Today’s topic is the Straight Bill of Lading. Why the word “straight?” Well, there is actually quite a difference between a Straight Bill of Lading and Bill of Lading (BOL).
A Bill of Lading, in general, is negotiable. It can have pricing information and lots of other information on the document. It is what the carrier fills out and uses to ship your freight, but also bill freight and so on. A Straight Bill of Lading is what is used on the trade show floor and that is non-negotiable. It’s for transfer of title of your property from the general contractor to a shipping agent that you designate on a Bill of Lading.
I want to go over what a Straight Bill of Lading is and what it contains. It will always have the following:
- Shipment origin
- Shipment destination
- Carrier’s name that you will need to put in.
- A block to prepay or for collect shipment – prepay means “bill to,” meaning the carrier will bill you after the shipment is delivered.
- Address block to take care of all those arrangements – this is not pricing but just tells the carrier that the general contractor is not liable for the cost of the shipment.
- Number of pieces
- Description of the Shipment – very important to get as much detail as you can here.
- The general contractor will also have a re-assignment block. One that will say something like send back to warehouse and the other will say ship via general contractor’s carrier. I always like to put deliver back to warehouse because I can hold the transportation company accountable if they do not show up. They just go to the warehouse and pay the small fee/surcharge of around $15 per 100wt for the general contractor to take it off the floor and take it the local warehouse. So this is a strategy that you can use, but you do have to check one of the boxes.
Now the method of freight, which is something people don’t check a lot is, very important. It talks about motor freight, air freight, van line or other – especially if it is a POV (privately owned vehicle). You will have to specify the carrier method and, most importantly, the date you need it delivered by. If you are doing 2-day air or vanline freight, you want to make sure that it gets to you by a certain date, so you must put that date on the section. You may be thinking that my carrier knows the date, but if the freight is forced off the floor, then the general contractor must be able to tell his carrier that the freight needs to get back by a certain date.
I am going to talk a little about forced freight. The general contractor has to get the freight off the show floor if the carrier does not show. An important point I want to bring up is that please be very general when it comes to listing your carrier’s name. For example if you work with a specific carrier like United Van Line Agency, don’t list the specific agency’s name that you work with ─ just list United Van Lines.
It’s also important to be aware of changes with your carrier. Shortly after United Van Lines and Mayflower merged together, if you listed United Van Lines and a Mayflower truck showed up, the general contractor may have been picky about it. So learn a little more about the carriers and be general in your terms.
One other thing I want to tell you about is The National Motor Freight Classification of Freight. Exhibit classes usually have class 125, which I really never understood. I have always said class 92, which are computers and monitors, class 110, which makes more sense than 125, is cabinets but also if you have literature or books or something similar shipping on a nice pallet, that should be like class 65 or 50. The lower the number, cheaper the rate. So when you are negotiating pricing with a carrier, think about the different national motor freight classifications. Otherwise they will just lump it all in class 125 or class 100 for your freight. It is a little confusing, so look up NMFC and it will explain 18 different classes that they put motor freight in to adjust pricing or price things accordingly. It also helps in forced freight as you can ask, “How did you classify my freight?”
Last but not least, if you put a shipping label on every piece, it is so easy to work with. Be sure to include the total number of units, and what number each unit is (1 of 6, 2 of 6, etc). It helps the people on the show floor when they are taking or locating your freight.