc.


I am attempting to write an over, short and damaged procedure for my company for inbound shipments and would like your suggestion.

On freight-collect shipments whereby we pay the freight, if my selected carrier delivers wrong product that the shipper loaded, out-of-date product, or product that we did not order, what should we do with the product?

It was not the carrier''s fault. My warehouse usually just tells the carrier to take it back to the supplier, but that could be 2,000 miles away and only 100 cases for a truckload carrier.


Well, what else are you going to do with the stuff?

I sympathize with your desire to protect the carrier, especially since you chose it. But any good carrier (you''re choosing only good ones, right?) has its own OS&D procedures in place and should be able to handle this sort of common problem.

This answer is, of course, predicated on the assumption that you discover the incorrectly sent, out-of-date, etc., product at the time of delivery, i.e., while the carrier is still on-premises and time is of the essence before it pulls away. If you don''t find it until later, after the carrier''s long gone, a different approach is indicated.

What I suggest in that case is to call your vendor, tell it what''s up, and put the ball in its court. If it wants the stuff back it can arrange for transportation; otherwise you''ll dump it; and either way you won''t pay for it. And I''d also allow it only a very limited time to retrieve the product; you''re not a public warehouse.

If your loads always come in truckload this isn''t an issue, but if the problem stuff is part of an LTL load you can also calculate proportionate freight charges and take a deduction from the vendor''s invoice.


Last month a large trucking company ceased operations due to high fuel prices, weak demand, escalating operating costs and the tight credit market.

Company A, through one of its wholly owned subsidiaries, entered into a receivables collection and equipment marshaling agreement. According to the press release, Company A agreed to use reasonable efforts to cover certain customer loads, to assist the secured lender in retrieving tractors and trailers under defined circumstances, and to assist in the collection of accounts receivables. It was not purchasing any assets.

My firm was a fairly large customer of the carrier. We immediately ceased tendering loads to it when we were notified that it was closing its doors.

We have five good condition 53-foot trailers belonging to this carrier that are taking up space on our property. Attempts to reach anyone at the carrier to get the trailers removed have gone unanswered.

We contacted Company A, who first said they would remove the trailers. Then we called again and they said they would remove the trailers if we would tender loads to them. Since we have no agreed rates agreement or contract in place with Company A, we declined.

Now Company A says the secured lender will not pay them to move the empty trailers so they''re not in a position to help.

What steps would you recommend that we follow to have the carrier''s assets removed from our property?


Puzzling though it may seem, these five trailers seem to fall under the legal definition of abandoned property, in that nobody with any legal right to them seems to want them.

You''ve tried to reach the carrier but can''t - probably for the good reason that, having shut down and arranged with Company A to sweep up the debris, it no longer has anybody working there. Not only is Company A disinterested, it says the same thing about the secured lender and you have no way of independently verifying that since you don''t know who the lender is.

I''ve no idea why the last two are so disinterested. You say the trailers are in good shape, and they go for quite a bit of money on the open market. But they''ve nevertheless been abandoned.

In the ordinary course of events anyone who finds himself in possession of abandoned property has the right to dispose of it as he likes, including selling it and pocketing the proceeds. But these trailers, while abandoned, are also licensed, so it''s not quite that simple. Even though nobody wants the trailers, I''ll bet big money they won''t disgorge titles, which you would need to sell them.

Different states have different standards for dealing with abandoned automotive equipment, so you''ll need to find out how your state handles the question.

Your local Department of Motor Vehicles is the best place to start. Nobody you talk to is likely to know much about vans, but the procedure should be the same as for cars, which are abandoned with some degree of frequency. Follow the rules, and you may actually find yourself with some money in hand at the end of this. At worst, you''ll get the units out of there.

-- Consultant, author and educator Colin Barrett is president of Barrett Transportation Consultants. Send your questions to him at 5201 Whippoorwill Lane, Johns Island, S.C. 29455; phone, (843) 559-1277; e-mail Contact him to order the 536-page compiled edition of past Q&A columns, published in 2001, at $80 plus shipping.