The Tender Mercies of Trade Show Drayage Personnel

Our client had transported a prototype of an expensive computer-operated lathe machine from a trade show back to the company’s offices. It arrived badly damaged. The company that owned the machine filed a claim and followed that up with a lawsuit within a few weeks. On the surface it looked like our client was on the hook.

The statement from our driver indicated that he had done nothing that should have caused this type of damage – no sudden stops or swerves to avoid trouble, no encounters with potholes or rugged pavement. When I asked about the crating procedures and the loading of the crate onto the truck, he said that all this had been done by the drayage personnel at the show. How about the company personnel who manned the booth in which this equipment was shown? No, there wasn’t a representative of the company in sight.

Strange. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with trade shows knows that the drayage personnel at trade shows are not to be trusted with steel I-beams or bullet proof vests, let alone electronic equipment that protests such minor impacts as changes in temperature. No one would use these guys for moving things if the trade show rules did not require it. And moving is child’s play compared to crating or securing aboard a truck.

I found the two company executives who manned the booth at this show. Asked about the oddity of leaving their very expensive prototype to the tender mercies of drayage personnel, they swore this was common company practice and that trade show drayage personnel were the most competent to crate and pack materials. And where were they at the end of show when our drayage experts showed up? On their way to the airport trying to catch an early flight.

Momentarily I wondered how this company stays in business if it trashes its expensive equipment on the way back from every trade show it attends. Then I found out that there were two other prototypes (same expensive machine) at the trade show, and our client had trucked them back to their original location without damage.

As soon as I located the personnel who had manned these other booths and were responsible for the equipment that remained intact, all was revealed. Contrary to the earlier assertions, company practice required that show personnel crate the equipment themselves, that they watch show drayage personnel move it and that they supervise packing it on the truck. And these practices were based on written policy, copies of which (along with the statements obtained along the way) put an end to this claim, the lawsuit, and possibly the careers of two executives in a hurry to get home.

– California Trucking Adjuster

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