The truck has arrived, and the driver is making specific requests.
- Do not proceed until the requests are resolved.
- Tell us what the driver wants, and we will let you know whether or not the requests are legitimate and within the driver’s rights and responsibilities. (See EXPLANATION below for more information.)
- If the request appears to be legitimate, we will discuss options with you to determine how the request can be satisfied.
- If the requests appear to be illegitimate, or if there is a continuing issue, we will resolve the matter with the carrier, and we will ask them to intercede with their driver.
Drivers make requests for specific reasons, sometimes their own, and sometimes because the carrier has instructed that the driver make the requests.
The following are 3 examples of specific requests that may seem at first to be unusual, but do have legitimate substance:
Requesting to Observe Loading or Unloading:
When picking up or delivering freight, a driver is the on-site legal agent for the Carrier he/she works for. In that role, the driver should have the opportunity to determine the amount of the freight that is loaded or unloaded, and compare that amount with the description shown on the Bill of Lading and other documents. If the driver is unable to observe loading, the driver should sign the Bill of Lading by noting “Said To Contain” or “STC”, which indicates the driver did not have the ability to verify the actual quantity loaded.
Similarly, a driver can be expected to count and sign for the number of skids of freight, but cannot be expected to count the actual number of boxes or pieces loaded on each skid.
In addition, in the case of freight being loaded, the driver must have the opportunity to observe that the freight is loaded satisfactorily from a load security standpoint.
So there are multiple specific and legitimate reasons that a driver may ask to observe the loading. If it is your company policy that drivers are not allowed on the dock, then the neither the driver nor the carrier can be held responsible for freight shortages or load security. By barring the driver from the dock, you assume complete responsibility for what is loaded, and for the manner in which it is loaded.
Requesting that “In” and “Out” Times be Recorded on the Paperwork:
Although there is considerable pressure within the industry to shorten the allowable windows, the current industry standard is that 30 minutes to 1 hour of “free time” is allowed for loading or unloading an LTL shipment , and 1 to 2 hours for a truckload shipment. Unless prior arrangements have been made for extended free times (in some circumstances, Copper Run can make extended free time arrangements at little or no cost, but you have to let us know in advance that you need this service), a carrier will expect to be paid when times exceed those standards.
And the best way to establish how long the truck was loading or unloading (including waiting before backing into a dock, and waiting for paperwork after being loaded) is in the here and now. The driver is there and the dock staff is there, and if there might be any question about excess time, those folks can together look at the clock, agree on the times, and write those times on the Bill of Lading before it is signed.
Requesting that Apparently Damaged Freight be Photographed Before it is Moved:
When freight that was previously accepted by a carrier as being free of damage, is damaged in transit, the loss is almost always the responsibility of the carrier. However, there may be mitigating circumstances (e.g., defective or insufficient packaging) that may limit the carrier’s responsibility. As a result, a wise carrier will train its drivers to take pictures of damaged freight before it is unloaded: some go so far as to issue cameras to their drivers. So if a driver, acting as the carrier’s legal on-site agent, wants to take pictures if something seem amiss, that is always acceptable.
In fact, if you prevent a driver from taking such pictures, you may well jeopardize your ability to recover the full amount of your loss. Moreover, if the driver doesn’t take pictures before possibly-damaged freight is moved, you should take pictures, simply because damage discovered on the dock can be much different than damage discovered on the truck. Think about it – damage discovered on the dock could have been caused by mis-handling by your unloading staff, or by some other unrelated event on your property, but damage discovered on the truck (that was not present when the truck left the loading point) happened on the truck or elsewhere while the freight was under the carrier’s care, management and control.
IMPACT & TYPICAL RESOLUTION
These situations are usually the result of very simple misunderstandings, and are normally resolved very quickly with no lasting impact.
Typically, the driver obtains the information that is necessary to perform his/her responsibilities without any drama or tension.