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How To Inspect Your Freight Before Signing Your Proof Of Delivery


It is essential you inspect your freight before signing your proof of delivery. Below, we will discuss how to inspect your freight and what to do when you receive a damaged package.

What is a Proof of Delivery

Besides the Bill of Lading (BOL), the Proof of Delivery (POD) is one of the most important pieces of paperwork for any shipment. The delivery driver will carry the Proof of Delivery receipt, which signifies that the shipment has been delivered. As a legal document, it is multi-purpose, serving as:

  • Title/Owner of Cargo
  • A Cargo Receipt
  • Evidence of Contracted Carriage

Signing the Proof of Delivery

The Proof of Delivery is a legally binding contract, so if you sign it and then notice damage after the driver has departed, you will face an uphill battle trying to recoup the cost from the carrier.

When a consignee signs a proof of delivery, that signature denotes two things:

  • The goods arrived safely and without noticeable damage.
  • The cargo is now in the hands of the consignee and all responsibility shifts thereto.

So, if you tell a carrier that you found damage after the fact, they will point to the Proof of Delivery as their legal evidence that they upheld their bargain and that the damage must have occurred on your watch.

Inspecting Freight Deliveries

For the reasons discussed above, it is crucial that you thoroughly examine each item or pallet that gets delivered. Before you accept a shipment or inspect for damage, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this my shipment? Scan the delivery receipt and confirm that it is your name and information on the receipt. If your company has multiple locations, verify that they have been delivered to the correct one. Check the labels of every item to make sure that these goods were intended for you.
  • Is the piece count right? Count the pieces and make sure that they are all accounted for on the delivery receipt.

Once you have established these facts, it is time for you to inspect the cargo for damage or wear.

Freight Inspection Checklist

Take the following steps to ensure your company and goods are protected:

  • Document everything – We advise that you take photos of the freight as it is being offloaded. This can provide you with visual evidence in the case of legal or insurance issues. Ask the shipper if they would be willing to also take photos of the cargo prior to shipment. This allows you to compare and contrast if needed.
  • Check all sides of the shipment – Every item and package should be reviewed for external damage. Examine the pallet, the outside packaging, the shrink wrapping, the tags, and warning tape. Look for tears, holes, stains, water, or anything else that might indicate that the goods have been mishandled or tampered with. Look to see if packages have been opened, sealing tape altered, and that pallet’s wrap hasn’t been cut.
  • Is there damage? If you notice damage, take pictures of them and then make a careful note of each area where the cargo is affected. Even a small rip in the plastic should be mentioned. Meticulously write out in detail each and every piece of evidence of visible damage on the delivery receipt, and make sure that the delivery guy is there to witness. Once noted:
  • Open any package or pallet with visible loss or damage with the driver present.
  • Study the items with the driver, looking for further damage.
  • Record detailed descriptions of this inspection.
  • Are there exceptions? Exceptions are notes on possible damage, that do not necessarily lead to a claim. So, if a package is damaged, but the goods inside the container are unscathed, then you will not have to file a damage claim. However, if you do not note an exception and something does end up being broken, you will have a hard time winning that case.
  • Have the driver confirm – Once you have listed every issue on the delivery receipt, have the driver initial next to your damage footnotes.

Post Inspection – What to Do if the Shipment is Visibly Damaged

If upon your cargo inspection, you discover that certain goods have been damaged during their passage, it is essential you follow the mandated steps in order to reach a pleasing resolution. Remain calm, make notes in the proof of delivery and then follow these steps:

Do Not Turn Away the Driver

Whatever you do, never turn the driver away, unless the wrong cargo was mistakenly delivered to you. At the end of the day, refusing the shipment will likely cost you more, since the carrier could charge you for additional shipping costs if the driver has to come back. So, do not turn the driver away, make the notes of damage, sign for the delivery, and accept the damaged freight.

Accept the Freight

While it may feel counterintuitive, like you are the loser in a game of hot potato, accepting the freight is the crucial step towards compensation. A package can be damaged for a variety of reasons; a damage claim will seek to discover what went wrong and where it went wrong along the way. Damaged cargo could be the fault of the shipper packing the goods improperly or the carrier handling goods too roughly. Only after determining who is at fault can a consignee have their losses recouped.

Certain insurance policies require you to accept freight. If you refuse, it will nullify their responsibility to pay. The reason for this is, if you send the goods back, the carrier will be in control of them. This means that they could experience even worse damage while the claim is processed. By accepting, you remain in control of the damaged items and the situation.

Keep Documenting

Documenting the entire process is critical. It lays down a trail of breadcrumbs for insurance companies or carriers to follow during remediation. If it looks like your goods were improperly or wantonly packaged, write that down. Your notes should be extremely detailed; the more information, the better. Add dates and labels where necessary. On top of that, it is vital that you keep copies of:

  1. Photos showing the damage to the goods
  2. The Bill of Lading
  3. The Proof of Delivery
  4. The paid freight invoice
  5. An invoice highlighting the paid price of the goods that were damaged
  6. The packing slip
  7. The damaged freight claim


Please immediately contact The Rusty Marquee via email (info@TheRustyMarquee.com) providing as much information as possible including any and all photos and documentation.  We will reply ASAP and request any additional information, if needed.  Once we have as much information as possible, we will process an insurance claim on your behalf.

Please note: If bulbs are broken during shipment but the structure itself is not damaged, please email us at info@therustymarquee.com.  We will do our best to ship replacement bulbs right away.  Broken bulbs during shipment do not change our refund policy.  If you return your sign because of broken bulbs, you are still responsible for shipping/return shipping charges.

Please note: The irregularities and variations of color, shading and texture, and the imperfections (scratches) are natural characteristics of metal and are authentic rustic features. These irregularities add to its natural and unique beauty and in no way are to be considered defects or damages. No two items will be exactly the same – this is your best guarantee of its authenticity.