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How to resolve claims and disputes with your carrier

At the time of sourcing for transportation, there is a chance the merchandise could be damaged when loading or unloading due to an accident or incident, even lost or stolen. For your Company to receive payment for damages, the claim must be filed with your carrier.

Remember the law protects you as a user only when and if you set everything right from the start and on time. Many companies incurr in very costly mistakes when deciding not to file their claim with their carrier or when they do file inappropriately. There is a very specific process to be followed in order to make sure that claim is paid by the carrier. If the consignor or consignee, do not follow this process, the carrier will not have basis on which to pay that claim.

Communicate and Digitalize

When the merchandise has been damaged or lost before the load has been delivered, immediate attention is critical. It is crutial to notate the damage on the Bill of Lading or Shipping Confirmation. Do not underestimate the importance of notating in detail your claim. Remember the carrier most likely would like to minimize your claim as much as possible. This is the reason taking pictures, calling your cargo agent or carrier can actually save you many headaches.

If you do not give your carrier or transport agent the opportunity to recover, re-deliver, return the merchandise, etc. in part or in full, the claim could be rejected based on your lack of cooperation or interest in mitigating the value of the claim.

It is advisable to keep all communication safeguarded on external hard drives, or even keep an account under the name of file@… to make sure those communications will not be lost; these steps will prove valuable if you are in the need to file any type of claim.

Pay the shipping charges

In the United States and Canada, the law establishes that for your Company to file a claim, it must be accompanied by a copy of or the proof of payment of that shipment. Your not presenting that proof of payment could be used against yourself at the time of an expedited resolution. In Mexico, there is no legal reason to hold payment on any other shipments made by the same carrier due to unresolved claims or disputes. It will always be advisable to pay the transportation fee and then file your claim along with your supporting documentation.

Keep the merchandise

A common mistake is to dispose of the damaged merchandise. Never dispose of it until the claim has been resolved. The carrier has all the right to inspect the damaged merchandise, and if applicable, to take ownership of said merchandise if your claim is filed as a total loss. Disposing of the merchandise could be grounds for rejecting your claim.

Next week, I will continue with additional information in how to resolve claims and disputes with your transport agent. If you have a specific topic or interest, send me an email at [email protected].

Salvador Bañuelos

Sal is known internationally for the debt collection results he has provided to the freight transportation and import/export industries worldwide for the last 15 years. Author of "Credit and Collections in the Freight Industry Handbook" & "Credit & Collections Policy – Practical Guide”. He contributes to the industry with articles in the following leading magazines: T21 and Enfasis Logistica Contact him:  E-mail ,  Twitter ,  facebook,

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Copyright © 2020 AFS International, LLC. All rights reserved.