Could I Interest You in 112,000 Burritos?

Claims assigned on Friday afternoon are one of the perils of specializing in cargo. Just about all your resources have taken off for the weekend and there you are sweating to arrange equipment or storage or whatever it takes to salvage the load.

This one arrived after 3 PM on a Friday. A trailer with 112,000 frozen burritos had been abandoned in a motel parking lot, the truck was missing and no one knew if the reefer was still running. The insured found it via the satellite system after the load went several days late and the customer called in to refuse it.

The other horrible part of Friday afternoon claims is the traffic. I was buried up to my neck on the 10 Freeway headed to Pomona and the motel. But the cell phone was humming and I had a lot of work to do. First was to arrange for a tow that would not require our client to put out a bond issue or mortgage its plants to pay the bill. I’ve got plenty of good tow companies in my book and I got one out to the scene before the cops could bring in one of their extortion- type tow operators from the list.

I was not so lucky with the cold storage. If the reefer was still running, we needed to get this into a cold room right away. I was near the bottom of my list by the time I found a guy who was open and had space. The good part is that he has a spot less then 10 miles from the motel.

I finally got to the motel. The reefer was running. The cops were there, but they were mainly interested in the missing truck and the young lady of the night with whom our missing driver was last seen. So no problem getting the trailer off with my tow truck. I pulped the burritos and they were fine. By 7:30 PM we had the load in cold storage, traffic was light for the ride home and all was well.

The storage contract was for a month so I was not so rushed in the matter of unloading the load. But it is a matter of principle with me that my client does not pay a second month’s storage.

There are a number of foods that brokers won’t touch without laboratory testing. I got samples over to one of my labs to check for Salmonella and other nasty critters. Clean bill of health. With the lab’s blessing in writing, I dialed the first broker on my list. He said maybe 19 cents on the dollar. Forget it – he wasn’t getting this load at 19 cents. By the time I had gotten to the bottom of the list we were at 29 cents on the dollar. I could do better than that. I called each of the guys who had any interest back and let each know what the other bids were. Pretty soon I had five brokers bidding against each other. After some days back and forth, 49 cents on the dollar took the load.

Our client was ecstatic with the price – when the claim came in, it looked like they were on the hook for the whole thing. I almost gave up cargo to become an auctioneer, but came to my senses (I just can’t talk that fast).

California Cargo Specialist

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