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.