Top Tips for Safe Shipping

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By John Robertson

While we’d all like to think that our belong­ings are in good hands when we ship them, this isn’t always the case.

In order to make it as like­ly as pos­si­ble that your items will be safe and sound, fol­low these top tips for ship­ping safe­ty:

• Nev­er use an instant cash trans­fer ser­vice to pay for ship­ping costs. First of all, you don’t real­ly know who’s receiv­ing and accept­ing the mon­ey once it’s been trans­ferred. Sec­ond, you can’t get the mon­ey back after you wire it.

• A con­tract is always need­ed as soon as you book the ship­ping appoint­ment. Nev­er ship your items until a con­tract has been signed. Ide­al­ly, noth­ing will go wrong, but the con­tract is there to pro­tect you in case some­thing does.

• It’s not unheard of for a provider to require a deposit upfront; in fact, this is quite com­mon. How­ev­er, make sure that all of the details of the deposit are includ­ed in the con­tract, includ­ing if, how and when the deposit is refund­able. Some­times a deposit serves as a kill fee, which means that it cov­ers any work that goes on before the actu­al ship­ping. This also means that you won’t get it back should you can­cel the ser­vice. Oth­er deposits may be refund­able, depend­ing on the com­pa­ny.

• It’s always advis­able to use a cred­it card, deb­it card of third par­ty pay­ment option like Pay­Pal for trans­ac­tions. This will help you should you face fraud or have to dis­pute the charge. It’s ben­e­fi­cial to check with the finan­cial com­pa­nies ahead of time to find out their poli­cies regard­ing dis­putes.

• When search­ing for a ship­ping provider, read cus­tomer reviews. Pay atten­tion to repet­i­tive com­men­tary, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive. If sev­er­al cus­tomers had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence, chances are you will too. You can also ver­i­fy cre­den­tials with the Fed­er­al Motor Car­ri­er Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion by check­ing the Safe­ty and Fit­ness Elec­tron­ic Records Sys­tem.

• If some­thing doesn’t sound right to you, speak up! Maybe you’ve dis­cussed con­tract terms over the phone with an employ­ee but now you don’t see those out­lined in writ­ing. It’s pos­si­ble that you’ll be quot­ed one price and asked to pay a much high­er fee when you’re ready to sign the con­tract. These things could sim­ply be an over­sight on the provider’s part or they could point to a scam. Either way, make sure you clear dis­crep­an­cies up before you pay or sign.

John Robert­son is Direc­tor of Logis­tics Mar­ket­ing at Unit­ed Road.

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