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the shipment reaches destination, whereas the industry may be entitled to the lower charges attaching to the car in which the shipment was
originally made. 5. The destination and the desired delivery at the
destination should be next considered, as not infrequently, especially in large centers like Chicago, Boston, and New York, the expense incurred in effecting a desired terminal delivery comes out of the rate, and is not added to the charge for transportation. For example, the shipment is routed New York Central Railroad to Chicago, Chicago & North Western delivery, the switching tariffs provide conditions whereby a free delivery to the designated location will be accomplished, and the line effecting it looks to the New York Central Railroad for compensation instead of
to the shipper. 6. The number of packages should be tallied or
checked against the invoice or other authentio shipping documents, since, in a great many cases, the weight on which charges are based is. contingent on an estimated weight per package, or the rate may be quoted per crate, per barrel,
or per box. 7. The style of package used-barrel, box, crate,
firkin, tub, kit, or hogshead-should be verified, as in many cases different ratings are established for different kinds of packages, and the promiscuous use of abbreviations by railroad bill clerks makes it decidedly difficult to distinguish one from the other when the writing is somewhat illegible.
8. The description of the article itself should be
construed in the light of the classification or tariff, and the proper description should be employed in order to secure the application of the rates lawfully applicable on goods transported. Sulphate of soda takes a different rate from sulphide of soda and in certain cases sulphite, in turn, takes still a different rate. Consequently, the description of a shipment as “10 Packages of Soda” is insufficient, and may lead to the application of an erroneous rate of
freight 9. Where estimated weights are not used, the carriers
rely on track scale weights, which, in many cases, are unsatisfactory, since the cars may be weighed in motion, coupled at both ends, or they may have accumulated a considerable quantity of foreign material that is not included in the weight of the car.
Many industries are in a position to know what a given quantity of their materials or stuffs weigh, and when the scale weights indicated by the carrier are so far out of line, these average weights are frequently resorted to in readjusting the charges. A dealer in lumber of various dimensions is quite emphatic in his refusal to pay transportation charges on quantities of lumber of given kinds when the weights on which charges are based exceed certain average weights or estimated weights which he has
determined by years of experience. 10. An error in rates may result from the use of
the wrong tariffs, from the failure to employ the lowest combination, or from the division of the rate, between carriers, on percentages up to and from junction points to one line taking a greater proportion than that to which it is entitled. If the rate is assumed to be fifty cents per 100 pounds, and to divide on junction A, 50 per cent to line B, and 50 per cent to line C, the charges should be rendered on the basis of twenty-five cents accruing to each line. One line, however, might take thirty cents as its proportion, which is five cents more than it is entitled to, and the other line take its usual proportion of twentyfive cents, which would result in an overcharge of five cents per hundredweight. .
The rate applied to shipments should be reviewed in this light when a division of revenue is indicated on the freight bill between carriers
enjoying the haul. 11. Errors in the freight column are commonly called
“errors in extension,” and result from an incorrect multiplication process. Three thousand pounds at ten cents per hundredweight may, in some cases, be extended as $30, whereas $3 is the correct charge. Inconsistent as it may seem, shippers frequently pay such absurd computations
without question. 12. Errors in the advanced charges may also result
from an error in extension, the same as in the freight column, or they may be due to the fact that the connecting carrier up to the junction point has taken more than it was entitled to according to the percentage divisions of the route of which it forms a part.
13. Total charges to be collected are frequently in
error, due to mistakes in addition in combining the advance charges with the freight charges and charges for any supplemental services as may
have been rendered. 14. Drayage charges are occasionally added to bills
where this service has been performed and is provided for in tariffs. Unless, however, there is a tariff provision for this service, charges
cannot be properly collected. 15. The route designated by the shipper should be
followed by the carrier. If no route is specified, it then becomes the duty of the carrier's agent to forward it via the cheapest route known to him. Failing to do so, the carrier becomes
liable to the shipper for any additional expense. This sketches the fifteen opportunities for error on an expense bill of this kind. Where shipments which move on transit privileges or are switched or reconsigned at terminals, added opportunities for error arise.
The complex nature of this audit clearly indicates that it is beyond the grasp of the ordinary shipping clerk or junior clerks in railroad offices, and necessitates the services of especially trained men to produce the best results.
FORMS FOR OVERCHARGE AUDIT
In the prosecution of this work many firms employ a form somewhat similar to the one shown in Fig. 22, which is prepared by the departmental accountant, and passed on to the overcharge claim investigator to be completed.
Date of shipment.
If thru ..
FIG. 22.-An Overcharge Audit Form
The advantage of this form is that it requires the employee charged with the investigation of moneys paid, actually to compute all charges, and does not give him the railroad figures to shoot at.
It has been found in some circles that claim investigators are wont to let some of the freight bills pass with little or no investigation. With the adoption of