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OS&D Claims: Mistakes To Avoid for Seamless Delivery

Resources > OS&D Claims: Mistakes To Avoid for Seamless Delivery
Empower your shipping operations with in-depth understanding of OS&D claims. With our tips, you’ll be able to avoid the expenses and wasted time that come with these declarations.
Published: August 24, 2023
Last Modified: August 28, 2023
Author: Jacob Lee

OS&D claims are something that every business wants to avoid. Shipments that qualify under this declaration can anger customers, waste time, and inflict unnecessary expenses on a company. By familiarizing themselves with this claim, businesses can ensure they always send the right quantity of undamaged cargo.

The National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) says OS&D claims are filed against carriers and shippers after a report identifies discrepancies between the bill of lading (BOL) and the received goods. This can include when customers are sent too much or too little of a certain item. Damaged cargo also qualifies. 

OS&D claims can be a real headache for everyone involved in the transportation process. As a shipper, it’s important for you to do your part to prevent this occurrence from happening. 

What Does OS&D Stand For?

OS&D is an industry term that many shippers find confusing and intimidating. Fortunately, this acronym has a very simple meaning. 

OS&D stands for the following:

  • Over
  • Short
  • Damaged

Over, or overage, is when a customer gets more than what they ordered or what was listed on the shipping document. While obtaining more than what was purchased might seem appealing, an excess of freight can cause inventory issues and additional costs.

Shortage is when a customer receives less than what was listed on the BOL. This can frustrate buyers that paid a certain price for their goods, only to get a smaller quantity of product. Being short of products can also create problems for a customer’s inventory levels. Additionally, billing and order management must be adjusted when a buyer receives fewer items than what was bought.

Damage refers to freight that arrives broken, scratched, or dented. Cargo in this state is usually inspected and documented in the BOL. Afterward, customers will file an OS&D freight claim for compensation or request a replacement for the damaged goods.

What is an Over, Short, and Damaged Report?

An OS&D report is a document used by consignees to identify discrepancies between what was supposed to be shipped and what actually arrived. 

This type of paperwork uses the following information to determine the accuracy and quality of a shipment:

  • Shipment numbers
  • Item descriptions
  • Item quantities
  • Observed damages

Both the driver and the consignee receive a copy of the OS&D shipping report. After the paperwork is completed, all parties involved can work towards a resolution. 

This can be done in the following ways:

  • Filing a claim
  • Refunds
  • Returning overages
  • Returning and replacing damaged goods

Regularly reviewing OS&D reports can provide insights into recurrent issues. This allows companies to improve their operations for future shipments.

Warehouse workers going through damaged boxes that OS&D claims were filed for

Why Are OS&D Claims Crucial Important for Shippers?

OS&D claims are a crucial part of truckload shipping that businesses have to consider. These declarations can create a variety of problems for companies that send cargo to buyers throughout the country.  

Two particular challenges that OS&D claims can cause for shippers include:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Financial implications

A business must know about these challenges to fully appreciate the threat that OS&D claims can pose to their operations. 

Impact on Customer Satisfaction

In the world of shipping and logistics, customer satisfaction hinges on delivering goods as promised. When a receiver submits an OS&D claim, it’s because they didn’t get the correct amount of goods or because their products are damaged. This can negatively impact the satisfaction of the customer. 

As a result, trust between receivers and shippers will diminish. When customers are dissatisfied with a company, they’re likely going to search for a new retailer. Therefore, shippers should make sure to pack their goods properly and send the right quantity. 

Financial Implications for Businesses

There are many financial implications for businesses when they’ve received an OS&D claim. Shippers will have to resolve these declarations in a variety of ways that can inflict numerous expenses. 

This includes:

  • Cost of replacements
  • Refunds and discounts
  • Administrative costs
  • Loss of business

When goods are damaged or missing, businesses often need to send replacements. This doubles the shipping and product costs for the same order. Customers may demand refunds or discounts due to discrepancies. While these can resolve any issues, it will reduce the profit margin on sales. 

