Mismatching Bills of Lading vs. Photo Inspections

Dented Roof Heard a story from one of our brokers recently and it surprised me enough to ask the industry to share their thoughts.

Here’s how the story went,
The broker contracted with its client to transport a vehicle to one of their customers. The broker and dealer agreed on    the rate and signed the paperwork. Apparently this dealer had been a long time client of this broker, so this process was  quick and familiar to each party. Note my previous use of the words ‘HAD been a long time client’, I’ll cover more of this later.
Back to the story. The broker now needed to secure a carrier for the shipment and did. They contracted with an apparently reputable company. There was another clue, did you catch it, ‘Apparently reputable company‘.
So, as these trips often do, all went well for the first few days of the journey. On the third or fourth day the carrier notifies the broker that the delivery was made and per customers wishes the vehicle was left in a secure location and delivered without a signature.
This is the point in the story where those readers that are from this industry just had the little voice in their heads tell them, ‘this is not going to end well’, ‘never deliver without someone signing for it’.
Did I mention this was a brand new vehicle with less than 20 miles on it!
Okay, enough suspense building. The carrier sends the broker the delivery bill of lading and in the signature box the driver clearly wrote ‘TBI’ (To Be Inspected).
This seemed a little risky on the drivers part, but nothing seemed amiss from the delivery customer.
And then came the call from that delivery customer.
He states that everything with the vehicle seemed okay, until..
Well, I thought, that’s certainly true. Everything is always okay Until it’s not.
It seems the delivery customer’s daughter had climbed into the bed of the vehicle and asked her dad about the large dents in the roof of the pickup.
Again, those readers that have actually hauled cars in the auto transport industry on a double deck trailer know exactly what causes two large symmetrical dents in the roof of a pickup. Chain drums are very unforgiving to the roof of a vehicle when bounced down the highway at 70mph.
And so, like so many others before, this broker now had to start the paperwork gathering and the detective work. Collecting all of the paperwork, making sure everyone is in the loop on the situation, gathering photo evidence, contacting insurance, etc.
At this point no one knows exactly who is at fault, and a savoy, seasoned broker knows not to start throwing darts too early. He wants to remain neutral until all dust settles.
Apparently for this broker, the dust settled and when it did he was staring at the origin and destination bills of lading that Should look identical, but of course they were very different…