Yup, that’s the way it feels we’re being treated by shipping companies. Every package or pallet that ships from our warehouse is at the mercy of the carrier, because from the moment it’s picked up to when it’s delivered, hopefully undamaged, on time, and to the correct address, it is completely out of our control. They have the goods, and we the vendor and you the customer don’t. Your package is off on the ride of its life, and we can do nothing but hope and pray that it is safe and sound and not being held hostage or abducted by aliens.
Our team spends considerable time and effort finding the best, safest, most reliable and most cost-effective way to ship packages, parcels and pallets. So, what could possibly go wrong?
1. Delivered to the wrong address - Was it incorrectly addressed or delivered incorrectly?
2. Gets lost altogether - We must prove that we actually shipped the item, that we filed the paperwork correctly, that it was labeled correctly, etc., etc., and this is all before anyone will actually start looking for the package. We recently had to barge our way into a freight distribution center to check all the trailers for our pallet that contained the booth for a show that was opening the next day. We found it all alone in an otherwise empty trailer, forlorn and forgotten.
3. Arrives damaged - This is a fun one! Anyone who has received a shipment from us will no doubt attest to the seemingly excessive packaging and labeling we use as we try to limit any damage in transit. For large, bulky, and/or delicate shipments we even photograph the packages before they are picked up. If damage occurs, the carrier will usually deny any claim stating that it was due to “insufficient packaging.” We use stickers stating “Fragile,” “Heavy,” “This Way Up,” Do Not Double Stack,” etc. In fact, we should have one saying: “Warning - Excessive Sticker Use.” Yes, some of the pick-up drivers snigger and say that we must be mad to think that anyone takes notice of our stickers, but we reply saying hopefully the customer will see that at least we are trying.
4. Delivered after the deadline - So your overnight package doesn’t arrive the next day. “Oh dear, sorry,” says the carrier, “there’ll be no charge.” At that point your package gets tossed into a pile marked “Loss Maker - No Rush - Low Priority,” and it will then eventually get delivered several days later.
Even if you received your package at the correct address, on time, and undamaged, this may not be the end of the story for the shipper. We charged you what the carrier quoted us; you paid us, but then days or weeks later we get billed more than the quoted price! This can be the result of accusations of wrongly classified locations, oversized packages, or that the weight was more than declared even though we measure and weigh each and every package we ship and file the details. “Ah,” they say, “but we have not approved your measuring stick and you have no calibration certificate for your scales.” This is true, but we use very accurate scales that are normally used for setting up and balancing race cars, and we are always very honest; honest we are. We are currently contesting one charge where a 360 lb pallet was supposed to have been reweighed at 795 lbs, without any change in the external dimensions. Yeah, right ….
International shipping has its fun moments too, with the added complication of customs documents, tariffs, duty, etc. We are trying to sort out a big mess right now where a quantity of 18 solar MC4 connectors ended up on the customs documents as 18,000 lamp holders, with a duty of $543 where it should be $0. This is most likely the result of some countries transposing the use of commas and periods, so where someone in Italy had entered a quantity of 18,00 and not 18.00 as would be the norm here, some customs official in the US must have assumed a zero was missing and morphed it into 18,000! And that is on top of someone’s error in copying the harmonized code numbers incorrectly.
If we just roll over and not fight, they win and we lose. We spend way too much precious time and energy trying to prove our innocence, often long after the goods have been delivered to the customer, and unfortunately things just don’t seem to be getting any better.
Here’s a doozy to be ending with in the pictures below; on the left are crates ready for pick up; on the right are as they were delivered. FYI - the larger orange labels say “Do Not Double Stack” which means “Do not put anything on top of this.”