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Dear Sir:
Our customer, Mr.

reports the nonreceipt of shipment consisting of

which was delivered to your.

station and for which we hold
your receipt showing stamped date_

Please endeavor to locate this shipment and hurry it forward to
destination, informing us as to the progress of your investigation.

Yours very truly,

John Jones


FIG. 24.-A Card Tracer

The majority of tracers are instituted by the shippers themselves, who believe they can hasten the movement of freight by some means of this kind. For this reason, the railroads are forced to disregard the great majority of such requests from a standpoint of economy, thus defeating the aim and purpose of many legitimate tracers.

A tracer should not be instituted until there is evidence of undue delay in transit. Then a tracer should be sent to the local agent, stating full particulars of the shipment, and requesting a prompt investigation and reply. But this should not be done until the carrier has had ample opportunity to effect the transportation.

An instance of unreasonable demand for tracers was the custom of a large Chicago enterprise to follow up its deliveries of one day with request to the carrier the next day to trace such shipments, and to indicate delivery to the consignee. As there were one hundred shipments or so daily, it can be readily appreciated that an undue burden was thus imposed on the carriers.

Proper Marking The opportunity for property to be held in such a manner will be minimized if the shipping room is required to indicate the address of the consignee on each separate item comprising the shipment, as in such cases, it is the custom of the carriers to forward shipments received erroneously to the proper destination on so-called “free astray billing.

The first consideration of the shipping room should be to have everything exactly right, not only as to inside and exterior packing, but as to marking as well. It is of no avail to put thru the factory an order to construct a particular article or to manufacture an article within a given time, only to have it shipped wrong, thereby losing the customer's goodwill and necessitating reconsigning, duplicating, or returning the shipment.

Filing the Tracers

Preferably, the tracer should be maintained as a desk file, and should be kept separate from the general correspondence files of the department. A very satisfactory system of filing is to take the first letter of the word “tracer (T) as the key or letter prefix for the tracer number; all tracers starting on the first working day of each month will have number 1, and the series continues numerically thruout the month until the first working day of the succeeding month, when a new series is started. The number corresponding with the month is used as a suffix. For example, the first tracer started in the month of December would be identified as T-1-12; the first tracer in the month of January would be designated as T-1-1; the first tracer in the month of July would be T-1-7; if it is assumed that there are 600 tracers inaugurated during the month of July, the last tracer number would appear as T-600-7, and any subsequent correspondence referring to this number would be readily identified.

By employing this method, the tracers that are held in abeyance—the ones on which the carriers have not been able to indicate delivery—can be kept in a wire basket or similar receptacle. The various months are separated by stout pieces of cardboard, and the tracers are followed up from time to time.

As the period of time in which claims can be filed diminishes, the oldest tracers can be removed from the tracing file and passed to the loss and damage clerk for preparation of the claim, with the necessary documents and the letter of transmittal. By following this plan, the outlawed claim becomes a conspicuous exception.

The method of recording and indexing tracers which is used by the National Cash Register Company has proved satisfactory. Under its system tracers are numbered from 1 to 9,999, and when the latter number is reached, a new series starting with 1 is begun. A Hall & McChesney (Syracuse, N. Y.) index file book is used in which to record the substance of the tracer; the tracer is indexed under the customer's or consignee's name, followed by the number assigned to that particular tracer.

Not only does the tracer system apply on nondeliveries but on shipments which may be unclaimed, refused, or undelivered at destination for other causes. These requests for disposition are handled in the same manner as tracers, and the efforts of the department are directed to furnishing to the carrier satisfactory orders for disposition.

Index System

In preparing the index for the tracing file, a geographical arrangement has been found the most satisfactory. Under the adoption of this plan, the destination of a shipment is taken as the key to find the particular tracer number which has been assigned to a shipment.

The tracer for a shipment consigned to Oliver Holmes, Little Rock, Ark., would be indexed under the page set aside for the state of Arkansas under "L" as follows:

Little Rock, Ark., Oliver Holmes, 1-12, indicating that tracer No. 1 of December covers.

Any substantial alphabetically tabbed book will suffice for this purpose.

Carload Tracing

With respect to carload business, not infrequently the industrial department can make arrangements with the traffic department of the carrier, whereby the latter will furnish the industrial traffic department with socalled "passing reports” showing the dates on which cars passed certain junctions or were delivered to connections at terminal points.


This is another very important division of the work contemplated in industrial traffic management, since, to a large extent, the efficiency of the department is measured, from a financial standpoint, by the amount of money recovered from each carrier following the institution of claims of various kinds.


A few years ago, loss and damage claims were taken much as a matter of course. Both shippers and carriers seemed to consider them as a necessary evil in the transportation of freight.

Lately, however, it has been demonstrated that much can be done to reduce this evil to a minimum. The carriers have, in many cases, established bureaus for the systematic study of the causes of claims, and have

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