Handling OS&D claims involves paperwork and communication. In some cases, legal processes will be carried out. These administrative tasks will take up time and will cost money. 

Unsatisfied customers due to OS&D issues might choose competitors in the future. This potential loss of recurring business can impact long-term revenue.

A damaged box that has been loaded onto a broken pallet

Common Causes of Over, Short and Damaged Shipments

There are many reasons that overage, shortage, or damaged cargo might arrive. Businesses will face these challenges with every shipment they send. 

Common causes to look into include:

  • Handling and loading 
  • Incorrect packaging
  • Road conditions
  • Accidents
  • Paperwork and administrative errors

Shippers need to understand each of these problems and how they can occur.   

1. Handling and Loading Issues

Handling and loading processes directly influence the condition and quantity of goods that arrive at their destination. When freight is mismanaged, it often results in OS&D claims.

Some examples of poor handling and loading include:

  • Inaccurate counts
  • Haphazard handling
  • Poor stacking
  • Lack of securing

Failing to count items accurately during loading can cause overages or shortages. Miscounts lead to discrepancies between a BOL and actual goods that arrived. Inaccuracies can mean too many or too little of certain products were loaded. 

Rough or careless handling can damage items while packaging and loading. If goods arrive broken, customers will likely file an OS&D claim with a shipper. Damage can also occur if goods are stacked improperly. For example, heavier items stacked on top of fragile goods can cause breakage or superficial blemishes. 

If items aren't secured properly to a pallet within a trailer, they can move or fall during transit. This is another cause of damage that can lead to an OS&D claim. Shippers should stack their cargo on a pallet correctly and secure it to the platform using clear wrap or straps. 

They should also ensure that items in boxes or crates have been properly packaged to begin with. This can help settle disputes further down the line on whether damage was the fault of the carrier or not. This leads us to our next point 

Handling and loading issues are important to avoid, especially when you need high value cargo transportation. Our article on this type of freight will show you the risks involved. 

2. Incorrect Packaging

While packaging won’t cause overage or shortage, it can determine if goods will arrive undamaged. Even well secured boxes and pallets won’t protect poorly packaged items. 

Packaging mistakes that can lead to damaged products include:

  • Insufficient cushioning
  • Wrong box sizes
  • Weak sealing
  • No fragile item label
  • Reuse of old packaging

Goods can get jostled and damaged without enough protective cushioning. Therefore, it’s important that packing materials like shipping paper and bubble wrap be used to protect the item(s) inside a box. 

The wrong box size can also lead to damaged cargo. Packaging that’s too small can restrict or prevent the use of packing materials. This can make it easier for items to sustain damage. 

Boxes that aren’t closed properly can split open, causing the items inside to spill out or become exposed to damaging conditions. Shippers should also use a fragile item label if they’re sending goods that can be easily broken. This will signal to truckers and warehouse personnel that these products should be handled with care. 

Finally, businesses should abstain from using old packaging. Used boxes and packing material are less likely to provide the security that freight needs to arrive safely at a destination. 

At the end of the day, the right packaging is there to avoid easily preventable damage. 

Our article on non-palletized freight will show you how to ship cargo without using this platform. 

3. Road Conditions

Transporting goods over land often means contending with a variety of road conditions. The state of a highway plays a significant role in the overall safety and timeliness of a shipment. 

Hazardous road conditions that affect freight safety include:

  • Loose gravel 
  • Potholes
  • Uneven roads

Highways with these qualities can inadvertently cause damage to freight. Driving over loosegravel can cause cargo to fall down or bang against other types of packages and pallets. Potholes in a road or highway can send a shockwave through a trailer. This can also cause similar types of damage to goods.

Uneven roads can pose a threat to freight as well. If a highway isn’t perfectly level, it can be easy for packages inside a trailer to tip over. Despite road quality not being the fault of the shipper, customers may still issue OS&D claims if their freight is damaged for these reasons. 

