Though paperwork is most people's least favourite aspect of their job, failing to stay on top of collection notes and delivery receipts is a risk that is not worth taking if you're undertaking courier work. If a client raises a query about a delivery, the driver could be in big trouble if they cannot provide the right documents.
It Could Happen to You
Cast your mind back to a recent job that you carried out. Perhaps you were delivering a set of cartons to a client–let’s say six. Now, imagine that later that day you were contacted to find out why you only delivered five of those cartons.
As you did not think to get a proper signature on your delivery ticket, all you can do is state that you did hand over six boxes. Not long after this, you get a formal legal notification which informs you that you are being sued for the worth of the (supposedly) missing carton. Not only is it going to cost you thousands, but a complaint has been made to the police accusing you of theft. Though it sounds unlikely, situations can quickly escalate in courier work, meaning that carelessness over paperwork can end up causing real trouble for you.
Top Tips for Reducing Risk
Here are some simple ways of avoiding the unpleasant situation outlined above.
Dealing with Clients at Drop Off
Every driver who engages in courier work should be alive to the importance of delivery receipts, which can protect you when dealing with a difficult client.
· On delivery, make sure that you have all the correct consignor documents describing what is contained in your vehicle. If you don’t, then keep a set of delivery notes yourself and fill one out for the consignee.
· Make sure that your clients sign for their delivery legibly and don’t accept printed initials. If the company has a hand-stamp, encourage the consignee to use it. Otherwise, make sure that you write out the consignee’s name in block capitals below their signature.
· Finally, never leave a drop-off without a delivery receipt. Promises of receipts in the post are no good. You set yourself up to trouble if you don’t see the receipt before you drive away.
Though getting hold of an accurate delivery receipt is very important, making sure that you sign for things in a sensible way is equally essential in courier work.
· When collecting goods, keep a copy of what you signed for. Try to ensure that you actually see for what you signed before the freight is loaded into your vehicle.
· If you can’t see it, don’t sign for it. Don’t take responsibility for things that you can’t easily verify. For example, don’t sign for ‘two cartons containing 20 pairs of shoes’ unless you are going to open up the boxes and count the shoes for yourself. This kind of wording can easily catch drivers out.
· If you are collecting objects that are damaged, make a memo on the collection note that they are in bad condition. It is difficult to convince a consignee that the objects were damaged when you picked them up if the consignor has a signature from you that indicates that nothing was wrong with the goods upon collection.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.