Using the Return to Warehouse Option

10/18/18 by Bev

When the exhibit is over, deciding when to use the “return to warehouse option” or “shipment rerouted” can be difficult. When you turn in the Material Handling form to ship your exhibit at the close of the show, you are always asked the following at the service desk: what should we do if your carrier does not show up? You are given two choices:

  1. You can choose to have the shipment rerouted using a carrier that the general contractor chooses for outbound shipping, OR
  2. You can have the general contractor remove your freight off the show floor and take it back to their local storage facility. They will hold it there for further instructions. This second option is called return to warehouse.

So what do you do? This is a hard decision to make because there is a little objective criteria to your decision. On the one hand, you are at the mercy of the general contractor’s shipping company and whatever price they want to charge for shipping your freight. You will be charged a shipping fee without the benefit of a prearranged price quote.  The cost is usually significantly higher than the original quote from your preferred carrier.

The other option is to have the shipment return to the contractor’s local warehouse, but there’s usually little information to tell you what the associated costs are for this service. In my experience, the costs are usually in the range of 10 to 20 dollars per hundredweight. So what do you do?

I have, on many occasions, checked the return to warehouse box. Why? It is an option that provides a fixed price for the shipment. I can go back to my shipping company and have them absorb the cost for this extra fee and still have them return my shipment at the original agreed price.

So lets’ run some numbers. If my shipment weighs 3,000 lbs. and the return to warehouse fee is $15 per hundredweight, then my cost for this service is $450. I can have my carrier pick up the shipment a day or two later and the carrier can absorb this added fee for their negligence in not showing up on time at the show site. On the other hand that same $1,400 return shipment could cost $2,300, as an example, using the reroute method where you have no control over pricing. At least with the return to warehouse option you know what your costs are going to be by asking at the service desk.

I also like to think you get a little more leniency with the general contractor when you choose the return to warehouse option ─ they won’t force your freight as fast knowing they have to take it back to their facility. Next week, we’ll take a look at the relationship between the show contractor and the freight company who would get your forced freight.

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