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What are the Common Mistakes on the Bill of Lading?

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Last week we touched on the Straight Bill of Lading. This week I am going to follow up on a lot of the common mistakes. One thing I do want to say is that if you send your ambassador or your exhibitors out and you are the one who makes the transportation arrangements, get a blank Bill of Lading from the show floor, make a copy and fill it out for the people going to the show floor. This way when they get their packet with the shipping label and the bill of lading, they will atleast have a template to copy off information on to the general contractor’s bill of lading. This will eliminate common mistakes to an extent.

Let’s go through a few common mistakes that happen on the show floor in regards to filling out a bill of lading for the shipment to go off the floor:

  1. Not listing a carrier – if you do not list a carrier in the form, the general contractor will get your freight. It will become forced freight. This is because a straight bill of lading is the authority that a general contractor has to give it to your specified carrier and without that, he can choose the carrier
  2. Not filling out a Bill of Lading – the general contractor cannot move your freight even with your carrier specified without a bill of lading. So it is very important that you understand a straight bill of lading and what it does in terms of giving authority to the general contractor
  3. Leaving the freight in the booth with labels only – the general contractor can force freight without proper filling out the bill of lading even if the freight has Fedex or other carrier labels on it
  4. Listed items lack details – everybody’s freight looks the same so you have to be detailed about what you put on the bill of lading. This also applies to air freight shipment for example if you have a skid and you send it air freight and you don’t specify the number of pieces in that skid and if the air company has to breakdown the skid to fit, the pieces could get lost without specifying the total number of pieces
  5. No emergency contact listed – if you leave the show floor and the general contractor needs to get in touch with you to inform you that your designated carrier did not show up, without that contact number you are at the mercy of the general contractor’s usually higher priced freight forwarder from the show floor
  6. Not calling your carrier – you have to call them and let them know about your shipment with the booth number, show name etc. Remind them of the shipment the day off or earlier for the pick-up
  7. Forced freight – the general contractor has to clear the hall. It is his responsibility to the association so that they do not get charged extra rent. If the general contractor does not have that carrier information on the bill of lading, it gets into the forced freight situation
  8. Not specifying separate shipments – there is a box area on the straight bill of lading indicating the number of shipments which is very important to mark if there is one or more than one shipment in the booth

Again, I want to remind you of the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). Class 125 is usually the shipping classes for exhibit freight. But if you have different things coming off the show floor that can be class 92 or class 50, this is a good way to keep the prices down. It is also a good way to fight for straight charges by going to your freight carrier questioning them on the class used to ship freight.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.