4. Accidents

Another cause of freight damage is traffic accidents. Safety is a major priority for truck drivers, but other drivers on the highway might not be as careful. 

Traffic accidents can result in:

  • Physical harm
  • Cargo spillage
  • Exposure to weather

Impact from the accident can cause goods to be crushed or broken by another vehicle. It’s possible that a crash could also result in liquid items spilling from a container. Finally, damage can occur after an accident if freight is exposed to the weather. This is especially relevant for refrigerated cargo. 

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are fairly common and have been rising over the past few years despite efforts are increasing safety procedures. 

Trucking Accidents from 2017 to 2021


Provided by Injury Facts

While the data may not include stats on damaged cargo resulting from accidents, it provides a solid reason to make sure items are well packaged. 

Not every accident will result in damaged freight, but shippers should be prepared in case it does occur. Picking carriers that have good safety records is a great way to find a reliable partner to transport cargo. 

Blanket wrap shipping is a good defensive measure to use when transporting fragile items. Our article on this protective measure will describe some useful benefits. 

5. Paperwork and Administrative Errors

Paperwork and administrative errors result in shortages and overages. When this happens, OD&S claims are filed to correct the mistake. Damage can also occur if documentation isn’t completed correctly. There are many paperwork and administrative errors that can cause a shortage or overage when shipping.

These include:

  • Mislabeling paperwork
  • Mismatched orders
  • Misreading documentation

Incorrect labels or tags can lead to shipments being sent to the wrong destination. As a result, customers might receive goods or products they never even ordered.

Mislabeling can also lead to damaged goods. This can happen if ‘Fragile’ or ‘This Side Up’ labels aren’t placed on boxes before palletization. Overage and shortage could occur if orders become mismatched. This happens when two or more shipments are unintentionally combined.

Finally, misreading documentation is a mistake that can cause overage and shortage as well. If the cargo listed on BOL is looked over incorrectly, it will result in shippers sending the wrong amount of goods. This mistake can be prevented by carefully reading the document before transport. 

Read our article on documents required for domestic shipping for more information on the paperwork you’ll need to include with your goods. 

What Are the Different Types of OS&D Claims?

There are a variety of claims that can occur if OS and D occurs in a shipment. Businesses need to understand these type of declarations to properly address them if one is submitted. 

OS&D claims include the following:

  • Short
  • Over
  • Visibly damaged
  • Concealed damage
  • Lost

Each of these declarations are unique and will need to be addressed in different ways. 

1. Short Claims

Short claims in the shipping industry refer to instances where the recipient receives fewer items than the number stated in the shipping documentation. This discrepancy might be noticed immediately upon delivery or discovered later during inventory checks.

This type of claim can delay operations for businesses. Often times, customers will request that a shortage be corrected. To resolve the issue, businesses will need to send an additional shipment with the rest of the missing cargo. 

2. Over Claims

Over claims in the shipping industry arise when customers receive more items than the quantity listed in the BOL. Many buyers don’t want to take on extra products they didn’t purchase.

Customers will realize they have excess stock during the unpacking process. Overage claims can waste time and money for businesses. Companies will have to pay for an additional shipment to bring all extra stock back to their warehouse or distribution center. 

3. Visibly Damaged Claims

Visibly damaged claims are submitted when the external appearance of a shipment indicates clear signs of harm. These claims are easy to verify because disfigurement of the cargo is evident without having to open the package.

Causes for visibly damaged claims include:

  • Rough handling
  • Inadequate packaging
  • Weather elements
  • Collisions in transit

When faced with this claim, shippers will bear the cost of replacing the damaged goods and additional shipping expenses for new items. 

4. Concealed Damage Claims

Concealed damage claims are filed for freight that isn’t noticeably damaged from the outside packaging. Instead, customers submit this declaration after opening their boxes and noticing the items inside are damaged

Factors that cause concealed damage include:

  • Internal shifting
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Compression damage
  • Vibrations

This type of claim can be harder to process because customers won’t discover them until after accepting the cargo. In some cases, damaged inventory can go weeks or months without being noticed. 

