The bill of lading is essentially a contract between you and your moving company. The movers lay out the terms and specifics of the move, and if everything goes according to plan, you sign it. However, before you sign the bill of lading, you'll want to study it carefully and make sure that your belongings arrive in good condition and that the move in general was carried out successfully. Once you sign the bill of lading, you are pretty much letting the movers
off the hook for any problems you discover later. That's why it is very important to review the document completely, prior to giving it your signature upon receiving your shipment.
What to look out for
One of the main things to keep in mind when reviewing the bill of lading is to make sure the terms are identical to the order of service, which you should have received before the move. If any items in the order of service do not match up with the bill of lading, then ask to have this cleared up before you sign. If there is anything else on the bill that disagrees with any other document you have signed, then feel free to withhold your signature.
TIP: Before the move, ask your mover if you will face any additional fees, and get this information in writing. If new charges appear on the bill of lading, you may want to hold off on signing it.
There are many other points on the bill of lading you'll want to review. For instance, make sure that the name, address, and phone number of the moving company appear on the bill. If any other moving company is involved with your move at any point, the contact information of this company should be there as well.
Another important point on the bill of lading is the method of payment. Check to see that the method of payment listed is the same method you and the mover agreed upon beforehand. You certainly don't want to sign the contract and get stuck paying with cash when you wanted to pay by credit card.
You will also want to make sure your bill of lading includes proof that you have obtained insurance for your move from an independent insurer. By having this information, as well as the premium, you can be sure that you will be covered for any damage and won't have to pay to replace damaged items yourself.
Once you have inspected the bill of lading
for any inconsistencies, mistakes, omissions, or other problems, you should inspect the goods themselves. Look over your goods for any damage that may have been incurred during transport.
The bill of lading should have a list of your items and the condition each one was in before the move. If anything is damaged and no longer matches the description on the bill, bring this up with your mover immediately. If you notice any damage after signing the bill of lading, you will have a difficult time filing the claim
Remember, it is worth the time and effort to thoroughly go over your bill of lading upon receiving your goods. Doing this before signing can save you a lot of trouble later on. Once you are sure that the bill of lading is accurate and that no damage has occurred to your goods, then sign away!