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taken many steps to reduce the causes of claims by requiring greater care in the handling of goods in freight houses, and better judgment in the storing of freight in cars, and by promulgating intelligent classification and tariff requirements regarding containers of various kinds.

Adequate Containers

American shippers, as a class, are not sufficiently careful of the condition of shipping containers and the consequent protection to their offering. The physical damage to a shipment is often very small as compared with the results growing out of the failure to deliver a shipment, or the delivery of it in bad condition. The man who can deliver a shipment in the shortest time and in the best condition may expect repeat orders.

The wise industrial traffic manager is not the one who tries to pack his shipments just well enough to meet the requirements of the carriers; he is the one who studies his shipments to see what is necessary beyond complying with the carriers' rules and regulations.

A few cents additional spent in using a new package or one that is a little more secure, instead of an old, flimsy container, may easily mean thousands of dollars' saving in the end.

Classification of Claims

The two broad distinctions of classes of claims are (1) overcharge claims and (2) loss or damage claims.

Overcharge claims include those claims where the

shipper or his customer has been required to pay a greater sum than that lawfully established for the service of the particular kind rendered. The determination of such instances is contingent upon the ability and resources of the departmental employees.

Loss and damage issues are not so easy of adjustment, in that many of the claims follow so-called concealed loss" and it is difficult to determine whether this damage occurred before or after it came into or left the carrier's possession.

Questions of loss or damage claims, therefore, resolve themselves largely into questions of fact, and, as one authority has stated, such claims are largely one point law and ninety-nine points fact.

Federal Regulations

The regulations of the federal government concerning all claims require the carrier to make a thoro investigation within a reasonable time. This has done much to allay the feeling of the shipping public that unnecessary delays have attended investigations of this kind in the past.

Not infrequently a year or two years was consumed in investigating a claim, and unless the amount was sufficient to warrant suit, shippers or claimants gave up hopes of securing small amounts, and permitted the claim to fall thru by default.

Fraudulent Claims

Fraudulent claims are often submitted to the carriers, and their investigations must of necessity be sufficiently thoro to protect themselves from the practices of unscrupulous persons.

Illustrating the difficulty of placing the responsibility for the damage of goods, the following instance is cited. An industry was engaged in loading a car on a team track for a distant destination. As the plant was not situated far from the loading point, only one horse-drawn truck was employed for the purpose of carting the goods from the warehouse to the car.

The loading was satisfactorily accomplished until, while conveying the last load to the car, the horses became frightened and ran away, overturning the vehicle and scattering its contents over the landscape.

As the truck had suffered no material damage, and as the teamster feared a reprimand, he gathered up the scattered cases and continued his journey to the car, completed its loading, and furnished the carrier with the necessary shipping instructions.

When the car arrived at its destination, the consignee's check showed a considerable breakage for which the railroad's record of handling the car showed no apparent reason. Nevertheless, the claim was entered against the railroad. It happened, by chance, that a loss and damage investigator of the railroad was in the vicinity at the time, made a note of the occurrence, and had it indorsed on the carrier's shipping records. This was all that prevented the paying of a claim for which the carrier was in no way responsible.

Dishonest Practices

Another source of loss to the carrier is the dishonest truckmen who, after leaving industrial or railroad premises, cunningly open boxes and other packages, and pilfer them of their contents; as a result, when the receiving clerk unpacks the case, the shortage is noticed, the railroad company's attention is called to it, claim is filed, and payment is secured.

Some concerns have adopted the plan of checking their shortages in the receipt and delivery of goods against the persons in the industry who have handled it. This plan has discouraged wholesale pilfering. That is to say, it is rather difficult for Henry Smith, a packer, or John Jones, a truckman, to say why all shortages or an unusual preponderance of them, both as to shipments and receipts, should occur in parcels they handled. It raises the presumption, at least, that while it may be possible, it is hardly probable.

Fair Play

These incidents are injected in this discussion more with an idea of showing the necessity for an open mind and a spirit of fair play in questions of concealed loss. A great many men on the industrial side of the fence feel that the railroads, on this score, are more sinned against than sinning:


Qualifications A good overcharge claim investigator must be a man of ability, acquainted with the various rate-making methods employed thruout the country, the application of railroad and committee tariffs and classification rules, and the rules governing certain special services that may be rendered. He must be able to recognize discriminations in transportation charges, and to handle claims so intelligently that they may be collected with the least amount of correspondence and delay. Waste in Unnecessary Correspondence,

To many men, a letter is a letter, and little or no consideration is given to the cost or effort of its production. One of the leading industries of the city of Chicago made an exhaustive survey in this field, and developed the remarkable fact that the cost for each letter written by the organization represented an expenditure in excess of thirty cents. This cost was determined by reckoning the time used to develop the necessary facts, the time consumed in dictating, the typist's time in transcribing, material cost, wear and tear on the machine, and the cost of paper and postage.

It is evident, then, that it pays to make letters of transmittal and claim papers so complete that there will be no unnecessary amount of correspondence.


Qualifications The qualifications of the loss and damage investigator must be entirely different from those of the overcharge investigator.

He must depend, for the most part, upon an intimate knowledge of the law of contract, the law of agency, bailment, and the many other common-law regulations that govern the delivery of property to common carriers, and their liability, both as carriers and as warehousemen, to transport and to deliver. He must also have a knowledge of current court decisions which may in any way affect pending issues or issues which, on some technicality, may have been previously declined by the carrier.

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