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Rejected Freight: A Truckers Worst Fear and How to Solve It

A box of rejected freight marked "fragile"
Rejected Freight: A Truckers Worst Fear and How to Solve It
If you get penalized with a rejected freight shipment then don't panic. There are a few ways you can solve the problem.
By Jacob Lee
 | March 18, 2022
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Last Modified: December 12, 2023

Rejected freight is an inconvenience for numerous parties involved in the shipping process. While freak accidents can occur when goods are in transit, truck drivers are not helpless in preventing or fixing rejected freight shipments. As an expert in the 3PL business, Robert Bowman, President of R+L Global Logistics, says: “Follow the process and ensure you have the right partners when things don’t go as planned.” 

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Rejected freight shipments are awful but they do happen from time to time. Fortunately, you have these four options available that will resolve the problems with your rejected load:

  • Use a lumper
  • Use cross docking services
  • Donate the load
  • Dispose of the load

Rejected freight loads might be scary but they’re also easy to prevent. In this article, we will go into detail about how to avoid rejected loads and what to do if your load is rejected.

Boxes of a rejected freight in a warehouse

What is Rejected Freight and How to Solve It?

Rejected freight is a term used in the shipping industry to describe goods that are turned away by a receiver. Customers can refuse a shipment for any reason. If the load is refused, it will be considered rejected freight. As a truck driver, the load is your responsibility and it will be up to you to get the load fixed before your next stop. 

Why Are Loads Rejected?

As a truck driver, it can be frustrating when your load gets rejected because most of the time it’s not your fault that the customer refused your load. There are all kinds of accidents and unfortunate circumstances that could occur while your load is being hauled in the back of your trailer.

The good news is that load rejections can be avoided or fixed. Below we’ve listed the most common reason for freight rejection and how you can prevent it from happening.

1. Paperwork Errors

A common reason that freight is rejected by receivers is that necessary paperwork is not filled out properly. One document that is often filled out incorrectly is the bill of lading (BOL). 

The BOL is an important document that is used whenever freight is shipped. There are many opportunities for the BOL to be filled out incorrectly since the shipper, carrier representative (usually the truck driver) and consignee are responsible for signing it and filling out their portion of information regarding the shipment. 

There are many parties that will have to sign off on the BOL, and as a truck driver, you need to do your part in filling out your section of the BOL correctly. You can prevent your freight from being rejected when its information accurately reflects the load you’re carrying.

2. Pallet Regulations Were Not Followed

Getting your freight rejected for something like not having the proper shrink wrapping might seem a little tedious. However, many stores and eCommerce businesses that take bulk shipments require palletized freight to adhere to their guidelines

For example, Amazon pallet requirements are particularly strict on trucking companies delivering freight shipments to them. Everything from the type of shrink wrapping to the dimensions of the pallets carrying the freight can determine whether or not your freight is accepted. 

Although Amazon is a popular fulfillment option, there are plenty of other options you can choose from in our article that discusses alternatives to Amazon FBA.

A warehouse employee looks at boxes of rejected freight

3. Freight Was Shipped With Damaged Pallets, Skids or Cases

Do not use damaged pallets, skids or cases when shipping large amounts of freight. The receiver you’re shipping your freight to will reject the shipment for safety reasons.

Your freight can still be rejected even if you follow all of the pallet requirements of the store or eCommerce company whose warehouse will be receiving your shipment. That is because accidents could cause your freight to be rejected. These include:

Fortunately, if any damage does occur to your shipment while it’s in transit, you will be able to fix it and resend it to the DC as long as it’s not climate-controlled products.

There’s always the possibility that containers carrying liquid materials could break and leak inside the box carrying them. If the containers carrying the liquids leak, it’s likely because the container itself is compromised.

This means that the product can no longer be used. If the liquid materials leak onto other boxes stacked on your pallet, then those items will also be compromised. The liquids could also leak all over other packages of other shippers if you’re using an LTL shipment.

Fortunately, you can take these precautions to prevent the container carrying the liquid materials from sustaining damage. The precautions are: 

  • Seal the container
  • Put the container into a waterproof bag
  • Use an appropriate sized package 
  • Seal the box
  • Indicate the box is carrying liquid materials with proper labeling

If you’re a truck driver that loads their own freight, then you should use proper safety techniques when you ship liquids. Following the right safety techniques are especially important if you are transporting liquids that are classified as HAZMAT materials.

Fortunately, if your freight is rejected for any of these reasons, you can always take it to a lumper. It’s the responsibility of lumpers to fix rejected shipments and to get the truck driver back out on the road as quickly as possible. 

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to utilize fulfillment services for your goods, then fear not. Our article on 3PL fulfillment for different industries will give you the assurance that our fulfillment services can handle just about any rejected shipment you have. 

4. Missed Appointment

Distribution centers run by retail and grocery stores have very strict schedules when it comes to delivering freight. When a product arrives late, it could hold up all of the other deliveries that are supposed to arrive later on in the day. 

Late arrival means that you will have to contact dispatch and tell them to schedule another appointment. Depending on how busy the receiver is, your next appointment could be as soon as later that same day or as late as the following week. 

