How many times has one of your trucks arrived at a shipper or receiver before the designated appointment time, only to sit for several hours or even a day beyond the aforementioned delivery time? What about the times a broker or shipper has confirmed a load and then canceled? What about disposal of shipping debris? Inside delivery? The need for lumpers? Special equipment to load or unload? How often is collection for these extras like pulling eye teeth from a saber-toothed tiger? How many times have you said, “We need a regulation to protect us carriers when these situations occur?”
As a motor carrier, you’re entitled to establish the terms and conditions under which your company does business with other companies. In the past, these terms and conditions were also a published document, a Service Conditions and Rules Circular, which spelled out: Governing Publications (mileage guides and tariffs, Scope of Operations, Statement of Services (territorial area serviced; Interstate vs. Intrastate, Dry Van, Temperature-Controlled, Intermodal, HazMat, etc.), Accessorial Services and Charges (Detention, Lumpers, Expedited or Exclusive-Use Services, etc.), Claims Liabilities and Limits, Claims Processing and Salvage, Credit and Collection Provisions, Fuel Surcharges.
There’s a very good reason why your trucking company should maintain a Service Conditions and Rules Circular.
While it’s no longer necessary to file rates or tariffs with any federal agency, a trucking company is required, upon request, to provide a shipper a copy of the rate, classification, rules and practices which apply to its shipment or which were agreed to between shipper and carrier (49U.S.C. 13710). A Service Conditions and Rules Circular meets this requirement. More importantly, if there’s no other written agreement between your carrier and the shipper, terms and conditions published in your Service Conditions and Rules Circular apply.
Therefore, if a carrier properly published in its Rules Circular under Accessorial Charges - Detention and Free Time (time a shipper or receiver has to begin loading or unloading a trailer before detention time begins), customers may be held accountable. Minimally, if a shipper/receiver doesn't begin loading/unloading within the time period specified, the carrier can demand full payment as a condition of delivery with a promissory lien, as long as there isn’t a bilateral agreement between the shipper and carrier to the contrary, (‘bilateral’ meaning signed, agreed to and executed by both parties).
However, specified Detention Time, Free Time and the Promissory Lien must be published as a part of the trucking company’s Rules Circular and be available by request to the shipper. The easiest and least costly way to accomplish this is to have a website for your trucking company, where one page is dedicated to your Service Terms and Conditions and Rules Circular.
Even though you have rate confirmation along with other documentation concerning the load you’re hauling that sets the ground rules which apply to when and how you’re paid for your hauling services, (many will vary by specific customer), the simplest document you can publish is the Terms and Conditions with your Rules Circular and have it incorporated with each transportation and bill of lading into which you enter. Recall the old line of, “if it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t exist.” If you don’t have a Rules Circular spelling out the terms and conditions for detention, then payment for detention doesn’t exist.
For examples of a Motor Carrier Terms and Conditions and Rules Circular, Google “Rules Circular.”
So what are you waiting for?