5. Lost Claims

Lost claims arise when a shipment never reaches the intended destination. When customers don’t receive their cargo, they’ll essentially be suffering from an extreme shortage. This is the worst type of claim that can be sent to a shipper. 

In most cases, businesses won’t be able to recover any of the cargo they sent. Additionally, they’ll have to replace the entire shipment or refund their customer. Going through these processes will also delay their entire operations. 

Broken boxes with plastic wrapping around them

How Can Shippers Minimize OS&D Claims?

OS&D claims are a recurring challenge in the transportation industry. There’s always the risk that damage could occur or that the wrong amount of goods could arrive at a destination. Fortunately, there are methods that shippers can use to avoid OS&D claims. 

Best Practices for Packing

Ensuring that items are packed correctly can have a significant impact in how they withstand the journey. Proper packing can mean the difference between a product reaching its destination intact or ending up as part of an OS&D claim. 

When preparing a shipment, shippers should do the following:

  • Use the right box size
  • Choose sturdy packaging materials
  • Seal correctly
  • Use applicable labels

Choose a box that fits the product snugly, with just enough room for padding. Shippers should avoid boxes that are too large or too small for their cargo. The packing materials that a business uses to prepare their goods for transport must be sturdy as well. 

This includes:

  • Strong clear wrapping
  • A functioning pallet
  • Firm and new boxes
  • Bubble wrap and packing paper

These packing items will ensure that goods are protected during the transportation process. Sealing is another important step. To keep boxes closed, shippers need to use strong packing tape. Finally, all boxes and palletized freight should have the appropriate packing labels.

This includes the following warnings:

  • Hazmat 
  • Fragile 
  • This Side Up

These labels will let warehouse workers loading and unloading the cargo know that they need to handle the freight with care. 

You can read our article on how to reduce transit damage for more information that will help you protect your cargo. 

Effective Communication with Carriers

Communication is a cornerstone in the shipping industry. Having clear intentions with carriers will help reduce misunderstandings and potential OS&D claims.

Businesses can communicate effectively with carriers in the following ways:

  • Provide clear shipment details
  • Use written agreements
  • Encourage open dialogue

Shippers will need to give carriers precise information about the freight they want a carrier to transport. This will ensure that their cargo is loaded and unloaded carefully. Whenever possible, use written contracts or agreements outlining responsibilities and expectations. These documents  should clearly define all terms and conditions regarding a shipment. 

A business can also ensure accurate shipments by encouraging a carrier to communicate any concerns they might have. This practice will help prevent potential issues that might occur. 

Thorough Documentation and Record Keeping

Proper documentation can be a shipper's best defense against OS&D claims. By properly reviewing and confirming the right quantity of freight listed in transportation documents, businesses will ensure the right amount of cargo is sent to a customer. 

Record keeping is important as well. Shippers can refer back to archived documents in case a customer files a false claim. With accurate paperwork, businesses will be able to prove that they sent the right amount of cargo. 

Minimize Your OS&D Challenges with Expertise from USA Truckload

In the intricate world of shipping, OS&D claims stand as a significant challenge that can disrupt the harmony of transactions. With the right knowledge and precautions, shippers can effectively navigate these issue and guarantee seamless deliveries. 

At USA Truckload, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of the industry's intricacies and our unwavering commitment to flawless performance. We can provide you the knowledge and tools to overcome the challenges posed by OS&D claims. 

You can also take advantage of our premium services, such as:

Trust isn't built overnight, but with USA Truckload, you're partnering with a team that prioritizes your needs and understands the stakes. So why wait? Secure the future of your shipments, minimize risks and ensure the satisfaction of your customers.

Fill out your request for proposal (RFP) or dial us at (866) 353-7178 if you have questions or concerns. Take a confident step towards a hassle-free shipping experience today!

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