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Shipping Companies Can Trash Your Stuff and Just Walk Away

Aug 17, 2007
Trade shows are big business, and an important part of big company marketing efforts. Expensive displays, merchandise, marketing collateral, all of these items are needed for a good trade show booth. And these items are often shipped via commercial carriers, to arrive at the trade show venue ready for set up.

When you put your trust in a shipping company to transport your valuable freight to a trade show, who is responsible if something happens to it? And how much will you be compensated if something is lost or destroyed? The answers may surprise you.

Unfortunately, you may find out the hard way that the shipping company you have chosen and entrusted has little or no responsibility when it comes to the safe delivery of your trade show property.

You, like others, may be wondering why these large shipping conglomerates aren't responsible or bothered if they lose a shipment. Financially, they have very little incentive to solve your missing shipment dilemma. When it comes to a lost or missing shipment is because they are only responsible for five cents per pound. Yep, you read that right, five cents per pound.

There is no logical reason behind them being responsible for such a little price. Other than commodities, what else if anything is valued in pounds? If you think about it, smaller items tend to have a much greater value than large heavy items. Think jewelry; can 5 cents a pound possibly compensate if your jewelry trade display turns up missing? Yet if anything is lost you will receive almost nothing. It's not only insulting, it can be financially devastating.

You may wonder who these companies are that can get away with this. Maybe they are unknown companies, small overseas companies with no reputation? You would be wrong. These are well-known companies like FedEx, UPS, and other big name freight companies. They are legally protected to these minimal responsibilities on missing freight.

These freight companies give you the opportunity to purchase additional insurance from the carriers ahead of time. While they are self insured, they make you pay a small fortune just in case something they have no control over happens. Nice of them, isn't it?

Not only do they charge you for additional insurance but they charge you extra if the size of the freight you are shipping is over "standard shipping size." Just to give you an example, UPS will charge you a minimum premium of $100 when any dimension, meaning length, width, or height, exceeds one hundred twenty inches. There are many other "extra" charges so it is a good idea to do your homework on the shipping company before you hand your property over to them.

When your property is in their "custody, care and control", how do they get around being responsible for it? If we knew, maybe we would be able to fix it. However, until that happens trusting your freight to a shipping company is a bit like gambling, since it is anyone's guess whether or not you will see it again.

At present time maybe the only thing we can do is when we need to ship anything of value, especially back and forth to trade shows, is to add the shipment to your company's insurance policy, with an inexpensive rider. It is a quick and easy solution, and compared to the potential cost of losing so much more, it's relatively cheap. This will prevent you from having to endure a fight you just won't win.
About the Author
Lowell Nickens has been in the trade show industry for 27 years as decorating contractor, exhibit builder, and currently markets trade show and architectural signage through 3 different webs sites:
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