Why Freight Damage Claims are on the Rise

When it comes to the recent uptick in freight damage in the FE&S industry, Drew O’Quinn has been in the business long enough to have a handle on the whys— mishandling by the carrier, poor packaging, a crammed combi.

It’s frustrating, says the vice president of Thompson & Little. “This year alone, we have received three pieces of very expensive cooking equipment that were badly damaged. These combi ovens and steamers were torqued so badly, the doors would not even  close. More and more of our shipments are either dented or damaged in transit.”

Even worse: If distributors do not catch the damage before signing for the freight, they’re saddled with the burden of disputing the liability. This is where manufacturers  and distributors can work together, believes O’Quinn. “One way in which we can reduce the number of freight claims is by making damage indicator stickers an industry standard,” he says, adding that they would be extremely helpful in receiving refrigeration and heavy equipment.

Sold by companies like ULine, “Tip-N-Tell” and other types of damage-indicator technology immediately alert warehouse staff to potential damage. “ShockWatch” labels turn red to warn recipients of possible damage during shipping, while “TiltWatch XTR” not only informs carriers that certain packages must remain upright, it warns the customer when they’ve been tilted in transit.

Triggered at an 80-degree angle, the label turns from white to red after a package has been tilted. “They’ve saved us from some huge losses,” says O’Quinn. “In a perfect world, we would have the time to scrutinize every package but sometimes things fall through the cracks when the warehouse gets busy. But whenever someone sees one of those stickers, they zero in. They’re like waving red flags covered with the words ‘check me.’”

The problem is only a small number of manufacturers in the industry have invested in  the technology, according to O’Quinn. “I was just talking about this issue with a few  other dealers and a manufacturer’s rep,” he says. “I wish all our vendors used some    form of damage indicator stickers on their packaging to help dealers receive freight   more efficiently. This would help alleviate freight damage and get our products delivered faster to our customers.”

Another Contributing Factor

According to ReTrans Freight Director of Client Care Solutions Kevin Brink, efforts to improve packaging also would go a long way in reducing freight damage. “There are a few manufacturers that are notorious for poor packaging,” he says. “Before the capacity crunch, carriers were willing to work around the problem because they needed the market share. Now, they’re running at 90 to 95 percent capacity. It’s the difference between putting a combi oven on a truck that’s three-quarters full versus a truck that’s completely full. At three-quarters full, you’ve got room to stick a piece of bulky freight in the corner. Today, there is no extra  corner.”