UNDERSTANDING CONCEALED DAMAGE
The best way to think about Concealed Damage is like a new car on a lot. The second you drive off the premises the value drops like your 401K did in 2009 (actually worse). Likewise, the second you sign the delivery receipt 'clear' and the driver leaves the freight on your dock, it loses 2/3 of it's recoverable value. Yup, 2/3 right off the bat. Which is why you need to be cynical and handle it with a cool head.
AN OZ. OF PREVENTION, ETC.
Olivia would agree that the best way to fix a concealed damage is the same as fixing a high profile affair or finding a dead guy in your bathroom: Don't get into that situation in the first place.
But, if you do, don't freak out - just get ahead of it. Follow these steps below and everything will be fine.
THE SMOKING GUN
Concealed damage happens. The best way to be prepared for fixing it is to understand the process and to find the smoking gun early. Like Olivia says, "dirty little secrets always come out it's just a matter of time" so find the dirt and 'shut it down' early.
The delivery receipt (DR), or Proof of Delivery (POD), is the document around which all things legal revolve. Always make sure you inspect the freight thoroughly before signing the DR clear. If you see anything at all that indicates some form of foul play, make a note on the DR even if you note "potential concealed damage". This can save weeks or even months of pain dealing with a "concealed damage" claim.
If the driver will let you open up the package to inspect - do it. If not, and the damage could be extensive maybe you should consider refusing the shipment . Then the onus is on the carrier not you.
If you are shipping to someone who is not familiar with freight educate them about inspecting thoroughly and signing responsibly. If your customer signs clear you end having to fix their situation remotely while dealing with their grumbling about damaged product!
YOUR FIRST CALL
If you find concealed damage after the driver has made of with a clear POD, immediately call the carrier to report it. Once you sign clear for the freight you automatically give up at least 2/3 of potentially recoverable claims payments. That's if you report within 48 hours and even then it's an uphill battle. (Carriers become insurance claim agents at that point). After 48 hours your chances of getting a dime drop to nothing unless you want to go all the way to court at which point your sinking cost into a lawyer and additional time.
CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
Upon finding damage (concealed or otherwise) treat it like a crime scene. Bag & tag the evidence, snap pics, chalk outlines if you can. There's no such thing as over the top. You'll know what I mean when the inspector shows up (yes, freight inspector is actually a career). This will also prepare you for being under the hot lights during the claims adjustor's interrogation. Getting thirsty, Seinfeld?
If you are knowledgeable and trust your gut you cannot go wrong. Congrats! You are officially a Concealed Damage Gladiator. Go forth and slay logistics dragons!
Looking for a reliable, experienced freight broker who can take everything off your plate and always find you the best rates? Contact Chris.