When I was in High School, I was that kid in the front frow that always raised her hand. I was obsessed with knowing everything! I was a sponge for knowledge. One of my favorite subjects was English, in particular poetry. To this day, there are certain lines that have stuck with em and will randomly pop up in my head. So, if you see me with a little smile on my face, it’s probably because I’ve had a geek moment.
Recently, we were moving a load for a customer and a line from Sir Walter Scott’s poem, Marimion, floated through my head and I couldn’t help but snort.
“Oh what tangled lies we weave when we first practice to decieve.”
The load we were moving was a blind shipment. I’ll pause here and let your heart return to its place in your chest. If you have to ship a blind shipment and you don’t feel like you’re going to be sick, you don’t have the right sense of urgency.
Blind Shipments are when you deceive the shipper or consignee into thining a completely separate company is either shipping or receiving the freight even though it’s going to an even separate company. Shady, no?
there is really only one reason why a customer would want their freight shipped blind: they are strictly the middle man and their proit comes from buying it at a low cost and selling it for a higher cost. In their mind, they need to keep the manufacturer (shipper) a secret from their customer (consignee), otherwise they could be cut out of the equation because the consignee would go direct to the manufactuer. So, in all reality, they have a legitimate reason for being shady, but it doesn’t make moving their freight any easier.
As the 3PL in this blind shipment, my heart races like a Ferrari going from 0-60 in 3.14 seconds. Not only does the customer trust me to not screw this up, but I, in turn, have to rely upon the carrier dispatch and customer service agents to make sure this bills correctly because there are a lot of thigs that can go wrong. Here are some problems that I have encountered and the solutions that followed. May you learn from my mistakes.
This Whole Thing Isn’t a Secret
Problem: The shipper knows what the customer is doing and doesn’t play along by using the blind BOL and I sent them, so the customer thinks that I let the cat out of the bag.
Solution: Explain to the shipper that you followed their instructions, but the shipper already knew. If that doesn’t work, you may try getting the blind shipment fee removed from their invoice. A lower invoice could help soothe the ruffled feathers.
The Blind BOLs Are Not Applied to the Load
Problem: the shpper gives the carrier the blind BOL, which lists the consignee in California. Back at the terminal, the carrier never exchanges the blind BOL for the real BOL like you instructed them to, so your freight that was supposed to go to New York is now in Nebraska.
Solution: Remain calm and breath. Call the original customer service rep that you scheduled the shipment and provided all of the blind paperwork. Explain the situation and ask them to help you fix it. State that you will not pay reconsignment charges. Make sure you get names and everything in writing though fax or email.
Everything is Fine Until You Get to the Finish Line
Problem: Everything goes right at the shipper and you relax because the carrier also has this shipping to the right place, but then you get the POD fromt he carrier and you realize the carrier let the cat out of the bag by not switching the shipper’s name and address to your customer’s name and address. The consignee now knows where the freight came from.
Solution: This is another situation in which you will have to explain to your customer what happened and potentially have to reduce the rate to avoid your customer jumping ship.
Scary stuff, huh? Have no fear! There are ways to be proactive about your blind shipments:
- Email the blind shipment paperwork to the person with whom you are scheduling the load. Give explicite instructions even if you have already explained the situation over the phone. Over explaining is good!
- Stalk the freight online like it’s wild game so that once it gets to the destination terminal, you can give the carrier a call to make them aware of the POD’s special requirements.
Blind shipments can be scary business, but if you do your due diligence, take your time, and jump thourgh hoops, well, things can still get messed up, but you can assure your customer that you did everything you could to keep their freight cloaked in mystery.