How do I hire a shipper to ship a machine?


Hiring a trucking company to transport a machine for you would seem as easy as filling out the form on that webpage you found.  Read on to gain some insight and hopefully save you a lot of trouble.

There are 2 types of shipping companies to choose from when having a valuable game, jukebox, slot or what have you, shipped. 

Freight Company:
The least expensive shipping type is a "Freight" shipping company.  This is the majority type of trucks you see traveling down our national highways.  The Truck Driver usually travels alone and has limited equipment to move machines to and from his trailer.  The price for this service is less because the driver is expecting to pickup your machine from a loading dock, not from your garage. Further the driver is expecting to pick up the machine on a shipping pallet with industry standard size limits, wrapped in shrink wrap, wrapped in protective cardboard and or bubble wrap and strapped down tight to the pallet.  The truck driver usually has a "pallet jack" that is rolled under the pallet and jacked up a few inches so it can be rolled on the truck.  The machine is expected to ride on it's pallet without any additional ropes or straps needed to hold it on the pallet.  Under these conditions your shipment can be eligible for the reduced standard freight charges.  This service usually has very limited insurance to cover damage to your property.  You should consider buying additional insurance for this type of service.  It is more likely this service will incur damage due to the various loadings and un-loadings as the machine moves through the freight system from terminal to terminal.

If you do not have a dock to ship from you have 2 choices to get it picked up.  You can order the shipment with "Lift-Gate Required" at an additional cost.  This cost varies between $75 to $150 depending on the shipper.  With "Lift-Gate Required" the shipper sends a smaller truck with a special elevator like device on the back of the trailer box.  The driver will have a pallet jack and move your pallet to the lift-gate and bring it to the terminal for you.  The driver must have unrestricted access to the "ready to go pallet", no stairs, steps or grass, etc..  The second choice you have is to take the pallet-ed  machine to the local shipper's terminal and save the pickup charge.   Of course it must be ready to go on a pallet.

Moving Van Company:
The most convenient way to move your machine is to hire a Moving Van Company.  This is a furniture mover,  the same you would hire to move your household items from house to house.  These professionals do not pallet the machine.  They carry it into the trailer up a ramp and wrap it in blankets.  They usually strap it to a wall and secure it.  This type of service is 2 to 4 times the cost of a freight company.  This service usually has excellent insurance to cover damage to your property.  This service usually means the machine is delivered in the same truck it was picked up with.  It never leaves the truck.

A note about insurance:
Freight shipments usually have some shipping insurance by default.  This rate is usually $25 per pound, but can be as low as $5.  This amount may not cover the full cost of your machine!  You must check the insurance price per pound before shipping. Also, the freight company will (in a damage claim) make you prove your declared value by asking for your purchase invoice.  How do you get the full value from a 40 year old pinball machine?  How about a 1930's slot machine?  Another problem that can happen is when you decide to refuse a delivery because of damage.  Note, if you refuse a shipment you no longer own the product.  The machine now goes to an auction to help offset the shippers self insurance costs.  You now must plead your case to an adjuster with no evidence and you have no chance of getting the damage repaired.  In our experience in shipping games, jukeboxes, and pinball it is much better to make a claim through the driver before he leaves and definitely keep the machine.  Take lots of pictures immediately and keep ALL the packing material.  Part of your case includes how well the machine was pallet-ed and if there is any evidence of external damage, like forklift holes in the cardboard. 

When sending a shipment the guy/gal you bought the machine from is not responsible for the machine as soon as the truck leaves his/her dock.  If the sender did a bad job of palleting the shipment you may have problems.  If the truck driver accepts the freight it is the trucking company's responsibility until you sign for it.  You can write the damage on the bill of lading and ask the driver to make a damage claim.  He will call it in and give you a copy of the bill of lading with the annotations you wrote included.  The truck driver will then leave you the machine.  In a few days an independent adjuster will come by and investigate the claim.  You can expect a 30 day to 6 month delay in getting a check.  We have gone through this dozens of times.  One final note is about shipping brokers.  Brokers sometimes do there own insurance.  Be sure you know who is your responsible party and what are the rates. 

A final note about ownership.  The person who hires the trucking company and calls for the pickup is who owns the product when it is on the truck.  In other words, it belongs to you as soon as it leaves the seller as long as you ordered/paid for the truck.  If the seller ordered/paid for the truck he/she owns the product until you sign for it.  So if you refuse a shipment that you ordered you just gave the product to the trucking company,  they will charge you to re-deliver it when you realize your mistake.  If you refuse a shipment ordered by the seller you just forced the seller to pay to bring the damaged product back to them.

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