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you don’t miss your appointment. For one, you should be able to adapt to the current traffic pattern on the road. When traffic starts to slow you down, you can search for another route that will get your goods to your destination on time.

If you work for a company that allows you to plan your own routes then that’s even better. This will give you the ability to plan a route that is most efficient for you. The longer you’ve been a truck driver, you’ll start to learn which roads and highways are better than others. 

Following proper driving procedures are important when you’re behind the wheel. That said, you should drive with a purpose and never make any unnecessary stop when you’re held to tight time constraints. 

5. Improper Equipment

When you ship goods to a distribution center, your freight must be delivered on a trailer that the receiver has the equipment to unload. For example, sending a trailer that exceeds the height of a dock will make it unable to be unloaded.   

Before you hire a carrier to pick up your freight, call the receiver where your goods will be shipped and ask about the details of their facility.

6. Accessibility Issues

Most truck drivers don’t ship freight exclusively to a warehouse. In some instances, your freight shipment might be to a residential area. When you make deliveries to residential destinations, it’s important that your truck and trailer can enter and leave the location 

Typically, your company should be able to determine if the customer’s destination is in an area that your truck can safely traverse when they schedule the appointment with them. However, mistakes can be made and you might find yourself delivering to an area your truck can’t reach.

If you can’t reach the destination for this reason, you may miss the appointment time which will result in a rejected load. You can prevent this from happening by calling the customer and determining an alternate destination nearby. Likewise, if the road to the residential area your customer wants their freight dropped off at is untraversable, you can ask for an alternate route.

A piece of rejected freight sits in the back of a truck

What Do I Do If My Freight Is Rejected?

When a receiver rejects freight, you, as the truck driver transporting the load, need to determine what to do with the shipment. During the disposition, a shipper has to decide what they’re going to do with their rejected freight. 

Luckily, there are a few different paths a shipper can take when their freight is rejected. Depending on the reason the freight is rejected will determine which course of action will best suit the state your goods are in. 

  • Disposal
  • Donation
  • Rework and redeliver freight that originally arrived damaged

Using A Lumper

There are two steps you can take to prevent your freight from being rejected when it reaches the receiver. The first is to show your carrier and warehouse partners what your bulk shipment should look like when it’s shipped. 

You can do this by providing pictures, diagrams and another solid example of what your freight should look like when it arrives at the receiver. Another precaution you can take as a truck driver is to inspect the freight before reaching the customer. 

If you take these precautions for your shipment of freight and damages still occur – causing its rejection – you can take the freight to a lumper facility afterward. Once the necessary changes have been made, the freight can be re-sent to the receiver.

One downside to reworking freight is the time it takes to go to a lumper facility. Another downside is the costs you or your company will have to pay to the lumpers for their services. On the bright side, lumpers work extremely fast and will be able to get you back to the original destination in time to unload and get your next shipment. 

Despite the extra costs and time spent reworking and redelivering your freight, using a lumper is the best and most desirable thing to do if the circumstances allow for it.

Cross Docking Services

Utilizing cross docking services is another great option to utilize when you’re faced with product rejections and refused loads. Cross docking is a type of fulfillment service that many warehouses offer. 

Typically, it’s used to unload freight from one truck and onto another one in a short period of time. However, at one of R+L Global Logistics’ warehouses, we can perform cross docking services for shipments that have been refused. 

We can unload your freight from your trailer and load it back in correctly and quickly so you can get back out on the road. For more information about this service consult our article on the other fast and cost-effective benefits of cross docking fulfillment services.

Donating Excess Freight

The products that consist of rejected freight can oftentimes still be used. The goods don’t have to be perfect, but still need to meet high standards for them to be used as donations. There are many truckload donations throughout the country where goods can be donated at. 

Once you dispatch sets up an appointment you can take your rejected shipment to be dropped off. Donations usually occur if the product is not to the liking of the customer. This means that taking your freight to a lumper won’t solve the problem. 

Disposal of Excess Freight

When you have an excess amount of freight that has been rejected by a receiver, sometimes the only option you have is to dispose of the excess. The reason goods have to be disposed of is because of liability issues that could come with accepting the product. 

Since no one wants to be responsible for excess products that could be a potential threat (like spoiled food) there is no choice but to dispose of them. Fortunately, certain products can be recycled if safety standards will allow them. 

If your freight becomes a rejected shipment and can’t be corrected by a lumper or cross dock services at a fulfillment warehouse then contact dispatch. They will set up a disposal or donation appointment for you to drop the load off.  

Costs of Disposing, Donating, and Lumper Fees

Disposing of Freight Fees$1,500 -$10,000
Donating Freight Fees$500-$1,000
Lumper Fees$100-$5,000
Two semi trucks drive down a highway

Utilize Transload Services USA When You Need a Load Reworked

Transload Services USA, powered by R+L Global Logistics, is the 3PL that shippers all over the country use when they need freight reworked fast. That’s because we provide efficient and superior service to all of our customers. 

When you choose R+L Global Logistics, you have multiple services available if you’re ever penalized with a rejected load, including:

Call (352) 282-4588 or get a free quote today and get your freight on the move.

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